Only child caring for mum with terminal cancer weeks after my dad died


Just reaching out for support & to offer support for anyone going through a similar time. 2016 was a tough year for me, losing a baby while 3 months pregnant. This was my last chance for a sibling for my 5 year old son.

2017 was a terrible year too. I lost my hero and my dad in May after a long battle with prostate cancer. 2 days after his funeral, my mum fell and I have been caring for her ever since. The doctors told us the pain was grief over losing my dad but we knew something was wrong. Eventually, just 6 weeks after my dad died, my mum was shockingly diagnosed with terminal cancer. It had already spread to her lungs, lymph and brain so she was given weeks to live.

Apart from pain treatment, she refused anything else and somehow here we are in January. Along with carers at night, I care for her every day. She can no longer walk and the strain on everyone has been unbelievable. I am valuing the time I have with her but to not have had any time to grieve my dad has been a double whammy.

I am sorry you are reading this post as it probably means you are having a tough time too but maybe we can help each other by sharing stories and tips for getting through.


Feeling a bit lonely here… I am now going through an exhausted and grumpy stage with my mum. That’s the last thing I want to feel as I don’t know how long I have left with her but I just can’t help the exhaustion.

She was given 6 weeks to live in June last year and is still thankfully with us but I don’t know for how long. As I’ve been caring for her for months as she can’t walk now, I have slipped into our more normal mother daughter roles and no longer have the deep and meaningful chats. I’m so thankful we had them as soon as she was diagnosed but now the physical act of caring is taking over our relationship.

Sorry to waffle on. Just miss my dad so much as he would have understood how I feel.

Ann x

Hi there. My Dad died in December and I miss him so much. Mum is still around but we have never had the best relationship. She also has very limited mobility and now has carers four times a day (Dad was her main carer before he got ill). I too am really struggling with my feelings which are quite negative towards Mum and I am trying to change that. I have been having some counselling and that is helping as it is making me realise that there are certain things I can control and certain things I cannot control. You sound as if you are doing everything you can for your Mum but maybe you need more help/ more care for your Mum to give you a bit of a break.
I too miss my Dad so much and I would always ask his advice and now I cannot do that. You like me have a lot to cope with but you also need to look after yourself. Take care and best wishes x

ps I am an only child too and you feel so responsible

Hi Dolphin1

Thank you very much for the response and I am so sorry you understand through personal experience. I don’t know about you but this is all a body blow I did not expect from life and it has hit me hard. The physical caring is exhausting, let alone not having time to even grieve our fathers.

I have been caring for my mum for 9 months now and put everything on hold. I’m exhausted. It has all come to a head today and my mum is not happy waiting for the carers all the time so she now wants to go into a nursing home. I have resisted this up until now but I think it is time I gave up and became her daughter again for a little while until she dies too.

Living nightmare. Anyway, I am pleased you found me here and I am happy to offer any support I can. Us only children need to stick together :slight_smile:

Ann x

Hi Ann You sound exhausted. You have and are doing everything you can. The way to look at a Nursing Home is really to give the care your Mum needs because when she passes you have to carry on with your life and I can only assume her needs will increase. I can only cope now because I know my Mum is being cared for. At the moment I am stranded with the snow and I live 35 mins away from Mum so will not be able to visit for a couple more days. My strong message to you is that you cannot and should not keep trying to do this all on your own. What would your Dad have said? Mine would have said - make sure your Mum is cared for but not at the expense of your own life.

You take care Lynne x

Words of wisdom Lynne. Thankyou.

This snow certainly makes things even more complicated! My dad would have said that. I am guessing yours would too.


Anytime you need a chat just contact me. We are both grieving for our Dad and you sound as if you are not getting the chance to grieve because of your Mum… Take time for a break. How often at the moment are the carers in? Remember it is about what you need not just what your Mum needs x

Hi Lynne

How are you doing?

My mum is now in a nursing home and you were so right in everything you said. A huge responsibility has been lifted from my shoulders so I can start to piece my life together again before she dies and I will no doubt lose the plot.

Anyway. Hope you are doing ok.

Ann xx

Hi there. Lovely to hear from you. Things have been going well until today when I visited Mum as she is really upset about one of the carers but it is more about the situation losing her partner of 60 years. She is feeling very vulnerable and really does not want to carry on without Dad. Obviously this really upsets me and I am at the stage I do not want to visit as it is so draining for me and there are no other family members to help and I am still grieving for Dad and I cannot think of what else I can do. I am gad the pressure is off for you and things are a little better for you. Sorry to offload but I could quite happily not visit again. I would not do that but that is the way I am feeling. Best wishes Lynne x

Hi Lynne

Oh dear. I am sorry to hear you have had such a tough day.

