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What to expect

(23 Posts)
whatisforteamum Sun 11-Jan-15 19:35:16

Apologies if this is an insensitive thing to ask.
Both my parents have incurable cancer.Mum diagnosed first but Dads has spread and is on 2nd line chemo which was delayed for 24 weeks!! He has had pain at night and they are both positive but aware of what may happen.
Can anyone tell me what it feels like when a parent dies as i have only lost grandparents and i know it is not the same.
My boss has told me 2-3 days off for the funeral is policy but i know docs will sign people off sick.
Everyone is different so can anyone please tell me how long it takes to feel able to face the world without breaking down.How did you lovely people cope with loss ?

northernlurker Sun 11-Jan-15 19:41:39

I am fortunate to still have my parents and my pil so I can't tell you anything about that sort of bereavement. However we did lose a close relative a couple of years ago in very sad circumstances and I had a total of 4 days off I think. 2 before the funeral and then the funeral and the day after. I could have had more but you find you want to keep going. It's only when you look back that you are astonished by how exhausting it was. I also gave myself a week off church (we go every week) because I simply couldn't face my loving friends there without breaking down and it was just easier to have some space. So I had very little time off really but many, many people find the the death of a parent leaves them needing quite a bit of adjustment time and it may not be straight away either. You can get through the initial loss ok and then a few weeks later hit the wall. You're right Gps will sign you off for this and don't hesitate to go for that but I hope you still have plenty of good time left with your parents before you need to think about that.

HearMyRoar Sun 11-Jan-15 19:59:02

You take as l long as you need. Everyone is different. Please don't feel pressured to go back before your are ready.

My mum is expected to pass away any day now from cancer and I have already agreed with work I will be of for at least a couple of weeks maybe longer if I need it. I need time to desl with the funeral and have space to grieve. It is exhausting with just one parent ill for a long time, having 2 must be really hard so you need to make sure you have time off to just rest after the death.

I am lucky that we get good compassionate leave and my manager just said to stay off as long as I need.

Your manager sounds like prick to be honest.

whatisforteamum Sun 11-Jan-15 20:11:05

He is but he said it could be disscussed at the time.He knows my DH had a heart attack last yr and didnt pay my 2 days leave !!
So sorry to hear you are in this situation.I was dreading my nans passing as we were v close but in the event i didnt suffer and even spoke at her funeral.I am not trying to be negative but Dadscancer is aggressiveand the facthe is still here is amazing.One of my sis said do you think Mum or Dad will die first? i have had panic attacks in my twenties so i am a bit worried about the emotional side.

smugmumofboys Sun 11-Jan-15 21:18:07

I'm so sorry to hear this OP. My experience is slightly different in that my mum died out of the blue at 65. She literally dropped down dead during a weekend away.

This was at the end of November and the shock was not just emotional, but very physical as well. I went to see my GP the very next day and she gave me sleeping tablets. My heart was racing and my legs were like jelly for days afterwards. I couldn't focus on anything and cried a lot. Really loads.

I work as a teacher three days a week and was entitled to 5 days compassionate leave, which took me into a second week, then, for various reasons, the funeral couldn't take place until the third week so my doctor signed me off sick, giving 'Bereavement' as the reason.

So, all in all, I was off work for 8 days. I was lucky in that I then had the two week Christmas holiday to recover, but if I'm honest, I'm not great. I look and sound OK but inside I feel so sad and a bit spaced out at times.

There's no one way of dealing with it, but I think it's important to take your time.

whatisforteamum Mon 12-Jan-15 05:10:13

Beyond sorry to read this smugmumofboys.No wonder you are struggling.At least we have had 2 yrs to come to terms with everything.My Dh s Mum died suddlenly in bed he was only 16 and im sure thats why his own heart attack has hit him so badly.
I can imagine the almost panic attack feeling you describe as ive had them before and that is what i dread.
You must take it easy on yourself.Thank you for replying. Sending you a ((HUG)).

