I'm feeling alone. Any guidance?

Started by

As you may know from reading my posts, my mom passed in March 2017. I had always been her emotional crutch due to her anxiety and depression. So during the last 42 years I had called her daily, and visited once a week. The last year of her earthly life I visited daily, sometimes twice daily. She had a breakdown when I was 13. I have felt the need to help and protect her ever since that time. It was my job, I felt. My responsibility. And after her passing, I still felt the need to visit her, the responsibility to protect her didn't vanish upon her passing on. But, during the last few days, I've come to realize and feel that she is no longer here. Absolutely gone from this life. I still want to visit the cemetery once a week. But don't feel the need to do that as much. And as I contemplate moving out of state in a few months, it dawned on me that I am very much alone. No family except for an estranged sister. And some cousins that I haven't seen since I was a boy. I feel that when I move, if I move out of state, I will be leaving my mother behind in some sense. And I guess I have some lingering survivors guilt. But I guess, the gist of what I am trying to say is that for the first time I am realizing that my mother is gone, not here anymore, and no longer a part of my daily life. And I am getting used to not having the "job" responsibility of looking out for her anymore after a lifetime of trying to protect her. It's yet another level of the grief process I guess and separation from my old life to a new life. I'd like to hear everyones comments and thoughts and any guidance you might have for me. Thanks.

18 Comments

Bloom, could you update us on which suggestions and actions you've tried from previous posts? I believe you terminated the relationship with the online talk therapist. There were a lot of other good suggestions as I recall. Knowing what you've tried and what worked or didn't work will help posters consider new suggestions.
My father and I were very close, especially after I became an “adult”. It was always an appropriate- he’s the parent, I’m the child relationship but we were also friends. Daddy was my best friend and for the last 25 years of his life we talked almost daily.

When my father passed a little over five years ago I really didn’t grieve, didn’t get the chance to - I went straight into taking care of my mother and every detail of her life - and mom was a handful.

Still - what struck me is something you mentioned, bloomschool. And that is the utter and complete sense of them being gone. A total “gone-ness” as I came to call it.

As close as my father and I were, I thought for sure I would have some feeling of him still being with me - or around me - his spirit, I guess.

Instead, all I felt was the empty hole of an instant gone-ness. How could someone who meant so much to me be so gone? Here one day, here everyday for the 50 years I had him - and then - poof- gone.

It made me question my complete value system, my beliefs in the spirit and any life of any sort in the “hereafter”, our own tiny place in the world and the meaning of life.

That’s a heavy load to begin questioning. I still have no answers and still feel the “gone-ness”.
GardenArtist you've asked me what things I've tried, actions I've taken. Well, I've started volunteering as a driver taking elderly people to doctor appointments, banks, etc. I visited the area I want to move to, and am going back there in a week or so to find a place to live. I was lucky enough to contact my cousins from 50 years ago and reconnect with them somewhat. I reconnected with an old highschool best friend. And fired the therapist! So I am making an effort to rebuild my life slowly. But, there is the loneliness of having no immediate family anymore. And trying to comprehend the loss of my mother. Having know her for many years than she's gone. It's a difficult thing to grasp. So I am just trying to fill the void. I guess in time, the loss will heal, I hope. Sometimes I think some losses don't heal totally. I'm looking for a way to heal the loss, and not feel so alone.
Congratulations on moving forward so quickly and positively, for reaching out to help others with transportation needs, for preparing for a move and for reaching out to old friends! That's great news.

Your efforts are admirable, and I think you'll find your own new path sooner than many in your position. These times are challenging; it is difficult, but you are making good strides.

I do understand the loneliness; I've thought about it for my own circumstances and have developed some plans and hope to implement them slowly. I anticipate that the sense of loss might be somewhat disorienting, as I find a place in the new reality. I'm trying to think of ways to make it challenging.

Perhaps you can think of yourself now as someone with much broader life experience, ready to face challenges that you didn't face before the long years of caregiving began. You've gained a lot of experience and certainly compassion and understanding.

You've suffered a loss, but I wouldn't think about it in healing terms. I would conceive of it as a different kind of life experience, one that has allowed you to support someone in need, to extend yourself, and to gain personally through that experience.

