Lost my mum and only just starting to grieve

Hi there. I lost my mum to metastatic bladder cancer towards the end of June 2016. She had been ill / had symptoms only for 11 months and right up until mid-March 2016 we thought she would make a pretty full recovery from the operation she had in February to remove the bladder as all the indications had looked good. Unfortunately, though, it was then discovered that the cancer had already spread and she passed away only 3 months after the terminal diagnosis. The last year has been a complete blur. I live 400 miles from where my mum lived and am her only child (I’m in my 40s now) and she brought me up alone as a single parent. With all the travelling, getting time off work, finding places to stay (she lived in a tiny council flat) to spend time with her and support her for initial diagnosis, then exploratory operations, then chemotherapy, then radical cystectomy, then supporting her through her post-operative pain, then through the shock of terminal diagnosis, then through palliative radiotherapy and finally through the weeks over which she was dying and threw her passing away, I feel like I’ve had to cope at each stage just with what’s immediately in front of me, no time to think or reflect or even draw breath. And I have coped pretty well all things considered. Now my mum has died and though she had a good well lived life and though I am well supported and appreciate the time and the close relationship I had with my mum my whole life … now that all the things that have had to rapidly be coped with over the past year are fading away, I feel lost, and like I am only very slowly now entering the grieving process, and am feeling very sad and alone sometimes despite excellent support from my partner and friends. So I thought it would be helpful to me to chat online sometimes with those in similar boats and hopefully gain comfort from it and from reading others stories and sharing my story with them. So I guess I am just saying hi and thanks for listening and that I feel right at the start of the grieving process after a whirlwind so difficult year of trying to be with my mum and support as best as I could through all the above and with being exhausted from all the travelling and stress as well. Just nice to have somewhere to set things down and take comfort from our shared sadness and grief, I know an inevitable part of human life.

Hi Caracara14,

Welcome to the Sue Ryder Online Community. I’m so sorry to hear that you have lost your mum. It sounds as though you were really close and you did so much to support her while she was ill.

It is very normal that it has taken time to process things and that you feel you are only just beginning to grieve. I hope that it does help a little bit to be able to share things here and to be among others who understand.

Hopefully some of our other members will be along soon to reply, but in the meantime, here are a couple of recent conversations between members who’ve lost a parent, which you might be interested to read or reply to:
https://support.sueryder.org/community/coping-death-loved-one/losing-my-mum-soo-quickly
https://support.sueryder.org/community/coping-death-loved-one/struggling-losing-my-dad

Our members often say that it’s important to be kind to yourself and to let yourself grieve, rather than bottling things up. It’s good that you have a supportive partner and friends - try to be honest with them and let them know if you are struggling.

If there’s anything I can help with, just let me know.

Take care,
Priscilla
Sue Ryder community manager

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Hi caracara 14 I wrote you a long reply the wife went down and it was lost. Will post again later today, it’s 2.14 am and my poor husband is trying to sleep. I have been in a similar situation as yourself for the last 15 months so we have a bit in common. Be kind to yourself, don’t expect too much, that’s what I would tell myself if I thought I’d listen!
Will post again but you take care,

Hugs

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It was the wifi not wife!

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Thanks for your thoughtful and kind words. It is so good to know of others in the same boat xxx

Hi, I’m so sorry for the loss of your mum I have also lost mum to cancer in may this year. I nursed loved cared for her through everything we were so very close peas in a pod. I stayed with her at the hospice 24/7 for the whole month she was there. I also like you went to all hospital vists. Gp. And all phone calls that had to made sometimes at 2am for help. Also like you it was like being on a non stop nightmare treadmill you don’t get a chance to take things in and just had to keep going . Looking back I don’t know how I did it I suppose because I knew I had to stay strong for mum. Now I don’t have to stay strong for mum and the funeral is out the way etc the reality is really starting to kick in that she has gone and all the horrible things and suffering that she had to through its heartbreaking and I am beyond gutted it’s so painfully and you can feel so alone and overwhelmed with painful grief. I wish it was me that was gone I would of gave mum my life so she didn’t have to suffer. Life is very cruel and unfair!! I hope I’ve not made you feel worse I suppose I am just trying to covey that you are not alone in your feelings of grief and so on. I hope that makes sense I am dsylexic so please excuse spelling grammar errors. But just remember you are not alone. If you ever wana chat then please feel free.
Hug sent. From Tray x
I

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Thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciate it. I’m feeling a bit down at the moment so sorry am not writing a lot but it is very comforting to read the stories of others in the sense of knowing we have all experienced the difficult grief and loss that comes with loving and losing someone xxxx