TheOldestCat Mon 12-Jan-15 13:12:55

I am so sorry to hear about your parents, OP. And for the other losses on this thread.

DH has had two experiences of this - his sister's death was expected. Work gave him as much time as he needed and he went back after two weeks.

His mum died suddenly and he had about ten days off, went back for a week and then had a couple of days after the funeral. His work were fantastic really.

I think the advice here is good - if your work aren't good, then go to your GP. And please be kind to yourself - it's going to be shocking even though expected and you will need time and space to grieve, as well as to make arrangements.

Sending you lots of strength - and wishes that you take up help if offered. Some people won't know what to say, but if you ask for help, will often turn out to be very kind indeed (and, in our experience, from unlikely quarters).

whatisforteamum Mon 12-Jan-15 16:14:07

Thanks oldestcat that has been helpful,i hope my job will give me purpose and structure with coping with it all.So far apart from some awful comments about cancer (ignorance) it has kept me sane and getting up early everyday.I have teens too so the adult company is great.
My boss can be a doo dah.He initially told me everyone is different in time they need then he tells me its 2 -3 days (legally i know it is) but my Mum who lives in the same town as us with dad will need help as she cant walk far or drive as she lost the sight in her eye through age or chemo.
I am dreading it all tbh .

smugmumofboys Mon 12-Jan-15 19:02:10

Hi again OP. I spent the afternoon with a friend today as she she wanted to see me after she'd heard my news.

Her dad died a year ago this week and it's still very difficult for her. He had been very ill so it was expected. Nevertheless, it was still awful for her. What I'm trying to say, badly, is that there's no 'good' way to go and just because your parents' passing is expected, be kind to yourself as it will still be hard.

My GP prescribed sleeping tablets, which I took for about ten days. They were invaluable as I felt I could better cope with the days if I'd at least had a decent night's sleep. Everyone's different, but they certainly helped me.

catbus Mon 12-Jan-15 19:12:28

Gosh there really is no time line. .
I lost my Dad in an RTA, 7 years ago- the shock was unbelievable and I can't actually remember a couple of months after he died..bit of a blank really.
6 months later we visited PIL- FIL had cancer but was doing really well. He died suddenly whilst we were there and that was traumatic. Even though we knew he was going to eventually die from it, and he was doing all the things that made him.happy, the shock was still profound.
I was fortunate that I didn't have to work, but had a 5 month old dc3 which pulled me through.
Take support from those that offer and be gentle with yourself. Grief has a habit of popping up unawares, especially further after the event- and that's where I came unstuck, as some seem to think you shouldve moved on by then. . hmm
I really wish you all the best- and remember most of us are stronger than we know.

whatisforteamum Mon 12-Jan-15 20:47:22

Hi thank you both and im am so sorry for your losses.
I guess because i spend alot of time at work or home (i never socialize) i guess i have no back up emotional support.Also i took time offwork in my 20s when i was suffering stress and it all became worse although i have toughened up alot since then.
I get a bit fed up of people saying my parents will die anyway when they dont know how tough the cancer journey is.
I suppose im not so much looking for a time frame as i have savings if i have to leave as much as how do you carry on day to day.? When i found out they were likely to die i remember shopping and going to work in a distracted way,a kind of brick in my stomach and hoping no one would play soppy music etc.I managed to only cry on occasions on my own.This feeling has mostly passed.
Yes Catbus i have heard from my boss he didnt take much time when his Dad died then months later it hit him in a breakdown kind of way.

catbus Mon 12-Jan-15 21:24:20

I think you do go on autopilot for a while. It's a matter of self preservation whilst your brain and emotions process it all, I suppose. I always have a delayed reaction to things anyway.
It's a weird feeling initially- life carries on and you are sort of standing still whilst it goes on around- at some point you get caught up in the ride again and some sense of normality prevails.
I won't lie- the death of my Dad changed me. But I am now surprised at how I deal with things I never thought I could.
And the cliché was true for me- the first year is definitely the hardest.
Look after yourself and try to live in the moment for now flowers

Sparkygal Mon 12-Jan-15 21:49:19

Sorry you are having to go through such a sad time with both your parents it must be very difficult sad

This is my experience but can be so different for everyone.

