Who am I?

For anyone who is bereaved or no longer providing care.
I'm sorry first if this upsets anyone but I need to ramble and this seemed a good place to start.

To me, mum was simply everything. Nothing and no one else mattered as long as we had each other. And yet I was far from the perfect carer. I moaned (mainly on here and to long suffering friends), frequently felt sorry for myself and yes, on occasions, snapped at her too. I loved her intensely but as the dementia took hold, I frequently did not like her. In short, it was not a chocolate box relationship of saintly daughter and perfect mother. If only ...

I am haunted by that last day when the hospital were trying to discharge her. When I should have been holding her hand and letting her slip away, I was bullying her into trying to drink something at the behest of the nurses, trying to get her to have jelly, fighting with nursing staff, phoning the home and asking them not to have her back as I knew that she was not well enough to be moved. Why did I not concentrate on mum? I was so tempted that day to put a pillow over her head myself and end her suffering.

I have been persuaded now to continue with my holiday plans and have the funeral when I return. The funeral backlog means a delay only. And yet i need to shop for suntan cream when it hurts to breathe? How do I get through the days without her?

And finally, and most importantly, who am I? Is a former carer an identity? I have been an employee (lost that 2 weeks ago), a daughter for 52 years and a carer for 10 plus years. So who am I now? I moaned always about being busy and now the time stretches out in front of me, empty, meaningless, a void ....People tell me it is time to get a life? But what if I don't want one?

I am well aware that this is a self-indulgent ramble. I was lucky to have mum as long as I did. But I just wished I had done more, behaved better, moaned less while I had the opportunity.

Thanks for listening. I love you, mum
Anne, ramble away as much as you need to. The last month has been horrendous for you and I'm not surprised you are pondering over such things.
We are here for you whenever you need us.
Jx
Dear Anne - I'm so sorry, I hadn't picked up on that your mother had died - it has been so, so sudden, hasn't it? Yet so often that is the nature of death when it comes - suddenly there is a tipping point, almost, and then a very quick swift deterioriation. Sometimes we are given time to realise that death truly is coming now, very, very soon - and sometimes we are not.

You were not given that time of realisation, that time to put aside everything else except the saying of your farewell in this life to your mother....

BUT, what you were doing for her until the end was being her loving, caring daughter - you were urging her to live, to get better, to stay with you.....you were holding on to her as fiercely, as devotedly, as protectively as you could in those difficult, painful, highly imperfect circumstances.

Please, please give yourself absolution - we none of us are 'in control' of when someone else dies - we have to accept what happens, to 'receive' their death into our own lives. I say this from my own experience of losing both my parents, and my husband, and for not one of them did I 'expect' them to die when and as they did. Their deaths 'surprised' me, each of them. And I feel that is probably very common.....

Yes, you are feeling bereft, disbelieving, even 'outraged' by what has happened - happened 'without your consent' .... but perhaps even now you can start to see that her slipping away 'unexpectedly', without giving you the time you feel you needed to say your proper farewells, was her way.....

I found, if it's any help to you, that writing a letter to my lost loved ones really helped me. In the letters I said my 'proper farewells' and that helped to give me a sense of a better ending for them than I felt at the time. In my letters I could say everything that was not possible earlier.

I too, would urge you to take your holiday - it would be what your mother would have wanted, knowing how devoted to her you have been - and it will place a 'section of time' between her death, and your service of remberance and committal that will be her funeral. It will help to transition you, to give you pause for reflection and the first outpouring of grief.

Death, as we know, is the strangest thing, and when we lose someone we love, 'strange things' happen in our heads, because of the pain in our hearts. There is no 'right' way to grieve, all our ways are 'right', and all I can say to you is 'follow your heart' when it comes to how you are thinking and feeling at this most, most difficult time for you.

With kindest wishes, at so raw a time for you - Jenny
Dear Anne,

I can recognise myself in your words; I think we all feel like this when we lose the one person who was the 'rock' in our lives. Much of what you say is said with hindsight - but we can never know what lies ahead and so we live our lives day by day as best we can, "if only" becomes a self-defeating mantra.

You ask "Who am I ?" -
you are Anne who loved her Mum very much;
you are Anne who went that extra mile for her Mum;
you are Anne the daughter who will always be a daughter
and
you are Anne, my friend who has helped me through good times and bad times.

How do you get through the days ? By taking each one as it comes and by putting one foot in front of the other; the pain of loss will always be there, it doesn't go away but in time it does become easier to bear.