I wouldn't dispute that losing someone is a loss, but it can be turned around to see it as a gain, of personal strength, of the knowledge that you've provided something no one else could.

This has been somewhat of an education, I suspect, at a graduate level in the School of Caregiving, a life curriculum just as challenging as any academic curriculum.

I don't think though that you should feel as though you're leaving your mother "behind". Rather, you've cared for her during her time of need, leading her to a probably more peaceful end than she would have had otherwise. And now she's in a literal safe place, after you've provided support during probably the most important time of her life.

That's not an insignificant achievement, so be sure to remember that you made the last years of her life better than they would otherwise be. Take comfort and solace in that. W/o your presence, I'm sure her life would have been very challenging. You helped ease her into the last stage of her life and I'm sure if she could reach out to you, she would express her love and gratitude for your presence and support.

What did you do before you became a caregiver? Do you have any interest in resurrecting that career? Or doing something relating to it?

I sense that you're someone who is very compassionate and feels a great deal of responsibility to others. You might find that in the kind of volunteer work you're doing in driving others to medical appointments. Volunteering for Meals on Wheels, or being a friendly visitor through a Senior Center or the VA might also contribute to that kind of rewarding interaction.

Thanks for sharing the good news, and I do hope that you find a balance between the loss of your mother, your grief, and the consolation that you were probably the major factor in her later years of life, and helped guide her when she probably needed you the most.
"Sometimes I think some losses don't heal totally." I agree with that, bloomschool. We just absorb them. The loss and the spirit of the person we lost become part of us. I am really impressed at how far along this path you've come, and so soon! But the pain is there, whether you are doing all the "right" things or not. Be gentle with yourself. Mourning is hard work, and it typically comes in waves.

My grandmother died 40+ years ago, my father 17 years ago, my husband 5 years ago, and mother last year. The most "aloneness" I've felt was after my husband died, and frankly I have episodes of feeling that way even now, after 5 years. I feel that all of these people have been absorbed into my essence. I'll see something in a store and think "oh, wouldn't Gram love that!" and I'll smile at the memory. The same with memories of my parents and husband. The pain of loss has been supplemented with the joy of having these people in my life. Gradually the joy overcame the pain, except with my husband -- but it is moving in that direction.

You are doing very well indeed. Please give yourself permission to still grieve. Mourning takes as long as it takes.
I am sorry for everyones loss of loved ones. Today I go to the cemetery to visit. I really am not motivated to go on one hand because of the sad memories and how needy my mother was. I felt somewhat under her finger for years. I don't feel any freedom now that she has gone. She was my only family I had and an anchor and oasis in this life. Now I have nobody. Friends have passed on or moved. My career is over. And while I see this as an opportunity to move on to a new life in a new city, I also see it as I have no other choice but to move on and out of here. I look out my window in the morning and realize I don't belong in this city any more and feel like a stranger here. I realize that I won't know anyone in a new city when I move. But I am in the same situation where I presently live. My friends that I have left are living 20 miles away. So I am feeling like a stranger here. As far as Rainmom mentioning feeling the "gone-ness" of her loss, that is I guess, what we all feel. Very hard to understand and accept. Everyday I wish I can see my mom again. And visit her again. And the reality of her "gone-ness" is sad. And as the therapist I fired told me, this is a time of reflection on my entire life. Which Rainmom mentioned. Which I have and continue to do. I do believe in a continual existence after death. So that gives me comfort. Even though I might be imagining the whole concept of life after death. I am grasping onto that belief. Why not? If something gives hope, why not.
It's good that your are reaching out for ideas and trying to build new relationships. I can't imagine how difficult that must be. I lost my grandmother, who was actually, more like my mother when I was 7 years old. I was too young to really comprehend death, but, I did seem to incorporate my grandmother's essence into my life and took it with me as I grew up. I have always felt her spirit with me. I consider her my guardian angel. She's always with me and wishing me well. I have no doubt about that.

