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What is it like after your parents die? How do you cope?

(71 Posts)
Likethewind321 Sat 23-Feb-19 22:18:16

Sorry for the morbid question. My parents were quite old having me, and all my life I have been vaguely aware that I won't have them as long as my friends will have their parents, but recently I can't stop thinking about it.

My dad died when I was 20, I was woken up one morning in uni by my mother ringing me to tell me the news. It was such a shock.

My dad was 75 at the time, he died of a heart attack. Now, ten years on, I am 30 and my mum is now turning 75. I am thinking all the time about how she is probably going to die soon (even though she is active and in good health). And even if we're fortunate and it's not for another 10 or 15 years... that still seems quite soon.

The thought of losing her upsets me so much, I am single and childless. I do have a half brother but apart from that I will be alone and unloved when she has gone.

The practicalities scare me as I remember how stressful it was for mum when dad died and I don't know how I will be able to do it alone. I will have to sort out the funeral - how will I do that? Who will tell me what I need to do?

Maybe she will be ill and need nursing care - I have no savings to pay for this so again, who will help me? How will I know who to ask to help me fight for what she needs (everyone seems to have to fight for the right care, the nice hospice, etc?)

I remember there was loads of paperwork and financial things to sort out when my dad died, it took my mum well over a year to get it all sorted out - I will have to do this when she goes, I am dyscalculic and am very basic when it comes to finances, I don't know how I will manage it? I won't even know what there is to be done?

I will have to sell the family home to split with my brother, but I will feel rootless and cast adrift when it has gone.

The whole thing is just looming ahead of me as a terrible ordeal that I don't know how I am going to cope with.

Can anyone tell me what it is like and how you got through it? I need to stop catastrophising, maybe it will take the worry away a bit.

Thank you

Awwlookatmybabyspider Sat 23-Feb-19 22:36:52

How do you cope?. You have good days and bad days, really. At first youll be a daze really. Itll be after the funeral that it hits. Sorting out their funerals was a good distraction, but You can't hide from the greiving process forever.
Most of the time I'm okay, other times I'll literally sit and sob for my mum and dad.
However they were both ready to go, so I wouldn't wake them up to suffer again. I know it sounds clique to say it, but It fully defines how I feel.

saxatablesalt Sat 23-Feb-19 22:38:35

I don't know but I dread it so much. I know I will not be able to cope after my mum dies. I can't imagine my life without her. I worry about it constantly.

GreyRoses Sat 23-Feb-19 22:38:58

People die younger. Mine were 50 when the young.

You just cope.

IHaveBrilloHair Sat 23-Feb-19 22:43:05

You just cope, you have to.
I'd lost both parents by the time I was 35.
I lost my Mum a month before I had Dd when I was 23.
You just get on with it.

That probably sounds harsh, I don't mean it to but I had to toughen up and cope because I'm a single Mum too.

Stargazer888 Sat 23-Feb-19 22:43:52

I worry too. My biological father died young and my adoptive father abandoned us. When my mom dies I know all my abandonment issues are going to surface again and I'll be a mess.

LuckyMarmiteLover Sat 23-Feb-19 22:44:16

Mine died 5 weeks apart and it was very difficult. The funeral director will lead you through the process and also their solicitor if they have one. My brother and I were executors, but the solicitor helped us with what needed to be done (selling the family home etc).

My parents were both 90ish, so hopefully you won’t need to think about this for a long time.

RuggyPeg Sat 23-Feb-19 22:46:14

Well, you do just kind of cope because you have no real other choice. For me, however, cope really did/does just mean outwardly functioning on a daily basis. I am now a shell of a woman though and am forever changed by it. The run-up to it (if it isn't sudden) is horrific, the event is horrific and the aftermath is, yes, you guessed it, horrific! Google is your friend for what you have to do following the death and organising the funeral. People help and it's do-able. Cherish your dear mum whilst you still have her. Cherish every moment.

BejamNostalgia Sat 23-Feb-19 22:47:50

but apart from that I will be alone and unloved when she has gone

Please don’t think like that. It’s going to be terrible when it happens, but you don’t have to be alone and unloved.

If you feel that you will be alone when it does happen, maybe now is a good time to think about strengthening the other relationships in your life. How do you get along with your brother. Does he have a wife or children? Could you make an effort to be more involved with them, maybe talk to him about your worries about being alone.

You may have your own family to look after when it happens too.