I won't say "enjoy" your holiday, because I'm not sure that is possible, but take the time to look back and remember, with love and fondness, all the good times with your Mum before the dementia took hold.
But I just wished I had done more, behaved better, moaned less while I had the opportunity.
I think that, without exception, everyone I know who has lost someone
has said this - I know I did. But guilt is a cruel taskmaster if we let it get a hold - you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about you did all and more that any daughter could do for their Mum and I have absolutely no doubts that right up to the very end she knew that she was loved and cared for.
I can relate to your posting in so many ways my friend I felt exactly the same after Dad had passed in 2013 and although our situations differ in that I still have my Mum I know I will feel just as you do when the inevitable time comes...... she is my life, rightly or wrongly and everything else plays second fiddle and I know from your postings you had a very very similar situation to mine.... you must try and grieve and all these feeling are indeed your grief releasing itself.... You did everything possible for your Mum and trying to force her to eat is the simply because you cared so much..... I can say this now 18 months down the line I shouted and cried with my dad to force him to eat because I simply did not want him to die when in reality that is all he wanted to do.... you were and still are a diamond of a Daughter take it slowly and surely and you will come out the other end stronger..... lots of love and prayers Jayne xxxxxxxx
Dear Anne,

I am so sorry for your loss, and I identify absolutely with your comments.

My mum died last Wednesday, and words cannot express how bereft I feel. She was my main ally in life, the one person who I knew I could rely on absolutely. Even in her later years, as her physical strength waned, I could still rely on her for advice and for a chat.

We lived together, and I will never be able to replace her. I've given her increasing care over the past 2 decades, and there is now a gap in my life. Who do I talk to? Who do I share my troubles with? Who do I care for now? I fear that the loneliness will overwhelm me.

In the next few months, i will have to pay my sibling half the value of the house my mum and I shared. I am luckier than many because i am still working and have some money in the bank, but my savings will soon be wiped out and I will have debt.

I hope you don't think that I am hijacking this thread with my own whinging. I have written this message because I hope you find consolation in the fact that you are not alone. The death of my mum (and your mum) has changed life utterly. Our lives are like jigsaws, and the deaths of our mums have thrown our lives up into the air. One piece has been lost, but the rest of them are there and we now have to put them back together. It won't be easy, but I wish you the strength to do it. Make it your mission to enjoy life. You deserve to, and your mother would want the best for you.

I hope you take comfort from the fact that your mother is now in a place beyond pain and suffering. You should be proud that you were there for her when she needed you. She was lucky to have you.

Take care,
Jim
Anne, I'm so sorry for your loss.

I agree with the comments above and have nothing further to add, except to say that I hope you manage to get away for your much needed break and that you will get a little bit of sunshine, which hopefully will be a tonic for you.

Jim T - so sorry for your loss (and apologies for overlooking your post to begin with).

It seems that many elderly people pass away in January and I'm feeling quite fortunate now as both my elderly parents seem to be rallying (for now) after various infections. Some of the posts above brought me close to tears and made me realise just how hard it must be to lose a parent, even if they are very elderly.
Anne001

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Your mum was quite the character... I loved the things you'd relate that she'd said; she so reminded me of my mum. You, and your mum, helped me appreciate my mum while she's still here.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Sajehar XXX
I'm so sorry that 'life was what happened whilst you were busy making other plans'.
Thats how it works sometimes.
Who are you now?
Well, lots of things obviously, but you probably have a pretty clean diary for the rest of 2015, and that is a huge asset.
Rewind .....erase the things that have ended, use the holiday to remember who you once were and what aspirations and dreams you abandoned along the way.
They are a good starting point. Some won't make much sense anymore, but some might.
In the past five years since going part-time and with the kids growing up, I have revisited three major passions I thought I had abandoned long ago: skiing, sailing and birdwatching. Its fun!
Anne, after my husband died, I opened a file called 'New Life I Don't Want But Have to Accept', and into it I put all sorts of 'ideas and possibilities' from bucket lists to areas of volunteering, etc etc.

It's changed over the years, but it's still active in that I still have to live my life 'solo' now, and 'find things to do'..... (eg I enjoy posting on Internet forums!!!!!! :) :) :) )

No longer having your focus on your mother is both a 'freedom' and a 'gap' as well, and I would think that gradually, as time goes by, and the intensity of your mourning starts to ease, it will evolve more from the latter to the former.

Reclaiming your 'own' life will happen, but don't necessarily rush it - grief has its own timetable, and your adjustment will take the time it takes.....

As others have said, you will ALWAYS be your mother's daughter (I am ALWAYS my husband's wife), and nothing can take that away from you, certainly not death.

Kind wishes, and I hope the holiday gives you good time for mourning and perhaps shows you the start of 'moving on'.....

PS 'Moving on' doesn't mean we lose the person we 'leave behind' .....they come with us in our hearts.