Milestone day

Just got through a sad day as it would have been Mum’s birthday today. The first one since her passing away. Knew it would be unbearable and wasn’t ‘disappointed’. Everything I did today and everywhere I looked I saw her.

At least now is past 11pm and I can try and sleep hoping tomorrow will be better.

Hi Mel,

It sounds like yesterday was a really tough day for you, understandably. I hope you managed to get some sleep, how are you feeling today?

You might like to take a look at this conversation about how people cope with birthdays and the anniversaries of death:

It’s from a while back, but there are some nice suggestions there you might want to try at this difficult time.

Thinking of you,


Hi there Mel,
I am new to this site so forgive me if this is a bit rambling. I do hope you have managed to have some sleep and a much better day? I can sympathise with everything you are going through.

My little old mum passed away in the early hours of the 6th of November. Her birthday was on Christmas day, she would have been 89.

I have been her carer for a number of years. She had a number of strokes, vascular dementia and was bed bound since she also had COPD, she was susceptible to innumerable chest infections and pneumonia. The last two Christmases I had to get the GP out to her and was in a state of anxiety and worry. I was rather snappy with her and unsympathetic, both of us would end up in tears. (Something I am so ashamed of, not the tears, but my rudeness).
Presently I am rather numb with all what has gone on, tearful one minute and abnormally calm the next. She is the only real companion I have ever known…I never really left home (as a 52 year old man that is really pathetic, eh?). so my reason for existence has gone. I have to look for a job (at my time of life and being out of work for a while, easier said than done). I also I have to look for somewhere to live. We live in an over 55 flat, I am there as her carer. So now I have the worry of being dumped in a bed sit or the ‘scropey villas’ multiple occupation hell holes that are aplenty around here, with hot and cold running mildew running down the wall and an unofficial unqualified dispensing chemist consulting nearby dispensing his little pills in a very shifty manner…definitely not talking about Boots the Chemist here. that is the quality of my future home…I am dreading it!

Yesterday I was in Cardiff, where they have a Christmas fare, stalls, a Ferris wheel and all that jazz. It shook me up no end since it reminds me of the big day looming. I was so preoccupied that I went into a store and bought a shirt for myself, then spotting something my mother would like in her size I took it to the counter to pay…then it hit me hard, like a punch in the stomach…she wasn’t hear anymore and I am on my own…I had to fight the tears back hard and had this terrible lump in my throat ever since…I don’t know how I got home without crying or making a scene. I can relate to what your saying…I see my mother everywhere.

Do you have any family or friends to stay with or visit over the festive season?
I have an elder brother, who has his own family, and an elder sister who make Hitler look cuddly. and no real friends worth speaking of. so for me it is going to be baked beans on toast and avoiding Christmas carols (she loved to sing them) and all the festive progs she liked. I have a collection of Jazz CD and DVDs that will be on from the second I get up until I go to bed. It is the build up as well that unnerves me since this will the first time I am completely alone and especially on Christmas (her birthday).

There has been a load of hurdles to get over and it is the silly things that get to me. They took all the equipment, hoist, shower chair and hospital bed and so forth away today and that was another reminder that she is gone. Sobbed for an hour over that. Her funeral is on Friday morning (I cannot attend that under any circumstances…that will destroy whatever sanity I have.
I am trying to sleep, but often failing. I get odd surreal nightmares…then I wake up and it all hits me so hard again: she is not here!!! start sobbing all over again. Sorry for hijacking your message but it caught.
Take good care of yourself!
Kindest regards
Dave Thomas from Neath, South Wales.

Hi Dave

What you are going through is heartbreaking and I think you have been an absolute hero caring for your mum until she reached 88.I can understand your emotions being all over the place - I lost my wife, Helen, 9 weeks ago and I still cry everyday. I am no expert on what supporting organisations there are but I hope you get all the practical as well as emotional support you can. Hopefully there are others on this forum who can point you in the right direction and remember you can get in touch with Priscilla, the Community Manager direct (rhs of page). A man hug from me.

Hi Dave and Alan

Not hijacking at all, thanks for replying. Today was another day and not nearly as bad. Sleep did not come easily but did get some rest and had a little snooze this afternoon instead.

I relate completely to your comment Dave about relatives being unkind, I have one of those too. Told today I was wallowing in my grief, the tempatation to lash out and respond in similar vein is great but I don’t.

I think you sound as if you were wonderful to your Mum Dave. I know I snapped sometimes at mine, it is only human nature I think occasionally not that it makes it right. You certainly don’t sound pathetic not leaving home and being in your 50s. Sounds though as if the coming months are going to be pretty grim. Finding a new home as this time is not much fun, I am facing that next year and dreading it. I am going away for Christmas as could not bear to be at home. It won’t be ideal but better than staring at four walls and weeping on my own. At least you live in a lovely part of the country, I know Cardiff fairly well and have happy memories of Roath Park as a child and playing there when visiting relatives.

