Anyone Have Advice?

Updated on January 05, 2009
A.D. asks from Escondido, CA
49 answers

Hi. I'm just wondering if any of you know how to deal with or cope or whatever with losing someone. My mother is currently dying of incurable cancer... and it's killing me.

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for all you wrote... although this might sound a little twisted it is comforting to know that others have been through similar pain. My mom has multiple conditions. She became physically disabled after almost dying in a car accident and has arthritis throughout most of her body. She was diagnosed with skin cancer when I was about 5 and has had numerous procedures done to remove the cancerous spots, (freezing and cutting). She refused to go out in public because of how badly her skin appeared, similar to severe burns. She was diagnosed with lupus around the age 35 or 36 and getting sick was almost a norm in our household for her. In 2007 she survived a heart attack and was put on heart meds and blood pressure pills. The same year, she was treated for severe back, leg and hip pain. She recieved steroid injections into her hip every week. In late June of this year, she was hospitilized with pnemonia. We all figured it was just because of lupus... as this has happened many times. But she remained very ill for three weeks, and then the docters finally decided to do a PET scan. She had lung cancer which had already spread to her pancreas. She started chemo the next day, demanding that the doctors kill it. She's gone through 6 rounds of chemo and the latest I heard from her husband is that the cancer has continued to spread, very rapidly this past month. She lives in Stockton, CA and I'm out here in Escondido, so seeing her isn't exactly easy for me. I call her every day and seem to be the only one willing to talk about cancer to her. Her husband refuses to accept the fact that she could die, and so every time she cries or complains of pain he rushes her to the hospital... she hates that and rarely talks about any of it to him. My brother who lives only a couple hours away from her, refuses to even say the word cancer. He is in complete denial and every time my mom brings it up he suddenly has to go. So she has me. I try my best to just listen. I've talked to her about faith and have burned faith-based music to help comfort her, printed out tons of resources and support group numbers for her to contact, and even tried to help offset her bills a little by buying some of her basic necessities, so she wouldn't have to. Her fridge was going out and I had a new one shipped to her... she was so excited. It was amazing too because it was delivered while I was one the phone with her... she called me a sneaky little turd! How funny. Anyway, you all have helped me a little bit, and I love the idea of writing her story so that I can share it with my own babies. Thank you all.

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K.Y.

answers from Los Angeles on

You might also try the book Final Gifts. It helped my family through the recent loss of my father to cancer.

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K.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi A.,

I know this is a very difficult time right now. I just lost one of my best friends in a car accident and it's a very traumatic and sad time, but something that has helped me cope (and maybe it could help you, too) is to find strength in faith & hope. I recommend www.watchtower.org (look under topics to find what you want to learn about). Give it try - it has helped me a lot - enough to look at my friend's upcoming funeral with calm and serenity. A send you a hug and blessings to you.

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D.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

You have my empathy. I lost my best friend to pancreatic cancer two years ago. It's a heart breaking thing to go through. Seek the support of others to help you.

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S.Z.

answers from Reno on

So many thoughts and prayers are with you. Neither you nor your mother are alone.

When my dad died from a stroke, we had no warning - he left the house like always and just never came home. When my mother-in-law died from pancreatic cancer, it took two years to take her, and we all had to see her get weaker and weaker. I'm not sure which way is "easier" to cope with. It's never easy. I've seen death take people I know (and love!) through illness, accident and suicide. The hole a loss leaves in your life isn't measured by the method of a person's passing, but by how much you miss them.

I don't know if you have any spiritual or religious beliefs. Your kids are sure to ask what "dead" means and where Grandma has gone after her passing, and you need to know what you will say. It's perfectly OK to say that you don't know if you really don't, but be sure to point out things such as the fact that she won't be in pain anymore. A body that is shutting down becomes a burden to its occupant, and she'll be free of ilness and pain after her passing.

If you are a religious person, seek out a clergy member about formal counseling or informal support, even if it's as simple as meals brought in so you don't have to cook.

Hospitals and hospices also offer counseling, support groups and bereavement services. Find out what they are, and use as many or as few as you need.

Your mom might get to a point where she doeasn't want visitors, doesn't want anyone to see how sick she is. If that happens, don't feel rejected! She's still trying to mother you by protecting you. On the other hand, she may become very clingy and never want you to leave her side. If she does, try not to resent it - she's trying to savor every last moment because she knows she won't have many. Within reason, try to do what makes her the happiest, not necessarily what makes you the happiest. It's like having a baby - what they need comes first.

What you need most to know, I think, is that you'll be OK with your mom gone. Yes, you will miss her deeply, some times more than others. Your kids will not get to experience "going to Grandma's house." That seems unbearable, I know! But, you can do it. You really can. You can be a good daughter and a good mom, even without your mother beside you. Use what you learned from her and live a life you will be proud of.

Because our family's beliefs are that loved ones who have passed away exist in heaven and can visit us, unseen, any time, I've always told my kids that their departed grandparents are very aware of every triumph and every hardship, and they share in those with us. There's a reason for all those stories of guardian angels - those who have passed on still love and look out for us!

You'll get through this, A.. Lean on those you love. What you need may be different from what anyone else needs, and that's OK! You are not anyone else. God bless!

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H.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

Dear A.,
I think that one of the hardest realities of life is that it may not be possible to "get over" the loss of anybody so dear. I think that a certain amount of peace comes after time. They say time cures all wounds, but this is probably unimaginable for you right now! There are groups that you can join that have members who are experiencing a similar loss...(these help) or if you are religious, you might be able to get help there.

