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my dad died and my mum's just so sad

(13 Posts)
Grohlette Sat 27-Aug-16 13:41:18

I'm crying as Im writing this, I feel so sad for my mum. My dad died at the end of June, after a month in hospital, he was 90 and very frail. My mum is much younger at 74 and was his carer for the past 3 or so years. She has been with him since she was 20, and they really loved each other, they've had a great life and were happy to the end. He really didn't want to leave her and die but his body was so frail and he went into multi-organ failure in the end and there was nothing they could do.
Before this admission he could still get around the house with a frame, he had full mental capacity, and was great company but depended on my mum to do everything. She prompted him with most things, managed the household, drove him everywhere, organised his medication, cooked, cleaned and washed for him. Which was ok, she was able to cope with it with our help as well. So when he was in hospital my brother came back from abroad (where he lives) and stayed with my mum for the duration of his deterioration until he died, and stayed for the funeral so we were all supporting my mum. Since my brother has gone and my dad died I have been supporting mum mainly. I work full time shift work and have been down there on my days off helping her and keeping her company and talk to her daily. Because her world revolved around dad before he died she didn't really have a social life, they did everything together, she has never done anything independently. I have been trying to encourage her to join groups, talk to neighbours, go abroad to my brother, arrange meeting friends etc but she wont do it, she cant cope with it. She is incredibly lonely and is finding living in the house very empty. She used to bake and had a keen interest in cooking but cant focus on food at all now. We have tried to include her in everything we do and try and be positive and understand her grief but I cant make her feel any better. i have just had a conversation with her on the phone and she just doesn't want to be here, she wants to be with dad. I want her to see her GP as I think she's understandably depressed, almost suicidal but she will not go. She lost all faith in her GP over what happened with my dad ( that's another long story which I won't go into) so will not talk to the GP. She asked us to move in with her, she's got an amazing house in a fab location and I would love to live there, but not with her. If we moved in to her home, it wouldn't feel like my home, with my furnishings and my space, I think it would be a difficult strain.
We have given her our dog temporarily , she loves him, and he has been great company for her, given her routine, got her out of the house, and helped her a lot. She has been looking at rescue dogs, which was encouraging as it meant she is looking forwards, but she wont commit and take that next step. I don't want to rush or push her into something, I want to her to make the decision when it feels right for her. I just don't know if this is normal behaviour, she cries every day and is just so sad and every day says she just doesn't want to be here, she wants to be with dad. Today she's crying because he was cremated, she's regretting 'burning him'. I don't know how much to judge this as normal grief after losing someone you've been with for so long, or if I think this is concerning enough to force her to see someone about it. She Facetimes my brother fairly regularly but they have young children who come online, and she doesn't say half of what she tells me to him, so I feel much more responsible and involved. Anyone else dealt with similar?

littlemissM92 Sat 27-Aug-16 13:58:30

god that made me cry to read how awfully sad she gave her whole life to him which is so rare and so romantic these days. I think u sound like your doin a fantastic job and the only advise I would give is could u not move in with her short term or she move in with u or her come to yours half the week ? just a suggestion x

fabulousathome Sun 28-Aug-16 00:03:15

You could see if she would be willing to talk to a bereavement counselor. She doesn't need to go through the GPS is she is willing to pay privately.

LowDudgeon Sun 28-Aug-16 00:11:23

no helpful experience to quote, but Grohlette, your dad only died 2 months ago - that's awfully soon after a lifetime together. The dog thing sounds helpful but honestly, give her loads of time & loads of help to get past this, poor love.

She will get there but it's too soon

PacificDogwod Sun 28-Aug-16 00:18:09

You love for your parents is obvious from your post and I am very sorry for your loss too. Please remember that while you lost your father, your mother lost her husband and life partner - 2 very different losses.
She will have to grieve in her own time and in her own way.
It sounds like you are a loving family to her and that support will allow her to come to some sort of accommodation with her life without your father.

As a rule of thumb it takes a year to begin to come to terms with the loss of a husband/father/brother or other very close relative (loss of a child is a whole other ball game).

Bereavement counselling may help her, but usually only after a good few months - locally here CRUSE will offer counselling after 6 months.

