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mum dying, husband emotionally cold

(59 Posts)
Craptime Fri 11-Oct-13 12:57:11

Hi namechanger...not sure if I should post here or bereavement or what...but anyway..
A bit of back ground...My mum is 64 and was diagnosed on august 22nd 2013 (so about 7 weeks ago) with metastatic breast cancer that is not curable and to our knowledge is in at least her femur and lungs.

We found out in a pretty traumatic way...she had been bed bound for a few week with what we thought was a combination of the arthritis/scoliosis of the spine and diverticulitis which she has suffered with for years. She's very anti doctors and health care agencies and so tries as best she can to manage pain etc on her on.

We had all been worried about her and my dad (who still wrks full time) was caring for her and fulfilling her wishes not to have the doctor called. He then fell off a ladder gardening and sustained a head injury and several brokne bones in his right arm so I told him if he didnt approach the GPs then I would as he was struggling caring for her. She will not let either me or my sister do anything to help either and my dad is like the gate keeper for her and keeps us away etc. But this time he agreed and told the doctor...she came out and expressed her concern for my mum and tried to organise some rheumatology appointments...still thinking it was arhtritis etc...

then at 3am about a week later my mums leg fell out of bed and she couldnt lift it back in her self...she asked my dad to do broke in his hands at the femur...ambulance came phonecall from dad at 6 in the morning to come to hospital where they discovered a tumour in her leg caused it to break and a large weeping ulcerated tumour on her breast she had hidden from everyone. after an op to the femur we were told it was incurable, too late and that if she was to have heart failure in the op they would not resuscitate her! All of us in total shock etc etc. finally persuaded her to have an mri which revealed tumour in her lungs but she refused brain scan and dischrged herself from hospital after 3 weeks because shed had enough... she basically refused to eat til they let her go and she was returned home by ambulance. about a week and a half ago she was again returned to hospital with heart problems and put on coronary care. She tells all the nurses and doctors what ever they want to hear in order to go home. So she is home again now...Which is fine but the strain my dad is under working full time and her refusing carers or macmillan nurses is immense...he however worships her and will not go against her wishes despite knowing if he ends up ill she will have to go to hospital anyway!

So its a really stressfull situation. I have two children - one preschool age and one just started high school. My elder child is really struggling with the transition to high school (we think he may have aspergers) and I am currently studying a very taxing podiatry degree.

Some days I feel I cant cope and am going to crack under the strain of emotionally supporting my dad (who tells me a lot of his feelings including suicidal ones) and uni work and my son and my own complicated feelings about my mum....and my husband is almost totally emotionless about it all. He doesnt treat me with any extra care, doesnt ask how I am, doeant hug me unless I request it and cant understand why I need affection. Its highly likely he has aspergers too but right now I just need someone to be there at the end of the day for me and he isnt. He carries out practical help and tasks...i.e. looks after the children while I study or help my dad out with shopping and cleaning or just listen to him talk about his grief...but my husband doesnt do the same for me (listen to my feeling or look after me) He's very matter of fact and pretty much wants life to carry on as normal, in that he has booked several bike races for sundays (he races for an amateur road bike team) and he cant see the strain this puts on me as I need more time to complete everything and I need less stress around the children. He thinks I'm unreasonable to want him to cut down the races.

So I just wondered if anyones gone through do you cope when your only support cant or wont support you? My mum has around 3 months to live by the way so things are clearly going to get worse and pretty soon.


CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 11-Oct-13 13:04:26

I'm so sorry that you're going through this nightmare. It sounds utterly horrific and I'm not surprised you feel at breaking point. All I can suggest with your husband is that you leave him completely out of the equation, get as much support as you can for yourself from friends, other family members, and the medical profession and then address his bizarrely uncaring attitude when you feel stronger. Do you have friends you can talk to? Have you spoken to your own GP?

BTW It's such a shame that she won't let the Macmillan nurses help. I know someone who is a Macmillan nurse and she's a thoroughly lovely person. Often she seems to do as much for the carers like your DF as she does for the patient.