I also found that I feel good when I'm around people who knew me when I was a kid or teen. There's just something about it. I rekindled some of those relationships a couple of years ago attending a school reunion. You might find some of those people on line. Or, check out a church that you might have attended. If you did attend a church, that sometimes can bring comfort and a sense of family and belonging. Studying and reading about eternal life or reincarnation bring some people comfort.

I'm not sure how old you are, but, some single people adopt children or become foster parents. This might be an option if you want to build your family.

I hope you can find some ways to help you with this process.
Bloomschool, I have no wisdom, just thoughts, as I will be in that situation very shortly. Your post is part of my thoughts of the future.. when Mom is gone within a week if they're right, I will be experiencing that same alone-ness, and quite frankly right now, thats super scary.

Like you, I've always had to be there for her, and especially after my Dad died, 20 yrs ago. For myself, I was frustrated that she demanded so much of my time and energies.

A close friend told me now would be a good time to envision the future with freedom... no more worries of Mom, her demands, her dementia, time to focus on one's self.
- and what the heck is that supposed to look like, I guess everything in it's time...

Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts this morning.
You do sound as others have said, like you are doing and taking all in the proper stride, and I commend you for posting it.



BloomSchool: You will feel your freedom. Someday. Sometime. It will probably take longer than you want it to. And the freedom is bittersweet.

My mom died almost 2 years ago. I am finally — now — emerging from the fog of......

*Transitioning directly from stepdad’s funeral to being mom’s caretaker.

*The general sadness and frustration of mom’s decline.

*The infuriating distortions of truth that came from Mom’s clear-headed moments AND Mom’s not-so-clearheaded moments.

*The despair of Mom expecting me to heartily accept her self-neglect

*The despair of everyone else expecting me to fix Mom’s self-neglect.

*The slanted perceptions of relatives and those in Mom’s limited social circle.

*The concurrent churn of workplace drama and nonsense from the in-laws.

*The roadblocks that emerged from Mom’s estate “planning” — or lack thereof.

Honest to heavens, BloomSchool, I thought I’d never be “right” again. Almost came to accept it.

I am finally feeling better. Somewhat.

Still, I cringe at many of the memories, old stories and triggers. Mom always expected me to identify with her way more than was healthy or appropriate.

Since Mom has passed, well-intentioned people will tell me an “awww” story about Mom and the supposed good-old days. The intent is to share a fond memory. Nothing wrong with that! But often I have to put on “my mask,” because there’s a subtext or backstory that Mom dumped on me....and the recollection is not as feel-good as the speaker thinks it is.

Time and distance are helping. Cliche, but true.

Just recently, I am able to say things to myself like, “Damm, now I have no one who shares my great love of rhubarb” — without it devolving into a rabbit-hole of neurotic circle-thinking.

It’s just....a memory. A shared thing that Mom & I had. A common bond that was not fraught with my old role as Mom’s parentified partner in dysfunction.

I am hoping for more moments like this.

You’ll find your way, BloomSchool. But it might take a while. Be patient and be kind to yourself. (((hugs)))
Yes, I suppose and actually know that I will feel better and more normal in the future. I just got back from the cemetery, and it was raining. But I stood out there in the rain praying and talking. I never had a problem when my dad died when I was 21. But with a mom, it's different. Plus she was there my entire life. I guess the big lesson is to appreciate each other while we have the chance. I am just now learning that. Darn!!!!!
The thing that I greatly regret was that I wasn't there when she passed on. I was there almost everyday for two months, and the day I decide I need to stay home and rest, she left this earthly life. I had no last words with her, and I would visit in the morning and at night I would call her up and they'd put a phone up to her ear and I would tell her I love her and it's ok for her to pass on. She was of course in hospice at the time, pretty much out of it with dementia and or sleeping. But the nurses said she responded when I called and would move her legs. I so regret not being there in her last moments. A regret I probably will always have. And when I go to the cemetery I cry and tell her how sorry I am that things weren't different, that she suffered, and that I wasn't there when she passed. I think if I was there, it would have given me some closure. I guess there's no easy way to deal with death. It's not a pleasant experience. Perhaps if she had some religious belief it would have made it easier, but she fought to the bitter end to stay alive. Thanks everyone for your post, it helps me a lot.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support