Alan, I have seen your posts on other threads and am so sorry for your loss. Your wife sounded lovely and it must be so hard for you.

We all muddle through somehow don’t we. Each day is a challenge to get through. At least there are new friends to be made on this forum which i find helps somewhat.


Hello Mel. Just a quick post to say thank you for your warm words. I’ve been lucky (and wished I had made more of my luck!) -sounds (from your other postings) that you were lucky in your mum. Its not what we’ve lost but what we had, if you get my drift. Thinking of you and Dave.

Hi Mel and Alan,
What can I say but I am more than humbled by your kind words. I must admit that I find some of the posts very hard to read in my emotional state. So I have only a basic awareness of both your circumstances. Nevertheless, what comes across from you good people is that you loved—and were loved—deeply. And that your loss is both painful and draining. Sorry for the banality of my sentiment here. I am so drained myself at present I cannot fully sum up how much your words comforted me last night. With the aid of sleeping tablets, from the saw-bones, I managed to sleep OKish; even though I woke up at 2 AM to go and check on her (then it hit me all over again).
I don’t feel very heroic when I realise that I lost my patients and temper with my little old Mum and said some cruelly wicked things, words that I wish I never said, which upset her so much. I also lost my temper with her a few weeks ago before she was ill again, after a week of almost sleeplessness because she could’nt get settled—I threw a stuffed toy at her—which terrified her and made me feel more of an evil swine than ever. To my everlasting shame, I even slapped her once. To my everlasting shame and horror and self-disgust. A guilt I will deservedly carry until my dying days. I have an odd of her face read with crying and the sound of despair she made when crying so loud. So far from heroic, but a cowardly swine. I justified my behaviour with the excuse of tiredness, loneliness and frustration at a very limited future……but that is a just pathetic excuse. I am so ashamed. I deserve nothing but increased loneliness as a result. I do love her deeply and I miss her so much. This makes my guilt even harder to expiate. Though I am trying to focus on the happier times, but that does n’t seem to be coming up so often
Yesterday I was going to be brave but they came to take away her hospital bed and equipment away and her room now just looks so empty (sorry if I am repeating myself, my memory is all over the place as my concentration span).
Things are going to be difficult over the next few weeks but I am going to be stoical in my fate and persevere; she would have wanted that.
Sounds daft but this grief is like a physical pain as well as emotional, I have this constant lump in the back of my mouth and a cold feeling in my stomach. I am breaking down all the time, in private, that is.
Sorry for this stream of verbiage, one minute I don’t know what to say then it all pores out. I am like that of late all bottled up then it floods out.
Thank you your kind words, folks.
Keep warm and sleep well.
Kindest regards
Dave from Neath.
I am, glad for you Mel, that you are going away for the festive season. What about you Alan?

Hi Dave

It is obvious from your post that you absolutely adored your Mum and despite everything that happened she would have known that. Everyone has things they regret about what has happened. You had what sounds like a long time dealing with your Mum’s illness and looking after her which must have been debilitating for you however much help you got.

My Mum was ill less than two months and the emotional and physical strain was awful. The speedy decline was terrifying to watch though the help from our Doctor, district nurses and the local hospice was marvellous. I had so much left I wanted to talk to her about but could not have stood for her to linger on so ill.

It was a relief when the hospital bed and other paraphernalia was taken away. I couldn’t go in the bedroom and see it all there afterwards. Returning Mum’s bedroom to how it should be made me feel a bit better.

The physical pain of grief was something I had forgotten from when my Dad passed away. I seem to have a permanant pain in my chest and as you say a lump in the mouth.

All we can do is as you say keep warm and try to get some sleep, plus of course try and eat!


Hello Dave

It’s difficult to follow Mel’s posting - it says it all. I would only add that I know about guilt, this is not a competition but I have been far more deserving of eternal damnation than yourself - as this is an open post I will spare the details. Yes, you may have done wrong by your mother at times, but not one of your wrongs (nor all of your wrongs added together!) cancels all the caring you gave your mum.

Don’t worry about breaking down and don’t try to be too stoical - it doesn’t work - I thought I was over crying but I went for a bereavement assessment for counselling and it was like reliving it all over again. Can you get yourself some professional help. Were Age UK involved in your mum’s care? in which case can they recommend some bereavement counselling. If not get a referral from your GP. but get help somewhere, practical as well as emotional.

Luckily my son has been tremendous and has invited himself down to visit this Christmas.

Take good care of yourself, we are thinking of you - keep us up to speed with how you are.