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K.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

My heart just broke when I read your posting. I lost my father when I was 12, he was 38. He had an aneurism in his heart. I'm am 43 now and I still miss him. But I remember all of the great stuff. That's the wonderful thing about GOD and memories, the bad stuff kind of drifts away and the good stuff will always stay.

Tell your mother how much she means to you. It will make all the difference to her and eventually to you. Your mother needs you right now and the best thing you can do for yourself and her is not get caught up in her illness, get caught up in the woman.

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M.

answers from Las Vegas on

Before she dies, make a list of everything you can think of that you want to know or want to share. I asked my mom all sorts of questions about her 1st marriage that I had been afraid to ask her before she was sick. I asked her about family history and about her life when she was younger. I also confessed to the things I did to get into trouble as a teen. (I was 23 when she died) We had many laughs over those confessions.

My last words to my mother were I love you. She slipped into a coma later on in that evening and I find much peace knowing that those were the last words that she heard. The following day she died while I held her hand and I also found that to be peaceful. I didn't want her to be alone and my dad and brothers couldn't handle being in the room with her.

It has been 8 years since my mom died and I would be lying if I told you that you get over it. You never will. A part of your heart will always be broken. You will get through it though and it will get easier. As time goes on you will realize that not everyday will be a bad day. You will be strong for your children and their laughter and smiles will help heal you.

The first week or two after someone dies is really rough. You will experience the shock of your loss. Nothing can prepare you for how it will feel. It will hit you over and over again that she is gone and how different your life will be without her. The first year is the worst to get through. Every holiday, every event, every first without her you will be reminded of all the memories and traditions you once had. BUT after you have experienced all of those firsts, it really does get easier. You will tell yourself that you already did it once without her and you can do it again. As time goes by, your life will become normal again without her in it.

If you feel that you can not cope with all of the emotions you are/will feel definitely talk to someone. Talk to your local hospitals and hospices because they often offer free counceling. (even if your mom was not a patient there) There are also many free group therapies which can be helpful so that you know you are not alone.

http://www.elizabethhospice.org/programs.php?grief

I am sorry that you have to go through this. My heart goes out to you.

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J.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi A.:
First I'd like to express my sincere sympathy. While We all realize,were going to lose our parents,and other loved ones along lifes path,its never something we can prepare ourselves for.It's unimaginable,to think what life would be like without them in it.I lost my father years ago,and it broke my heart. It has to be heartbreaking for you,to see her so ill,and frustrating that theres nothing more they can do to help her.Imagine,how helpless she must feel.She doesn't want to leave you,and she must weep at the thought of missing watch her Grandchildren grow.My advice would be to spend as much time with her as you can right now.Be compassionate,and loving,and share memories she's left you with. You know A.....I never really knew what they meant,when someone would say " They are always with you" When my father died,I thought.... "what are you talking about? He's NOT going to be with me" He's leaving me! It didn't take me long to grasp what they were attempting to tell me.All those wonderful memories of my father... All the fond memories we shared, him singing to me as a small girl,or special moments spent together at christmas,or birthdays. The pride I remember seeing on his face,when he walked me down the isle. Hes in my heart everyday. I'll be somewhere,and think of one of those memories,and catch myself giggling outloud. I've made dvds,with old footage of all us kids and him laughing and joking around together. Some might think that sad,but we all take comfort in seeing him again in that light,Its not merely a reminder of the impact this man had on our lives. It's also a wonderful feeling to refresh our hearts with his fantastic sense of humor and the sound of his laughter. It helped with the healing. Let her know A.,that shes given you wonderful memories,to last you a lifetime. Tell her they will be shared with her Grandchildren. I'll keep you,and your mother in my prayers. Take care and God bless. J.

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A.P.

answers from San Diego on

I am 59 yrs old & lost my mom 20 yrs ago to a malignant brain tumor. My children were 3 & 5 yrs old then. I am the oldest of 4 kids so they all looked up to me to set the standard on how we were going to deal with this. She was terminally ill for 22 months. The firt thing I did was forget about my feelings & try to give my mom what she needed from all of us. I read an outstanding book that gave me courage & advice on dealing with situations. The book is called "On Death & Dying" & it was written by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler Ross. She interviewed terminally ill patients regarding their feelings & what they needed from family members. I also read up on books that had information on my moms illness. It kept me informed on what to expect. I also went to all my moms Dr appts so I could ask the Dr directly any concerns I might have. It gave me strength to know that I was helping my mom in ways that only I could. My mom died at home with all her family & the family priest around her. If someone has to die, it was a beautiful way to go. Cry when you need to & give your mom what she needs from you.

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D.B.

answers from Las Vegas on

The best thing is spend as much time as you can with her and let her talk about anything she wants, Also you need to tell her how much you love her and will miss her and ask her what she wants,about burial,clothes she wants to wear and other funeral arangements so when the time comes you will know you are following her wishes. I pray that God keeps her comfortable.