My mum died at the beginning of December, she had been poorly in hospital for about 3 months but we had always hoped she would get better, so although we had been told to prepare ourselves, I don't think that anything prepares you for when it actually happens.

Emotionally I was totally distraught to start with yet trying to be strong for my dad and kids. Then it was numbness, disbelief, anger and such sadness. I still find it very raw and can't talk about it really without being upset (apart from with my dad and brother), but I don't cry every day now. Work is a distraction and helps. My family, friends and kids help.
I miss my mum dreadfully and find it overwhelming to think too far into the future without her and the grief can hit any time like a punch in the stomach. I find the littlest thing can set me off, but I suppose it's still very early days.

My work were great and told me to take as much time as I needed (I was off for xmas anyway) so had about 3 weeks, then xmas holidays - I am part time.

Like you, I had lost grandparents which was heartbreaking, but I think this was so much worse for me as was very close to my mum.

Be kind to yourself, there is no timeframe to be set and I think you just need to go with the grief and however you feel. It will be a difficult time, draw strength from family and friends. You may find an inner strength you never knew you had.

Again sorry you have to go through this at all. I wouldn't wish it on anyone sad
Take care.

defaulttodippy Mon 12-Jan-15 21:51:37

I am so sorry to hear you are going through this...and to everybody else who has lost loved ones.
You asked what it feels like and I can only talk about my experience. I have lost both parents ( 29 years apart), with my dear Mum passing away unexpectedly last year.

I felt as though it was all a bit unreal to be honest. I cried and was terribly weepy all the time for the first week or so.I found it very difficult to sleep and had that awful feeling you get when your stomach drops. Almost like butterflies. I felt like a rug had been pulled out from under me and I physically almost felt wobbly kneed.

As with all things, time does help heal the rawest part of the pain. After the funeral I became a little more composed and have managed to gather the strength to keep going and am now functioning without many tears ( accept at sad music, Mum's favourite telly programmes etc!).

Interestingly, my Mum passing away brought back my Dad dying when I was 18 and I felt I mourned them both together.

It feels very odd to be an adult orphan, almost like you're not like other people and yet, of course, so many people have lost both parents you are not really on your own.

My heart goes out to you OP. It must be a very difficult time for you and your family. You sound lovely and very sensible to be thinking things through now. You will be able to carry on, just be kind to yourself.

I think you should take as much time off as you need-don't be pressurised in to going back too soon.

whatisforteamum Mon 12-Jan-15 22:15:35

Many thanks sparklygal and defaulttodippy for your replies especially when the memories are so raw.I thought i would lose both parents in 2012 when they both had chemo and took it in turns to go to hospital.
They are positive strong people who have discussed their funerals and been quite honest.I see them at least once a week.My dad is rock,he drove me to the hospital when my DH had a heart attack last yr.I couldnt go in the ambulance as the kids were in bed.
I know some people like to only be positive but i like to be realistic on what to expect.
I wasnt bad at all when my g parents passed away as i had started to withdraw from themand expected it.
My parents will need more support as DF or DM get worse.

sillymillyb Mon 12-Jan-15 22:27:24

I am so sorry about your news op, and thanks to all the others on this thread.

My dad died very suddenly on a heart attack when he was 53. The funeral wasn't for another 3 weeks because of Christmas and autopsy results, so I think myself and my brother had 4 weeks off in total. My other brother was under threat of redundancy so went back for a week in between death / funeral.

There is no real time line I don't think that fits all. The shock was horrific and could strike me down into tears even a year later. I hope that you are ok x

WeAllHaveWings Mon 12-Jan-15 23:03:34

I lost my dad suddenly in July last year. I was on annual leave when it happened, then work gave me a further 5 days as it took 10 days for funeral to be arranged. I then had a further week annual leave so 3 weeks off.