Hello both I am so glad I found this forum. I have grown up children but for reasons long past they we are not close, literally and emotionally. I know they are grieving as well but I can’t get close to them to give and receive comfort. My husband is always there for me but I can’t keep on and on at him.
I live around 7 hours drive away from dad and we went up at least every ywo weeks. If I say that we had to pay for hotels for almost 14 months when there was a spare room at my daughter’s you will understand how things are.
To make matters worse my brother, who lives in Farnborough suddenly sent me a series of very strange and nasty texts. We have not spoken since and I have no idea what I have done
As i live so far away and have health problems my dad gave lasting power of attorney to my daughters. This means I had no say in his care, about the sale of his house and about his funeral
This is the background to what was going on throughout the whole of my dad’s illness. I honestly don’t know when I will see any of them again Dad was the linchpin and now he has gone I have no idea what to do
This is not the post I intended to write but i think you will understand my loneliness. Even today 5 weeks on I thought its macmillan nurse day and I haven’t phoned dad. I know in my head he is gone but I don’t think my heart agrees yet.

Hugs, Lynne

So sorry for your loss xo
I too have lost my mum in May 2016 so I’m finding it hard to come to terms with things

Stay strong
Xo

I lost my Mum in July of this year, she was over 90. I lost my Dad over 20 years ago and don’t remember that being so painful as this time. Suppose I had my Mum that time round. I really understand now what people mean when they say they are prostrate with grief. She was ill for only six weeks but they were terrible for her and the family. Getting the diagnosis she was terminally ill was awful. She rarely smiled again and looked so tiny and sad always. Nursing her was dreadful, she came home for her last few weeks but at least I felt I was doing something.

Now the funeral is over it has hit me very hard. I lived with her and find it unbearable walking into the house knowing she is no longer there. I have constant flashbacks to the nursing and horrible things that happened. I find the memory of her suffering awful to recall at the moment. I am single, no partner to support me. I would just love someone to give me a big hug occasionally. However kind friends are they cannot be there all the time. People say to knock for a coffee or tea anytime but when it comes to it they are too busy to talk I find.

Hi Pah,
I’m so sorry for the loss of your mum. I lost my mum who was 60 in May this year to terminal cancer found out in Feb and died in May. I can relate to a lot of what you put in your post some of it I would write exactly the same. The pain of losing mum is beyond words I really struggle everyday it’s like a awful torture battle every hour every day. I too like you lived with mum and find the turning of the door key and she’s not there so gutting and waking up in the morning and realise a new day and she’s still not there its crushing to your heart it’s so so painfull me and mum were so very close our bond could not be stronger. Peas in a pod we said to each other. I also nursed my mum likeyouhave and seeing the person you love most in the world deteriate and suffer is heartbreaking!! I said to her mum I wish it was me I would take this from you and have it myself if it meant you didn’t have to suffer . Again Like you say I get awful memory’s of her that haunt me of her being ill and things she went through and how much she suffered these flash backs and thoughts are so difficult to deal there very distressing and I get in a panicky state it’s all just so upsetting . I am also single I don’t have children and again like you I would some days just love a big hug as its something I never get. I did get a dog well puppy on the advice of gp and crisis team , cpn. She does help me and provides some comfort and distraction but just getting out of bed can feel like a mountain and like my body is so tired and made of lead. Maybe a dog could be a idea for you ? Or maybe it’s not your thing? Do you have any hobby interests ? I say that but I get so low that I just lose interest in anything. I am waiting grief councilling but 8 week wait. Maybe grief councilling might help you? I don’t know if my post has been any help to you it’s just I wanted to let you know you are not alone in your feelings and you are now in my thoughts and if you ever wana chat and get things off your chest then please get in touch. I know the awful pain of losing mum is and this place we are both in and really don’t want to be can be so painful and lonely so please get in touch if you want too.
Please excuse grammar spelling errors I’m dsylexic and find it very difficult.
With love and virtual hug xxtray xx

Hi Tray,

thank you for your lovely reply. It means a lot to me to get a message back. My Mum had cancer too and seeing her go downhill so fast and the ravages of the disease was awful.

I love dogs, something for the future for me as not possible at present. I do go for long walks nearby as enjoy those and seeing other people with their dogs. It also tires me out so I get a few hours sleep at night.

The waking up in the morning I find is awful. That couple of seconds until you remember what has happened. My Mum was one of my best friends as well as being a wonderful Mum to me. Same interests and sense of humour.You don’t realise what you have got and how lucky you are until you lose them.

Did you get much help or support with your Mum? The carers we had were so variable we found. The lack of respect was awful and no dignity. Curtains left open and not covering her up when washing her. I used to walk in to see what they were doing and see Mum with nothing on looking so desperate. I apologised to her everyday for it but was so frightened of losing the help I could do nothing until afterwards. I have complained to the agency now but have heard nothing. They could be so rude and intrusive as well I found. The district nurses were lovely though and the people from the hospice.

