My feed

to access all these features

Elderly parents

Wwyd - supporting my mother in grief - suck this church service up or put immediate family first?

32 replies

isoldeone · 30/06/2013 21:37

The church wrote to my mother saying there's a memorial service in the next few weeks for my father and other parishioners who have passed away recently on a Sunday evening at 630pm. Very touching and my mother is keen to go. The vicar conducted my fathers funeral and was supportive as my dads death although in his 70's was sudden and unexpected. He passed away 3 months ago and my mother is devastated as am I. My mum has been very ill since his death, lost mobility although is recovering but she is very depressed. She spent a period in hospital directly after the funeral and I could not support her as I was heavily pregnant and then had the baby. I don't live locally ( 50 miles ) but I've been spending time every week there at least once a week going up by train with a newborn. My husband is a gem and has helped. He looks after ds1 who is 3 . We have stayed weekends and we are slowly trying to sort out bills , my dads estate etc when my mother asks. She can be demanding but we recognise she wants to retain control and independence so "back off" as it gets stressful.
It has been an absolute blur the last 3 months. A particular "highlight" was the first night she came home and I had to call the paramedics because I thought she had a stroke again. I was exhausted bring ds2 at 3 weeks whilst the ambulance crew came in! Dh couldn't be there. Ss enablement carers pop in 3 times a day but this will shortly end. I have no siblings . Relatives are all elderly. My ils are helpful and have given practical support but they are not local
I've arranged for my mum to come on our holiday with us in 2 weeks and this church service is at the end of that week. I don't want to stop off enroute that night. Dh would be negotiating busy motorways at 9 pm. I'd be apart again from ds3. We are due to move and complete shortly too. I want to move forward now. I've not had time to grieve and
I don't want to go to the service. Mum is desperate to go and suggestions that a friend or neighbour take her is not going down well. She wants me there. It's an hour of my life I know but baby will cry ( colicky in the pm) and its just...well hassle I could do without that week .
Yr opinions?
Ps we are not regular churchgoers either and my dad didn't believe in " religious mumbo jumbo"

OP posts:
Northernlurker · 30/06/2013 21:42

You've done everything else asked of you. Is this one hour really too much? I help organise a memorial service in connection with my work and a number of relatives have talked about the service itself giving them time to grieve that they hadn't found before. You may find it more helpful than you think.
Personally I wouldn't have it in me to say no to my mum if she was 'desperate' to go and I could indeed do so.

Annunziata · 30/06/2013 21:43

I couldn't say no to my mum.

Chubfuddler · 30/06/2013 21:45

Go to the memorial. It will help your mother and it may help you in your grief.

Alibabaandthe40nappies · 30/06/2013 21:52

I would have to go if my Mum asked it of me.

I'm so sorry for your loss, and I really hope you can find the time to grieve soon.

ReallyTired · 30/06/2013 21:53

we are not regular churchgoers either and my dad didn't believe in " religious mumbo jumbo"

Memorial services are for the living rather than the dead. Whether you or your Dad believe/d in religion is irrelevent.

The fact is that your mother does believe and wants to grieve in this particular way. However it is not OK to use emotional malipulation to force you to go to this service.

The big issue I can see is assertiveness. Your mother needs to realise that you have other responsiblites and she cannot always have her way: easier said than done.

Northernlurker · 30/06/2013 21:58

Really I don't think the mother's wish to attend a memorial service three months after the death of her husband, the OP's father, can be described as emotional maniplulation. It's not an unreasonable request.
Yes the OP has her own life - but this is what bereavement does. It steals your life for a while. It's exhausting and draining and consuming.

ProphetOfDoom · 30/06/2013 21:58

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chubfuddler · 30/06/2013 22:02

It's probably a semi regular service held for all those who have suffered a bereavement in the parish in recent months, rather than a specific service for the op's father.

paulapantsdown · 30/06/2013 22:05

What a difficult time. My mum dies very suddenly 9 years ago, leaving my dad as lone carer to my disabled brother. He found it almost impossible to cope and leant on me very heavily. I too had a toddler and a newborn at the time.

It was a very very tough time, and I feel so sorry for you coping with all this. Its very easy for others to say things like 'well I wouldn't say no to my mum', but I know what it really means to put others needs before your own and to not grieve or live your own life for so long that become ill.

I cannot remember the 1st year of my sone life much at all and eventually felt resentful and sad about it.

