October 3, 2007 at 11:03 pm #17061
Thanks Patricia. You know, I think all that typing was something I had to do. I feel quite purged, as I’d never written it all down before. It really helped. Thanks to all who took the time to read my ramblings………….and Joyce, SURELY none of your posts have been THAT long!!
I’m so glad for this site. I really feel it has helped me so much in coming to terms with Mum’s death.
Lots and lots of love to you all xxxxOctober 2, 2007 at 10:37 am #17060ukmemberMember
How special your mother was and how special your remembering of her is. I feel like I knew her from your account.
As you know my husband died without pain so it doesn’t always accompany cc. For that I am truely grateful especially when I read your heart rending account of your brave mother’s experience. The pain indignity and loss of control are things that I fear about my own death and I can understand your mother’s fury at what was happening to her. My husband was unable to face up to what was happening and never spoke of his own death except on 2 occasions, one to say I am not afraid to die but I want to die with dignity. he did. The other to tell me that I should make sure there was a good turn out at his funeral. He didn’t have to say that because so many people came simply because of the kind of man he was.
Stay strong and keep your mother’s memory strong with her grandchildren and in time with your grandchildren. I think that is the best memorial
PatriciaOctober 2, 2007 at 7:59 am #17059
Well, I’m supposed to be at work this morning, but my husband is stuck in London, so I thought I would continue while I await his return.
So, yesterday’s post is such a sad read. But it was sad. Can’t escape that.
So, anyway, after she died, I called my Brother, and he came to the Hospice. Neither of us could cry at that point. We sat, together with Mum, and shared a bottle of wine, and reminisced the night away. It was really peaceful. We left there around 7am. When I got home I began calling people to let them know she’d gone.
It was like being “in this world, but not of it”. Like a bare kind of functioning. Still no tears. It wasn’t until later in the day, when I was at my allotment, that the tears came. And when they came they didn’t stop. I remember being very aware that I was not only crying because Mum was gone, I was also crying for the suffering she/we had had to experience in her last 2-3 weeks. I just could not seem to shift the images of Mum suffering, they would not go away.
My husband took me home, and ran a bath for me. When I was done in the bath, I came upstairs to the PC, desparate to see photos of my Mum, when she was alive and well. And that’s when I found the video clip of her. I had taken it in January when I had been staying with her In Greece prior to her return to UK. To hear her voice, was just SUCH a comfort. And the video clip was of her at her best, feeding all her stray cats, singing silly songs and teeling them all off! Mum at her eccentric best. I sat and laughed, and laughed, and cried some more. But laughter was what helped. It felt as if watching that clip, somehow wiped out the rawness of the suffering we’d just been through. And I sat there, and thought, and realised that the last 2-3 weeks of her life, were such a TINY blot, compared to all that had gone before. I decided to concentrate on the good memories. I can’t tell you how many times I watched that clip in the weeks following her death. It gave me a perspective. 3 weeks, out of 68 years. I was thankful to be able to look at it that way, instead of concentrating on the nightmare that we’d suffer prior to her dying.
Another thing that helped, was that I knew for sure, that Mum would not want me to suffer after her death. I knew that she was free of it all now, and I took great comfort in that too. When someone dies, it is so hard to see anything positive in anything. But the kind of thoughts I have described helped me immensely. Also, I returned to my allotment. One friend joked that I would dig through to OZ. Having hard physical work to concentrate on helped too. I’d found that when she was in hospital, the hours I spent feeling utterly helpless, were helped, by spending time there when I wasn’t with her. I dug, and planted and watered and nurtured! THe same followed in the days prior to the funeral. It was about the only thing I could concentrate on. Luckily I had husband around to help with the kids, as I couldn’t seem to manage even the simple tasks of cooking a meal. It was so hard.
Her will was lovely. Short and simple, splitting her worldly goods between me and my Brother, but I liked the bit about the funeral. “It must be brief, Christian and CHEERFUL, and with wild flowers!
The day of her funeral, the sun was shining. Me and my kids and my Brother drove out into the local countryside, and set about finding the wild flowers! We came home laden! How can you enjoy a funeral? Well, I did! It was a fantastic funeral! It all went so beautifully, and perfectly, just as my Brother and I planned. I read some emailed tributes from her friends in Greece. My Brother talkked about her, as did Mum’s Brother, my Uncle. He had people laughing, recounting a few stories from their youth.
