My Mom died, now I have no "job", and I'm haunted by the pain she endured...

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My Mom died on November 13, 2017; I am 67 and she was 97 years old. Many people now jump in and say "Well, she lived a long life!" The fact is, she was active, improving physically... I've told her story in other posts, so won't go into great detail here, but she'd fallen and broken her hip and wrist, and then was severely injured by an incompetent and uncaring "skilled nursing/rehab" facility. She spent 2 years in hell, with multiple surgeries and procedures, and was finally getting stronger and physically healed... (Her noggin was getting a little looser, but she was still mostly "present") She could get from her wheelchair up to a 4-wheeled walker, and in therapy was doing stationery bike, treadmill, leg presses, etc. Still, she was too damaged, and the only person to take care of her was me, and I couldn't handle her needs by myself, so she'd lived the last two years in a nursing facility. I visited and ADVOCATED for her at least 5 or 6 days/week, as well as doing some of her laundry (socks & bras, because the facility lost or ruined them). Other clothing was also damaged or lost, but the bras were for her personal self-esteem and the socks were to protect her previously injured and fragile feet.. (At a doctors' appointment, as we waited to be called, she sat with her arms crossed tightly over her chest... I asked her if she hurt or why, and she said "I don't have a bra on! They couldn't find one! I've never left the house without a bra since I was 13 years old!!" She was so hurt, humiliated, angry… She actually had 4, but the laundry had lost or ruined all of them. Her life was my life - was my "job" - and took all of my time and energy.

Two months ago, while being transferred from a wheelchair to a shower chair by a CNA, she slipped on the floor and fell, breaking both bones (tibia and fibula) in her left leg... (She went to ER the day she fell, they'd x-rayed and then splinted her leg, and sent her back to the nursing home the same night). Over the next week, in the facility, she progressively got worse, was in excruciating pain, refused to eat or drink, soon didn’t recognize even me, and went back to the hospital. She died 10 days after she fell - She screamed in pain for 3 days until hospice came and and put an end to it...

She’d fought so hard to "get better" and potentially come home. With outside PT and OT she was getting stronger and was finally healed of physical wounds in her feet the first facility caused. Then - a slip in the shower and she was done... I've told the nursing facility I know it was an accident - and I don't hold ill-will toward them or the CNA who was supposed to protect and help her (Read: they don’t need to worry about legal challenges, etc.). I don't know whether or not proper precautions and procedures were followed, but it's too late now to change the outcome. I told the owners of the home that I know they care, that no place is perfect and accidents happen, and that I trust them to do their own investigation and evaluate whether they need different procedures or safeguards... I told the CNA not to tear herself up over this, that I don't bear her any ill will and know she did the best she could. (I still go and visit people at the home, and if she sees me she goes the other way if she can...)

I'm really having trouble dealing with all the bureaucratic BS involved after this loss. Insurances – retirement annuity adjustments – State and Federal processes – on and on… I can’t find her original will! Even death certificates became a nightmare, because the original certificate stated she fell at my house/address with no witnesses... Huh? How did they "decide" that? She fell at a nursing facility with a CNA right there... I had to meet with the Medical Examiner, explain the issues, and then he had to investigate, make the changes and then get approval from the State. I just got the amended documents in yesterday's mail - two months after her death.

Now I find myself without my “job” – the meaning of my life actually – and don’t know how to adjust. I don’t mean to fill the time – I have lots of things I’d like to do – but just to feel I have a purpose? And – I either can’t sleep, or want to sleep all the time. I’m afraid to sleep, because I wake up with nightmares of the three days she screamed in pain from her leg, and pain from damage caused to her old back fusion. I can’t forget the other agonized sounds she made that no human should be capable of. All the while the medical people said they couldn’t give her adequate pain meds because it “could kill her”… It only stopped when hospice was called in… I just can’t bear that she was screaming in pain as her life finished – it haunts me…


ImageImp, my heart is heavy for you. There's just no way around it; losing a loved one, and especially a loved one that filled up so much of your own life, is just hard. And even tho she had a long life, her death was not an 'easy' passing for either of you. As for me, I have my faith -- I do believe that Dad is comfortable now, no more pain. I hope that you believe that for your own mother. The rest will take time and walking thru each day and doing what needs to be done. You and I will find a new 'normal' and a new purpose, but it's too soon. Go easy on yourself, don't look too far into the future, and cry and grieve as much as you need to. That's what I'm doing, and praying for peace when the sadness is just too much. Keep sharing here too; I've found much comfort in coming back.
i don't know if this will help, but having seen my mom go through hell i couldn't get the images out of my head for a long time. finally, after searching through lots of different places for relief, i realized that by focusing on the horrible months prior to her death, i was negating the wonderful 76/77 years she'd had before that. most of her life was wonderful. why was i bent on focusing on the relatively short amount of time that it was horrible? it was a disservice to her life, i finally concluded. i miss her a lot, but i don't miss seeing her like that. she's no longer suffering. not one bit.
I'm so sorry to hear of the painful fracture your mom suffered
Even those of us still caring for our loved ones experience some of what you're feeling now especially the sleep cycles

Give yourself time to grieve but flex your muscle and redirect your mind not to go to the painful scenes - pick a different scene to grasp and hold to that

Get some rest
I'm so very sorry for your loss. Regardless of age, losing a parent must be so painful. I can't imagine it. I know that there are stages of grief. It's good that you are reaching out to others. With all that you are experiencing, I think that I would be gentle with yourself, as much as possible and get professional advice. Even if you don't intend to use the advice. I'd get it, just in case.

