My father passed away when I was 15 at the age of 49 so I am no stranger to death but his death was sudden and unexpected. My mother was diagnosed with cancer nearly 2 years ago and even with 2 children of 5 and 2 I made it my responsibility to care for her and make every day count. My sole purpose everyday was to care for her. She even called me her angel to people close to her I found out after her death. She went through several rounds of chemotherapy and was very ill at times but after a year of treatment we were told that it was terminal and that no more could be done. We were told that she would get more and more sleepy and pass away within 6 weeks. She beat that time and several chest infections and was such a fighter. Sadly it wasn’t to last and she developed complication after complication and had to be cared for at the Christie. She had a private suite and family around her but nothing and no one prepared me for her final week. It was horrific, I was by her side for 3 days praying. She couldn’t speak or squeeze my hand all I could do for her was talk to her and ensure that she got the best care and pain specialist. I was on my own with her when she died but a vicar told me to watch her closely and it was very peaceful and comforted me as I was always scared of dying. I now see life after death having watched it but it is nevertheless heart wrenching. My mother has now been dead for a little over 6 months. I can’t understand why she had to die. She was my childrens last surviving grandparent so they were extremely close in fact she was like a 2nd mother to them. I am having flashbacks to those last few days when I look in a mirror, when I’m in the shower and in bed so I try to keep busy. I’m upset alot and have started biting my nails again which I haven’t done in years. I am eating all of the time too and grinding my teeth something I related to my father’s death.
I lay there last night crying trying to close my eyes and remember happy moments we shared but I kept thinking about those moments. I hate it and want it to stop. I am going to try and speak to the supportive care team at the hospital as I think they may be able to talk through those final stages so I can atleast understand what happened. I’m naturally inquisitive so think it may go some way so I can grieve without reliving the end. Writing this seems to help which I didn’t think it would so thankyou

Hi im very sorry for your loss (im 57 my darling wife was 41 .She passed on her birthday 04032016)For 8 years my wife was in and out hospital firstly on a life support machine in a coma itcu various time its a massive list.Im telling you this because i understand having flashbacks (i had them when she was alive and dead and still get them now )My advice is this think of your mother as being out of pain and at peace .You did all you could for her .Ido all the next 3 t hings im on medication from my Gp.I also phone the samaritians and i go to Cruse bereavement councilling(got that from GP) .Your not alone on here .The flashbacks are part of my life Keep coming back .I and others understand and will contact you on herev .You could drop a line to Priscilla she will help too .Big friendship hug Colin

Hi Gemma

All the after effects you mention are very natural so try not to fight them too much, they will work themselves out in their own time. Like Colin, I am still getting flashbacks (some 5 months on), and I’ve come to think it is just the price you must pay for caring. Again following Colin, you did all you could for her and I am glad that you had a medical team and a vicar who told you directly how close your mother’s death might be - perhaps I was blind to the signs but the coded messages I was given left me so unprepared, not that I am blaming others, cancer is a cunning enemy.

Getting in touch with the supportive care team is an excellent idea and the very supportive people on this site are always here.

Take care and wishing you well.

Thanks Colin I too am very sorry for your loss. I keep telling myself I don’t need to talk to anyone, not for fear of failure, not because i’ll feel any less of a person asking for help, I just wanted to grieve on my own, but I’m beginning to think I was wrong. Those last days were unbelievably traumatic so I know it’s gonna take time but knowing that it’s not just me and that it’s natural helps. Thankyou for your advice, hugs all round

Thankyou Alan. It’s so hard isn’t it? I try to grieve for my mum but I struggle to when I have flashbacks because I feel like the trauma isn’t over. I was lucky enough to know the end was imminent and spent 3 days by her bedside but I was not prepared for what I saw. You don’t ask questions when your existing on very little food and sleep, putting every ounce of energy and love into the person dying. I gather from your message that for you it came on quickly and wasn’t like they portray in films? It would be nice if everybody just fell asleep, but i’m learning that, that isn’t the case for most cancer patients, it’s just too aggressive. I think some people prefer to know as little as possible but when you live and breathe it you deserve to be prepared. I think given the choice I would have wanted to know more about what to expect. I think it would bridge this gap.
After my Mums death I was upset with myself for feeling relieved that I could finally leave the hospital and not watch the pain and torture she was having to endure but now I’m effectively back there suspended in time and in some ways it is worse, I feel trapped in my own thoughts. I try to guide myself into thinking about our upcoming holiday as I fall asleep but unless I’m exceptionally tired my thoughts turn to my mum and it’s always the last week.
I consider myself very blessed to have 2 beautiful children. They always make me smile and we have lots of fun together. They definately keep me busy and give me a million reasons to be happy and live life to its fullest.
I just want to miss my mum and think of all our bestest memories and smile but I know it’s gonna take time. If only she could come to me and tell me that she’s safe and well, that I did all I could for her and that, that was enough and that she loves me.
Sorry to write such long winded messages I got carried away

Hi Gemma

I was so sorry to read your message. It rang so many bells with me, I too lost my Mum just over six months ago and was with her at the end. Although her last few days were peaceful the flashbacks are still dreadful at times and are so awful I find always when I am trying to sleep. When it was getting close to the end the hospice were great and left me leaflets to read. Although painful knowing what to expect was so helpful and not too frightening.

Like you I just would like to have just one more day, one more chance to tell Mum how much I loved and still love her. Sitting with her one day whilst she was still relatively mobile she turned to me, leaned against me and thanked me for being so kind to her. I treasure that memory so much as feel she knew I was trying my best to do what I could for her.

