Mom passed a month ago. I have hardly cried. What is wrong with me?

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Mom passed away a month ago after battling dementia for about 7 years. I have cried very little. Yes, I miss her; but I am relieved this is over. For the first 4 years of her disease, she lived alone in her home (60 miles from mine). An aide & I shared primary caregiving duties, with assistance from a sister & brother. Then Mom moved in with us for 2 months and it was a disaster. We moved her to an ALF, and her aide continued to help 4 days a week with the 3 siblings each taking another day. That was all good for 18 months until her stroke. After the stroke, she was moved to a NH 75 miles away & was there for her last 18 months. I visited her every Saturday, and now I am questioning if I did that out of obligation & not love. Also during this time a single older brother battled lung cancer & we (3 siblings) did what we could long distance to help him (he was 600 miles away) & his busy daughters. In the end, 2 of us would go down for about 5 days at a time, which meant that every 3 weeks or so I’d be down there. Now I am facing the caregiving issues with my in-laws — she has dementia & he, the primary caregiver, has lung cancer. I am trying very hard to back off & let the more local SILs take the reins. But that shouldn’t affect how I react to my own mom’s passing. She was a wonderful woman and I should be grieving more. What is wrong with me? Am I really that cold hearted?

76 Comments

No. You're dazed.

I don't want to be like some kind of emotional vulture and predict that the mourning will come... Maybe it won't... But try not to get blind-sided by grief when you're least expecting it. Once you have (very sensibly) rationalised your caregiving time and you've got your breath back, it may be that feelings will flood back. Give yourself plenty of time and space as far as you can.
I have heard it said that with dementia you grieve twice. My father has Alzheimer's. Once with the diagnosis and second upon their passing. You have been grieving a long time already watching your mom slip away from you as dementia robbed not just your mom but you of your mom. Everyone handles loss differently and you really should not beat yourself up over this. Someday when you may least expect it, you will express your grief. Your family health situation and care giving for one member to another looks pretty tight and stressful....when would you have time to grieve? You are doing OK and I in no way think you have a cold heart and there is nothing wrong with you!
Nothing. There's nothing wrong with you, kdcm1011. You are NOT cold-hearted. You have been grieving for years already. I left my home and closed business in another state to move with Mom as her live-in caregiver. There are moments of poignant happenings I'll weep over her. I spoke to a hospice counselor who stated the grieving process has begun, which is good. Thanks to this forum, I'm aware when Mom does pass I'll feel relief--for us both. I'll be sad she's gone, but relieved her pain and anguish are over. As others above stated, the force of your Mom's passing may hit you. Before it does and afterward, go easy on yourself and treat yourself well.
KDCM, I lost my mom in August and haven't cried but a little bit, mostly when people said kind things to me. I cried a great deal (out of frustration as well as loss) after my mom started down the path of cognitive decline and vascular dementia. But I find that my feelings right now are mostly numbness, relief and gratitude.

It sounds like you still have a full plate. Find ways to take care of yourself and let us know how you're getting on. Not everyone grieves by crying.
It's true about the dementia. I remember how as the years went by, a little bit of my mom was no more (her personality, her likes, dislikes, etc..) Until in the end, she was a complete stranger. As each personality goes away, we mourn that. A little bit at a time. It sounds bad, but I liked the stranger better than my real mom. Despite that, when she passed away, I was torn between feeling that I should be sad that she died and my greater feelings of relief. While all my family were mourning, I was the odd one standing there, not shedding any tears. It was so very awkward. So, I know how you feel - about thinking you're coldhearted. You're Not. We just been mourning differently than the normal way.

About 18 months after my mom died, one night, I just started crying so hard. It was scary that I was crying so hard for No Reason! I couldn't stop the crying. Once I was done, I finally realized that these were the tears for mom. 18 months later....

I'm closer to my dad. I became his caregiver 5 years ago when he had a stroke and became bedridden. He passed away in July. At least I cried in his funeral but it was just tears streaming down. I'm waiting for the real mourning to hit me (the whole crying fireworks.) ... So don't worry. The crying will hit you - when you least expect it.
I think some people just don't cry--I'm one of them, and it seems normal to me. There are other ways that we grieve.
I grieved my dad's passing as he moved through the stages of Parkinson's. When he finally passed, I cried, but really, very little. He suffered so much. I was relieved he was done with that.

Everyone "grieves" differently. Some people keep theirs to themselves, and do it very privately, some need to have others "watch" so to speak. Just b/c you aren't crying over mom's passing doesn't mean you didn't care. You've got a lot on your plate right now---maybe when things settle down, you'll feel differently, but don't worry if you don't.
Kdcm,
I agree with the others.

My Mom’s journey with Dementia was a long one.

I, like Barb, cried a lot during the journey. Most of those times were when Mom was trying to remain in her home and my hands were tied. Lots of the times involved my anger and frustration with my sister.

Mom was in a NH from August 2012-October 2015. Better, safer than when she was in her home but still a challenge.

I remember thinking the last 6 months or so when her weight was so low, how long can she survive in this state? I think at that point I had let go.

I never sobbed, or cried. My eyes would get watery, maybe a single tear. From The time I arrived at the nursing Home the morning she died as the staff were sobbing. To the funeral when my sister was having yet another meltdown.

I still get watery eyed when I post about Mom but that’s it.

We that joined our loved ones on their difficult journeys appreciate their suffering is over. Or that’s my feeling anyway.
People mourn in different ways. There is no "right" way to do it.

My husband died 5 years ago and my mother about 1 year ago. I sobbed once, several months after the death. I think of them often, and sometimes I get teary-eyed. Not everyone is a crier. It has nothing to do with being cold-hearted.
Dear kdcm,

My deepest sympathies and condolences. I'm sorry for your loss. Please don't be hard on yourself, we all grieve differently. There has been so much on your shoulders and you did the very best you could for your mom. I was never much of a crier, I tried to be stoic if I could. But when my father passed last year I was so raw and cried more than I did my whole life. I only say this because we are all so different and there is no right way or wrong way to grieve.

You are so good to help your family and now your in laws. I have been reminded over and over again that we all just have to do what is normal for us and not worry about what others think.

Take care of yourself the best you can. Thinking of you.

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