How did you cope in the days and weeks after losing a parent

(24 Posts)
whatisforteamum Mon 18-Jan-16 18:58:34

Recently ive been thinking of how we will cope when df dies,He was given a yr last march and i know these things are estimates however having had anxiety and depression in my 20s im worried,we are a close family and will still have dm to keep an eye on as she has battled cancer too,I hope you dont mind me asking what is it actually like when someone who has been ill for 3 yrs passes away,
I understand the numb bit maybe as that is how i felt when they were both diagnosed ,i dont have many rl friends and hope work will get me through although im not sure how i will feel,Thank you in advance.

BackforGood Mon 18-Jan-16 23:22:39

I am sorry to hear this is something to worry about.

Neither of my parents had been ill for any great length of time when they died, so I can't help on that front, except to say that we all cope with things differently.
It's very common to go into 'organising mode' at first - the funeral and things like stopping banks accounts / notifying people and so forth, so it's often some weeks after the death that the nearest and dearest start to struggle a bit more. However, as I say, it's different for everyone. Most people go through a range of emotions - things like guilt, anger, resentment are often felt by those left behind, it's not always just a passive sadness.
Sometimes of course, people can be comforted by knowing your loved one is now out of pain, Sometimes loved ones have been "waiting" for the end.
No-one can know how you will feel, but be kind to yourself and don't worry about grieving differently from the way others are feeling - for example your Mum.

whatisforteamum Tue 19-Jan-16 05:56:51

Thank you backforgood and im sorry about your parents,They have both been ill with cancer for yrs so time to adjust to the fact they are on limited time,I cant imagine them not being here as there has been so much hospital appointments that they got themselves to mostly now gps and hospice nurses,My brother is the executer of the will and a very level headed man,I hope to not fall apart or lose weight which has happened twice under stress.

madsaz76 Tue 19-Jan-16 06:31:22

Everyone is of course different

My mum died 18 months ago. She had pancreatic cancer and at presentation had an 8 cm tumour so we expect 3-6 months. She was lucky enough to get on a trial and lasted 20. In that time we did loads of building memories etc which helps a lot.

I think it can help to plan and anticipate. I thought about the things that might bother me - I didn't want mum wrapping in a sheet etc after she died and wanted her to be peaceful.

I was lucky that mum talked to me a bit about her wishes too. There are essentially 3 bits:

Immediately after death - family numb and a bit shellshocked. I stayed with hospice staff and we cleaned her up, took locks of hair and I got a posey of fresh herbs from garden (she hated cut flowers). I made sure she had her glasses on (sounds wierd but she wasn't mum without her glasses )

That bit helped me and the others know she was dignified and comfortable

Next is "organising mode" - even if your brother is executor and we'll organised there stuff you might want to do. Getting registered and a funeral booked are fairly straightforward tasks.making sure you mum eats something, planning the funeral content a bit different.

Mum had left us some hymns and poems etc and we all sat down with the vicar and planned the funeral. Sounds stupid but we did her a fab job - she didn't want us to weep so we didn't but had bright flowers and funny stories. His worked because we knew it was what she wanted - can you talk toy our dad and find out any strong wishes? (I know not everyone can)

The last bit is much much harder. You catch yourself walking rind the supermarket wondering why everyone seems so normal - don't they know your mum has just died? How dare they be tasting cheese or comparing washing up liquid?

It stings. You wake up feeling normal then just as you are brushing you teeth you remember. There are tons of tiny reminders everywhere you look. For me what helped was:

1) knowing I had done everything I needed to with mum while she was still with us
2) knowing we had carried her wishes to properly after she died
3) giving myself permission to be sad if I needed to but also holding myself to account a little - its not ok to be mean to my husband today just because I feel sad (I hadn't anticipated how sad it would make him - that's a whole different thread)
4) knowing the key dates would be wierd and allowing that I. E birthday, Christmas etc

Time does heal. You don't stop being sad it's just life creeps back in and you do start to taste cheese and compare washing up liquid again. And amazingly you get through it.

If you are really struggling then local bereavement groups, the hospice, CRUISE (bereavement counselling services) etc can help. But so can a good mate and a bottle of prosecco.