I snapped at my mum today when I visited because she kept asking for a washing up bowl (?) I kept saying the care home would get her one but she is so demanding at the moment so I understand how hard it can be to keep it together.

Before she went into the care home she said she wished she was dead a couple of times. I was doing everything I possibly could so it really hurt on so many levels.

The problem is when you are stressed, you can’t deal with the bad days. I am sure you have just had a bad day. This is a selfish way of looking at things I guess but sometimes I think I have to do things just so that I don’t feel bad in the future. Does that make any sense? Even though I sometimes wish I could just stay in bed and forget about everything, I know when my mum has gone, I would feel so bad if I hadn’t done more for her.

Does your mum have any friends that could help out a bit or any more distant relatives? I’m not usually one to ask for help but at the moment I am asking and accepting help from anywhere!

Ann xx

Thanks for this. No Mum and Dad were so into each other they kept themselves to themselves so not much social contact so that is the difficulty. Yes Mum is really snippy with me and says really hurtful things but I know I am doing all I can for her. I think to be honest she is having a bad day today and I have been on the receiving end of that. The sad thing is not a thought is given to how we, you and I are coping with the death of our Dad. Will be glad to get back home tomorrow. Speak soon. Nice to chat with you x

Hi Lynne,

I get that. We need to remember our dad’s and have time to grieve for them but our mum’s suddenly take all the focus. Nobody mentions my dad anymore. That really hurts too.

What a nightmare. It also suddenly feels like it is all about their marriages and we as only children are left to just deal with it all. Not many people can understand that so yes, it certainly is nice to chat.

Have you tried age UK or a charity that could provide a bit of companionship for your mum or a day care centre to drop in?

Ann xx

Hi Ann Thanks for your reply. Mum is not interested in anything I suggest about day centre etc so really for self preservation visit once or twice a week and do not stay overnight as I just dwell on how awful it is to visit. To keep my own sanity that is what I have to do. Thanks for listening. Best wishes to you x

No worries. I understand so feel free to chat any time.

Ann x

Hi Lynne

Just wondered how you are doing? How is your mum at the moment?

I’m feeling sorry for myself today.

It is when you stop that you feel overwhelmed by it all. I’m jealous of people who seem to have “normal” problems to deal with and just looked at a photo of myself a few years ago and wish so much i could be there now.

Anyway. Maybe tomorrow will be better…Hope you are ok.

Ann x

Hi Ann lovely to hear from you. Was thinking about how you last night so it was really nice to see your message. I am good and Mum is doing well. She seems to have settled into a routine with the carers and fingers crossed! In order for me to cope better I have been shortening my visits and that for me is working better. I know how you feel though as I was a bit overwhelmed last week but my way of coping is to make sure I do something for me everyday like go for a nice walk, go for a swim, catch up with friends. Is there something you really enjoy? Also I am seeing a counsellor and that is helping me deal with all my feelings, thoughts etc which as you say can be very overwhelming. The counselling is really helping and I feel so much better. You take care and it is time to really look after yourself xx

Hi Lynne.

That’s good to hear. Glad you are finding a way to feel a bit better. I love swimming but haven’t had the chance for months. I plan to start again after my son goes back to school. I enjoy yoga and force myself to do that once a week too.

I have been seeing a counsellor too but it is very infrequent. She gives me lots of sympathy but what I need is someone to give me practical tips so that is why I love this forum as the advice here is real from people who understand. Thankyou!

I’m struggling to muster the energy to see friends at the moment. Unless they have been through something themselves, I find it draining as I feel like I am just fake or upset so I find it easier to avoid them for a bit longer. I do have so much more time on my hands now which is great though as I can finally put myself first a bit.

Keep in touch and I am so glad things are working out for your mum at home.

Ann x

Morning Ann Another thing to try is ‘meetup’ groups in your area. Just google it there are loads of groups doing all different things like walks, meeting for coffee etc and sometimes it is easier being with other people you do not know. Have a look! Another suggestion is a group called SPICE do not know where you live but there are groups all over the country and you can join in some of the activities. Just some thoughts for you xx

Hi there. Just wondering how you are. I am good but just sitting thinking about Mum and Dad. My Mum is doing well and I am off to Cyprus Sunday for a week so that will be lovely. Would be nice to hear your news x

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