The most unexpected people have been kind. I met one of Mum’s friends in the street last week and she took one look at me and rushed me into her house for a chat and some tea. Other people who said they are always there for me, nothing. I suppose they are embarrassed. Has been an eye opener and I hope has taught me to be kinder when I see someone in a similar position.

Hope you have a reasonable night tonight. I shall be thinking of you.

P

Hi Pah, nice to hear to hear back from you . It’s only brief as having probs with Internet and keeps cutting out quick but just wanted to let you know I wil reply and thinking of you.
Hope this sends and you get it
With love Tray xx

Thanks everyone for the replies. It is a challenging time and I wish I had the right words of comfort for everyone on here and for myself. It has helped me personally that in the 10 weeks or so since my mum’s death, I have been able some of the time to let go of the more recent traumatic memories of when she was ill and start to remember the older memories and my happy and funny and enjoyable times with her. Some of the time. Other times bad recent memories intrude and I almost argue with myself trying to accept or put right some things which were so hard at the time. I guess that’s normal.

On the better days I have done some things that have helped me. Every situation is so personal so none of it may help others but I’ll post it anyway just in case it might. I’ve adopted a tree in my mum’s name at a local arboretum and written some words for their dedication book. I mentioned this idea to her in the weeks before she died and she liked the idea. I like it too because the tree lives in a place I visited several times with my mum and is a place of life, of living, growing things. The tree is very very tall already and will be much taller and should live hundreds of years. It will stand and thrive long after my own death. I find this comforting. My mum used to tell me that her dad used to tell her: “Don’t you grieve too long when I’m gone; enjoy your life, it’s but a short time that separates us all in this life, we don’t walk too far behind each other.” This makes me feel comforted not depressed. Not that I want my time to go faster! Just realising how quick and finite it is puts even death into perspective, into its proper place. I have also visited some gardens we went to together and I took a lot of photos. I am now going to have a few printed and hang them in my house. It will remind me of lovely times spent with my mum in those places. I am also having printed up a couple of photos of my mum when she was a young woman, before she had me, looking beautiful and natural and enjoying a holiday trip. These will remind me of her whole life and it’s richness and not just the part of her life with me in it and hence not just of my loss. I’m also getting a nice photo printed of my grandparents on my mum’s side - long dead - but walking arm in arm having a laugh on a British seaside holiday. Technology and websites these days allows you to get high quality prints of old photos which I think is great. I’m also talking about my mum and re-telling her stories to close friends as and when something relevant comes up. My mum was a great story teller and loved good company, food and wine so I have a lot of stories!!

These are the positives, for me. But I have hard and sad and lonely times too. Life is light and shade. I don’t mean it as a silly cliche. It just is. I try to bugger on through the bad times and I’ve done the above sorts of things in the times I feel better.

Thinking of you all in your own personal griefs. Be kind to yourselves. I’m treating myself to even small things - an ice lolly sitting in the sun in the garden, a nice new pillow for sleeping -,whenever I feel like it these days!

xxxxxxxx

Hi Pah,
Was nice to hear back from you and again I could really relate to what you put. How has your day been today or days ? (depending on when you read this) .
The waking up first thing in the morning is so awful because for a few secs momments reality hasn’t kicked in and then when it does it’s just a massive low sinking feeling with massive kicks to the heart. I completely understand what you mean and my mum was my best friend aswell and no one loves or knows and understands you like your own mum and knowing that love has gone is beyond words I feel so lost and vulnerable sometimes i feel like a adult child and like we have both said before just wanting that big hug.
Like you people have said be there and nothing and i feel like people can back off a few mths after feeling you should better and that things have moved in which isn’t the case and I feel now worse in a way as at first you are in shock denial reality doesn’t always fully hit until later on I know I am really struggling to cope and suffering with bad anxiety and feeling so very low and just crying and this constant awful pain.grief is so exhausting and I get so stressed and bothered by the smallest thing.
Change of subject slightly but I think you are right in complaining of the care you received from certain people and I would keep at it until you get a response I understand why you didn’t complain at the time as you feel vunerable and your whole focus is your mum and just trying to stay strong for yr mum and yourself so I really do get why you didn’t at the time but now I would fight on for your mum. I cared for my mum and luckily had and have a great gp ( me and mum same gp ) so that made a difference and the hospice team were good apart from one or two but overall very good but I still did the care in the hospice I lived there24/7 with my mum so she wasn’t alone we truly were peas in a pod and that’s why this grief loss is so hard and painfull because our love and bond was so very strong couldn’t be any closer than we were. Now I just feel am so alone. It’s my birthday Monday and I’m dreading it as I always spent it with mum and this will be first one without mum and our previous dog Named May she died February 22nd this year she was nearly 15 and my mum was diagonoised with terminal cancer 1st February this year and may was our world we were a team of three and that’s been taken away in one go having to tell mum may had passed was awful telling her our world may had died when only 2weeks ago she was toldofcancer is awful I just can’t find the words to express it . Life is so very cruel and unfair it makes me angry . It’s just so cruel.
Please feel free to write anytime and in the meantime please know that you in my thoughts. Hug and love sent to you . From Tray xx

Oh Tray, it’s my birthday too in a couple of weeks. Obviously not a celebration this year at all. What will you do with yourself on Monday? Maybe go somewhere you and your Mum enjoyed visiting and spend some quiet time there. I am going to some gardens we liked near my birthday and will just sit and remember her for a bit. Have also been asked out to lunch, relatives think huge meals are the answer to everything but my appetite is not good at the moment so feel it is a waste of money.