It was, dare I say, the perfect funeral, and it was, as far as I could tell, just as Mum would have wanted it! THAT helped too!
The next day my Brother and I collected her ashes, and flew out to Greece. It was really hard going back to the caravan. Both of us spent alot of time there, and did alot of crying. I did my “physical” work thing, and weeded her garden, and cleaned up the caravan, as the cats had taken it over after she left, although they had by the time we arrived, moved on, presumably because of the lack of food. Her ashes were scattered in her garden, and around an ancient olive tree which was part of her view. The rest we took to a spot where several years before, she’d lived by the side of a road on an old boat (wreck)!! The wreck was long gone, but it was a beautiful spot, where she’d been very happy.
Returning to Uk a week later, I felt able to face the world again, having seen little of anyone, excepting the funeral. But after 2 weeks, I just wanted to be back at the caravan, it was like a need to be near Mum. So, I did it. I took my kids, and we went out 31st May, and didn’t return till 24th July. We stayed in the caravan, and it was just what I needed. It gave me the time to come to terms with it all. I was able to take my time, clearing out her stuff, slowly slowly. She didn’t have much, she was a simple woman. The only thing I couldn’t bring myself to do, was clear out her clothes. By the time we left at the end of July, the caravan was left, a bit like a shrine I suppose! I had stuck pictures of Mum to the walls, to replace paintings she’d done (which I brought home), and I left enough stuff, so that it still looks like she is living there! I’m hoping to get out for a week later this month. Then, I think I will try to draw a line under Greece for a while. I doubt the caravan will be habitable after another winter, being held together with string and masking tape, as it is. But I won’t be there to see it’s demise. I will stick with the memories.
With my Mums memories, and my positive slant on life, I feel I’m doing Ok now. I was away on a camp with the kids a month or so ago, and some more grief shifted there. Lots of meditation and Qigong, I found myself one morning back at square one, crying and crying and feeling the loss all over again. I guess that will happen again at some point. But it was good to get some more out. After she died, it felt as though I had this big black well inside me. Black and deep, in my belly. And slowly it has gotten smaller, and somehow shifted in my body. My black well has shrunk, and moved up to my heart area on that camp, and it is easier having it there. I’m hoping that it will gradually shrink, into something soft and warm and pink, and stay close to my heart.
Thanks again for reading.October 1, 2007 at 11:32 pm #17058
Thanks Ladies. It’s good to share. Joyce, your posts are NEVER tedious! I find your posts very touching and very down to earth and human. Both you and Patricia (and many others) have been a great comfort to me, and I thank you for that.
LTSO, and CDR, it is truly hard to read your posts. So sad. I never thought of the grieving being something that starts BEFORE death, but it is. This CC arrives in peoples lives, and causes havoc. An emotional roller coaster, that unfortunately feels like a big downer much of the time.
Anyway, I have been revisiting the days of Mums illness and death alot recently. Maybe it’s because I’m approaching the 6 month mark. So I will have another ramble, as I do.
I was giving more thought to the subject of losing a loved one. One of the things that is a guarantee in life, is that you will be parted from those you love. It is something we all have to deal with, at somepoint in our lives, be it death, or otherwise.
Someone was giving a talk I attended recently. He talked of 3 main types of suffering in life……..being parted from those that you love, not getting what you want, and getting what you DON’T want! Seems that CC covers the 3!
I guess for me, one of the things that has helped me, is understanding that the general accepted order of things, is that you outlive your parents. It’s not a given, but it’s kind of, dare I say, more the natural order of things. We all know we are going to lose our parents, we just don’t know when. I’m not saying that it makes the loss NECESSARILY easier to deal with, but it has helped me. I could not say that, had I lost my child, or a spouse, or my Brother.
Also, what helped me, was that Mum was so upbeat about it all! I am so lucky to have been blessed with such a positive Mother! Even when she was in the hospice, the last 10 days of her life, she was looking on the bright side “Just think, I’ll never have to go to the dentist again! And I won’t be old and decrepit, and be miserable that I can’t do all the things I used to be able to do!” BLESS HER!! She always told me she wasn’t afraid to die. She said either she would end up in heaven, and be re-united with her loved ones, and if that wasn’t the case, then she wouldn’t know about it, because she’d be dead! It was heart warming to be able to discuss EVERYTHING with her, down to the funeral arrangements. She made it a whole lot easier for me, and my Brother. I think it was because she’d had such a good life, particularly from the age of 50, when she gave up “normal” life, and chose to follow her heart. What a legacy. She had NO regrets. She was very clear about that. Her whole attitude served to make it all so much easier to bear.
