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Could I get your input on this some years later?

(28 Posts)
canadamouse Sun 02-Apr-17 09:52:04

When I was sixteen, in January 1998 (shock) my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she died in the April of the same year. My father immediately took a sabbatical from his job to care for her.

Obviously, things changed quite rapidly.

But one memory I do have of that time was that understandably I suppose my parents wanted to spend a lot of time together. So they went on many holidays, days out, day or two away. I was encouraged (ordered) to go on a school trip at Easter and during that time my mum didn't exactly pass away but she became unconscious so the last conversation I had with her was on the phone and I had to go to a school dance that night and I had just been told that in all probability my mum would be dead when I got home.

I know I sound awful but this is coming out years later, that I didn't matter. It was all about my dad losing his wife but nothing about me losing my mum.

Would you do this to your daughter? Or am I being unfair - I think I am being unfair but at the same time I think they were unfair to me?

ChocolateDoll Sun 02-Apr-17 13:02:16

I suspect they were trying to protect you from it, and doing their best to keep your life as normal as possible at the time.

I can see though that with you being aged 16, this was probably quite mis-guided sad

TheElephantofSurprise Sun 02-Apr-17 13:05:19

No, I wouldn't do that.
It was quite possibly just as you think, all about them.
Please access some counselling. It can't be put right but you can feel better about yourself and how you live with it.

ImperialBlether Sun 02-Apr-17 13:12:40

No, I wouldn't do that to my daughter. I would want that remaining time to be spent as a family. There would be times when you were at school when they could be together as a couple. I wouldn't dream of taking a holiday without my children in that situation, unless I really felt the child was under such stress she needed time apart, eg if a family member or friend offered to take her away for a couple of days.

What's your relationship like with your dad now?

goodpiemissedthechips Sun 02-Apr-17 13:19:00

My initial thought was the same as chocolate's.

Sadly I suspect they were probably stumbling around in the dark and trying to do what they thought 'best' at a time when nobody was thinking straight.

But I don't know them. And whatever their intentions, this is about your feelings and how YOU experienced it.

I agree that counselling would be a good idea and I want to add that I'm really sorry for your loss. Feelings are never "unfair", you just feel how you feel, and a good counsellor can help you to get to the bottom of them and make some kind of peace with such a terrible loss flowers

Cricrichan Sun 02-Apr-17 13:21:25

I think they were wrong but they would have done it to protect you. Hugs ((()))

MidnightVelvetthe7th Sun 02-Apr-17 13:27:28

I'm sorry for the loss of your mother OP.

I lost my mother to terminal cancer 4 years ago and there's no way I would have put a child through that. My mother dwindled away from a vibrant successful woman, a teacher who was well respected into a wheelchair bound husk who had lost her hair, her smile, was constantly fretting, could not read, had multiple explosive humiliating diarrhoea incidents several times a day and had severe mouth ulcers and bleeding from the mouth from the chemo. She lost her ability to move, to cognate and we were told that by the end she would have lost her speech and her sight. Thankfully it never came to this.

I would not have put my children through this, through seeing her decline. I would much rather they kept the memories they have of her laughing and playing jokes & going on the swings. I would protect them from it and yes, possibly I would send them on holiday so they missed the worst and that their life could continue in an environment where I knew they would be cared for & have distractions.

I don't know why your parents did it but I absolutely understand your feelings and now I'm a parent myself, I'd think that they wanted to spare you.

If you can, talk this through with your father to see his side, it might help.

canadamouse Sun 02-Apr-17 15:50:49

Thank you. I really appreciate your replies. Unfortunately, my father is now also dead so it's hard for me as I don't have anyone to ask about it.

I really, really don't think they were trying to protect me, except possibly with the school trip. My mothers demise wasn't (mercifully) like yours, Midnight flowers as by the time they found the cancer it had progressed to the point that rendered treatment useless. She became ill and frail but other than that there weren't any of the things you describe.

Photographs from that time show them very much bonded as a couple and I suppose I just wonder why I wasn't deemed important enough to at least spend time with, which sounds ridiculously self centred, I know!

SandyY2K Sun 02-Apr-17 18:19:30

I think it must been really difficult for them and sometimes people don't think straight under those circumstances.

I know if it was my DM I'd want to be with her, I also know my DF would want and need us (me and siblings) there, because he's useless with looking after sick people.

Although you don't feel like it was protection, it could very well have been their motivation. To try and keep life normal for you. I think I'd want to keep life normal for my DD, but at the same time if it was my DM, I'd want to spend time with her.