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M.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

HI A......I am so so sorry you are going through this. Just tell her as many times as possible that you love her, which I am sure you already do. Your posting has made me cry and think about when I lost my dad in June of 2007 from cancer. I was able to take a week off of work and stay with him when he was dying, we all took turns at night time with him to make sure he was never alone, and then on the day he died I had to leave for a couple of hours to take my daughter to a doctor appt, well he passed away while I was gone, I know he waited for me to be gone so he wouldn't die when I was there....I can't tell you how that week helped me deal with everything and I know he died knowing i loved him and it made my grief so much easier (if that's even possible). I would like to add one thing and I hope this doesn't sound morbid, but cancer is such a terrible disease and is so destructive on the body that I felt my dad was suffering at the end and when he did pass I felt relieved for him because he was at peace and wasn't in pain anymore...he was with his mom and dad, which made me feel better.....again A. I am so sorry and I will be thinking about you and your mom...take care and god bless.

M.

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V.I.

answers from Los Angeles on

allow yourself to grieve. I lost someone on 12-10-08 and I'm grieving. I also plan to start attending to support group. I understand your pain. Know your not alone

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Z.M.

answers from San Diego on

Hi - I am so sorry... I went through the loss of my mom three years ago and it's so extremely difficult. I am an only chlid and we had a very, very close relationship. It devastated me. My mom died quickly - within three months and so I didn't have time to fully comprehend what was happening. In retrospect, the one thing I wished I had known was to read "On Death & Dying" by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler Ross. I didn't understand the stages of death, I didn't know what to say to my mom and there are so many things I wished I had understood and discussed with her. So I urge you to read this book and understand what she is going through too because it will help you and I promise that you won't have any regrets. After my mom passed, I met with the chaplain through the hospice program that helped my mom. I met with her every month for a year (it's covered through hospice) and it was so helpful. I wish you lightness through your grief. Take good care.

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N.V.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi A.:

It is a terrible thing to lose a parent but worse to have to watch them suffer and slowly get sicker and sicker without being able to help. I'd encourage you both to go the The Wellness Community. There's one in Pasadena.
It is s Cancer Support Non-Profit. There you will both find loving support thru classes, groups and just get-togetheres with people who are going thru or have gone thru what you are now facing. Also there are bereavement groups to help you deal with the terrible pain of loss.
Phone is ###-###-####. I'm on the Board of Directors and can help you make contact should you need a little extra encouragement.
A wonderful book in helping to grieve is The Grief Recovery Handbook by John James and Russell Friedman. They also have an Institute in Sherman Oaks. Phone is
888-773-2683. www.grief.net I found this book most helpful, although it does involve a lot of internal work, self-dialogue and writing.
Let me know if I can help you further.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your mother is to spend time with her and just be there with her during this time. Let her children spend time with grandma. She's find joy in just being able to watch them and be around them. Love is truly the highest gift we can give to someone.
N. Valentine
###-###-#### cell
[email protected]____.com

C.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

A.,
My condolences to you and your family. We have cancer in our family too, my father with prostate and nephew with Leukemia. I strongly recommend counseling, even if it's only just for venting. They can give you tools to help you move forward. You might also talk to the doctors/hospital where she's being treated. They may have some support for you.

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M.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

My mother died of cancer 15 years ago when i was 25.I don't know that i have any advice except for you have to be strong and try to be there for her,but also don't forget to find time to grieve,if you don't express it grief can make you very sick physically.I cried every day for months during the time she was dieying and after.It's a blessing that you have two beautiful children-that will make it 100 times easier for you.
I think out of all experiences in my life/i am 40 now/ loosing my mother was the most tragic,difficult things i had to endure,but it made me a stronger person,more mature,because it makes you grow up.
Love and LIght,M..

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J.R.

answers from San Diego on

I didn't read all the posts, but are you connected with Hospice yet? They have amazing support groups and social workers. They even have support groups for children. My mother passed away in '97 and as weird as it sounds, hopsice was the one bright spot in the whole ordeal. Also, there is a wonderful book for children called "The Fall of Freddie the Leaf" by Leo Buscaglia. You have to order it at Barnes and Noble. It does a wonderful job of explaining the cycle of life for children. Best wishes!

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C.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

If i could give you a hug...i would! Being able to talk about it freely is what i believe has helped me the most. I lost my mom when i was 13 (she was murdered) and she only 38. And my father had not been in my life since i was 7. I found him again when i was 30 just to lose him in a boating accident (he drowned) 15 years later. I felt cheated but need to look on the bright side. At least i got to know him before he died. You are a blessed woman to have had your mother for so many years but that does not lessen the pain. All i can tell you is talking about it helped me heal faster. My fiance lost his wife (suicide after 30 yrs marriage) 5 years ago and he was an emotional wreck (he hid it well) when i met him two yrs & 8 months ago. He had never been able to talk about it (last girlfriend would not allow it) i let him grieve and talk & share pics with me freely and now he has found a normal comfortable place in life again & has been able to move on. Once again...it was being able to talk it out that helped him heal...talk it our frequently & share your pain...that is the only advice i have...be strong for your babies. You will pull through this stronger than ever...C.

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C.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi A.,
What a painful place for anyone. I am so sorry you are going through this. Although I have not lost a parent, I have been through the grief cycle and it can vary from person to person. One of the books that was recommended to me was called "Good Grief". It's a very short book, but very powerful. It will help you understand the grief cycle so you can take a mental note of where you are in the process and also confirm that you are normal.
Also, having someone to talk to about this so you are not alone in this journey is very therapeutic. If you don't have a friend that you feel comfortable talking about this with there are several churches that have pastors available that deal with this very thing as well as counseling centers. Most insurances today will allow for a few sessions of counseling, and it can make all the difference in the world. My prayers are with you.