How is your work life, do you enjoy your job, does it fulfill you? Are there any ambitions you have to travel or volunteer? Do you have close friends, could you discuss your worries with them?

There are lots of ways you can continue to be loved and needed, if it really does worry you that you’ll be absolutely bereft start putting the groundwork in with your other relationships.

It will be awful when it happens but you really won’t have to choose to be alone unless you want to.

SirVixofVixHall Sat 23-Feb-19 22:48:04

It is hard. I had small children and elderly, sick parents at the same time, because my Mum had me in her 30s and I had dcs in my forties.
Of course it is a different kind of awful when you lose the second parent. But it is what it is. You deal with whatever life throws at you and somehow you find the strength. My friend who is 83 has only just lost her mother. My best friend was an orphan at 21.
Your Mum might outlive you, she might live to over 100, or you might be juggling a new baby and a mother who needs a lot of help. Try not to worry too much now, just enjoy being with your Mum.

BejamNostalgia Sat 23-Feb-19 22:49:27

And yes, cherish her. My Gran died not so long ago, my Mum was her only child and there were only 18 years between them and they adored each other. It’s been hugely difficult for her, but they had so much happiness and joy from each other.

StoneofDestiny Sat 23-Feb-19 22:49:58

You cope because you have to, just like your parents had to when they lost your grandparents. You focus on the here and now and get on with living. You don't waste time worrying about a parent dying while they are still alive - enjoy the time you have with that parent now.

Shouldbedoing Sat 23-Feb-19 22:50:02

Dear likethewind, you're anticipating a lifetimes events and making a huge unmanageable heap because I think, reading between the lines, you have anxiety. You.could seek out counselling for this. My mum died very recently and I can assure you.there are lots of people who take your hand and guide you.through, from.officials, medics,funeral.directors, solicitors, executors. There are well.established methods of dealing with unfinished business.
Maybe you could reach out to your half brother and and build up that relationship, .or maybe not. My very dear brother is getting right up.my nose just now and we haven't had the funeral.yet! People grieve differently. I.have a good circle of friends who.so.far have listened or helped with practical stuff - exH is useless, kids still.young. I think I've made a reasonable life outside family which insulates me somehow. I think making life and friends interesting is the key to coping. I.do know it hasn't properly sunk in for me yet. Try to enjoy your Mum. She might have 20 years yet. Make every day count so.you don't have regrets when she's gone
I hope that's not too preachy but I wanted to answer your question

Likethewind321 Sat 23-Feb-19 22:51:43

Thanks for the kind replies x

NotTheFordType Sat 23-Feb-19 22:53:41

I know it's a difficut topic, but sit down with your mum and tell her you are getting very anxious about the thought of coping when she's no longer here and ask if she has appointed an executor for her will.

An executor can be any person whether related or not. In fact often better it's a non relation or distant relation as they will be able to crack on without getting too emotionally distraught.

My (limited) understanding is that an executor is primarily there to ensure the wishes of the departed in regards to the will are carried out, but often they are asked to oversee funeral arrangements, etc.

My Gran appointed a distant cousin as her executor and honestly it made things so much easier. We were all grieving and it was such a relief for someone to say "OK I've phoned the insurance company and here's what's happening."

Likethewind321 Sat 23-Feb-19 22:54:22

Thank you @Shouldbedoing for that very kind answer. I'm very sorry for your loss flowers

MereDintofPandiculation Sat 23-Feb-19 22:56:15

If she's ill and needs care, either Social Services will pay for it, or she will if she has enough money - lots of advice on the elderly parents board. Also try the Age uk website for advice.

The only thing you need to do now is talk to her about a Lasting Power of Attorney so you can make decisions for her and access her money should she become incapable of doing things for herself - it needs to be done now while she's still well. Ask on the elderly parents board. It's a simple process.

Funeral directors take you through the funeral bit (but remember you don't have to agree to all their suggestions)

A solicitor can help if you have to deal with probate. Which? Magazine published a book called "What to do when someone dies" - don't know if it's still available, but they've put a lot of stuff on-line
www.which.co.uk/later-life-care/end-of-life/what-to-do-when-someone-dies. Don't read it now, but remember it's available when you come to need it.