The thing that she DIDN’T like the idea of, was of the suffering bit, in between being told she was going to die, and the actual dying. She didn’t want to suffer. But she did, of course. That was what I found so very hard to bear. I am sitting, wondering if I can type more on that. Maybe a purge would be good?
When she was rediagnozed in January, 7 months after the resection, she was told she had maybe 3 months. She bravely left her home in Kefallonia (one of the Greek Ionian islands), and returned to UK, having not lived here on a permanent basis for 18 years. She came to stay with us. In returning to UK, she knew she would have access to better medical care, and to a Hospice if necessary.
The thing is, she accepted it all, so bravely. She always said she wasn’t brave, but I think she was. She arrived back here early Feb. In March we got a 2nd opinion, and the Docs said the same thing. She was doomed, basically, but they couldn’t give a time frame of course. BY mid March, she was going downhill. We thought it may be the different drugs she was on, or maybe the slightly different diet etc. We were always so positive, imagining that if she just got the right drugs, her condition would be more manageable. By early April, she was in hospital, and 8 days later she was in the Hospice. I think by that time she was, quite frankly, fed up with the whole thing. Digestive problems, severe bloating, pain. She was losing her quality of life. Just before she had gone into hospital, she had taken a train up to the middle of England, to visit her Brother. A week later she had rung me to say she didn’t think she could make the same journey home. I offered to drive up and fetch her, but she ended up coming as far as London on the train, where I met her, and did the last leg home with her. My Aunt said she had spent most of the time in bed, sleeping while she was with them. She continued to do the same when she got home. Her appetite was all but gone, eating sparrow portions, and feeling worse as a result. The pain and discomfort was so bad, that one Sunday, I called the Docs out. They advised that she check into hospital the very next day. Which she did. 8 days later, she was transferred to the hospice.
Anyway, bad to worse…….about 3 days after she arrived at the hospice, I got a call from the nurses. She had had what they THOUGHT might be a TIA. They told me it had left her a bit confused, and had affected her speech. But they said if it WAS a TIA, then she should be back to normal within a day or so. Well, she wasn’t. That SO pissed me off. I was gutted. She seemed to be fine, but would just forget the simplest words, and then get frustrated, because she couldn’t remember. She KNEW she was not remembering. That was what hurt. Oooh, this is hard to write. Then 3 days later, it got worse. What was so upsetting about it, was that she was being denied the 2 things she could enjoy. One was reading. I think the morphine rendered her incapable of concentrating. But losing the gift of simple chatting, that was what I found hard to bear. I couldn’t have a decent conversation with her anymore. And that upset her too. ALSO, she had initially just gone to the Hospice, to get her pain mediaction sorted out, with a view to coming home when it was done. And suddenly, there she was, unable to concentrate, unable to communicate properly. The Docs called me in after the second “episode”, and told me they weren’t sure if it was a stroke, or maybe the cancer had just gone to her brain. This was 4 days before she died. She died on Sat 21st April. On the Wednesday (day after 2nd episode), she was mostly sleeping, and in between suffering pain, and cussing endlessly. My Brother arrived from New Zealand on the Wednesday afternoon. That was the last time I really saw my Mum. I woke her to tell her Chris had arrived. She had NO knowledge that he was coming! I had been counting down the days and hours with her, and she had totally forgotten. She sat up, and was so happy to see him! “Chris! What are you doing here? How lovely to see you…” etc etc. Then she had a cup of tea, and ate some cake, and told him “You know. This is BULL****! It really is. This is all BULL****! I was supposed to die a dignified death, and I’m having to have all this BULL****!” She talked to him as best she could for about half an hour, and then settled down to rest again. I think, inspite of forgetting that he was coming, she had been waiting to see him. My Brother went home that evening to try to get some sleep, and defy the jet-lag. That night, was the night that I broke down completely. My Mum was such an independent woman. By now, even going to the toilet was a physical effort. And that evening she wanted to go. And she needed help. But when I tried to help, she got so angry with me. She didn’t even know where it was, where she had to go. She was so out of it, that she thought the chair next to the bed was the toilet. And I kept saying that she should come with me, and that I would help her(the toilet was in the same room, just separate). But she would not have it, and was so cross and agitated, that I had to call the nurses, because I couldn’t cope with my dear stubborn Mum. I had to leave the room, and as I walked doen the corridor, all I could hear was her shouting, and begging to be left alone. It was the worst moment for me, just the worst. I locked myself into one of the visitors toilets, sank to the floor, and just cried, and cried. The nurses were so kind, when they found me. Ther also found it hard. They said that they felt felt bad too, because she needed help, and they wanted to give it, but they felt like they were “assaulting”her, by trying to assist her. It was so so sad.After that night, she never really talked again. She just mainly slept, and then got agitated, by anyone trying to do anything, like change her, or give her her medicene or anything. It was awful.