I also found some motivation to sort bad habits out (used the fact mum told me to look after myself as motivation ) so lost 3 stone and ran a 10k. That ultimately helped me get pregnant (was struggling) so now have "baby due and mums not here". It never fully goes away but I know she'd be proud of me smile
Have some cakebrew or wine - whichever suits

madsaz76 Tue 19-Jan-16 06:32:31

Apologies for very long post and typos - done with insomnia and on mobile confused

bringambuy Tue 19-Jan-16 06:48:44

I worried about not coping when my parents died for years. What I found was that you can't do your mourning in advance, and you will still feel the shock and 'numbness' that gets you through the time immediately after the death when there's stuff to do. It may sound weird, but that bit was almost exhilarating, because I was running on adrenaline and I didn't have my normal life to get on with. It's after the funeral the loss can hit you. I could be driving somewhere and for some reason think 'Oh, my dad's dead' and have a cry, then be back to coping again. That rawness does fade. I still miss them, but I'm used to that being part of my life now. One unexpected thing was how kind people working in shops were. I was buying a vase at Asda and the woman on the checkout said 'Oh, this is nice' and I said 'We've got a lot of flowers because my dad's just died' and started crying. She was very kind and sympathetic without making a big fuss. This happened a lot.

Sorry to go on - the short answer is, you will cope. But don't let anyone tell you the grief is less because they've died after a long illness. It isn't less, and you deserve just as much care and consideration as any other bereaved person. X

thankthoseluckystars Tue 19-Jan-16 06:57:10

Personally, I found my grief very different according to the deaths. My mum died of cancer, and at the end it was so awful all I felt was a sense of relief. It was years before I processed what I'd lost.

My dad was a complete shock. He had been the picture of health, striding around laughing, walking up mountains, playing golf, swimming. He died of a heart attack.

I couldn't process it and I remember very plainly feeling it was wrong, a mistake. I also saw him everywhere - men with dark hair who were his height. I was angry (I remember roaring at someone in Stafford services once, very out of character) and then all that faded away to a kind of desperate sadness and then I slowly started to heal.

I'd say it took just under 2 and a half months, not that it was just fine after that, but it was then I started to feel happy and hopeful and at peace with things.

Of course, I still miss them.

LillianGish Tue 19-Jan-16 07:41:18

I lost my lovely dad in the summer - he'd been ill with prostate cancer for about a year, but it was still a shock when he died. What helped me most was having my own two children - you don't say whether or not you have kids so I won't dwell on that too much. It also helped that mum and I organised a fantastic funeral with his favourite music - we'd already discussed it quite by chance so I knew exactly what to pick and I also gave the eulogy something I really wanted to do as I didn't think anyone else would do dad justice and that helped me massively. Feeling we'd given him a good send off was a huge consolation - much more than I thought it would be. I don't think you can imagine how it will feel until happens - my dad was a great friend and a huge source of advice, I couldn't imagine how I'd manage without him. The strange thing is that in a funny way I feel as if he is still here - he is a part of me - or rather I am a part of him (which is how I feel about my own children) and that is a surprisingly comforting feeling. I'm in the process of buying a new house and if he were here I'd be constantly on the phone for advice. What I've found is that I know what he'd say - he's imparted a lot of his wisdom. Sometimes DH and I put on some of dad's favourite jazz and we feel like he's with us over dinner - it's not a sad thing to do as I'd always imagined it would be, but wonderful to be able to have those very powerful memories. We just had Christmas with my mum - the first since Dad died - and while there were moments of sadness there were far more moments of laughing at reminiscences and feeling he was with us in spirit. I think the fact that we were a close family has really helped - I don't have any regrets or feelings that I never really got to know him properly or that we didn't spend enough time together even though I lived in a different country at times and do now. I take great comfort from the fact that I had such a wonderful dad and that I had so many great times with him. It can still catch me unawares - hearing a trad jazz band busking in the street in Paris recently I dissolved into tears because he would have loved it so much and I realised he'd never come and visit me here again. Fortunately I was with my wonderful kids who always, unfailingly cheer me up. So sorry you are going through this flowers

thankthoseluckystars Tue 19-Jan-16 07:45:05

I feel like that about my dad too Lillian - that I am an extension of him and I know exactly what he'd say and do in any given situation.

flowers

whatisforteamum Tue 19-Jan-16 09:39:57

yes i do have 2 great teens who live here.Thankfully they have recently got jobs in the last few months and are fairly independant and fun smile.my dh will be devastated too as he has known my dad for over 30 yrs.Dad has helped him with DIY and they are close as dhs parents died decades ago.
Dad has gone to the funeral place and discussed his wishes as he and mum have been v practical throught their diagnosis,I have been lucky both have had longer than anyone expected,
One good thing is i recently changed jobs after 11 yrs to one dad said he was proud of to my dh.
Like i say my depression in my 20s when i could barely leave the house and only wanted to wear the same things has worried me a bit as it took ages to recover.i am a much stronger person now in my 40s i think.
Im sorry you have all been through this though i guess it happens to us all,I hope my dcs and work will help like they have watching my parents suffering all the treatments.