All the best, Alan

Hi Alan, Mel and to anyone out there,

What can I say??? I am humbled and grateful for your kind and intelligent words. Still very raw at present, though it has been a good day (no tears or anxiety at all…i’ll pay for it later though, have tonight to get through first).
tomorrow is the funeral, but I cannot go. Not don’t want to go, can’t! I will be taken out of the Crematorium in a straight jacket if I did. I could not go to my father’s funeral either it was too emotional for me.
I will go to the scattering of her ashes though. Just me and my brother.

Strange isn’t it how I see the negatives instead of the positives? that’s the problem with me too much negativity.
I did tell her that I loved her dearly every night, but those horrible things come back to haunt me.
A few weeks before she was taken ill, with her hundredth bout of chest infections, I was battling to get another day out to myself. I had a sitting service for one day only and it was agreed for a Thursday, that would have started today, ironically, if all was well. Now there is too much time on my hands, but I don’t feel (or want to at the present) do too much. Just slumped in front of the TV…that is not good!

I will be seeing CRUSE on Tuesday about what they can do to assist and the local Mental health unit are coming over…don’t really know what they do?..seems just to be sitting there and letting me open up. Its unnerving really since I find it hard to open up with people staring at me. I will be contacting the GP about their one-to-one services which may be much better for my needs. As everyone on the website says its going to be long before I feel “better” so I am following the advice of 2One day at a time"

My Mother’s empty room seems so sad at present.

Thank you both.


Hi Dave

I know you are not going to the funeral but all the best for tomorrow. One coping strategy I have been trying to use is when I get a negative thought I immediately think of a positive one, either in direct contradiction of the negative or related to it some way. O.K it doesn’t always work but a bit of practice can make a large difference.

Glad you have the ball rolling with the support services - where would they be without us?

Take care and keep us posted if you can.


Dear Dave , although you cannot manage to be at your mums funeral tomorrow , I think you know that she will understand . Keep yourself safe and maybe ( if it’s not to difficult) think about some of your happier times spent together .
I’m sure that the team who is coming to see you are professional enough to know how to help.
You told your mum all the time that you loved her , and I’m sure she loved you as well . I hope you and your brother are able to scatter her ashes as you both wish,
Thinking of you , Kim .

Hi Dave

Want you to know I am thinking of you today on your ‘Milestone Day’. As Kim has said think of happier times and things you did with your Mum. Alan’s strategy is a good one, thanks for it Alan, I will be using it too.

I too told my Mum every day I loved her and although we were not overly tactile as a family would hold her hand sometimes. She was too frail to cuddle and I was too frightened of disturbing her equipment but did my best.

I still have ashes to inter, something very private and much more personal than the funeral so if you can manage that with your brother will be much better.

You take lots of care of yourself today and I am sending you a big cyber cwtch.


Hi Alan,

Im so sorry to read in your reply to Dave the heartbreak you are experiencing.with the recent loss of your wife. I can identify to what you are suffering too as my lovely wife passed away recently. As a broken man and feeling so empty with such a loss i could only see what i was going through. Until i came on this forum and noticed im not alone. Its hard when all around you is a reminder of a life spent together. I left work to look after (Linda) for 7 yrs at home, though you know whats coming i was never prepared. she died in my arms 4 weeks ago and hav,nt stopped crying since. They say times a healer and hope and pray that is the case for both of us. I know we have to move on and find a precious resting place in our hearts for such a loss. I saw a man sitting in the cemetery who lost his wife 10 yrs ago and sits there everyday ,He told me his sad story i held his hand to comfort he started crying. I/we must take whatever help there is on offer to rebuild our lives. It may take a bit of time to bind up a broken heart but with help on here. Thoughts & prayers along with plenty of man hugs we will get through this God Bless

Hi everyone,
just a short note to see how everyone is out there? Alan and Mel many thanks for your kind words.
I spent my day yesterday in hibernation, avoiding the world, being down with a horrendous cold I spent most of it in bed…feeling absolutely Uuuurch! the Home care team, came to see me at 3pm, I was up beat and amore pessimistic about my future than everything, unusual self pity from me: 52 years old, just grieving after caring for all this time, now without a purpose, soon to move to somewhere that is likely to be a manky bed sit in Swansea with hot and cold running mold and the constant thumping of a bass drum beat from noisy neighbours (had that in my student days, bad enough then…but now) no friends, estranged from my family and no chance of a job after being out of the work place for so long. They proved to be helpful in listening, they will get back to me about further advice in the week. All endorsed Alan’s and Mel’s sublime advice about focusing on the positives.

Going to see Cruse on Tuesday about voluntary work and support…so we will see.
Today not so grand, still shaking off this cold, went shopping in the miserable rain, which makes Neath, the town I live in, look slightly more aesthetically pleasing than it is in reality. The Romans billeted here in the 1st Century AD called this place something rather scatological…Wont go into details but if an enema needs to be given to the planet earth then Neath is…(fill in your own opinions here!). found I was wandering around the local supermarket thinking a few weeks ago we were both here, I was pushing her in her wheelchair…I was dawdling over buying her favourite foods…then it hit me again. I am now buying for myself. I have already started to avoid places we used to go to since it is still far too raw for me at present. Broke down, thankfully it was pouring down and I was spluttering away with the cold as well, so this disguised my discomfort.