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J.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

I am sorry for what you are going thru, i went thru this with my dad going on 4 years ago. You must put your faith in GOD. For your peace of mind as well as your mom's make sure she has accepted Jesus as your lord and savior.

That everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
john 3:15.

I put my faith in the lord. I miss him dearly, but I have the memories. My sister once asked me shortly afterwards, how can I just keep going and stopped crying. I told her daddy went home. He is where he came from. He is with our Lord and now he is with his mom and dad again and someday we will all be together again. God loves your mother and you too. Accept him and find an inner peace that you will
treasurer forever.

You are stronger than you know. Be there for your mom and show her all your love. Be strong for your kids too.

May God Bless you and your family.

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J.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

A.-
Contact the American Cancer Society. They have great support groups!

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J.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

I know you are hurting, But you need to think about the pain and misery of your mom, she will be in a much happier place, pain free, and a gardian angle. Help her to get to this place while your with her, help her to find inner peace, with her decisions here on earth and make sure she is comfortable with meeting her maker. Allow her to tell you all the things she want's you to know. And make sure you have told her any secrets that you want her to know. You have this chance to be closer to your mom because you know approx. when her last hours will be, some people don't get that chance. Make life as fun as you can for the both of you, these will be your fondest memories. You will need this memories to get you through this when she is gone. The stupid things you said and did together. It's not about taking her to expensive places, it's about making the most of the time you have together. Learn things about her ask her simple questions like: favorite color, flower, food, songs, her best day in life, her worst day, favorite tv show, favorite past time, favorite book. And write it down as she is saying it, or get a tape recorder. This is all great stuff for geneology purposes, & make sure you have some childhood memories in their, sicknesses or illnesses of grandparents and family just in case something comes up later in life.

You will be greatful that you have this for you and your kids.

Look for the positve in everything, it's their you just need to find it. God has a reason for everything, you need to find the reason for this learning experience in your life. Ask him to help you to cope with this. Ask him to help you see the things you need to learn from this. And how to make this easier for you and your mother. He's their you just need to ask him to comfort you and to help you get through this. God is with you, may he help you through this, and watch over you and your family. J.

S.J.

answers from Los Angeles on

Just be with her. You don't have to talk or entertain her. Just being in the same room is comforting enough for her. This moment in her life is all about her and noboby else. Hold her hand or stroke her hair. Maybe even a kiss on the forehead every now-and-then. No one wants or should ever die alone.

This is what I did for my Father who passed away from cancer 8 years ago. It will be the most miraculous experience that you will ever have in your life and you will both be at peace. God Bless you and your Mother on this blessed journey.

S. J's Husband, Robert

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M.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi A.,

I'm so sorry. I will pray for you, your mother, and your loved ones.

Make the most of the time you have left with your Mom. I encourage you to surround yourself with support be it from friends, family, church family, or a support group. It's especially important for you to find support specifically for you, not just a shared source like a relative or friend of the family, while those are helpful, too. And accept any help that is offered. You need your strength.

God bless you!
M.

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T.H.

answers from Las Vegas on

Dear A.,
God Bless you and your mother. First of all I would like to tell you how very sorry I am to hear what your mom is going through. We lost my mom to pancreatic cancer last November (2007) and I am sure you have done some research on it. It is a fast moving cancer, so PLEASE do not waste time and think you have a lot of time, because as harsh as it sounds, you really do not.

The thing that I look back on now and I'm grateful of, is that we were all able to tell her everything we wanted to. I look at it as a gift now, although at the time, I couldn't see that. The gift, being the chance to say goodbye and say everything you want to say before she is gone. The hardest part was watching her go through so much pain and up until the end, we had a family member who refused to accept her inevitable passing. Hospice told us that she was holding on longer than she needed to because she knew my brother wasn't ready to let her go. This ended up causing her excess and prolnged pain and suffering. As soon as he "released" her to leave us, she let go, joined God and was painfree. That was so hard to witness.

During her illness, when she felt comfortable talking to us about her death, we let her, even though it was uncomfortable to us, it was important to her. Don't deny her that. Let her start the conversation and be as supportive as you can. She needs to know that you will all be okay after she's gone, but assure her how much she will be missed. It is okay to say things like "it's not fair", or I'm so mad this happened", but make sure you don't lay any unnecessary burden on her. She was stressed over my 5 year old nephew whom she used to babysit for before she got sick. My brother is s single dad and she was practically raising Rider (my nephew) and giving him stability that my brother wasn't. We all promised her that we would all chip in and help with my nephew and that was a big relief to her. Even though that was a given to us, she needed to hear it. Little things like that were bearing on her and she needed to talk about them and be assured that everyone was going to be fine. That is what good mother will do even in extreme pain. She was worried about all of us!!! Ease those worries for her.

I was happy to hear you are guiding her in faith filled avenues as well. We bought my mom a daily devotional book that she looked forward to reading it every day. At the end, when she couldn't read it herself, we read it to her. She also loved for us to read from the Bible to her. She didn't like to be left alone at the end (the last 2 weeks), so we kept someone by her side 24 hours a day. Even when she slept, we stroked her hair, put lotion on her, read to her and talked to her. She said even when she was drifting in and out of sleep, she heard us, knew we were there and thanked us for that.