Be there for her, just be with her.
Don't offer her solutions or try to fix things for her. Because of course you can't sad. But I am sure that she knows she is loved by you and your brother. And the dog is a great idea smile. I hope she decides soon.

amprev Sun 28-Aug-16 00:31:22

I have been in this situation - I lost my dad 5 years ago when he was only 62 and my mum was then 65 and the last 5 years have been very hard on my brother and I as we have tried to cope with my mums grief. She ended up on anti depressants because three years down the line she hit a wall and her anxiety was too much for her an us to manage. This did help. Grief counselling didn't help her (I also went for grief counselling because I too struggled) but I feel like she never gave it a chance to help. Our relationship has changed because I have found supporting her to be very hard when I am trying to raise my young children and have resentful at times that she doesn't seem to recognise the times when I have been too exhausted to support her or have needed support myself.

Your bereavement is still so recent though that I think some of the things your mum are saying are more to do with the shock she is probably still in. My mum felt similarly towards the medical profession as yours does and this resolved itself with how brilliant our GP was when mum needed to see him regarding a routine medical issue. I also rang the GP and had a chat with him about how mum was feeling which gave him a heads up. I'm sure your GP would call your mum if you explained the situation. It may give her some comfort and help to lessen her anger.

I feel for you, I really do because you have lost your dad, but it sounds like you are having to focus on your mum's grief over your own. Things will improve over time is all I can say, and make sure your mum doesn't forget that you are grieving too. It may help her to know that you also need support from her. Take care.

Melfish Sun 28-Aug-16 00:35:06

I'm sorry for your loss Grohlette.
Like your parents, DM was the main carer for DF, who died early last year. To say the bottom fell out of her world was an understatement.
You have been doing brilliantly to support your mum, far better than I did. I was selfish I suppose, DM gave no acknowledgement that I was grieving too. She seemed to think I was fine as I organised the funeral and wake and then went had to go back to work a week later.
As a PP said, it is early days. A friend advised my DM to do nothing, in terms of making large decisions e.g. downsizing, chucking stuff out for at least a year after the death, which I think is a good idea. It has taken me that long to deal with a lot of DF's papers and sorting stuff out.
Does your DM have friends from before she became a carer that could be approached to offer to take her out? Or if she could visit your brother- you and he would probably have to sort out the flights etc and escort/collect from the airport? my mum surprised me by making a long trip to the NE to visit an old friend of hers by train. I booked it and put her on and met the train back in London but she enjoyed the change.
Regarding counsellors, DM was referred to one via the GP and it consisted of a phone conversation where the counseller asked how DM was and DM said she was fine and that was pretty much it. I think a face to face talk would have elicited that she was not fine, so perhaps a paid for counselllor may be better in these circumstances.
Please also make sure that you make time for you too. You have also lost a loved one and it's a strange feeling when this happens. I guess when we have stuff like work and looking after your children it keeps us busy and prevents us from actively dwelling on our grief, but it is still there.

ImperialBlether Sun 28-Aug-16 00:37:30

We're in a similar position, OP, and I really feel for you. My dad died in March this year and my parents were married for 64 years. My mum's 86 and though she doesn't cry all the time, as your mum does, it's so clear that she really misses him and is at a loss to know what to do with herself. She does things when we're around (big family) but I know the days are long for her and she's bored and lonely without him.

I don't know the solution to it, I'm afraid. My mum's a lot older than yours and it sounds as though your mum is more mobile and has many, many years ahead of her. The thing is that even if you did move in, you're not who she wants - she wants her husband there, living with her again. There's nothing that can be done in that situation, is there?

It is so very sad. My mum knew it was coming, but I think she (like us) never thought it would actually happen. It seemed impossible - when someone's mentally alert it seems ridiculous that they'll just die.

I don't know what the solution will be for my mum - she doesn't want to move out, as far as we can tell. She relies on very frequent visits from her children, but could live for another 10 or 15 years as she's very fit. By then the eldest of her children will be in her 70s. I wish she and my dad had moved into sheltered accommodation when they were a bit younger as she'd have friends surrounding her now, but I know she wouldn't have wanted it then and wouldn't want it now.

I'm so sorry your dad died. flowers I think that often our loss gets forgotten in our surviving parent's grief.

Somerville Sun 28-Aug-16 00:51:36

I'm sure your worry about whether it's
normal for her to be so sad is one that many families have, but, honestly, there is no such thing as the right way to grieve. Normal just doesn't come into it.

You sound like you're doing everything you possibly could be doing. Loaning her your dog was a particular master stroke. I was widowed nearly 2 years ago and running with my dog is a large part of what saved my sanity I think. No exaggeration.