I would consult with an attorney about your mother's death, no matter what you might have said about the incident. I'd explore the law on the matter. Her estate may have rights and I'd explore if it's applicable.  Also, and Elder Law attorney may assist with Estate/probate questions, if probate is necessary. 

I would consult with a counselor or therapist. You've been through a lot and may need some more support and tools to cope.

and I would consult with a financial planner and accountant to get guidance on the money issues. With so much to deal with, it must be overwhelming. I'd find a professional that you can trust and get guidance.

I know that having more information can make us feel more empowered and provide us with more options. I hope you feel better soon as you move forward with your life.
I am sorry for your loss. And for the manner of the loss.
My own Mom died last June... I admit I am still haunted by the memory of the travels we planned together, but never finally did.

Time will lessen the hurt, and leave the memory of the good times.
I saw a beautiful memorial at the Hospice Gardens...."do not cry for the loss of me, smile for the memory"

I finished building the RV we started together. I hit the road at the end of October, and have been living and roaming in it ever since. After the big RV gathering in Quartzsite, I will spend the rest of this winter roaming the peninsula of Baha Mexico.....Long time dream of ours.
After that..Alaska. Then....who knows.

Thank you all for your comments... "Sunnygirl", there really isn't any "estate" - Medicaid took all of that - but I still need the will because she kept about $400 in an account in California to keep it open - and to keep the "Accidental Death or Dismemberment" policy the credit union had touted years ago. That policy is one of those a company or bank/credit union will offer with "free insurance" of some amount, and of course, the opportunity to buy more... (They're not managed by the bank, et al, but have a management company and an insurance company holding the policy). Those entities have literally changed 5 or 6 times since she bought this policy in about 1983, and even the credit union has merged with another... I've been having to fight with the "current" company so far, because that is really the only insurance she had left (with Medicaid, anything at all with a "cash value" must be cashed out and the money added to the "spend down". They even demanded the original contract for a prepaid cremation plan Mom bought 15 years ago, just in case there was a cash value... Sheesh! I was so frustrated at that point I asked what they planned to do if there was? Cash it out and reserve a place under a bridge? Or - do they still have "potter's fields"?) Anyway, the death certificate clearly states "Accidental Death" and circumstance "fall and broken leg with witness"... However, it also has a category "other causes contributing to death" and in that the ME (hospital, whoever) said "Dementia; Cardiovascular Heart Disease"  (Mom has been carrying that Dementia diagnosis around at least 10 years - well before she actually had any pertinent issues. (Her primary doctor added that to her "conditions" when she was out of touch with reality following an infection that caused sepsis... And, again, when she contracted a virus -
identified by her cardiologist - of cardiac and plural effusions and was totally confused. Ironically, before the cardio figured out what was wrong, a PA erroneously diagnosed her symptoms as "angina" and prescribed nitro glycerin, and that wrong diagnosis followed her too, because once it goes into the record it becomes FACT!) She was blind from macular degeneration, and that same primary doc  would do the "what day is it? year? Month?" survey, and Mom couldn't always answer accurately. What the heck? It simply didn't matter - one day was pretty much like any other, and I took care of everything... She didn't need or care what day it was! From the day that "label" was attached to her, though, every doctor or facility treated her differently... In the end, the label was accurate, although she was still mild and usually in touch with reality. 

Oh sheesh! I digress! Anyway, no estate really, but my lawyer said we might have to open probate just for that dumb $400! My personal choice would be to just forget about it and eventually it will be turned over to the State of California...Then, it can be searched for and claimed! I really want the insurance policy to go through, though, because in her will (I have copies anyway!) she wanted to leave small, modest amounts to some people she cared about. I know I'm not legally obligated to fulfill those wishes, but really want to because I know how much it meant to her. I can't afford to personally pay them, but that insurance policy would just about cover things... (It's only about $5,000, but the company is fighting paying because they have clauses about not paying if there is anything pre-existing health-wise that affects the death - and of course that would almost always give them a loophole. My lawyer calls these types of policies "junk" and a waste of money, because the only people making money are the insurance companies...)

Sorry - It seems I could open another type of discussion? This stuff is just all on my mind, and I want it all behind me! It seems every day brings something else to cry about? Today was trying to clear some of her dresser drawers out and finding the shirt she'd kept of my Dad's - I remember him wearing it - but it's now 50 years old... And the single saucer she kept from the first dish set she and Dad bought when they were first married. Again, I remember that... 

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