Struggling to support my mum...

My dad passed in May this year of CUP which they think started in his bowel perhaps. My mum and I cared for him throughout and we were all there the end of his life. Life has been so hard to get back to normal, but as a teacher I’ve had to go back to work. Both my brothers are in the same position but it’s meant my mum spends a lot of her time alone now due to general pandemic, and not back to work full time. We’re finding it so hard to support her, she just cries all the time and begs for her life to be taken too just so she can be with dad. It makes me so cross that she feels this way, and that she thinks ending her life would make it easier for all of us. My mum and dad were 2 peas in a pod and when we found out about dads illness in January, my first thought was what are we going to do about mum. She’s been put on anti-depressants now and is seeking support but I just don’t know what to say to her. Everything just feels so hard at the moment.

I’m so sorry for your loss. Dealing with the surviving parent is so hard to watch. I know that there are other members on here having the same problem. I always worried sick about what would happen to mum if dad died first. But actually she died first of also CUP. Very hard when there is no definite diagnosis. It’s been 10’ months now. My dad lives totally alone as I live 250 miles away. But he’s moving here nearer to me thank god. Anyway He has had to completely self isolate as he has lung
Disease. And to see your parents distress and loneliness is awful.

Your mum doesn’t want to leave you. Or to really die. She just wants to be with your dad and for the pain to end. Its just desperation talking. It’s such early days.

Saying that I really don’t think there is anything you can say at the moment. As right now nothing can help. Just be a quiet presence. Try and keep her active and busy but let her grieve, scream cry and shout. You also need to grieve too so look after yourself.

I think between you and your brothers you will find that she will become stronger with your support. You don’t need to say anything to her. Just hold her. Whether that be physically or emotionally. Counselling has helped me loads. But it’s not for everyone but maybe worth a try. Or a bereavement group. Where she can talk to others who have lost spouses and who also feel like her and so she does not feel so alone in the way she feels.

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I’m sorry for your loss too, and it feels selfish that I’ve taken comfort in reading your words given the horrific circumstances. I hope your dad recovers! I’m so pleased for you that he’s moving closer. I’m between 2 homes at the moment to support mum, luckily she’s only 25 minutes down the road! I think you’re right about she doesn’t quite mean what she says about taking her own life, she’s just cross and I get it. Just want to take all her pain away. I feel that all my other extended family members come via me to talk to mum, and sometimes I feel I go into robot mode and feel nothing. Other time’s I can’t stop crying! Such a rollercoaster.

Thank you again - take care.

It’s a dreadful rollercoaster. You will feel every emotion under the sun. Your mum honestly doesn’t mean what she says. In the early days I wanted to be with mum. I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to be with her. My counsellor says it’s a very normal response.

Unfortunately you can’t take her pain away. It’s a process. The same as you. You are both going through the grieving process. The only thing that helps is by all being together asa family and showing each other love and support. My dad talks of mum constantly. His tears are less Now. But I have to psyche myself up when I see him for his endless references to mum. It does hurt but I just steel myself for it and listen. I let him talk. And let him cry and give him a cuddle. But you have to make sure that someone is supporting and helping you too. Whatever you are feeling and going through is normal for this thing called grief.

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I know it’s really hard to understand but please don’t be cross with your mum for the way she feels. That is how she feels, the worst possible thing has happened to her only a couple of months ago. As you say your mum and dad were two peas in a pod.
Anti-depressants help some people but not others. Grief and depression have a lot of things in common but anti-depressants can’t " cure " grief.
All the things people say like " time heals" - " you’ve got to accept it and move on" " come to terms with what’s happened " “you’ll feel better soon” are so hurtful and show how little people understand grief. Over two years later I don’t feel any better my whole life has gone.
I guess your parents were married for many years and now her whole life has disappeared with your father’s death. She probably can’t even believe it’s really happened.
I doubt if she really thinks that ending her life will make it easier for you and your brothers she just wants to be where she has always been , with your father.
Until I lost my lifelong partner I would never have thought I’d want my life to be over but now I know what it’s like being left alone I fully understand.
Has she tried talking to a counsellor there is a service on this site, or she could ring Cruse or Samaritans.
Counselling helped me at first but after a while I didn’t even know what to say.
Would creating a memorial of your father help her? - writing about their lives together in a special book? Making a garden in his memory? Putting together a photo album?
Please be patient, she isn’t deliberately being difficult she’s desperate, could you and your brothers take it in turns to have her round for a meal one or two evenings a week or if you’re not close enough for one of you to phone her each night. When you are on your own after a lifetime relationship the days and nights are endless and pointless.
I hope this helps you understand your mother and her feelings a little more.
Sadly, however much people want to help, other than in practical matters, there is little
they can do. Best wishes. Jx

Thank you for replying first of all! I really do appreciate hearing others thoughts and experiences. My mum and dad were married for 30 years, almost 3 weeks after he passed was their 31st. They were always one voice and were never apart which has made this whole thing harder. When he first found out about his illness he said he was most worried about mum and how she would cope. My brothers and I take it in turns to be there as she can’t face being on her own at night at the moment. On the days I’m not there, I always ring to check in. I find she doesn’t mask her feelings with me, where as with my brothers she seems to stay strong for them. My mums sister rung me yesterday to talk to me about everything as we are so worried about her. Mum is so hard on herself and keeps punishing herself for crying all the time. It’s just hard to find the words to say sometimes and I find whatever I do say, never seems to be the right thing! But never mind, I’ll keep going. She is awaiting her first counselling session with Sobell House whom cared for dad throughout. She’s so nervous as she doesn’t know what she’ll say to them or how they are actually going to help. We shall see! I’m just glad she’s getting some help.

Thank you and I’m sorry for your loss. B x

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