I lost my father in December and now lost my mother last week. Both parents were in their 90s. I am an only child. I think I had a rather conflicted relationship with my mother. My parents came to live with me three years ago. Their decline was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with. I think my mother's illness made it difficult for me to deal with her. She was demanding, critical, and at times I thought she hated me. It seemed that I was never able to do anything right. I started to detach from her so that I would not get upset. But I feel that being detached and clinical in my relationship with her made me feel nothing. She passed away last week. I was devastated. I just can't believe that she is gone. I don't understand my feeling that she just disappeared like she was never there.

I mourn the parents that I knew before their terrible illnesses. The last three years have been dark, painful, and lonely. There was always a crisis, and I was always dealing with negativity and anger. I feel like I tried to do my best and get them the help they needed. But toward the end of my mother's life the one that failed to hear my cry for help was her doctor who did not return my call until after I took my mother to the emergency room. There, the staff didn't find anything and sent her back home and into hospice care. She was in hospice care two days before she died.

I don't think I could have done things differently. Has anyone else had the experience of detaching from a parent and feeling numb?

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(((((((demstress)))))) Of course you can and will grieve. You did everything you could for your parents. The "what ifs" are part of grieving as are the "could'ves"and "would'ves" Detaching was the best thing for you to do to cope with the stress of your mother's negativity.

The shock of someone being there one minute and not the next is normal. I have felt that. It is beyond our knowing. and understanding.

I am sorry that the illnesses stole your parents from you. So you grieve that loss, and then the loss that comes at their end, and also the loss of any normal life for yourself. You have been through a lot..

Numbness is common in the first few months of grief. You lost both parents very close together. It is too huge for us to fully grasp. I think it is the body's way of self protection. I believe you will find feelings coming back in the months that come.

I lost my narc mother in December. I haven't felt numb, but relief. Our relationship was never good due to the mental illness she had. I grieved it over my lifetime.

You are very early in your grief journey. Please be gentle with yourself, It will take time for you to find your new normal. Keep posting, We are here for you.
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Demstress; I have followed your saga for a long time here.

I don't think I've ever read a more compassionate account of anyone's parents' tale than yours. You did everything that you could.

Your parents both had terminal illnesses that could not be cured. You kept them comfortable . You got them the care that was available.

You need time now to rest and heal. Please be comforted by the good memories that you have of your parents. Find a time in your and their lives when you were happy and meditate on that.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Be healed and comforted going forward.

Best regards, Barbara
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You are grieving 2, actually 4 people. (make that 5)
You grieve for the parents you knew as a child and young adult.
These are the parents that raised you, took you to school, went through the first break up you had, your first prom, your first...everything
You grieve for the parents you ended up with, the sick, broken body, broken brain, the endless worry.
What would the "first" set of parents said to you if they knew what you were doing if they could see into the future? I am sure they would have said you were doing too much.

And now the last grief. You are grieving yourself, your life and maybe second guessing. And now the doubt sets in..did I do all I could...what should I have done when...why didn't I do....
Well don't do that. You did the best you could knowing what you knew at the time. You are the only one responsible for your actions you can not take on the failure of another. (the doctor that did not return a call. I
I always said that I could sleep well knowing that I did the best that I could each and every day.
Now the tough part finding a new "normal" for you. All the time that you used caring for your parents is now empty you need to fill it.
Give yourself a break, take a little vacation if possible. Even a weekend away. If you are a member of a religious group see if they have a Retreat of some sort scheduled soon. something to recharge you.
Then figure out what is right for you.
And there is NO time frame. Grief is individual. What takes 1 person a year to get over may take someone less time, or more time.
Never ends...
But it changes.
It's a passage.
Not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness,
nor a lack of faith...
It is the price of love...

Sleep well tonight knowing you did the best you could.
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What a fantastic explanation. Thanks. Helps me to understand our emotions.
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Yes, I had to detach from my mother. I could not handle the cunning, mean, never can do anything right, and the heart wrenching pain. Sometimes we have to detach ourselves to survive. Everybody has their own way of dealing with care giving to a LO that lets say...not so friendly user!

But just because we have learned to detach ourselves from the emotional nightmare and dramatic insults doesn't mean we don't love them. It just means that we had to protect ourselves.

Have you ever heard the old saying, "you can love someone but not like them, and you can like someone without loving them?" And on that note, "you can love someone and not like their behavior." Of course, you are going to grieve over the lost of your mom, and you are going to grieve over who your parents once were than you will grieve over the loss of your dad. So really you are grieving over three different things. I think what you are feeling in normal and probably more common than what the world would want us to believe.

Because I have learn to emotional detach from my own mother doesn't mean that I don't want her to be cared for and safe or that I don't love her. But I also have to save myself. I have no idea how I will feel when she is gone, but what I do know it that I was given a hand of cards and I am playing them to the best of my ability. That is what any of us can do.

You feel the way you feel and let yourself feel it no matter if it seems wrong to others, because really what it comes down to...can you live with yourself knowing you did the best you could for your parents and for yourself. As humans I think we take on to much of the whole blaming on ourselves when really not only do we not have that kind to control, but we do the best we can. That is what I think you did.