Cyber hug from me anyway for Monday and love

Hi Pah,
Thank you for your reply. Means a lot. Oh yr birthday also soon what date if you don’t mind me asking? It’s something else we can both relate to then. I dreading it. I don’t know what to do .?? I don’t have great close family and so on so verymuchme andsusie hope . Nobody has offered any thing so guess just me and puppy I can’t think of anywhere to go maybe just a close village walk maybe even her grave iChat been there yet Its too raw too painful so even with Susie hope don’t know if I can it’s the church in the village so only just over 5 min walk but don’t know if can face the pain it’s alreadysuchastruggle.
And again like you meals out just would not interest me at all would hate it no one has asked but I know what you mean peopledothinkhuge meal are great thing to do . Doesn’t interest me either.
How has yr day been do you keep yrself busy or struggle to get through day and find it hard to function ? I know I really struggle to keep any kind of motivation or just so tired. Or sometimes i find put on a bit of a mask soto speak but inside I’m thinking and feeling awfull . I hope yr day is going as ok as it can when in grief. Thinking of you and thanks for reply means a lot.
With love. Tray xx

Hi, mine is three weeks Thursday. Few weeks to go but still dreading it already. I think a walk with your puppy sounds a lovely thing to do. Is there a walk the opposite way from the church if it is too painful to go that way? You are lucky living in a village with walks around you, I am in the midst of a town but do have a park nearby.

I am not close to my family really either. Find them a bit intrusive at times, no social boundaries. Wanting to come and stay or friends of friends wanting to dump themselves on me now to ‘cheer me up’. Why would I want people I hardly know in the house? Have so much to do sorting things out as well.

My day has been a bit rough so far, going for a walk in a minute to try and clear my mind.

xx

Hi Pah,
Sorry to hear your days been rough. Did the walk help at all? I know you said you love dogs would you consider to get a dog for company? I know that Susie-hope is company for me and the house hasn’t got that empty noise of just me being in it especially as the nights are starting to get darker sooner. I have to have the tv on in the background though as don’t like silence it’s a distraction .
I agree with you I wouldn’t want near strangers in the house unless you really clicked it sounds like that’s not the case though you sound like its more of what they want than understanding your needs . Maybe I’m wrong on that but it’s impression I’m picking up? And when you are down and raw with pain and grief you only want those around you that you know truly care and can trust and don’t know about you but I do like to be in my own space and with Susie as I feel that I have to put on a face and that can be hard work .
I too have lots of sorting out to do me and mum lived together so memory’s and things all around , her bedroom door stays shut I just can’t bare to go into it too painful . The bungalow really needs a good tidy up organising and so on but I just don’t know what to do with it and find it hard to get any motivation seeing it a mess bothers makes me more stressed but thought of going through stuff can’t get my head around. Do you struggle with anything like this? I think you said you live alone ? Sorry if got that wrong my brain is very tired,
My birthday Monday yes is other ways can walk just don’t know what do ?? Wish I could just sleep through the whole day and night . I’m dreading it!! It’s upsetting and making me more anxious. I know my gp is ringing on Monday so that’s all that’s planned.
Weekend 2mrow you have any plans? I haven’t few chores got to do but my mind is so messy and exhausted.
Thinking of you
Tray xx

Hi Tray,

yes the sorting out of Mum’s things is a mountain I am not prepared to attempt at the moment. I go in her bedroom sometimes just to sit down amongst her things for a bit. I have one of her hankies I sleep with each night!

Someone said something lovely to me recently. Said as my Mums child I will carry part of her (and my Dad) inside me always. It did comfort me and I hope will you too.

Had a really rotten afternoon yesterday but did have a cup of tea with a friend. She was so kind and I didn’t want to come home. I ended up going to bed when I did. Couldn’t eat or even watch television. Today not much better. Feel the magnitude of what has happened hit me again yesterday. Never hearing my Mum’s voice again or seeing her.

I love the idea of a puppy but can barely look after myself let alone take on the responsibility of a dog. I also will have to move out of the house next year so maybe when I am more settled.

I hope your day has been going OK. I have been thinking about you and hoping you are alright. Cyber cuddles to you and your lovely sounding Susie-hope.

xx