My mum is dying and I can't just carry on as normal.

(43 Posts)
JenniferYellowHat1980 Sun 27-Dec-15 08:44:27

I don't know where to post this. I'm not bereaved yet but I will be - and my feeling is that it's going to be quite soon. The love I feel for my mum is on a par with the way I feel about my DCs. There's nothing else like it. I don't have really close friends who I can talk to about this. My DH is being great and is a massive support.

What is really worrying me is work. I'm a teacher so on holiday at the moment, but I've asked about compassionate leave and I'm allowed just five days. Five days doesn't begin to do justice to my mum. I'm her next of kin (she is in a relationship but doesn't love with her partner). I need to be there to care for her. I can't just get over her and get back to work in a week or anything close to that. My job is a struggle with some really challenging behaviour and I will lose my shit if I try.

How do people cope with society's attitude that a parent's death is something to just compartmentalise while you meet your working commitments? I just don't feel I'm up to the two.

Sorry for the self centred post. I have no-one really who can help me with this. It's been a distressing few days watching my DM fade - she was so capable and strong and now she just sleeps.

PurpleWithRed Sun 27-Dec-15 08:54:14

So very sorry to hear this. flowers Can you take some unpaid leave? Have you talked to your school head about it?

JenniferYellowHat1980 Sun 27-Dec-15 09:16:38

The head didn't mention unpaid leave when I asked her about it. I guess I have no choice because I can't do either of the alternatives: leave my mum to die alone or pick myself up immediately after she does die and go back to business as usual. Is five days standard? Or maybe it's even generous.

ALemonyPea Sun 27-Dec-15 09:23:51

Sorry you're gong through this flowers

Any time after that is at your employers discretion, sadly there is no legal requirement for compassionate leave for someone not in your household.

StrawberryLeaf Sun 27-Dec-15 09:25:48

I'm so sorry thanks

Compassionate leave is set but my staff handbook (local authority) says that the sickness policy kicks in so you can take sick leave due to bereavement due to obviously the stress etc.

I hope the time ahead is as gentle as possible for you and your family

Itsallaboutme3 Sun 27-Dec-15 09:26:43

Its 5 days at my work and then up to managers discrecrion for any longer. Could you go off sick and get a sick note from doctor. So sorry you are going through this

mudandmayhem01 Sun 27-Dec-15 09:27:21

If situation makes you too ill to work you would have time off sick just as you would for any other illness. Go to your GP and she will probably sign you off for stress. I was of work for 7 weeks before and directly after my dads death. flowers

LadyFannyOfOmaha Sun 27-Dec-15 10:06:30

So sorry to hear about your Mum. I've been through this, but was easier as I'm not tied to set school holidays so used annual leave which I saved up after Mum had terminal diagnosis. It was horrible worrying about whether I'd have enough time to spend with her. I couldn't afford to take unpaid leave but was offered it. My leave turned out to be just enough, then I had 5 days compassionate and another 5 days special leave at manager's discretion.
I was previously in a similar situation when my Dad was terminally I'll. I took sick leave due to stress so I could help Mum nurse him at home - my GP was happy to write a sick note, but I was hauled in front of disciplinary board, as work said I couldn't be sick if I was well enough to be looking after someone. So if you are helping to look after your Mum maybe don't tell work and go sick with stress?
It's a shitty situation, glad to hear your DH is sympathetic. Just concentrate on doing everything you can for your Mum right now xxx

JenniferYellowHat1980 Sun 27-Dec-15 12:19:55

Thank you all. LadyFanny, I'm sorry to hear how you were treated during your dad's illness. To be honest I don't care - they can sack me if they like - but I can't afford to take the decision to work unpaid. Obviously because of the notice period on my job I can't be of any use to mum by resigning either as I still wouldn't be free until April and I very much doubt she'll make it that far.

