Coming to Terms

Three years ago my mother died. Due to the circumstances surrounding her death this is the first time I have been able to share it.
My mother’s personality changed about a year before her death and she said some hurtful, selfish things and didn’t want any visitors. I guessed she was ill and she had this padding stuffed over her right breast. I kept asking what was wrong and she said it was sore psoriasis. A putrid snell developed after a few months and I again asked if anything was wrong to which she replied. No!. I was suspecting breast cancer. The Christmas before she died she said she had a virus and wouldn’t be coming for Christmas lunch. She refused visitors and only spoke on the 'phone. I told her she sounded poorly and should get a doctor. She refused outright. The week before she died her speech was slurred and myself and my daughter begged her to call the Doctor. We also said we were going to visit. She said we wouldn’t be let in the house. In the January I had a phone call at work to say she had died. I arrived at the house to find the paramedics who informed me my mother had breast cancer with a huge fungating tumour which had spread to her lungs. I was not shocked by the diagnosis but was by the total lack of thought this huge secret would have on the family. My grown up children were in absolute shock and to this day do not think she could have loved them as she would have told them she was ill if she had. I had to counsel all of them and my middle son is still struggling. The house was in a terrible state. There were used smelly dressings hidden and flies and the smell was something else. We had to clean the whole house and dispose of things no child let alone grandchild should see. I was actually in a state of shock and disbelief that my mother could do this and even more that my father let her. She was always controlling and also had a controlling mother. Anyway, I can finally talk about this and am hopeful after three years I can let it go.

Dear Caj,
Thank you for sharing your story. What a dreadful experience you and your family have had to go through. How sad that your mother could not be honest about her situation and accept help. You will probably never know why she did what she did. It must have caused a lot of hurt. Before all this happened, are there happier memories you can look back to that might help you? It sounds like you and your children did love your mother very much and tried to help her, but when someone refuses there is not much you can do. It is good that you feel you can finally talk about it. I hope that the responses you get and the posts from others on this forum will be helpful for you.

Thank you. I am hopeful my post will help others. Yes we do think about happier times but unfortunately what she did has tainted them a bit. I used to be a psychiatric nurse so was able to help my family but not so much myself which I am sure you can understand. Anyway, actually putting it in writing after such a long time has really helped me. Thank you again for your kind response.

Dear Caj, I am so sorry for what you and your family have gone through. You mention how putting it in writing has actually helped you, perhaps you could now try writing a letter to your mother. I’m a great believer in writing down my feelings. It always feels like I have offloaded and I feel lighter for having done it. Love and hugs xx

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Thank you very much and yes I will do that. Xx

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So sorry about your loss and the way it happened.

What your mum did isn’t “normal”. She probably had some traumatic experience in her life, but because she was raised in a time where mental illness wasn’t recognisned, she never got the treatment she deserved.

I am a firm believer that we should not talk “ill” of the deceased as they are not here to defend themselves. If your mum was here, maybe she could tell us why she behaved the way she did. Maybe it is therefore best for the family to try and give her the benefit od the doubt and not hold her to account of not loving you.

Thank you for your reply. I do not think any of us are talking badly about her or holding her to account for what she did. I think it is a natural reaction to feel she didn’t love as we are taught in life that people who love do not hurt you. I have worked very hard the last couple of years to tell my children that she did love them and maybe she was trying to protect them. I had to put my personal emotional feelings to one side to protect them which is why I have only just been able to write it down.

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Hi, sorry for my choice of words, I did not mean to cause offence, I was just trying to say that maybe she did love you guys but didn’t know how to express it, I am glad you’re trying your best to help your children.

Dear Caj
I am so sorry about your mum and the way her death has affected you and your family.
I think that what you tell your children is true…your mum’s actions probably stemmed from a .mixture of self denial and love for you all…she didn’t want to be a burden to you all and put you through the trauma of watching her suffer and she may well have had a fear of hospitals and treatment…you will never know…just as she didn’t know that you would all suffer in spite of her efforts.
Never ever think she didn’t love you all…she did, even if her way of showing it was not what you wished.
Take care x

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