Craptime Fri 11-Oct-13 13:14:44

Thanks Cogito...I was wondering if Macmillan would talk to me separately...theres a drop in macmillan place at my local hospital so I may try it but if anyone reading knows for sure whether they will the info would be much appreciated.

I have lovely friends who help and want to help but I have so little time to see anyone face to face at the moment its very hard...and when I come home at the end of some days when Ive spent the evening with my dad after a very full day and he's gone round and round talking about how theres no point to his life without my mum and how destroyed he is while i try and boost him up and talk his feelings through...sometimes I wish my husband would just do the same thing for me. sad

Mueslimorning Fri 11-Oct-13 13:26:52

So sorry to read about all your worries.
Can only offer moral support as I can relate to much you've said.
My mum was over 80 when she died a few years ago, also refusing the carers she would have needed (as she was also looking after my dsis with ms). Everything fell to me, I couldn't cope as well I hoped to and still feel guilty, as she died unexpectedly overnight in hospital. I had been able to visit her the day before but as she was full of painkillers (crumbling spine, after 2 recent hip ops) I left after a short time.
I wish now I had thought to treat every day as a possible last day.
Perhaps you could think of some little ritual every time you leave her after a visit, or a phone call (my dad died abroad many years ago but we were linked by phone and I could tell him I loved him at least).

Btw, dh was useless throughout, I thought about leaving him but didn't.
Aspergers was also mentioned in our house, at couple counseling he's being told he's a selfish twat (using technical terms of course). He's working on it...
Look after yourself, for you and your kids.

Craptime Fri 11-Oct-13 13:40:34

Thanks museli..I'm so sorry about your mum. I wonder if couples counselling would help us...but we tried it just after DS was born and it wasnt really much help.

I have lots of lovely friends who want to help but I have so little time to see people face to face at the moment...i guess at the end of a long stressful day its hard to come home to someone who wants to bicker with you about which tea cup you have used and can't see the utter misery on your face.

hammyhamster72 Fri 11-Oct-13 13:42:16

Hi Craptime,

I am sorry to hear you are going through all this. I haven't posted before but felt I had to write a few words to you. I was in your situation about 18 months ago and I know how hard it is. My husband did support me but couldn't always see why I was having the feelings I was. I had to be very straight with him and tell him what needed doing with the kids and that I simply wouldn't be around as normal. I would echo Cogito and say lean on your friends, it's what got me through the worst time of my life. Even a quick phone call or email would make all the difference - it helps you to cope.
My mum died of cancer in July 2012, she had been ill for over 3 years but the disease really started to curtail her life a few months before. She was a very proud lady and refused all treatment, wanting to make the most of her life when she felt well. As soon as she did start to decline, everything fell to me, trying to keep my family going, support my Dad, study, and all the other stuff life throws at you. I felt like I'd aged about 20 years overnight.
All I can say is you are doing all you can and you can only do so much, take some time out for you if you can even if it's a coffee or a bath, you need to look after yourself. People told me this at the time, and although I struggled it is the best advice. A big hug to you.

Take care xx

Craptime Fri 11-Oct-13 14:02:16

Hi hammyhamster thank you for replying. I'm so sorry about your mum. I'm struggling to find time or space to do anything for myself. Even posting on here has me feeling guilty because its taking up time I need to be using to write a lit review for uni ha!

Every day is marred by the million tiny unkindnesses my husband gives me. I don't think he actually means to do it but its like he can't see that it's not appropriate to be snarky or argumentative with me right now over small things.

TheCrumpetQueen Fri 11-Oct-13 14:05:26

My partner can be like this. When I'm very down/ill and really need him, he can be very emotionless and not see or think that I might need extra love.

I brought it up in counselling and she said I need to communicate specifically what I need to him, e.g 'Right now I need a hug because I'm feeling very down' rather than 'you don't hug me etc'

It's annoying and I do suspect he lacks empathy.