I'm sorry for the loss of both your parents. Especially loosing your DM at such a young age.

PaterPower Sun 02-Apr-17 19:59:46

I was with a (ex) gf, now many years ago, through the period her Mum was first diagnosed with cancer to when she died.

Her Mum and Dad were in denial at first, then determined to try every weird and wonderful "treatment" out there (as well as chemo etc). They became quite insular in terms of bonding very closely together, at the exclusion to an extent of their daughters.

My gf was there when she declined and died. Unfortunately, by the time she died it was almost a blessing, as she'd got dementia by then and had gone massively down hill. It was horrible to watch, and I can see why some couples would want to focus on themselves (even at the expense of their adult children) and also why they'd want to shield their children from seeing the effects of the decline.

canadamouse Sun 02-Apr-17 22:23:33

Thanks again.

I'm almost positive it wasn't an attempt to protect me. I know my parents smile I think this is why I'm suddenly wondering about it. I don't think they thought about me at all, or if they did it was very much as a secondary afterthought.

I can't understand it. I was sixteen, and it was my mum. Didn't she want to tell me a few pearls of wisdom about boyfriends, tell me what she'd have liked to say at my wedding, encourage me to study hard for my A levels? Didn't she want to treasure the time she had with me?

I don't think she did. I just feel like I didn't count. All through that period and afterwards. I know I'm being selfish now, sorry.

Imbroglio Sun 02-Apr-17 22:31:33

I had a similar experience of feeling sidelined when my dad died when I was a comparable age to you. I haven't ever quite got my head round it and I think it changed me for life.

Imbroglio Sun 02-Apr-17 22:32:19

You are not being selfish. Don't be sorry.

canadamouse Sun 02-Apr-17 22:38:46

Thank you. It's helping to talk about it. It's only really started to make me think about it recently.

InTheMoodForLove Sun 02-Apr-17 22:45:12

I was involved from a very early age into all the illness and deaths in my family. I wish I wasn't. I am only guessing here but, are you sure they were really holidays and nice times? If the illness lasted so little it must have been pretty difficult and lots of time must have been spent with doctor or in hospital? It is all very traumatic to assist of it all. So while I totally can imagine how you feel, real life illness and death is ever hardly like in the films with pearls of wisdom and hart to hart conversations and memories. Sadly is fear, panic, pain, sadness, anger.... it sucks either way I think, dying is not that glamorous. Hope it makes sense what I am trying to say. Some therapy for both losses would be very good though.

canadamouse Sun 02-Apr-17 22:50:11

I can't be certain InThe, but my mum spent no time in hospital or in a hospice. Nurses visited daily and pretty much everything was done at home.

They definitely went to Amsterdam (to get cannabis!) for a week. I remember that being very lonely. They went to Whitby too and went to visit my brother in Durham a few times, staying overnight.

Then, after she died my dad had a new partner before I think I'd fully clocked onto the fact my mum had died.

I don't know. Like I say, I know I sound a bit selfish and 'why couldn't it have been about ME' but I suppose I do wonder why it couldn't. It led to a surrealism about the whole thing because I just had to pretend life was going on as normal although clearly it wasn't.

TiredCluelessMummy Sun 02-Apr-17 23:17:53

It's really not selfish, I don't think anyone with a heart would begrudge you feeling the way you do. Your feelings are your feelings, and they are perfectly valid. You do not have to apologise for them.

I really think you could benefit from some counselling. Would you consider giving that a go? Unfortunately, neither of your parents are able to give you an answer. So it's a case of finding peace with the situation and coming to terms with it. Counselling can definitely help you with that.


DelphiniumBlue Sun 02-Apr-17 23:36:56

What a horrible time for you. Has something happened recently to bring all this up?
It's so hard when they are both gone now, and can't answer your questions - but maybe your brother, who I am guessing was an adult when your Mum died, can shed some light on it. Are you close enough to him to talk about it?
It seems likely that they were trying to protect you, to keep your life as normal as it could be, although why that wouldn't include taking you with them to visit your brother, I can't imagine. I'm not sure I understood that part correctly, you seem to be saying that they left you alone to go and visit him, if so that must have been very lonely for you.
Is there anyone else around who might remember what happened, or who might be able to shed light on it, maybe older family members?
Can I just say, you don't sound selfish at all, there seem to be things that need clarifying so that you can make sense of it all. And yes, some counselling might help come to terms with what happened, because from what you say, it does sound as if your feelings and needs,as a teenager losing her mother ,were not given the priority you deserved.

canadamouse Mon 03-Apr-17 08:04:14

Thanks again. smile

I was wondering why I was thinking about it, and the only (probably silly!) reason is that my friend is getting married next week and her mum has been so involved with dress shopping and helping. I guess that's one of those 'mum' things I've never had but I imagine a lot of mums with a daughter like to think about that. And Mother's Day last week too.