Don't let her pass and have any regrets about what you did or didn't say. Like I mentioned before, the way I felt about it being a gift to us, was that unlike a car accident, heart attack, etc... that is instant and people wonder if the person knew how much they loved them, or have regrets about the last thing they said or did to that person, you get the opportunity to prepare and discuss things. Again, I will reinforce this, the gift is yours in that you get to say goodbye. The gift is not hers, because pancreatic cancer is so cruel and painful.

You didn't say how long ago since she was diagnosed, but from dianosis to my mother's passing was 8 months. We have a distant relative who also had pancreatic cancer and his was 7 months. Every case is different, hopefully your mother's isn't as painful and she will have more time, but just remember, denying it is not going to make it go away. Tell your family members to accept it and start to prepare themselves for it, for her sake.

God Bless you for being so strong and for seeking out advice. My heart goes out to you and your family. Give your mother a big hug for me and tell her we will not quit trying to cure cancer until there is a cure. Your life will be forever changed by this, but you are on the right track by asking for comfort and advice. Time does ease the pain, I know it is hard to believe but it is true. Your grieving process has already started as I can tell by your letter. Believe it or not, that helps because you are facing facts and preparing yourself. Hospice is wonderful, open your hearts and arms to them, they will be a lifesaver when it comes time.
God Bless, Tracey

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S.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hello A.,
First I want to let you know, you are not alone! My name is S. and I lost my Mother to cancer three years ago. She was my best friend and taken to early. There are five stages of grief and yes they can begin now, however through understanding what these stages are allowed me to process them easier. Everyone is different and we all process feelings in our own way, the important thing is to share them with someone.I don't know if you have a belief system, but for me it helped to ease the pain. Spend as much time with her as you can and if possible, share all the things you need to say. Embrace the love of your family and children and know that you can get through this difficult period in your life. For me, I see my Mother in everything that is beautiful in this world including people. I talk to her every day and hold her close to my heart. I have a very special angel watching over me.

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V.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hello A.. I am so sorry that you are going through this. It is a horrible thing to witness, and deal with. I don't know how to offer advice to you, as we are all different, as are our coping mechanisms, but all I can say is treasure the moments now, while she is still with you, and make her as comfortable as possible. My grandmother has had Alzheimer's for a couple of years now, and my mom called me the Tuesday before Christmas to tell me that the doctors said she wouldn't live through Christmas. I had a very large family, and it was so great to see so many of us come together to be by her side during her final days. She was in hospice care, and we all drove out there, about two hours away, just to be with her in her final hours. She was not coherent at all, was in a coma like state, but when we would sit with her, we would hold her hand, and I felt her squeeze my hand a few times, so I know that she knew I was there, which made me feel better. She passed away the following Monday, and we had her funeral Saturday. She was finally laid to rest on Tuesday (problem with the date on the death certificate, so it was delayed). It is so hard to go through watching someone die, but it is such a great comfort to know that they aren't in pain anymore, and are at peace. I hated seeing her like that, how she was in the last years, but the last months especially. I took comfort in knowing that she was well taken care of (all of her nurses cried and told us how much they enjoyed having her there - I don't know if that's standard or not, but it made us all feel better nonetheless) and her viewing, rosary, and funeral were so beautiful. Like I said earlier, it's not an easy thing to go through, and we all deal with pain, life and death differently, but take the time to be with her if it is possible. If you are able to be with her at all (I don't know if she is close by, out of state, or other) take some pictures of the two of you together, you will treasure those forever. I think most important though, is to make sure her needs and wants are met, and that she is comfortable (as much as possible, when one is in pain). Even bringing a favorite blanket or a new nightgown can make a world of difference. Best of luck to you on this, I really sympathize with you :(

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A.B.

answers from San Diego on

My deepest sympathy to you. I lost my mom in 2004. She was ill and we watched her die. It was so hard. I don't know what advice I can give except to be there for her even though it is so hard to see her like that. Allow yourself to grieve as well. My kids were the same ages as yours when my mom went through that. After my mom lost conciousness (on hospice) I no longer allowed my kids to be there to see that. Up until that point though, they were allowed to be with her. I am so sorry for what you are going through and I pray that you find strength to get through this. God Bless.

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J.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

I Lost my father 3 years ago. I saw him go through so much pain and suffering that it was extremely difficult. This is not easy and nothing anyone says to you will make it ok. My advice to you is to tell her everything that you feel. Let her know how much she means to you and spend as much time with her as possible. I don't know if you are a christian but find your faith it will carry you through this. I miss my father but with time it has gotten easier. I found healing and peace with the lost of my father although I miss him greatly. It's ok to go through the stages of lossing someone and to mourn the loss of a loved one but remember you have a life to live and a journey to walk. I really missed my father one day and I wished I had more time with him when I received a revelation that I have eternity to spend with him and I felt peace in knowing that. God Bless you and your family.

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C.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I have not had to deal with this (yet), but my heart goes out to you, sincerely!!

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C.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

Hi A.,

I am very sorry for your mothers struggles and your having to deal with this awful illness. It stinks, but it is such a reality for many of us.

I think you are taking one of the biggest steps in dealing/coping with the illness. You are first of all realizing the stress and toll it has on you and you are talking about it.

If you can afford counseling, get it. However, most important, don't seclude yourself and lock feelings inside, as you will make yourself a basket case.

My father passed 16 years ago and I still get emotional at certain times. He had a heart attack, but I feel it was self inflicted because he drank and smoked a lot and put himself in a situation where he had to work 7 days a week. It can be so hard on me. Although it is 16 years later, I still find myself angry with him for drinking and burning himself out. However, he is gone now and as we know, not coming back (this thought does get easier in time)...why blame. So I guess when I am upset and dealing with these feelings, I take myself through this full circle. Sad, anger, & reality.