I'm so sorry with all that you're going to, I'm glad you have family support. I know how it feels to have a partner like that

Craptime Fri 11-Oct-13 14:09:49

Thanks crumpetqueen I will give that a's quite helpful to have the way language can make a difference spelled out! It sounds obvious when its in black and white but you just expect your husband to do it because its seemingly second nature to everyone else...I've had hugs and offers of help and shoulders to cry on from the most unexpected places...but not at home where I need it most!

TheCrumpetQueen Fri 11-Oct-13 14:13:38

It really doesn't come naturally to my partner. He was raised in a very abusive household and was not taught how to respond appropriately to people, I have to give him allowances I guess

hammyhamster72 Fri 11-Oct-13 14:20:42

I think you have both hit the nail on the head! Saying "I always do the ironing" in my book says "please do the ironing" but in my case I actually have to spell it out and ask a direct question, then I get a response. Sounds daft but I've learnt not to assume that he will be able to second guess me, even after 12 years of marriage!

Craptime Fri 11-Oct-13 14:27:11

I think the emotions are so huge and the weight of the issues so overwhelming its hard to think rationally and request things when you just want comfort but I'm resigned to the fact I'll probably have to spell it out in detail. I know it probably makes me a not very nice person but I can't help feeling oh FFS another bloody task I've got to take on!


hammyhamster72 Fri 11-Oct-13 14:40:10

I so know how you feel, and it's much easier to say "can you do the washing up?" as opposed to "ffs can you have some empathy for me and just understand that I'm feeling totally rubbish!" I sometimes found that sitting down and spelling out the problems/issues in a proper conversation helped, rather than random comments here and there. I know you shouldn't have to do it and don't feel like you should be doing it, but in my experience if I didn't call a halt and say i'm just not coping and I need you to do this, this and this(or this might happen), my husband and dad would just expect me to carry on as if nothing was happening. So know what you mean by it being another thing to do to add to the list. I also remember feeling like I got MUCH more comfort outside the home and from the most unlikeliest of sources.

Craptime Fri 11-Oct-13 14:45:39

It's weird hammyhamster that thing of getting much more comfort from's especially weird/hurtful/sad as I'm watching my dad caring for and supporting my mum in spectacular fashion...all the while KNOWING for an absolute fact, my own husband would never do anything approaching that for me. Thqt thought might be sad, stupid, silly, I don't know, but there it is!

hammyhamster72 Fri 11-Oct-13 14:49:21

It certainly makes you see your relationship in a different light. I think that thought is all those things craptime, and you are right to feel that way. You need to get through the next few months the best way you can, and if that is getting your help/support/comfort from other sources then so be it. I hope your husband does realise soon the toll it is all taking on you, and gives you the support you need and deserve. Hugs xx

leavingthebastard Fri 11-Oct-13 15:03:21

Craptime - your post could be me honestly. I have just gone through this exact situation with my DP. My mum died back in April. And my DP and I are in the process of breaking up now largely as a result.

My mum had been ill since early 2011. She went through 2 years of treatment, during which time my DP was rubbish. No understanding for the situation at all. No extra care for me. No hugs unless requested, no interest expressed in the details of hospital appointments or results. Flippant even when he could see my mum was in pain. I didn't really let it bother me too much until mum actually died. Within days he had told me that I needed to get over it, move on with life, and - this is a corker - that I "hadn't been much fun recently". Over the next few weeks he said my grieving was "extreme" and I needed help.

Since then he has been doing things behind my back like internet dating, talking to exes, porn. He has gone completely off the rails. I view him like a stranger now. Even when trying to resolve things with him he turns it round to whine about how his life has been turned upside down and how he is upset I don't trust him.

To be honest I just want him out of my life now.

My advice to you is to spend every moment you can with your mum. Tell her you love her, what she means to you. You will never have your mum back once she is gone. And you will never forgive yourself if you are distracted by your pig of a DH in these final weeks. I would also urge you to beg your mum to accept a Marie Curie or Macmillan nurse. A friend of mine had one for his mum and the difference it made to her was incredible. The whole family felt supported and comforted by this nurse. You could get one just to visit her for an hour so she could "interview" them in a way?