It seems that you have been there for your mum every step of the way so far. If this church service is a step so far, then say so.

isoldeone · 30/06/2013 22:20

It's exactly that chubfuddler
Trouble is my grief is like a scab I don't want to pick at. Apart from all the practical concerns and my own selfish concerns ( great end to a holiday break hey) I don't want to let the dam open. Plus my mum has got very distressed when I get upset so i dont show it.I've sort of steeled myself once a week to be supportive and deal with her anger, bewilderment and all the stages of grief that she is going through and will continue to go through. My sleep is interrupted with ds2 and ds 1 has only start to settle with the upheaval.
Dh is supportive and recognises that caring for my mum will now impact on our lives but he wants "me" back I think and for everything to be as normal as possible for the kids.
I think there's so much to deal with I don't know why suddenly this one thing I suddenly don't want to do for mum even though its important to her.

Thank you for your perspectives. I feel mean and silly yet want to justify not going

OP posts:
MonkeysTypewriter · 30/06/2013 22:21

I really feel for you OP. When I lost my DF I was surprised that the most difficult thing was my DM, and dealing with her and with her grief - it is completely all-consuming and I still feel, 4 years later (to the day in fact) that I haven't had the opportunity to grieve. I wish I had more patience with her. 3 months after she was still in the depths of despair, it has been a rollercoaster since then (ie some ups as well as the downs). She has tried to make her new life and has made some pretty bad mistakes along the way.

I am lucky enough to have siblings, one still living at home, I dread to think what it would be like otherwise.

Do you want us to give you permission not to go? If you did go could you stay in a hotel afterwards, or something to give you some time or space? Can you do something special at another time - just you on your own one day - to remember your dad - a trip to somewhere he thought was special perhaps? And/or maybe promise your mum to do something special together that would be inkeeping with your dad's views on life?

I don't know what to suggest regarding your mother's care, someone else might come along with practical suggestions. You deserve time with your family too.

Chubfuddler · 30/06/2013 22:24

I think you're so busy being what your mother and your DH and your children need and want you to be, your own feelings of loss are being stifled. And at some point you will have to deal with them or risk making yourself very ill indeed.

I am very sorry for your loss. If it was me I would go but I do not think you would be wrong not to. I just don't see not going as playing out well for you.

isoldeone · 30/06/2013 22:56

I think you are right I will probably go. Really has it spot on to some extent - my mother is very much used to " getting her own way and since her first stroke even more so ( says whatever is on her mind, wants things do RIGHT now) we joke in black humour my dad gets a rest now ! northern is right too her request is not unreasonable.
But I am tired. I dread the daily ( although most days twice daily) phone call she sobs and complains she is so lonely.
When I stayed a weekend or so ago overnight in the morning I heard her crying for her long dead parents in the morning.
My life goes on here. I'm on mat leave, waiting to move house, ds2 is a beautiful dream baby, my ds1 goes to nursery so I get a " rest" but yes I've not had time to grieve chub . I miss my dad - he was so looking forward to spring and the baby. I feel resentful and I admit stifled. But I'm not sure how you are supposed to grieve. I never lost anyone close before. I felt waves of grief at the beginning but now I don't know - nothing - I cry occasionally , make jokes, " talk " to dad but I don't want wallow in grief. I'm crying now but I don't know why. Dh has fallen asleep reading ds2 a story - giving me time to post here .

OP posts:
Northernlurker · 01/07/2013 07:36

Does your mum have any friends who have also lost their partners? That's probably what she needs - people she can talk to with common experience. Have you contacted Cruse in her area? See if they have anything to offer. Might be helpful for you too.
website here

I know it must feel like you've been doing this forever but it's still very early days and from what you've said I suspect that both you and your mum are very much in shock still. How things are now is not how they will always be. It sounds awfully trite but grief really is a process not an event.

BeckAndCall · 01/07/2013 07:44

Firstly OP let me say you sound like an absolutely amazing daughter. You've been there fro your mum at a time when You'd have hoped that she could have been there for you but not once have you said that.

It is not too much to hope that you can at some point soon sat art to focus on your immediate family again. The question is when will that be and will this one hour memorial service mark the start of that time?

My inclination, like others, would be to ask if your father can be remembered at the next memorial and plan for that. That problem with that is that it will delay the process for your mum - she may now see this in her mind as some kind of transition, or another ordeal to be got through.

And there may come a time when you have to say to your mum that actually your focus needs to change and you need to back off a bit. So hard to do though.

FloJo151 · 01/07/2013 07:58

hi, so sorry for your loss, is your mum part of the fellowship (as in a regular goer) of this church? if so could you speak to the vicar and tell him you are all struggling as its just you looking after her. The church might have a team of people who might be able to take up some of the slack, maybe visiting her. Is there any groups at this church that she could be invited along to?

ExcuseTypos · 01/07/2013 08:08

I agree with Beck. If you do put the service off it will mean things are 'stalled' for a while.