On the Friday afternoon, she was so agitated, moaning and obviously stressed. My Brother and I were both with her. The nurses upped her doses of morphine. By 7pm, she was sleeping, and calmly, so calmly. None of the agitation she’d been suffering on and off for the last few days. My Brother went home around 8pm, still jet lagged. I watched a film, and wrote my diary, before going to bed around 00.15am. I was woken 12.35, by a nurse, telling me that Mum had died.
I had been writing in my diary, not half an hour before, that I was wishing that the end would come. I couldn’t bear for her to suffer any longer, and I couldn’t cope with my own suffering any longer.
My immediate reaction was relief, and sadness. But the relifef, oh, I can’t tell you. I was just SO relieved, that she no longer had to suffer, and that I didn’t have to suffer WATCHING her suffer. Somehow, I can see it would be so easy to feel bad about being relieved that your Mum has died. But I felt none of it. I just felt release, for all concerned.
OK, that is quite enough for tonight.
I thank anyone who reads this, for reading it. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxSeptember 28, 2007 at 9:22 am #17057ukmemberMember
When my husband died I took a box my daughter had made and started to create a memory box for him. I put in all the letters of condolence I received, videos and photos that people sent and I started a special photograph album meself. Have I ever opened it? no I can’t. I don’t know why. I am scared that I will be overwhelmed. A friend posted a video clip on u-tube and I look at that occasionally. I see all his little mannerisms and way of laughing and his teasing manner but I can’t go deep into my own memories.
I feel like I exist on two levels On the surface I am busy and apparently getting on with life. I have recognised that he has gone and am becoming used to being alone – but every so often I get side swiped by the thought that ‘He’s gone!! How?’
But below my acceptance is a great well of grief that makes me cry when I think about him or as I am writing this now.
PatriciaSeptember 28, 2007 at 2:28 am #17056jmoneypennyMember
I can’t possibly respond to all three posts, as they are all so moving and intelligent and worthy of intelligent response. LTSO, your post was like poetry, and heartbreaking, and true. CDR, I’m glad you’ve started thinking of yourself instead of everyone else – you deserve it. And Kate, I just love your posts and your mom, and I love the book idea – I think I’ll try it if I can ever concentrate on anything again. I would add so much more but I’m becoming tedious with my long posts. I appreciate everyone airing their thoughts and giving ME some food for thought and some affirmation. I haunt this board as a kind of twisted tribute to my mother and my grief, but I do get so much out of it because of people like you.
-JoyceSeptember 28, 2007 at 1:59 am #17055ltsoParticipant
This is grief in slow motion.
I know that it will happen, he will die. Probably from cancer, probably sooner rather than later.
I don’t know when. I don’t know how long it will be. I don’t know what he (we) will go through to get to the end.
I do know he will leave grieving children. And me, grieving the love of my life. And others who love him grieving his absence.
When we first told our son that his daddy’s illness would cause his daddy’s death, he cried. “I will miss him”, “who will take care of me?”. I will always be with you. There will always be someone (mommy, uncles, older brothers) to take care of you.
I will always be with you. He will always be with me. Mercifully, he is still here right now. I will enjoy and appreciate the time that we have – be it one or many years.
What we have right now is all that we really have. Each one of us (and our loved ones) could be hit by a truck (or a meteor, for that matter) tomorrow; and be gone. We have no control over the future, only our reaction to the events that occur in the future. Or the present. Slow motion grief. He will not be here as long as I want. Or he wants. but he is here now.September 28, 2007 at 12:53 am #17054thecdrMember
I’m not exactly sure why, but thank you Kate for your post. I am sitting here with tears running down my cheeks but feeling somehow better, maybe because some of what you have said really hit home, or maybe it’s just your honesty, I don’t know how to explain it. I finally got around to seeing a counselor today, I have spent all the time since my diagnosis worrying about everyone else, but never really faced up to how I was handling it. I wasn’t handling it, I was avoiding it. still am. I am PISSED OFF. What did I ever do to deserve this? I served my country for 20 years, I adopted a little boy from the most abject conditions imaginable and love him beyond words, I am no angel, but I can’t think of anything I could possibly have done to deserve this. why why why? Why does this happen to us? to our families?
