Gaining clarity and seeing my mom more as she was...


Its been about 6 months that my mom passed on. And yesterday, I thought to myself that I am tired of grieving. I pretty much feel a ton better, every now and then the sadness creeps in. I wish she were still here. But I was thinking about my mom today. She suffered from terrible anxiety and depression during her adult years and had a nervous breakdown when I was 12. But I can see more clearly now how she clung to me and needed me after my dad died when I was 21, and my sister left a few years later, never to be seen again for the most part. I was it. I was the last in the immediate family left. So, now, I see that she kind of controlled me and kept me close. I really was her emotional caregiver for 30 years and the last 10 started to be her caregiver, financial support and the last year I did everything and got her into assisted living (which I regret) and watched her die for 2 months everyday at the hospital and nursing home. It was rough. But I see that now I can start living my own life. Although I need to figure out what I want to do. Curious what everyone has to say and their thoughts. Thank you all for your support!!!!

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Great responses. This life journey is full of twists and turns, even though we may live our life in one career, one town, etc. But we learn a lot, only to be realized, perhaps, after loss or major change, or after a lifetime of living. I am 65, and oh so regret that I didn't have a better relationship with my mother, or at least made a better effort at it. Or to be more patient and loving. I learned it late in life. I wish life had an undo button like the computer. I'd immediately go back 30 years and redo! But I can't, and all I can do is learn from it all, and move forward, try again and try to apply what I learned. Thats, why some type of spiritual belief of the "afterlife" gives me, hope as I can see my parents again and make it work. Well, at least, I hope we live on. There's a lot of scientific research on the afterlife done in universities. You can go on and find them. Grief is a special time and journey where we learn a whole lotta stuff. It's like looking in the mirror everyday and seeing things we didn't see before, I guess. And that's been the difficult part for me.

I thought I would share my thoughts per your post.

I had anticipatory grief and sometimes still do. Dementia, anxiety, depression and alcoholism were part of my mother's life and still are to a large degree. As a result - I ended up having anxiety & depression and fear/ed life on my own terms which is normal given the upbringing and lack of clarity.

As a caregiver, I realize now the truth o the matter. I am wrapping up my caregiving for my parents as I have come full circle. Like you, I have clarity being in the midst of it all. Now I have a better exit plan as it must be so.

I had glimpses of my mother's (what I call) true potential self - outside of the aforementioned conditions she battled. These moments were brief and I clung to what could be - but never consistent in that I couldn't rely on more than punctuated moments like that. I wanted more, but she did not give more. Not a judgement because I have no idea what her life was like inside her head. As a child, I can tell you it was a fleeting experience to see a mom I wanted and needed - but could not have.

Throughout life, I believe we come to realize more and more that parents are no more human than ourselves, and that to want the best for all is very normal. If we have not had the best, when we see this as adults, we often face reality with a turn of grief. However long that may be.

Watching my mom decline due to vascular dementia and a host of other health(CVD) and mental health issues - has been very revealing as well as trying (emotionally & physically for me). The dose of truth and me having to wake up to what I must do is nothing short of difficult - AND - necessary.

The rage, anger, depression, frustration, snapping...all those things are still with her - but now more intense in varying ways...there is no ability to reason or insist she change because she is incapable at this point. Physicians and family have given up trying to converse and tolerate her - I am the only one left and bearing the brunt is no picnic.

Having gone through many of the same issues sans drinking, I realize I learned what I saw. Moving forward I have to learn to forgive - not enjoy - but forgive her humaness. I also pray and hope that I will become the mother my daughter wanted and deserved because I am sure her experience was much like mine. For that I am saddened but want and have changed for the better. So there is hope. Where there is hope, there is a gift of grace.

I see my mom behaving in ways that make her somewhat of a stranger to me - and I dig up my compassion and try to think what it must be like for her. Which I try not to stay too long in...because what happens is that I can go down the rabbit hole of worry: will I end up like her and cause my daughter and son pain when I am elderly - or will I be able to be the best I can be.

I want to live my time left with happiness and hope - I am almost there as I am about to interview for a job far away from here - ending my caregiving lifestyle. I am not sure how - but your post helped me think I have learned from this and will be ok.

Thank you

May I recommend 'The Beginner's Goodbye' by the very wonderful Anne Tyler? It's all about the re-establishing of perspective. And as well as being enlightening and intelligent, it is also jolly funny and a good digestible read.

Bloomschool, it is interesting on how once the dust has settled that we are able to see back actually what was going on on our parent's life. I know for my own Mom I can now understand why she acted the way she did, didn't want to move from the house she and Dad shared to something more manageable.... yet, when Mom passed, two weeks later Dad was ready to put the For Sale in the front yard.

Ok, what to do now. Any interest in going back to work part-time? I am so glad I held firm with my parents that I wouldn't not leave my job. I know when I wake up in the morning feeling like an unhappy camper, as soon as I walk in the office door I feel so much better :)

If going back to work isn't an option, what about volunteer work? I do volunteer work at a local hospital on Saturday mornings, it is great. I am around volunteers some of whom are my age [70's] and we work together. Or find something you have a really keen interest in and see if they need help.

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