I can however totally understand why you don't want to go. A very similar thing happened when my Father died. I really didn't want to go to a memorial, and neither did any of my 2 sisters. At the funeral I was the only one supporting my mum and wasnt sitting with my family. I found I was just concentrating on her and not even thinking of my Dad. I didn't want to even revisit the church again but I made the decision that I would go, and that was it would be a line in the sand as far as starting 'to move on'.

It is still early days for your mum but you have to start protecting yourself and putting yourself first. I do remember a few months after my dad died, that I got very upset infront of my mum. She said 'you've lost your Dad haven't you' and I think it was the first time she had realised how anyone else was feeling. Your mum might not be at that stage, but I don't think there's anything wrong in you or your Dh pointing that out to her.

isoldeone · 01/07/2013 08:56

Thank you got all your advice . I've not name checked everyone but you have given me a lot to think about and some things have rung true . One of the problems is getting mum to accept help from others outside the family - she wants me to do it. She's dying to get rid of the enablement ss carers even tho in a weird way they have been a blessing in disguise forcing mum to have things like a key safe , emergency pendant and downstairs loo.
My dads sister is a widow and wants to come over but my mum has kept putting her off. She feels the house is a mess ( it isn't things just need updating / a declutter) shed be the ideal companion )
It's hard to force the issue , she gets distressed and angry at me if I " push" an issue . Crazy things have been objected to like an Internet shop from Tesco, having pills sorted and delivered by the chemist, the new microwave is viewed with suspicion. When the gp suggests things - they get accepted without question. I get accused of lectures ! ( honest I don't ! My dh tells me to not suggest stuff anymore.
I woke up this morning and changed my mind . I don't want to go.
My mum plans to sort out the interment my dads ashes - that was really gonna be a line in the sand.

OP posts:
ExcuseTypos · 01/07/2013 09:29

You must do what is feels right for you, so follow your instincts.

Could you moving house be an opportunity for you to be 'not available' to her for a week? Explain you've got so much to do, packing, solicitors, removal people etc, you're not sure the times you can see her/ take phone calls etc, so it would be a good time for her SIl to come and stay. Maybe say it all with your Dh there as back up and if she starts saying she isn't happy for her to come, your Dh could be the one to say what a sensible idea it is and there's really no alternative.

BeckAndCall · 01/07/2013 10:07

isoldeone, many of the issues you describe are those a lot of us are facing with our parents and I wonder if you might want to pop into the 'elderly parents' section ( found under 'other stuff' on the topic boards) and have a browse? All of your comments about carers, microwaves and pill boxes ring so true!

whiteandyellowiris · 01/07/2013 10:17

I would go

isoldeone · 01/07/2013 10:19

That seems a sensible suggestion excusetypos I think I could try that. Ill email my aunt because she is ironically tech savvy and often busy with her gc's . Most likely we will complete that weekend.

Our holiday is just house / animal sitting for our ils ( they have a large house in a nice place .)It's been an arse getting mum to agree to come as it is easier than doing my often weekly overnighter/ day visit with ebf ds2 midweek with ds1 . As soon as my house sale is complete and we've done some decorating I've said mum can come and stay.
It's this balance between letting her work through her grief and practicalities. She's agreed in principle to moving to our town and having her "own door" . However dh thinks it will never happen as she objects/ demands so much when we try and support.
Selfishly I'm working against the clock - ds1 starts reception in September so in the week visits will lessen and I'm depressed by the thought of zipping up and down motorways all autumn / winter at the weekend at the very least twice monthly . But I can't see the house selling until the next spring and know its a headache to come . She won't move into rented here. She can't afford it and says the stress would kill her to move twice. She does know this and she does acknowledge I have little ones but it doesn't stop her getting very upset and begging me to do stuff. Over the phone is difficult too because of the stroke she does not always get what I'm saying or gets easily offended.

OP posts:
toomanyfionas · 01/07/2013 10:24

I don't know the answer but I just wanted to say that I feel very sorry for you OP as you have such a lot to cope with. I am so glad that your dh is, as you say, a gem.

Hang in there. You will get through this.

ExcuseTypos · 01/07/2013 10:28

You have to get over to her that you cannot be the only one she relies on. I'm not sure how you do that, maybe others have advice, but you may have to be very blunt with her. She will probably get very upset, but she has to take help from others.

You've got a very young family, are BFing, moving house etc etc. It's impossible for you to do it all when she's 50 miles away so she's just going to have to put up with others helping. It's tough for her but that's life I'm afraid.

isoldeone · 01/07/2013 10:29

Thanks beckandcall . Think ill get the thread moved . It's cathartic writing it down . No one apart from dh to talk it through with and I don't want to get him down. Mummy friends just have visited and cooed at ds2 and expressed sympathy but don't have advice or experience of this situation .( we are quite young - early 30's mum had me very late in life)
my mil has been a good ear - she ironically has just been through this but I don't want to burden her

OP posts:
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.