They’ll have the usual Christmas nonsence soon, Santa coming to town and switching on the lights etc. Since Christmas day was my Mother’s birthday…I shudder to think how I will cope on my own here.

I llisten to the Radio a lot for relaxation especially in the evening and tuning out the silence, Radio 3, Jazz FM and Classic FM as well. How do you folks out there relax? We both used to listen to Classic FM together of an evening, but with Christmas looming it is going to be carols and the likes, so I will have to get my jazz CD collection into shape, I am an old be-bopper at heart.
Thank you for your messages and sorry for my long winded disjointed reply.
Stay warm folks!

Hello Pete

Thanks for the kind words. It must have been really tough to lose your Linda after 7 years of caring and I am glad that you were holding her at the last. I miss Helen more than I can put into words but what gnaws at me everyday is not knowing whether Helen knew that I loved her. O.K Helen only had 6 months from the diagnosis but even in that short time I let the medical and carer practicalities intervene between us and I was massively in denial. I feel as though I am asking for a salve for my conscience. Certainly I feel a fraud - it should have been me that died - Helen gave so much more to the world and other people. But I know everyone has to live with their own worst thoughts and fears.

What I think about time, perhaps it’s just me, it is what happens, what you do in that time - like you reaching out to the guy in the cemetery and showing him compassion when you yourself are hurting. That’s what counts. I will be thinking of you and, as one of the other contributors on this forum beautifully put it, be the person your loved one loved.


Hello Dave

I’m glad the Home support team might be of some use and I hope Cruse are too. The future is always frightening when you can’t see where the path is leading but you never know, there might be some nice surprises along the way. I started off thinking that if I do something my wife and I used to do together that was wrong and to do something new was even worse but I’ve deliberately begun to do the things and go to the places we used to. Just a couple of days ago I went down to the beach where we used to swim and I suddenly felt glad - glad that Helen enjoyed her swims so much and glad that I had got the courage to go down to the beach.

I don’t relax at the moment and perhaps I am going in for too much displacement activity, like long tiring walks and clearing the brambles in our “wildlife” garden. Indoors I can’t concentrate to read a book so I have started to sort our junk room, watch old films, and organise old photos and accumulated paperwork like bills and letters. And, also, post messages that may do something for the likes of me and you - I think in the Bible it is casting your bread upon the waters.

Hope your cold is better (I hate colds) and take care.


Hi All

Sorry to hear about your cold Dave. You must take extra care of yourself as getting ill at the moment is going to be ten times worse than normal - and colds always feel like death warmed up to me in a normal situation.

I think revisiting old and loved places can work. I started off going out for a meal every week on my own to remember Mum, have a drink and nice lunch, that sort of thing. Not always possible on a budget so had to knock that one on the head.

Like Alan long and very tiring walks are a feature of my life. If it’s raining no one sees you crying so can let off steam that way. Dave if you are moving to Swansea you will have Gower on your doorstep so lots of lovely walks there to be done.

I can’t think of Christmas with any enthusiasm at present. Thankfully have no children so no need for false jollity. Jazz CDs sound lovely and Classic FM. Surrounding yourself in good music sounds a plan indeed.

Re-reading Hard Times by Dickens feels appropriate at present.


Hi Alan,

A little late replying, been in bed all day exhausted and finding the will to function.Though i know its early days yet. Well i never fully completed a power of attorney.With regards to the medical profession my daughter stood her ground in caring for Linda the way we wanted it done.I think if it was left to me it could have been a lot different. I too was in denial and could,nt accept what was happening. I have only come to terms with the reality of it now .Ive since experienced such thoughts as wanting to go myself. Life is empty and seems little point in doing anything. Its all the turmoil of bereavement symptoms we are suffering now. But we will be strong and carry on regardless knowing we are not alone.!!! Linda could not talk for the last 2 yrs but a touch or look can sometimes speak louder than words.True love is an action of which i would think you certainly showed Helen without saying it.Please rest assured that when a couple are together there are many ways they can say i love you.words are,nt everything. Im sorry if im going on but i think maybe im preaching to myself as well. Pete

Hi Mel,

I lost my dad on 19th Feb this year for a very rare illness called CJD. I helped my mum care for him until he had to go into a home which was heart breaking he lost the use of his legs, speech and memory loss he had very severe dementia symptoms was heart breaking seeing him deteriorate so quick in the space of 4 months from when he was diagnosed. It would of been his birthday 31st October so this year was my first to, my friends tried to distract me but the hurt was still there so i totally understand how you felt, people have said to me the 1st is always the worse but it does get better. I hope they are right x