I am very sorry for your loss. If for whatever reason you can not get past this in time Please seek professional help. Take care of yourself and give yourself time to heal. You have just came out of a three year storm.
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Your answer reminds me of my husband’s mother and grandmother. My MIL was a wonderful person, giving, loving, genuine, kind, etc. Her mother was hateful, selfish, bitter, etc.

My MIL always said that most people learned what to do from their mother but she learned what NOT to do from her mother. the wake and funeral she then said that she wasn’t crying because her mother was dead because their relationship was awful. She said she was crying about what could have been. Was the saddest thing for me to hear.
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Demstress, you know how it's eerily quiet after a hurricane?

You lost your mother just last week, after a three year hurricane. No wonder you haven't found your emotional bearings yet. You can't even know which way up you are.

Do you know, I am coming up for my *fourth* anniversary? (And yes I do realise I really ought to be taking my leave of the forum - but! Too many important people.)

Perspective takes time, healing takes time, finding what is normal for you now takes time. You'll need a bit more than a week!
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gdaughter Mar 2019
Just because your losses were a few years back doesn't mean you don't have important info to share with others going through what you have and learning from your experiences.
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I am an only child too and I lost my mother (96 years old) on Friday. She was narcissistic during my life and we had a “distant” relationship. I never liked her “I’m better than you” attitude.
The only saving grace to this whole Alzheimer’s nightmare was a few months ago, when she looked at me with her little, fragile face and told me she loved me. I’d been waiting for a “real” I love you and that was as close as I was gonna get.

I grieve for the relationship we DIDN’T have but I’m also thankful because I am who I am because (or in spite) of her. She didn’t know how to be a loving mother. So I made sure I was to my son what she couldn’t be to me.

I wish her eternal rest in God’s love.

Its kinda weird to be without both parents now. I feel alone.
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You did a great job of caring for your mother, and making sure she had what she needed. You need to know that.

I can totally relate to feeling a mixture of numbness, relief and little sadness too. My mom passed unexpectedly almost a month ago after a long battle with mental illness, dementia and a host of physical ailments. I grieved over the years for the mom that I wished I had. I loved her, but due to her broken mind, we too had a difficult relationship. I felt powerless many times because I couldn't "fix" what was wrong with her. No one could, not even a multitude of doctors and meds. But what brings me comfort now is knowing that her long journey of suffering has come to an end and she is finally at peace now.

It's okay to feel however you feel. Grief is a different process for everyone, and I can relate to the detachment. As mentioned, we often have to learn to detach when caring for our loved ones for our own sanity.

Hugs to you as you walk through this process. Take care of you and come back here often for support.
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You did everything right. The decline will come in spite of all of our thoughts prayers and actions.
For you, detaching was the coping mechanism that worked. You had to separate these sick parents now from those healthy parents then.
I'm a big proponent of therapy. You're dealing with grief and some complicated emotions. A therapist can really help you unwind yourself from self doubt and recrimination.
You did your best to shepherd your parents through the end of their lives. They are lucky to have had you there and I think you are lucky to have been there, as their guide.
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My deepest sympathy to you, Demstress. May the memory of both of your parents be a blessing.

I have read many of your posts along this journey. It is clear that you showed patience and kindness to both of your parents. Even the business-like approach you took with your mother was respectful. You kept them both safe. You did the hard work that is caregiving and, from everything I've read in your posts, you did your best.

You were a good daughter. And although I don't know you I am proud of you because of the quality of caregiver you were and the righteous human being that your parents raised you to be. You were fortunate to have been raised by your parents and your parents were fortunate to have you as their daughter.

It's hard when things stop suddenly. Allow yourself to feel. Sit with your emotions. No need to rush anything. Be gentle and kind with yourself. Dwell not on the past three years; your story with your parents is much bigger and brighter.

Peace. - NYDIL
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It's hard to believe anyone has a normal relationship isn't it? It's hard to do it alone as well. One of the things I've heard is that so often, too often, hospice involvement is called in too late or more accurately, not soon enough. I think that can be so supportive to single caregivers with limited supports, and make no mistake...even some of us with siblings are in this alone. We have to accept that or the anger can boil up about the absent sibling going on with their life...

You did the best you could, coped the best you could and on top of it were being treated poorly on a daily basis. So your feelings are probably conflicted. Time may bring you peace, but you might want to touch base with your hospice or another in your area that has a support group, or someone you can talk to privately. You're not alone, and it may take time, but hopefully you will realize all you did and peace will be yours.

BTW, really can relate to your loss of support by the MD. My elder parents had a wonderful MD. I LIKED him, heck I LOVED him...and I told him so, which he took as the high compliment it was because I really hate the medical types. We all had a good relationship with him, he was compassionate, he understood and cared, and I knew he'd be there if something happened...until he left the medical system and went into the private sector. It seems like we have no one to lean on sometimes. Take care of yourself now.
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