At times it is difficult to get those who weren't quite as close (such as hubby or kids) to comfort you because first it feels like no one can comfort you or understand, and as well, they aren't going through the same emotional stress that you are.

So my advice, if you can afford the counseling, get it. If not, reach out to those you love and talk about your feelings. When you find yourself upset and alone, try not to drown yourself in the hurt. Realize you have to let go and move on.

I WISH I could refer you to the product on the shelf that worked for me. Unfortunately, we both know there is no such thing. But keep in mind, every day you can open your blinds and get lots of sunlight, drink a lot of water, get lot's of exercise (go for walks everyday) and remember to breathe.

Take care and enjoy your mother with the time you do have with her. Surround yourselves with fun photos from your family albums.

Hugs to you A.!
C.

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N.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

All I can add is to live life with no regrets. My dad died of a sudden heart attack when I was 23 and my husband died the same way when I was 47. I had no regrets as far as being there for them and always telling them "I love you". It sucks no matter how you look at it. Just knowing that you are doing everything you can for your mom must give her a great deal of comfort. Your children will learn compassion from this. There are some great books out dealing with loss, they really do help. Good luck to you.

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E.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Sorry for your pain, I lost my Mother to cancer when I was 15, I'm now 38 and a Mother. The pain will always be there and I still miss her so, but life does go on and it does get better. Focus on your family and closeness with your children. Take it on day at a time, don't look ahead for now.

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M.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Oh A.,
You have received so many good advice. I cannot really add anything new, just wanted to express how sorry I am that you and your family have to go through this.
Please try to be strong. Your precious children need you and will need you more than ever when the time comes.
M.

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N.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

I lost my mom when.I was pregnant with my second son.He is now 15. I'd like to tell you it gets easier. It does subside a little. But a cetain song or even a smell can trigger tears to this day! I can tell you tell her how much she has meant to you and tell her every second you think it that you love her!!! Make her feel as happy as she can be RIGHT NOW!!! You won't get a second chance at this. The happier you make her feel right now thw better you will feel later! Trust me!!! Bless you and take care.

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V.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi A.,

I too searched for how I was going to cope with my father's terminal cancer. I joined PANCAN's discussion boards and felt comfort in posting and reading with others who were in the same situation. I am sure there is something like this for the same cancer your mother is going through. On those boards, one poster recommended a book called Final Gifts, it's short. It's excellent, written by two hospice nurses, offering vignettes of what their patients experienced in their last months/days. If you ever chat online, I am available on various formats. Email me if you would like to share experiences. One other recommendation is not to see movies like Big Fish or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Although therapeutic, I fell apart so easily.

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

Mandy gave some great advice.

My advice, is to find a "grief" support group...it can help IMMENSELY.

When my Dad was sick... well, it took a real toll on all of us. But my Mom went to a grief support group on a regular basis and it really helped her... "grief" is not just for people who had someone die.... but for anyone who is suffering from a "loss" be it divorce, illness, terminal illness, becoming a Widow etc. It takes many forms...

It is also very important to have a good support system....and hopefully your Hubby is there for you.... or someone else, a friend, Pastor, anyone who you can vent to and feel supported by and have solace.

But I highly recommend finding a grief support group... it will really help now, during, and after... my dad died 8 years ago... and my Mom still attends her grief support group now and then when she feels she needs to.

All the best... you are wise to try and find some help here... keep reaching out and don't keep it pent up inside of you...

All the best,
Susan

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N.H.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

Your request has touched me deeply. My father has cancer and, in a moment of clarity, I took photos of my dad's hands, the wrinkles around his eyes, and his cane. I hope these will bring me peace in the days to come.

I wish you peace and an abundance of love.

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N.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

Dearest A.,

I understand what your going through. I lost my mom 7 years ago to cancer. It was very sudden and not expected. At that time I was pregant with my 3rd child. I know that your going through a lot. Trying to deal with life and blinded by everything else. I know that God got me through it all. My life will never be the same but with God's has strenghen me and all things are possible. It will take time to heal. I would like to talk in person so if you want to call me ###-###-#### the best time to call is the evening around 5 p.m. If I can help anymore give me a call. I will be praying for you and your family. Take each day as it comes and enjoy the time you have with your precious momma.

my heart aches with yours,
Nancy

P.S. if your up now you can call me.

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M.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

Today is actually the one year anniversary of losing my father, so please excuse me if I go on too long. Like your mother, my father had numerous ailments over the past decade. He had extremely high blood pressure which lead to several strokes which eventually put him in a wheelchair. He also had a heart attack, heart surgery, diabetes, hip problems, and several other health issues. Each time a new health challenge hit, he fought hard to recover as best as he could. It was devestating when he was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago October and the doctors all refused to treat him because of his poor health. They (being at least 1/2 a dozen doctors in 1/2 dozen different hospitals) believed that chemo would only take him faster. He had overcome so many health problems, it was hard to accept the fact that he was not going to make it through this time.