The difficulty is that mum is always finding reasons why she feels so bad (this time it's low blood pressure) and she intends to drag herself on an hours long journey on Weds for an appointment re a drug trial. I will be with her but I suspect they're going to find she's too far gone by now.

PunkrockerGirl Sun 27-Dec-15 12:29:18

I second getting your GP to sign you off for a period of time. I'm going through the same thing with my db at the moment (he's in his final days though) and the GP put stress/anxiety on my sicknote.
Sorry you are going through this flowers

LadyFannyOfOmaha Sun 27-Dec-15 14:34:50

Thank you Jennifer Get your GP to sign you off, but don't let work know if you're helping to nurse your Mum. Sounds cynical but you have to put your own needs first. I'm guessing that as public sector you'll be off on full pay, so at least no worries about paying your bills etc. Best wishes to you.

LBOCS2 Sun 27-Dec-15 14:41:43

Get signed off. When DM died very unexpectedly, I was luckily between jobs so I pushed my next job's start date back by a month, but my DSis' company put a lot of pressure on her to return. We weren't really in the right state of mind to try and work out an alternative but in retrospect she should absolutely have gone to the GP to be signed off for stress - at least then she would have had something to back her up when she told them she wasn't in a fit state to return.

MummyBex1985 Sun 27-Dec-15 15:50:33

Teaching is unfortunately one of the less flexible professions. In comparison my work have been great after my mum died - they gave me as long as I wanted. I have had around two weeks of paid leave followed by two weeks of holiday leave over Christmas and they were very supportive.

You're under immense stress and I'm sorry to say it won't get better for a while yet. I'm currently struggling three weeks after my mums death. If I'm not ready to go back to work in January then I will be signed off. You can't underestimate the effect it has on your ability to think or do anything normal so please don't rush back to work after a few days - get yourself signed off, I'm sure your GP will understand and have no issue doing that.

Practicalities aside, I'm so sorry for what you're going through. My mum had a brain haemorrhage out of the blue - she was unconscious from the point it happened and died after a few hours in ICU. It's utterly traumatic watching someone you love not be able to give anything back and not quite being there anymore so I know how you feel. Just try and take care of yourself and forget about work - it's the last thing that matters right now.

JenniferYellowHat1980 Sun 27-Dec-15 22:22:40

Thank you again. Bex, I think what I'm struggling with is that a parent is considered a 'run-of-the-mill' bereavement. Not so for me. This is devastating. I don't have close friends irl - plenty of friends, but no-one who will contact me out of the blue to ask how I am. My mum and my DH are the ones I talk to about anything and everything. It will take a long time to get over this.

That, and the job isn't one I can just get my head down and get on with. So much planning, assessment and dealing with challenging behaviour. I dread the next few months.

JenniferYellowHat1980 Sun 27-Dec-15 22:23:56

blush that was self-centred. I'm so sorry that you've lost your mum, and so suddenly.

doodlejump1980 Sun 27-Dec-15 22:31:01

I went to my gp and got signed off when my darling mum was moved to the hospice. It was the beginning of June so not a busy time term-wise. 2 years on I'm glad I had that time to be with her. Take care of yourself

mineofuselessinformation Sun 27-Dec-15 22:36:30

Get yourself signed off sick.
If your school has any decency, they'll understand. If they don't, that's tough luck.
All you can do is what's right for you in these circumstances.
I'm a teacher too, and know there's no way I would be able to be in the classroom with that kind of worry.
My sympathies.

resipsa Sun 27-Dec-15 22:45:44

You will, I hope, find work more understanding that you dread will be the case. I'm a lawyer. Lawyers aren't known for their compassion but when my dad died, they were good to me as were the people with whom I dealt. Generally it's understood that this is a huge deal and devastating loss regardless of what the party line might be in handbooks etc.
So sorry.

KittyOShea Mon 28-Dec-15 09:59:14

OP I was in the same situation with my dad earlier this year. Fortunately I got to spend the summer with him. In the end I took 4 weeks off school- 5 days compassionate and my GP signed me off for a further 3. Dad died 2 and a half weeks into this.