I find some days are just so hard to get through now. Another thread on here talks about people asking how you are. I cannot give an honest answer as feel people would run a mile from me and never come back. I am longing for better weather and some sun as feel I might feel better then. You say you are going on holiday which is good. A chance to get away and try not to think about what has happened.

I am equally long winded i fear, just wanted you to know there is another out there thinking of you.


I am afraid that the flashbacks are all part of the grieving Gemma. I too felt that I was just waiting for the next bad thing to happen, this has lessened and fortunately without drugs which I feel can get you into a cycle of their own. You were concentrating so intensely for those last 3 days and put so much into your mum’s life for the past two years that it is bound to remain vivid for some time but it will begin to fit into all the other memories of your mum. It won’t mean you love your mother any the less when the pain starts to lessen, it will just be grief taking a different, perhaps more manageable, perhaps happier form.

And you will begin to find ways to cope with the pain more. We did not have any photos on display (long story, involving asbestos and builders) so I got a number blown up and framed, including all the stages of her life that I could, and I just have to look at Helen’s, my wife’s, smile whenever I am feeling down, if not downright sorry for myself, and it both cheers me up and keeps me honest - she knew me better than I knew myself. I have also been going to a Bereavement group run by our local church where you can share your grief or not depending on how you are feeling. Neither Helen nor I were regular churchgoers beforehand. Perhaps the vicar you mentioned, or if he was the hospital chaplain, a local vicar or priest can help - worth a try.

You asked if the end came quickly and not like in the movies. Helen too had lung infections, once with borderline sepsis, and she had to be rushed to A & E three times. The day before she died (Helen wanted to die at home) the District nurse gave her morphine from which I expected her to wake up the next day but she didn’t - Helen died on the same day of the same month that her father to whom she was very close had died, perhaps she had that in mind…I think of that trauma but also the three last last trips we took in a motor home between her diagnosis and the end (some 6 months), which we so much enjoyed.

That second to last sentence of yours, I could have written myself but perhaps I would have put it slightly differently -if I knew that Helen had definitely gone to heaven I would be happy. But no one knows which is where faith comes in, whether it is a Christian faith or any other. It is without doubt though that the love you showed your mum and the love she showed you lives on - there is a very good reason why she called you her angel. And I am absolutely sure that she would not want you to be tortured, or torturing yourself, now but concentrating on all the good things she taught you and her grandchildren. It may sound silly but I consciously thank Helen for everything she did, and is still doing,for me . I don’t thank God for the pain and suffering Helen went through but I thank God for everything I have enjoyed and suffered because it was all part with being with her.

These long messages are catching, perhaps I should have put it in a private post but anyway take care and, forgive the liberty, have hug from me.


Thanks Mel.

I wasn’t given any leaflets to read I just had a quick conversation with a nurse about care at home and the syringe driver.
The oncologist thought that as my mums cancer been so well controlked with chemo that she would peacefully fall to sleep but sadly my Mum’s complications together with the type of pain relief she responded to, meant that she had to live out her final weeks in hospital.
She had a beautiful suite and the consultants and supportive care team were amazing and myself and my kids spent lots of time with her but then more consultants became involved as her organs began to shut down and become blocked and she deteriorated rapidly. At my mums request i stayed with her whilst she endured painful proceedures whilst awake and when the pain worsened my Mum was paralysed from the neck down, couldn’t speak and couldn’t even squeeze my hand, I had to call for pain relief and try and read her mind when consultants came to try and maintain contact with her. I think that was the pain control and muscle relaxant but it’s a question I can’t answer with any certainty. All I know is that she could turn her head and face me when I spoke to her and occasionally when it was called for she could almost nod. She saved that energy for me so hopefully I used it well.
My mum had so many friends but the one closest, has said that before my mum died, that she told her that I was her angel. I get choked up everytime I hear it but I take so much comfort from that. Oh I miss her so so much.
I’ll be thinking of you, if you ever want to chat message me

Hi Gemma

It sounds as if you had a terrible time, so much suffering for both you and your Mum. She was lucky to have you watching out for her and everything she needed. You should feel really proud of being there for her so much.

My Mum was unconscious for the last 3 or 4 days but not with it for several before that. She was being given morphine orally and some muscle relaxing drugs for the pain and problems she experienced but eventually she had a syringe driver. Having her at home was very hard in some ways but was her request and one I am glad was kept to for her. I think that is why we were given all the information needed as it was so likely we would not have any doctor or nurses with us when the end came. I thought I would be frightened but was very calm, think shock kicked straight in.

I really feel six months plus down the line it is worse now. Reality has now hit me, not ever seeing her again or hearing her laugh. I felt what I thought was loneliness at first but realise now it is the reality of being alone for the first time properly in my life. I went to the cinema today and sat in an auditorium full of people feeling so sad my Mum wasn’t next to me enjoying the film too and so alone in a crowd.

I hope your day has gone better today.


Hi Gemma,

Your story rang true with me and understand whilst your journey was different our story’s were very similar.

I saw my dad go through a lot of pain through from diagnosis to his passing. On his final days he grabbed my hand and asked me to sit with him and not leave him. He then peacefully fell asleep not to be awake for two days when me and my mum saw him take his last breath. This plays on my mind constantly and can see it as vividly today as it was 5 weeks ago.

It’s very painful full but like you I found dead solace writing down my pain.

Always here if you want an ear.

A x

Thankyou so much and likewise if you ever want to talk I’m not going anywhere. Everybody on here is so thoughtful and have been so kind.