I'm not sure about counselling ... will have a think.

My brother is a funny one, he is lovely but he has ASD and he was also taking drugs and so his memories of this time will be a bit funny. (He was at university, there are two and a half years between us.)

I don't know, it's hard. Like the school trip, I can understand but it was to Dublin and there was never any suggestion that I might find being across the Irish Sea while my mother died might be a bit difficult!

Chasingsquirrels Mon 03-Apr-17 08:23:30

My dh (my children's step dad) died from cancer last month.
My children, who are 14 & 11 so a bit younger than you were, live with us. His children, who are young adults - upper sixth and last year of uni, don't.

My children saw DH's decline but we tried to keep things as normal as possible. The week before he died ds2 had his yr6 residential. I didn't think DH would die while he was away, but I knew it was approaching being a possibility. Ds2 went on his residential and if DH had died while he was away I didn't intend to tell him.

I do think that to an extent I excluded my children from things, they lived through it and saw how he declined, and I talked to then about it throughout. But I also was stretched in continuing to work until the last couple of months in an increasingly stressful environment, caring for DH, seeing him decline, having my own fears about the future - both his/own and then mine.

We had a couple of weekends away, although just staying with SIL & BIL, but only when children were at their dad's anyway.
Would we have had time away on our own if DH had been well enough? Yes I think we would, although we would also have had time away together as well. Both of which had been what we did before he became ill.

You say you knew your mother, but honestly you were only 16. You, unfortunately, only knew her as a child knows a parent, as your mum. You didn't have the opportunity to get to know her as an adult, and so it is very hard for you to actually know the thoughts behind her and your dad's actions.

I hope that you can find some way to come to terms with your feelings about this time in your life.

canadamouse Mon 03-Apr-17 10:40:03

I'm sorry about your DH flowers

I do know that there weren't really thoughts behind their actions, though. In some ways my parents were good and kind people. They certainly loved us in their own way and they did their best.

But we were not their top priority in actually living their life. Hard to know quite how to explain that but certainly when I left school and onto sixth form I think they'd washed their hands of parenting.

Imbroglio Mon 03-Apr-17 10:49:09

Canada I remember feeling a double loss of my dad (who died) and my mum because she was focused on coping and then afterwards seemed to me more interested in her future. I don't feel I had much in the way of parenting or affection from the age of about 12. While I do understand, I feel sad for that younger me. I was desperate to help both my parents during this dreadful time but felt powerless and a bit surplus.

canadamouse Mon 03-Apr-17 11:06:48

I can identify with all of that sad flowers

Normandy Mon 03-Apr-17 11:29:01

My father died when I was 15 after a 2 year battle with cancer.

My experience was much the same in that it was all about my mom losing her husband, not about me and my brother losing our father. Rationally, I realize she lost her whole world but even 16 years later I'll never forgive her.

He lost consciousness (on father's day of all times) and when we all went to the hospital visit, I was never allowed any time alone with him. We had to leave the room so his employees could each have time alone, but his children? Of course not.

After he passed, I recognized my mom was not coping and suggested "we all" (emphasis on "we ALL") go to grief counselling. She freaked and "accused" me of thinking she needed counselling (well, she did). My brother and I went (even though she picked the mother of a friend, UGH!) and never attended herself.

I just try to be empathetic towards her in relation to this, but I can't help but harbour some anger and resentment. My grandmother had a health issue recently and I tried to be my mom's support. She said it reminded her of when my dad was sick, and then she accidentally cut me out of the information loop (exactly like she did when dad was sick).

misscph1973 Mon 03-Apr-17 11:30:24

Dear OP, I am so sorry, it must be awful

I think sometimes even adults can't cope. I think if you mum and dad could, they would have included you more.

I know when my parents divorced (of course there is no way this compares!), neither of them could cope, and they were not very supportive of me when the family hone broke down. My mum was a b*tch for the next 10 years, and my dad never admitted his responsibility (he cheated on my mum, she couldn't forgive him, but some how my dad moved the focus from his wrong-doing to my mums anger). My sister and I were pretty much left to ourselves, and although we were teenagers, we still needed them as parents.

I have since moved on, and my relationship with my parents is fine. But I still think they could have done better, and that it just wasn't good enough.

You can't change the past. You don't have to forgive and forget, but you do need to accept, for your own sake.

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