School survived and while I am working extremely hard since to catch up my GCSE and A Level classes I am so glad I did it. Spending that time with dad was much more important than work. As teachers we are trained to always put ourselves second- it's time to put yourself first for a while where your job is concerned and do what you need to do.

Going back after 10 days was very hard but tbh I was still numb at that stage. Now 3 and a half months later I am finding things a lot harder but I am sure that is different for everyone.

Be kind to yourself. See your GP and put work second for once. My thoughts are with you at this very hard time flowers

LuluJakey1 Mon 28-Dec-15 10:07:23

I ws responsible for staff absence management in a secondary school until very recently. As others have said, go and see your GP and get a sick note (or fit note as they are now called). You are not in a fit state to be at work. It is a pefectly reasonable thing to do in your awful circumstances.

The absence will be paid.

Sorry about your mum. flowers I have been in your position and it is such a horrible time.

MummyBex1985 Mon 28-Dec-15 22:24:06

Losing a parent is NOT a run of the mill death. Anyone you work with who has experienced it will know that. It's all consuming and utterly heartbreaking and I feel for you so much.

It will take time to get through things. And you need downtime away from work to help you do it. Again practically speaking, there's no legal concept of bereavement leave (except unpaid leave) so take whatever you need to as sick leave and don't feel guilty about it.

And make sure you say what you need to to your mum whilst you still can. Knowing you've done that will give you a lot of comfort I'm sure.

BagelSuffragette Mon 28-Dec-15 22:37:08

As others have said, get yourself signed off sick.

There is no way I could work once my mother had been diagnosed. I was just too upset and it turned out she only lived for 8 wks after diagnosis, at beginning in hospital, week at home and 5 weeks in an amazing hospice.

She died on June 12 and I only went back to work in Nov. Just couldn't do it sooner and luckily, had an understanding GP. Had some bereavement counselling which the hospice offered.

In short, do what your heart/gut tells you. Although it was nearly 7 years ago, I often think of small moments, conversations we had in those final weeks and there is NO way I would have wanted to miss that, as painful and hard as it was.

I'm very sorry for your mother and for you, going through it is horrible, tough and tears you apart. just try to make your life as easy as you can so you can focus on what you/she needs so you don't feel upset by lost opportunities afterwards. The tiniest, silliest things can stay with you. best wishes x

Roseformeplease Mon 28-Dec-15 22:41:44

I am in a similar situation (teacher, Mum has throat cancer) and only 5 days. She also lives 12 hours away (including a flight). I am trying to get there every 2 weeks by taking Friday afternoons for travelling. This gives me 48 hours with her - but I have siblings too but no one geographically near and she refuses to move.

1. Try to eke out your 5 days.

2. Self certificate for 3 days sick at a time. Put stress or, better still, exhaustion ( stress triggers OT and all sorts of workplace investigations)

3. Go to your GP and tell them the situation. Mine has already offered and my Head knows it might come to this.

I think you have to minimise your absence - or be seen to try. I will cover all classes, marking etc but may not physically be there. But, no chance of supply for me so, if not there, I have to remain in control of things because of exam classes.

Also, be there when you can BUT you have to agree with yourself not to be too hard on yourself if you are not always there - you have to eat, sleep and, sadly, work.

It is really tough. Xx

Babyroobs Tue 29-Dec-15 00:21:33

When my colleauges have lost parents they get signed off sick ( some have been signed off for months on end as they have been unable to work because of grief). Could this be an option for you when the time comes ?

PinkSparklyPussyCat Tue 29-Dec-15 22:25:17

My GP signed me off for a month with stress after my Dad died suddenly. My manager at the time was a complete shit and asked me to go back to work the next day as they were short staffed. I had a customer facing role so there was no way I could have faced going back.

I'm so sorry you are going through this flowers

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