LillianGish Tue 19-Jan-16 11:12:21

whatisforteamum flowers When my dad died I suddenly understood in a blinding flash why we have children - so life goes on. It sounds like a really obvious thing to say, but it wasn't obvious to me until that point - I'd always thought of having children in terms of the joy of babies and bringing them up, but there is something much more profound. We are all born and we all die but if we have children then there is a part of us which carries on. I see flashes of my dad in my own children and I'm so glad he lived long enough to really know them and for them to know him (unlike DH's dad who died before they were born). Having children has definitely made it easier for me to accept the death of my dad - it is the right order of things (much as I would have liked him to live forever) I think I would have found it much more difficult if I didn't have my own children. Thanks for this thread - it's helped me express what I feel and come to terms even further with losing my dad. flowers to everyone who has lost a parent.

whatisforteamum Tue 19-Jan-16 11:31:31

my Dad has small cell prostate cancer (an aggressive type) and weve watched him lose 2 stone and struggle to walk,Next month is he and mum 50th wedding do.I really hope all his 13 grandkids are there and adopted children so he feels proud of all he leaves behind knowing mum will be taken care of too.flowers for you all.

LillianGish Tue 19-Jan-16 12:09:56

Sounds very much like my dad whatsforteamum - everyone kept telling us that you could go on for years with prostate cancer, but I only had to look at my dad to know that was not going to be the case for him (he was 82). It sounds like you have a lovely family - hope the Golden Wedding celebrations go well. It sounds like another obvious thing to say, but everyone has to go through through this at some point or will have been through this and you will find others are incredibly kind and understanding even in the most unlikely places as previous posters on this thread have pointed out. Take it a day at a time - death rather like birth happens for noone's convenience so you just have to go with the flow (in my case I was two days into my summer holiday and had to fly home). In the meantime just make the most of your dad while you still have him - at least by having notice you can say everything you want to say and which you might not say otherwise (another huge comfort for me when it came to saying goodbye). brew flowers

Oly5 Tue 19-Jan-16 19:58:37

I lost my mum in December, a year after she was diagnosed with cancer. I thought I had done a lot of my grieving beforehand to be honest, but I don't think I did now. What has brought me great comfort is the fact she had a wonderful funeral, with her favourite music and hymns. I also know I spent as much time as possible with her so have no regrets there. We chatted about death and dying, I asked her if she was scared. I told her I loved her very much and she had been a wonderful mother. We talked about her life and my childhood. Nothing was left unsaid.
When she died I went into organising mode wth the funeral, her will etc.
It's only in the last few weeks it's hit me. I miss her very much, I wish she could come back and I'm very sad. But it does come in waves... Most of the time I'm busy with work and young children. You just have to let the grief come when it comes, have a good cry and then move on with your day.
I haven't been haunted by her final days in the way I thoight I would be (I was there, some of it was not as 'peaceful' as you might hope), but the main thing is I was there and she knew it.
My heart goes out to you, just soak up as much of your lovely dad as you can while he's still here. You'll be ok xxx

whatisforteamum Wed 20-Jan-16 08:41:25

Oly 5 im glad you dont have regrets about your Mums last days or awful memories which is a concern for all of us i think.Thanks Lilliangish my dad has the aggressive form that men usually succumb to within a yr so 3 is amazing really.He is 74 but was a young 71 when diagnosed however he cant do so much now which is hard to see.I agree we have time to talk and take pics and make memories.

Holly34 Thu 21-Jan-16 05:55:46

Its hard which ever way... I had 3 months with my father before we lost him. You will miss him dearly.. at least your getting a chance to make memories with him thanks

whatisforteamum Thu 21-Jan-16 21:58:58

Dad said he may do a bowie ie just get cremated soon after he dies.Mum told me she has filled the large roundabout nr their beloved rugby club they went to for many yrs with daffodils as a memorial for Dad.just hope he keeps well enough for their 50 th do in feb,
Sorry for your loss Holly.i know i will miss him as we are so close,sad

tilliebob Sun 24-Jan-16 12:48:23

5mths in and I spend most of my time making sure my mum is okay, msging my brother to see how he is and keeping my kids upright. I know what's happened, I was there overnight, when he actually went, saw him in the funeral home etc....yet it still hasn't sunk in. We buried his ashes and now there's a shiny headstone with his name on it to look at, which I frequently go up and yell at, but it's still not real.

I had a couple of glasses of wine on Friday night. I'd stopped drinking entirely about a year ago. I just got tearful and began slavering about dad. I can't be doing that and losing my grip on everything.

