I found this forum when my father died a little over a year ago and it really helped talking about it here. Hopefully it may help others so here is a link to that discussion (you may have to cut and paste the link): My father just died and I feeling so sad and confused.
I can say at least for me, a gauge for telling if you are getting better is the first time when go through the entire day that you don’t think about the person that died. You wake up the next day, go about your business, out of the blue think about that person, and suddenly realize, hay, you haven’t thought about him the whole day yesterday. Now it maybe because you had a very busy day and just didn’t have time to think about anything but work, but never the less it’s a turning point for the better. For me that was probably somewhere around 6 months after. I still thought of him regularly, but just not every day.
Well, just as I’m getting over that, my mother passed away Oct. 10th and it feels like now I’m an orphan, just me alone to face a big cold world. Nobody to fall back on if I mess up. And I’m in my late 40’s. I feel strange to say it was easier when my father went since when he died I knew at least I’d still have my mother around. Now I have no one close. I won't be able to call her to ask how to cook something or for any other advice. If I want to get away for a week I won't be able to just fly down and visit anymore. And the worst thing is she will never see me get married or see any grandchildren.
She was diagnosed at age 72 with ovarian cancer 2 1/2 years ago and got surgery but didn't want to go through chemo. Instead she checked herself into hospice as she though there was no hope. I wouldn't have any of that and came down to pull her out of hospice(where she was days from death) and into the ER and to start chemo, by promising to take care of her which I did for 2 1/2 months until she got better. She did very well for 1 1/2 years, even started to play tennis which was the focus of her life before the illness. Last fall after she got home from my dads funeral and during a checkup, they found it had come back and since this spring she started to go down hill. By July she gave up most driving. 6 weeks ago she quit chemo but I was hoping she would start again when I go for a visit and try to convince her to hang in there. The plan was to bring her up to Johns Hopkins for treatment and live with me for a while.
She was up and about around the house a few weeks ago when she asked me to come down for a visit so I didn't think anything of waiting and getting a cheaper 7 day advance purchase flight even when she was paying for it. By the time I got down there she was too weak to get out of bed without assistance and really wasn‘t eating. It really broke my heart when I overheard her say to her caregiver, “I’m going down hill fast.” A few days later I had them take her to the ER. They did some tests but didn’t find anything new to explain her weakness so her oncologist said to put her in hospice. That was Wednesday Oct. 7. I was devastated. Why wouldn’t the doctor try another chemo? Why didn’t she get a PET scan so see how bad the cancer had progressed before giving up? In hospice the IV is discontinued and she cant eat so they are basically starving and dehydrating her. She was pretty alert for a few days so we got to say our goodbyes and got out all the other things you tell someone you will never see again. By Friday she couldn’t even communicate by moving her head to answer yes or no like she did the day before, so she could say if she wanted morphine for pain. I told the nurse she was asking every 3 hours for morphine the previous day so even if she cant communicate, she should still get the same amount now, but nurse said she doesn’t appear to be in pain so she cant give her more morphine. Just how can the nurse tell if the patient is in pain if they cant even move their head or even blink. I felt real guilty of not knowing if she was in pain and not doing anything about it if she was. She died the next morning while I held her hand. Not a pretty sight as someone slowly gasps their last breaths.
I feel guilty of not spending more time with her the last few months. Unfortunately the time you spend together is never enough when you don't know how little time is left. She would never come out and ask me to stay more often, knowing that I was busy, but she would drop some hints, that I never picked up on. I feel guilty of not hugging her as one of he aids said she would have liked more often. I feel guilty of just not appreciating her as much as I should for the little stuff she would do. Like putting out the vitamins for me each morning when I visited, sending me stuff she baked even thought the shipping was more than the cost of the items, turning the A/C cooler for me even it meant wearing a sweater. I was her only child and I never thought she loved me so much and I’m so sad I cant show her how sorry I am for not appreciating all the things she has done for me. We weren’t particularly religious so thanks in advance for prayers and thoughts of heaven, but I know I have to deal with the fact that she is gone and I will never see her again.
I’m staying at her house arraigning everything and find myself just pacing from room to room feeling so sad. Seeing the unmade bed as it was after the ambulance took her to the hospital, looking at the little Lucite sculpture we found at an art show a few years ago, looking out in the yard at all the fruit trees and plants she planted, some I helped her with and now thinking how she will never be able to do any of the gardening she loved. Opening up the refrigerator and seeing the cucumbers I had picked up from the supermarket earlier with which she was going to make me a salad even though she could barely walk from the bed to kitchen. Going into the bathroom and seeing the embroidered giraffe design towels we bought together the last time could get out of the house and still walk. I told her not to buy them because they are silly and we have enough towels already, but she bought them anyway and I’m glad she did. Going through boxes of photos trying to find a good obituary picture and seeing her enjoying life so much. And probably the saddest thing is that I won’t be able to tell her about all the things I’ve been doing in my life, big or small, from fixing a leaky faucet, to the latest car I’ve bought, to buying a house, and know that someone is actually interested. She is the only one that genuinely cared about and was proud of and excited about those things I did. Friends can be happy for you, but still, deep down, that can never compare to how your mother feels about your accomplishments.
Its been exactly 48 hours since she died and I’m exhausted writing this yet I have so much more to say. I’ll continue later but want say one other thing. I’m so mad that in the 21st century, 40 years after putting a man on the moon, we don’t have a real cure for cancer as well as the other terrible diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease etc. I'm not political, but sometimes it just burns me that the government would spend hundreds of billions in Iraq instead of spending that on research for a cure. If we had started using that much money on research when the Iraq war started, I'm pretty sure we would have a cure or at least treatment that is a lot better and easier to take then current medications and my mother would still be alive. And about all these “Walks for a Cure” events. Why should we have to get donations to fund medical research? The government should be spending, no, investing, much much more in finding cures which benefit the whole world, rather then spending money on a war that helps just one foreign county, and minimally at that. You don’t see anyone organizing walks to fund more spending on the war, do you?