It might sound counterproductive, but let her talk about your dad, and join in, when she's particularly sad. I have sudden days when the agony of missing DH gets overwhelmingly painful and I can't think about anything else. Aside from a few people who really get it, I've noticed that everyone else tries to take my mind off it/distract me/ suggest I put away any object that triggered it until I feel stronger, etc... But at those times it helps best if I just accept the pain, and really feel it, and talk and talk and talk about everything I loved and miss about him. And likewise, by talking about him a lot I think I can avoid the pain building up to unbearable levels. But sometimes life gets in the way, and I have newer friends who didn't know him, so that can be hard to do.

I get why you're encouraging her to get out and socialise, but I don't think she sounds thick skinned enough yet. Some people say such, such hurtful things and keeping a stiff upper lip is incredibly draining.
They admire us for being strong and moving on. You never move on from a much loved spouse. Keeping on is the best that can be expected of anyone in this situation, ime.
Others compare the bereavement to the feeling they had when their pet died. Or say how at least you were prepared by his illness - you probably got some of the grieving done before he even died. In her case she'll probably get that he was so old that he must have been prepared, or that it was his time because he made it to 90.
And even though some of the stuff people say is rational, it doesn't fit with the lived reality of the agony of missing your husband so, so much. And feeling that others don't understand.

At your mum's age there are a lot of widows, so there are potentially a lot of friends out there, who understand the pain and know the kind of friendship she needs. But it'll take time for her to be able to go out and meet those people.

And YY to waiting before encouraging counselling. I had a few disastrous sessions early on when my parents panicked because I hadnt eaten for 8 days and then didn't cry at his funeral. (I was pretending to be a rock so that I could be there for my kids to lean on - it made sense in my mind at the time hmm)
Later on, bereavement counselling can really help though.

Grohlette Sun 28-Aug-16 10:57:23

Thank you all for your kind words, yesterday wasn't a great day, she cried and cried and I cried with her, which I think was quite cathartic. From what you're all saying I think the deep emotional despair she's expressing is fairly normal and she's just got to work through it. Although I'm at the listening end I'm glad she's expressing it and not bottling it all up, which I think would be more damaging. My dad was a great man and I really do miss him but my relationship with him was different to my mums and losing your soulmate so devastating whatever age you are. I know that if she could do it peacefully, legally and with support, she would opt out of this life. I feel as if I'm just keeping her head above water by supporting her, that's all I can do. She won't see a counsellor, she doesn't feel comfortable with it. So we're just taking it a day at a time. Sorry for all your losses too flowers flowersflowers x x

Kione Sun 28-Aug-16 11:12:04

I work with older people in the community and I see similar situations often.
As others have said, it is very early and bereavement is a process that has to run its course before your mum and you and family start feeling better.
Be with her, talk, cry, hug, ad hard as it will be. And yes to CRUSE a few weeks down the line to help you through this. You can however call them now to ask for advice, I have seen cases where they step in quite early on, but usually when there is no family.
Again, its too early to join groups and activities but she should get better.
You are obviously really caring and love her and that's all she needs right now.

Kione Sun 28-Aug-16 11:14:52

Sorru cross posted OP. You can ask Cruise for info leaflets on bereavement, they are very good to read for you, and understand the process even if your mum doesn't want to see them.

PacificDogwod Sun 28-Aug-16 12:09:41

I know that if she could do it peacefully, legally and with support, she would opt out of this life.

My gran felt like this after my granddad died, he was only 72, she was only in her mid 60s. We truly all thought she would just die from despair, it was awful.
It took a year and she lived another 35 years as a widow (she died last year aged 101) and had a great life with lots of fun (including a 'gentleman suitor' grin), well, until the dementia got her, but that'a irrelevant to this thread.

Your mother will move past this stage of despair and you are right in saying it's better that she is able to cry and overtly upset rather than holding it all in. Don't rule bereavement counselling out in the future, it's just a bit early for that.
In the future she is likely to have more better days and less distraught ones, but they will still be there. You all will have all sorts of difficult anniversaries to come: you know, 1st Christmas without him, his first birthday without him, your first birthday without him, your parents' anniversary without him. It is very sad and very hard sad, but somehow most people manage to survive their loss and find joy in other things in the long run.
Having good and happy moments and days is not a betrayal of your father or your mother's husband, it is human and normal and likely what he would want for her.
smile

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