All I can say is take advantage of every second your mother has left. Fortunately, my father only lived 1/2 hour away, so I went up to visit almost every day. It was hard because I was working full time, my husband was working and in grad school four nights a weeks, and I had a preemie newborn who demanded extra attention. But since my parents divorced when I was young, all my father had was his children to help care for him so we rallied together to do what needed to be done. Even though I was so tired that I slept in my car most days during my lunch breaks, I don't regret a single moment that I spent with my dad those last three months. I truely believe that my dad died knowing that he had four children who loved him dearly and would do anything for him. Be with your mom as much as possible, whether it is in person or over the phone and don't forget to remind her how much she is loved.

A year later, the thing that makes me the most sad is that my son will never really know his maternal grandfather. His favorite person in the world right now is my husband's father. Although think that their relationship is wonderful, I still have to leave the room in tears sometimes because I am so sad that my father never really got a chance to play with my son.

If you or anyone else who reads this needs to talk to someone about loss, please send me a message. Sometimes it is helpful just to get your feelings out in writing.

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L.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

A. ~ I am so sorry for your struggles. I lost my father to cancer 14 years ago. Honestly, it is very painful and hard to deal with. We are all different and deal with things differently. What I find peaceful now is that I wrote a letter to my dad before he passed. I told him how much I loved him, how much I admired him. What a great influence he was on me and our family.How diffcult it is to raise your children and how easy he made it seem. I basically put every feeling I ever had for my father on that paper. I knew I would never be able to express myself verbally. I cry when I say I love you, I would never get through a lifetime of feelings. I saw my dad every day at lunch and after work. He was at home when he passed and I was very fortunate to live close to my parents. I am still hurting from the loss of my father. There are so many days that I think of him and miss him. I am so happy that I wrote that letter to him. I burried it with him too. I feel the loss of him to this day. I don't think you ever get over it. However, you get through it. You manage. I don't know how. I wish I could tell you. I think it's through love of others. Keeping in mind the kind of person my father was and would want me to be. I strive to be a better person every day of my life in memory of my father. I talk about him all the time. I was just telling a story about him yesterday to a couple of my co-workers. I just never forget him and always remember him with love.

I absolutely had to seek counseling. I strongly suggest and encourage it. It is extremely helpful. In all honesty, I went before he passed. I could not deal with the thought of losing him. I had two small girls I had to raise and I was feeling so sorry for myself at the upcoming loss of my father that I was not doing the best for my children. My family asked me to go to grief counseling. It changed everything.

I will certainly pray for you and your family. Best of luck to you in finding your way through this horrible situation.
L.

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D.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am sorry for what you are going through. My MIL passed away from cancer in 2004 so I know of this first hand. What you must do is to keep going for your children, my girls were 6 and 3 when grandma died and that was hard because she was in their life taking care of them a few times a week and we had dinner as a family once a week. Hardest for our family was I was going through breast cancer treatment and didn't know what was to come from that. To deal with this all we were just honest about what was happening and the hospice people gave us books to read that could help explain it to the girls. I'm sorry I don't remember any of them now but I'm sure the library should have some or ask your mom's caregiver. My girls saw mommy and daddy cry a lot. To this day it is still hard to deal with and the youngest one still crys for her grandparents when she thinks of them. (FIL passed away in 2005 not cancer)God bless you and your family.

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S.B.

answers from Visalia on

Hi A.,

I am so sorry! My Step-mother who I was very close to died two years ago from ovarian cancer. I don't know how long your mother has weeks or days or months but some of things we did that were really special were...

My sister inlaw helped her write a life story and it was really simple and in story form. We bound it and made copies for the family, this makes a great keepsake and something your kids will enjoy. We talked alot about what she wanted for each of us sort of like a prayer she had for us. She was very much at ease with her own passing which helped us accept it. My regrets are not truely sharing how much she meant to me and how greatful I was for all that she taught me. I think I was in denial about how much longer she had I just kept thinking I had more time then I did. Make sure you talk to her even about silly stuff like your favorite meals she cooked get the recipes, I can't tell you how many times I have gone to pick up the phone to call her out of habit to ask some silly question about how to make something. Or some question about our childhood.

When we become mothers ourselves I think everything changes as far as how we veiw our own mothers. I am so sorry you have to go through this!

Love and tears,
S.

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K.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

First - give a big hug to yourself. My brother-in-law died this summer of gastric cancer, so I am very aware of your situation.

These are some of the things my sister did:
1. They went on short outings - Hamid was on some serious pain meds, but they were portable. He loved the beach, so he and my sister packed up and went for a drive up the coast for an hour or so. Nothing that involved him getting out and walking, but he was happy to be out of his bed - he chose hospice rather than a hospital - I guess being a doctor himself he wanted more privacy and the ability to do what he wanted than the hospital would allow.

2. They made lots of videos - they have two children, one was only 6 months old when he died, but they wanted both children to know him. They set up a camera to talk to and now the kids watch videos of Baba. I am sure yours will want to watch videos of their grammy - especially if they spend a lot of time with her.

3. Do things her way - that is probably the hardest piece of advice, but at this point, I am sure your mom feels like she has so little control in her life, that any she has will be great.

4. Be honest with your children. My neice - who had just turned 2 will tell you that her Baba is in heaven with God - she knows he is not coming back and that makes it easier for my sister to talk about him with her.

I wish I could make things easier for you, but unfortunately, you just have to go day to day. I wish you comfort and peace. Let me know ifyou ever need to talk.

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T.O.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi A.-

I am so sorry to hear about your mother. I lost my mother to cancer as well, about 14 years ago when I was 18. It is hard. There is no easy way to go through it, and people who have never lost anyone will not know what to say.