There is a lot of advice out there. When you come to need it, you'll find plenty of people will point you in the direction you need to go, and it's all much easier when you're learning about it in the face of actual problems rather than hypotheticals. Concentrate on enjoying the time you still have with your Mum.

squashedgrape Sat 23-Feb-19 22:58:58

@Shouldbedoing Sorry for your loss. I lost my Mum very recently too sad

Babyroobs Sat 23-Feb-19 23:00:33

I am dreading this too. My mum died very suddenly nine years ago and my dad organised everything as he knew exactly what funeral she wanted etc. My dad is now 81 and in good health ( probably healthier than me), he is very open about dying and has a document detailing what treatment he would and wouldn't want in the event of becoming ill. Last week he told me he had paid for his funeral so we wont have to worry about that. He has done as much organising as he can so that we wont have to he really is thoughtful. I know that if he becomes infirm then caring for him will fall to me as I'm the only one locally and my brother lives miles away and does not drive. I hope him declining will be many years away but it does worry me that there will be a lot to sort out as well as his house etc.

Floralnomad Sat 23-Feb-19 23:03:22

My dad died when I was 23 and he was 51 , and my mum died recently at 78 . There is lots of advice and help available if you need it in regards to funerals / registering the death etc and it is fairly straight forward . If your mum is the type that you can talk to about these things it might be an idea to have a chat about making sure she has a will , knowing where documents are and knowing what her wishes are for the funeral .

onthenaughtystepagain Sat 23-Feb-19 23:04:41

The worst part is forgetting they're dead. My Dad died a couple of months before our easter holiday, we were working abroad at the time, and on the day we were due to come back to UK again I bought some cigars for him in the NAAFI. It was only at the checkout when a friend asked if OH had started smoking cigars that I realised and for the first time I sobbed uncontrollably.
Three months after my mother died our football team won promotion and three people in different parts of the country reached for their phones to call and see if she was OK, she used to get very excited when they did well!
You do get over it in a way, I have tears running now and they've been dead 30 odd and 17 years respectively. Remember they would never expect their deaths to ruin your life, at 71 that's how I look at it, I would hate to think that my inevitable death would spoil my children's and grandchildren's lives.

Callywalls Sat 23-Feb-19 23:07:46

@RuggyPeg - I could have written that - you have just exactly described my feelings and experience. I, too, am now a shell of a woman and I will never get over losing my parents and the horrific lead up to their deaths - although you do learn to live with it eventually, you have no choice. I would say to anyone, make the most of the time you have with your parents whilst they are alive, these are the memories that keep us going after they have gone and enable us to carry on.

Kintan Sat 23-Feb-19 23:11:04

OP, I am so sorry that you lost your dad so suddenly so young.
One of my parents died 8 years ago, the other last year. Being parentless is just the strangest feeling, like you are completely rudderless. You just cope because you have to, although it is very very hard. I agree with RuggyPeg outwardly people think I'm ok, but I am often very close to breaking down - it fundamentally changes you and you can never go back to being who you were. This of course is not the case for everyone, as I know a lot of people aren't close to their parents, or have toxic parents etc. But from my experience, when your remaining parent dies, a part of you goes with them. But as the saying goes, grief is the price you pay for love. I sincerely hope you have many more years with your mum though - there is no reason why you shouldn't x

Neome Sat 23-Feb-19 23:13:32

There's a similar age gap between me and 5yo ds as between your mum and you and I really feel for you.

May I suggest a couple of very beautiful books which have helped me in thinking about life and loss.

The first is Tear Soup which, although a picture book, is quite adult oriented [[ www.amazon.co.uk/s/?hvlocphy=1006565&hvptwo&hvnetw=g&keywords=tear+soup&hvadid=259047138875&index=aps&hvpone&ref=pd_sl_a551x7aye_e&hvlocint&hvpos=1t1&hvdev=t&hvdvcmdl&hvqmt=e&tag=mumsnetforum-21&ie=UTF8&hvtargid=aud-615477028318:kwd-30089417724&adgrpid=54854177482&hvrand=15801536667160014364]]1 tear soup

The second is really written for children but I like the way it looks at life having a beginning and an end. www.amazon.co.uk/Lifetimes-Bryan-Mellonie/dp/0553344021/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=lifetimes&tag=mumsnetforum-21&ie=UTF8&qid=1550962562&sr=8-1 Lifetimes

having trouble with preview, hope these links work!

Awwlookatmybabyspider Sat 23-Feb-19 23:14:15

The worse part is forgetting they're dead.

A few weeks ago I bumped into someone I'd not seen for a few years.
She knew my dad and asked after him and I said "Oh its fine. Plodding along , and Then I said Oh no he passed away last June. I don't think I so much forgot more a case of I just went on to autopilot of saying " He's Fine

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