Also be prepared for your DH to be much worse once your mum dies. He will be baffled by your grief and you will reel from his lack of empathy. At the moment in your life when you need him most he will recoil from you.

I wish my DP had the excuse of being aspergers. He is just a shit. The thought of him being anywhere near me when I'm on my death bed makes me feel sick. This is how I know it is over.

Much, much love to you, this is the most difficult thing you will ever have to experience. Big hugs thanks

Craptime Fri 11-Oct-13 15:10:02

Thank you leaving! He sounds like a shit!

My husband said recently that "you always do something like this when I'm getting somewhere with my racing" I said "what having my mother die???!!" its astonishing sometimes the lack of understanding!

He's actually saying he would like us to split up as "lifes too short for all this" head explodes

God its good to hear I'm not alone and that I'm not being unreasonable...he really does make me feel as if I'm the unreasonable one by being "too emotional"

leavingthebastard Fri 11-Oct-13 15:26:16

Craptime this is how my DP has made me feel over the last 2.5 years. Like I am making a mountain out of a molehill.

You may find that your DH's behaviour gets even worse the more grief and strain you experience. My DP clearly cannot handle any sort of deep emotion and it scares him to the core.

You are definitely not being unreasonable, you have just accidentally married a man-child. My DP came out with another classic line: "I don't know why you are so upset that she's dead - you didn't have a particularly good relationship with her anyway, and she was annoying". shock

This is someone I considered having kids with. I am dodging a fucking bullet!

Your DH and my DP should hook up. Mine is obsessed with cycling too. They'd have a grand time. And we can go and find some men that aren't robots grin

Craptime Fri 11-Oct-13 15:30:02

haha! leaving that sounds like a plan! He already spends far more time with his bike and bike buddies than me anyway!

He told me its my dads own fault for getting stressed as he should have just refused to let my mum come home. erm OK, if you're an emotionless robot!

I can't tell you how much it helps to feel like I'm normal!

Craptime Fri 11-Oct-13 15:37:18

And <wow> at the comment your DP made fter your mum passed away...just <wow>

I'm also really sorry for your loss. I hope you find happiness with someone who isnt a massive dickhead and that he was just a blip in your life

haverer Fri 11-Oct-13 15:57:35

OP what a hard time you're having.
You can call up the macMillan helpline for a chat - when my DM was ill I spoke to cried at a lovely woman on the helpline who was a lovely understanding shoulder to cry on and also able to give practical advice.
As for your husband... his behaviour is absolutely unbelievable. Is he always like this when you need him? What's he like when you have a big-standard illness? What was he like when the DC were born? I don't know how anyone would get over this lack of support. If your partner doesn't support you in the hard times, I don't see the point, really.

haverer Fri 11-Oct-13 15:58:23


Craptime Fri 11-Oct-13 16:21:46

thanks haverer, I'll give them a call.

He was similar to this after DC's and through my own problems/illnesses throughout my life. I guess I made excuses for it, and he told me I was over reacting. And people outside of the situation tend to tell you" oh that's just what men are like" as they dont realise the full extent.

In his defence , he does do practical stuff. He's taken the kids with him just now while he goes buying bike stuff so I can try and get some work done. But there will just be NO empathy or even noticing of tears.

georgedawes Fri 11-Oct-13 16:35:25

Your husband sounds like an arsehole. If he can't support you now, when can he? Being a partner during the good times is easy.

Concentrate on seeing your mum and dad just now. Please contact macmillan, they are amazing and really will help all of you. They were brilliant when my mum died and I can't stress enough how much they will try to support you.

I hope you're ok x

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 11-Oct-13 16:38:34


I would contact MacMillan asap and get support from them, they are very good.

Your H sounds both selfish and self absorbed; are his own parents like this as well?. I ask this as this can be very much learnt behaviour. He reads like Mr Emotionally Unavailable.

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