Kate, you have a marvelous idea about your book, I am doing much the same thing. I have picture after picture that I am slowly organizing and scanning so that my son, my family, my friends can relive the memories we all had together. After being remiss in sending out Christmas cards I am tracking down old friends and reconnecting. It’s a hell of a thing that it takes something like this to reconnect with old friends, but at least we’re reconnecting. I hate telling them the news, but I would hate it even worse if they found out some other way.
I am grieving for ME, I am grieving for the future I may not have, because even if I am able to beat this thing, something has been stolen from me, and it SUCKS…..
yet, as they say, life goes on. My son still has to do his homework, I still have to work, I still have to clean the house (dammit, don’t we get any breaks?)September 28, 2007 at 12:09 am #721
The thing that always strikes me with this disease is how there don’t seem to be any 2 cases the same! Different people, similarities sometimes, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to who has a chance and who doesn’t. Awful. You get some amazing differences. How come some people last YEARS, WITH the disease? Some are diagnozed, and gone within months! Some chemo has little effect on some people, on others it seems to work a treat! What’s it all about?
After my Mum had her resection, she had 2 scans. She had the op June last year. She was gone by late April this year. The scan last November was clear. Come January this year, suddenly she had a 10cm tumour and, “numerous lesions” on her liver! Man, how did they get there so quick?! OK, realistically I KNEW she was unlikely to see her 100th Birthday in, let alone her much talked about 75th Birthday. But MY, SO QUICK? HOW, so quick? That’s what really hacked me off to be honest. When I read of people lasting years, I did my optimistic thing, and saw her as one of them! She was always so strong and spry. I mean, really. You would have thought another couple of years of more. Not a few months.
It is just so hard to know what to say about it all. How many unknown factors must exist, to make it so hard to give any definitive answers to the questions that everyone at this site has?
I miss my Mum everyday. Some days it hurts. But most of the time I can cope. I have learnt very quickly how to live with the sadness. For the first month after she died, I was a mess. Functioning as best I could, would be how I would describe it. To get through each day was painful. Empty and painful.
I’m nearly 6 months on now.
I will try to add to this again. I haven’t got a coherent thread going, I’m just rambling.
Carolann asked me recently how I was doing. I wanted to start a separate thread on some of the stuff that has been going on for me since Mum died. Thanks Carolann!
I still get alot out of coming to this site. I was going to say “I enjoy coming to this site”! Enjoy is not perhaps an appropriate phrase, but I can think of one thing. I enjoy not feeling alone in the world off CC. And what a diverse lot we are! It is a help and a privilege to be able to share our stories and questions. And to know that we are of comfort to eachother. How nice is that?
I offended someone on this site recently, unintentionally. I was glad to see that others understood where I came from. I suppose I read others stories, and just imagine how it would be to lose a child, a sibling, a wife, a husband, a Father. I lost my Mum. It just happens, that when I read some of the stories on here, I am grateful for a lot. During Mum’s last year, I spent alot of time with her. Time that I wouldn’t normally have spent! I’m in UK, with my husband and 2 young kids, 7 and 9. She lived in Greece. Of course, I find myself wishing I’d made even MORE of our time together! Should have made her write down each and every charm on her bracelet, and what it meant to her. I have the bracelet, and she told me maybe twice where each charm came from etc. Can I remember??!! She laughed at me when I asked her to write it down, and told me again, telling me it was EASY to remember! Yer, right!!
When I have time, at the moment, I am doing a “project”. The part I am working on at the moment is my Mum’s “potted life history”! When she was first diagnosed, I asked her if she would write me a short brief history of her life as she remembered it. I am pleased to say I now have an exercise book, about half full, of most of her life. Not detailed as such, but a history all the same. She had a great life.
I would urge ANYONE, who has any questions about ANYTHING they want to ask their loved ones, before it’s too late, ask!!! I suppose you can never quite believe they are going to die.
Anyway, I have rambled enough for tonight. I will try to add to this.
Thanks for reading.
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