All I can say is it will get easier with time. It is different for everyone, and I still get teary when I think of my mom, but it is okay. I know she is with God now and I will see her again someday.

While she is still here, think about what you need to do with her. For me, I had always heard of people never getting to tell their loved one they loved them before they died. I did not want to regret that. One day i finally got up the nerve (again, i was 18 and my mom wasn't the gushest person) and I told her I loved her as I was leaving the hospital room. She died that night.

Although I miss her, I am glad I was able to do that, and I do not have any regrets. Yes, I wish she had been able to see me get married, and have my two boys, but that did not happen.

All I can tell you is take it one minute at a time. your kids need you, and they will understand that mommy is sad. once she is gone you will be trying to find a new "normal". Everyine told me that I would be glad to get back to normal after the funeral. What!? Normal was having my mom around. But a new normal did arrive, and we must hae our life go on. Your mother would not want you to give up, but to fight and be there each and every day for your precious children.
blessings to you, and I pray you find peace, and comfort in this time.

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K.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

Dear A.,
I'm so sorry for all that you're going through with your dear mother. It sounds like you have a lot of advice for dealing with your own grief. Please remember that your children will have their own grief to contend with.

My brother died when my children were 5 and 3 years old. It was an incredibly difficult time for all of us. (Apparently, around age 5 is when kids start to really question life, death and our life cycles...that's why so may pre-schools and kindergartens have animals as pets to experience their complete, short life cycle.)

When talking with your children, please be sure to use concrete words when your mother dies (not "sleep" or "gone away".) It may sound blunt to our adult ears but it's easier for kids to understand. For example, "Grandma's body doesn't work anymore. Her heart has stopped beating."

For us, the questions came for a long time...and when we least expected it. It's very confusing for kids. Their concerns are about themselves and you, their parents. ("Are you going to die, Mommy?") They'll need reassurance that you do everything you can to be safe (seatbelts while driving, careful crossing the street, eating the right foods, etc.) and that it's very unusual for someone to die young.

It was helpful for my children to write a book about their uncle, complete with pictures.

When the time comes, please include your children in the funeral or memorial service.

And, consider grief counseling for yourself and even for your children, if necessary.

Time heals. My thoughts are with you.

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N.F.

answers from Reno on

A., I'm so very sorry to hear about your Mom. I just lost my mom in May 2007 from pancreatic cancer, so I kind of know how you might feel, though I don't pretend to even know exactly how you feel, as every experience like this is so unique. I was extremely close with my mom. Once she was diagnosed I took care of her until her passing (didn't have a baby back then). The only advice I can give you is that if you are able to be with her now, (which I know can be extremely challenging with your kiddos) you won't regret it, even though it's very difficult to see your loving mom in so much pain. It's a mix of emotions b/c you really just feel so helpless and the weight of what's happening can be just overwhelming, but your presence will mean so much and make such a difference even if she's unable to let you know. I learned so much from the experience and feel like even though I would do almost anything to have her back even for a minute, the time we did have was so special, and I feel blessed to have been able to walk through the steps with her to her passing. But know it's taken me a while to come to this point. Anyway, I don't know if you have other family members who you are close to you that you can lean on, but if so, I encourage you to do that... no one "gets it" like other people who love your mom. In my mom's case, I really got strength from her best friends too. Is hospice involved? I highly recommend them. We had an "ok" hospice experience, but most people I talk to about this say hospice made a HUGE difference and they gained so much from them. This book was also extremely helpful to me. I read most of it in one night (didn't sleep much then) - it's an easy read, but its so helpful to understand what is happening to your mom and how to interpret things she says or does, or even physical changes. "Final Gifts" - http://www.amazon.com/Final-Gifts-Understanding-Awareness.... Bless you. Let me know if you'd like to talk further.

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N.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

A., I am so sorry to hear about the course your mom's cancer has taken. I can hardly imagine how hard it must be for you to journey with your mom toward the end of her life while also needing to be mommy to two kiddos. I think your request and question is such an important one. I will be holding you and your family in my prayers.

I'd love to encourage you to stay tuned into yourself -- keep checking in with your body -- to guide your choices through this time. Self-care is extra important right now. Make sure you take the time to stay nourished, well-rested, and plugged into the relationships you know will help and support you through this difficult time as you begin to process what it means to lose your mom. Do not hesitate to call a grief counselor for extra support -- the American Cancer Society or the social worker at your mom's oncology office can get you connected.

Also, begin collecting memories -- stories, photos, momentos that symbolize your mom -- these will become the ways your children learn about their grandma. If you are able, share these with your mom. If at all possible, video or audio record her telling life stories, reading a children's book for your kids and any future grandchildren, etc. Those memories become priceless.

Again, I am so sorry for your loss. Hang in there and know you are held in my prayers.

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B.T.

answers from Honolulu on

If she has the energy, tape record her telling you of her favorite memories.

If she does not have the energy, make a list of things 1)you felt were funny 2)changed a direction in your life 3) guided you 4)saw her do that impressed you. Keep a small microphone close to her mouth so if she says anything you will have her response on tape.

Let her know that she doesn't need to stay awake to hear your stories. If she sleeps, your stories are heard and incorporated into dreams.

This is a traumatic time for you, and you will need these stories to celebrate her life later on. Gather pictures and write the events that surround the photos.

Find someone to guide you through this grief process. It is a process and you need to know what to expect when she is gone.

You have connected with a lot of us out here and we're with you on your journey.

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