I could probably have went back after 2 weeks (still very tearful, but manageable and I was ok with the odd teary episode in work as team are great), but 3 weeks was more comfortable for me. I would not have coped after just one week. Didn't do much work the first couple of weeks back but it was good to start getting back to a routine. I found it harder not having something to occupy me, for weeks I couldn't walk the dog without bursting into tears during the walk as time alone gave me to much time to think. Do not underestimate how physically and mentally exhausting grief is, I did not anticipate that.

My eyes still tear up talking about him at work, and how mums coping with her own health problems without him, but a couple of teammates have been there and really understand how long grieving can take and its not awkward, more natural.

Everyone is different and it really depends on how you respond to it when it happens, how supportive your workplace is, and how comfortable you will feel there while still in the early stages of grieving. It's one of those thing you need to judge when the time comes.

So sorry you are going through this.

MarjorieMelon Mon 12-Jan-15 23:09:12

It's different for every person. I have lost a parent and a sibling. I feel they are still here, everyone kept saying to me it will sink in soon, it will suddenly hit you. It hasn't. I don't think it will. In my mind they are on holiday and there's no phones or wifi or postal service so I can't communicate with them. And that's the way I will continue to think for ever I imagine.

I'm sorry you are going through such a difficult time. It's tough.

whatisforteamum Mon 12-Jan-15 23:09:25

sillymillyb so sorry about your Dad .so young sad my Dh was 53 when he had his attack.Thankfully i found him when i got home and dialled for help.
A sudden death must take more time to recover from although watching people suffer is not so easy.
I cant really ask DH as he was 16 when his mum died suddenly in her sleep so very difficult circumstances.

whatisforteamum Tue 13-Jan-15 07:59:51

Thank you weallhavewings,so sorry for the loss of your Dad.There seems to be a 2 week theme coming through and i am glad you found work helpful.That is what i am hoping eventhough the two older work collegues are men who keep mentioning how old Dad is 73.
I mostly work with 20 somethings and students so fun people.
Thank you Majorie,so sorry you have lost a parent and a sibling.I have tried to rationalize what it will be like but you cant.
The advice has been very helpful and i dont know where i found the strength the last couple of yrs with 2 teens taking exams,my 3 nearest all very ill.I guess we all keep going because we have to.

Truckingalong Tue 13-Jan-15 08:16:51

My mum died 3 days ago, so I can only talk about the immediate aftermath. She has been poorly for a long time but it has still been an awful shock. That said, I was dreading it and thought I would collapse and need sedating and want to fling myself under a train but it hasn't been like that. It's a very quiet devastation but I can function. I'm not sure what else I can do though other than keep putting one foot infront of another.

aprilanne Tue 13-Jan-15 08:39:09

i am sorry for your worry .my mum died 18 months ago .and i still feel poleaxed .but my mum was not ill just took a sudden heart attack at 62 .you have time to prepare .i will not say it will be easier of course not but you will know it is happening .as for work 2/3 days off is the norm .but your gp will give you a sick line for at least 2 /3 weeks if you need .or longer all depends how you feel .your children generally get you through because they still need to be looked after even in the middle of all the grief .you never get over it i will not lie but you do learn to live with it .just take one day at a time and take the time your parents are still here to tell them how much they mean to you .thats the bit i find hardest being denied that opportunity to tell my mother how wonderful she was .take care .

whatisforteamum Tue 13-Jan-15 09:22:05

Aww Trucking i am so sorry.I too worry how i will cope (selfishly).I hope you get good support in RL.
Aprilanne so sorry for your loss and that you didnt have time to prepare and tell your mum how much you loved her,although i am sure she knew.
I have been very lucky as both parents were not expected to live this long.They said themselves there are plenty worse off than them with young children to leave behind.
I know if my husband had died last yr with his very blocked arteries i wouldve been in such shock as he was decorating our girls room not looking ill at all.you just never know.Look after yourselves.

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