The immediate days and weeks afterwards just disappeared in a haze of arrangements, visitors, coping with mum/kids and railing at changes in registration etc (Scotland). I think I'm still waiting for "it" to hit me. I can go days without thinking about it as I just block the thoughts, then suddenly something just sets me off and the sadness/angry and sheer missing him hits like a sledgehammer.

Sorry, I'll stop havering now. I'm away to yell at his headstone shortly.

whatisforteamum Fri 12-Feb-16 10:22:12

Oh tilliebob thank you for sharing your experience.I really hope i dont fall apart...i say that as in my 20s i had bad panic attacks and lost loads of weight.I hope to keep on some kind of even keel.I hope you get time to grieve.flowers

moopymoodle Fri 12-Feb-16 14:10:35

I myself suffered anxiety and panic in my 20s.

My dad died when I was 28, I too was worried I wouldn't cope. I read a few blogs about allowing myself to grieve, it really helped. I let myself feel alls my emotions rather then repressing them and you know what? I coped with zero anxiety. It's bizzare as it was the most painful moment of my life yet I was able for the first time in my life to feel my feelings and not fight them.

Really sorry your in this situation OP, you will survive it though. cake

Hassled Fri 12-Feb-16 14:15:47

I think funerals are incredibly useful events not least because you have something specific to focus on in the first couple of weeks - the announcements, the practicalities etc. And then they give you a proper chance to say goodbye.

When my mother died there was a sense of relief at first - she'd had cancer for a long time, and it was awful. When my father died it was very unexpected - I'd rung him the night before and he'd been fine - so the sense of shock was much greater. Everyone copes in different ways - but you come out of it amazed at how much sadness a person can tolerate and still keep functioning.

whatisforteamum Fri 12-Feb-16 14:42:22

I guess dh having a heart attack and mum and Dad both battling advanced cancer for yrs has been a way of having to be strong if you know what i mean.Dad has said he doesnt want a funeral or headstone..nor does Mum however i think ive changed his view by saying it is part of the process and the fact he has been to many we arent at the point of seeing it as futile.I would like the chance to say goodbye.Im pleased you coped moopymoodle and i think its natural to wonder when anxiety has made me housebound before although im sure ive had 20 odd yrs to get stronger.

CharleyDavidson Sat 13-Feb-16 18:32:59

Thinking of you, Whatis.

The last week of Dad's life was spent mostly at the hospital. I was off work as my boss knew what was going on and had allowed me compassionate leave. It was a round of visiting every morning, most afternoons and then in the late evening too. The hospital was great. We had no idea how long he had, but knew time was desperately short. He died 6 days after being told that it was going to be hours or days.

The next morning was very strange. I worried about how to tell my girls, but managed to find the words. And the next morning I had a long lie in (it had been a very late trip to the hospital to be told he'd gone) and then just didn't quite know what to do.

Dad could never discuss his funeral wishes etc as he never truly accepted that he was going to die or at least accepted that it was as close as it was. We talked to the people at the hospice in case he'd shared his ideas, but he hadn't, so we had to make our best guesses about what he would have wanted.

He had a HUGE funeral. So many people. It was the hardest thing I've done, but a real tribute to him.

I got signed off work and went back 3 weeks after he passed away, just after the funeral. Work kept me busy and was a good distraction in the end.

I am 3 months down the line and I have so many feelings I didn't realise I'd have.

I'm jealous of those who still have their parents, or who lose their parents at a much older age - Ddad was 69. I find it difficult if someone reminds me very much of Dad in terms of looks/build. Most of all, I'm blindsided by thoughts of him and what he went through in his last year and in particular in his last week. Most of his care was spot on. But for a few days his treatment was unkind and didn't really consider his position. The medical reasoning was there, but not how he could cope with it. It is an abiding memory that I wish I didn't have and which really upsets me.

I am not someone who is prone to tears, yet I fill up every time I talk or think about it.

Most of all, I just miss him desperately. I can't see how he isn't here still.

whatisforteamum Sun 14-Feb-16 21:22:48

Oh charleydavidson i cant imagine how you feel.It must be awful to see people that remind you of your Dad.My Dad has already said he want Acker bilk music to be played which we had at his 70th and ive found hard to hear when he has been so ill in the past.3 weeks doesnt sound very long however im hoping work will pull me back to some normality when the time comes.I kind of know what you mean about some treatments or events that you have to accept until you get time to think about them,Dad has said he hopes they can control his pain which is everyones wish isnt it.
My Dad still gives advice eventhough im in my forties .He is a very practical man and solid dependable type.I cant imagine him not being around tbh,flowers for you Charleydavidson.

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