This forum saved my sanity, possibly my life. For nearly 20 years, after my father died, I was caregiver for my mother. She made nothing easy and our already difficult relationship became downright toxic. As she sank into dementia, I tried to keep my compassion. Love was harder. I think I loved my mother once, but I can't remember. When my father died, I felt like my heart was torn out. When my mother died, I was just numb. Now I am settling the estate and clearing out a huge jam packed house...attic to basement. It is filled with the possessions of my parents, their parents, a summer cottage, my late brother's house. As I went through boxes, I found things that reminded me of better times and I felt some sadness about my mother. Then I ventured into my father's workshop and just howled with grief. I don't know if it's common to lose love as a caregiver. I sure still miss my father more than my mother. I am still receiving condolences for my mother and I feel fake.

Oh gosh. I think you are allowed to feel what you feel for whatever reasons. My father passed over 40 years ago and I grieved and still miss him. Mother passed last December. She was a difficult, (toxic as you say) person and hard on me all my life. I don't miss her at all, and my grief for her is very blunted and atypical. A few weeks ago my only niece passed and I am grieving for her as I have grieved for other family members. To me what you are going through is perfectly normal, considering the relationships. Please don't feel guilty. ((((((hugs))))
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Reply to golden23

When my father (who aren’t in heaven) died, my sisters and I more or less cheered. Any sadness I had was for a wasted life that made other people miserable. I still miss my mother.

If people offer their condolences for your mother’s death, just say ‘thank you’. You don’t need to explain, and you don’t need to feel guilty. With luck, as time passes the recent difficult times will fade, and the happier memories from early on will be bigger in your mind. Best wishes, and I hope you survive the miserable ‘clearing out’ time as best you can.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
anonymous840695 Jun 6, 2019
Margaret, we're both responding to posts at the same time, must be kizmut.
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Grief doesn't follow a timetable, or stages for that matter. Over the course mourning for my dear father, I never encountered "denial," "bargaining," or any of those stages you read about.

At first I felt relief, almost joy, that Dad's suffering was over. I knew he hated the pain, confusion, and disability of his last few weeks, and now he was free! The tears didn't come until the 3rd or 4th day when I realized my own loss, that I would never see my father again in this life. Now 2 years later, I feel sad sometimes. Sometimes I don't. On the second anniversary of his death, the grief ran over me like a freight train.

I don't have the same relationship with Mom. When she passes, I don't know how I'll feel. But whatever those feelings are, they'll be legitimate. They'll be real. They'll be mine. And they're all okay.

Allow yourself to grieve. Or not. Whatever your feelings are, embrace and accept them. Listen to them. Give them the respect they deserve, whether or not they "fit" your perception of how they "should" be. Most importantly: No guilt!
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Reply to CantDance

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses. I read them all three times because it helps so much to read other's experiences. I think it's true I didn't really get to grieve my father because caregiving started immediately. It certainly is true that I feel relief and maybe a little lost after all those years. It helps to remind myself that there is no one right way to feel. I do wonder if I will wake up in couple years suddenly missing my mother. Again thank you kind people for your compassion and understanding. It is not a journey that many people talk about.
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Reply to Rosyday

You were a caregiver for 20 years.
That changes the dynamic a lot and I am sure you saw her decline in those years. Every time we see and have to deal with a decline we mourn the loss. We loose bits and pieces day by day, month by month so it is much different than when we get a phone call one day and hear ..your Mom had a stroke and died before they got her to the hospital...your dad was killed in an accident. Those are blows because we did not expect, we could not prepare for.
As for the numbness that will ease and you will find yourself grieving for her as well. As to going into your Dad's workshop....if you started caring for your Mom right after his death you truly were not able to mourn that loss it is now catching up.
Take things one by one. If it pains you stop for a while. This is new grief so do not rush things. If a box has been sitting there for 20 years another few months will not change things.
It is also do some care-giving for yourself! If you can, take a little vacation if you can't at least step away form everything for a little while
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Reply to Grandma1954

I think it's a reflection of the relationships we had/have before slipping into the roles of caregivers. I think about this from time to time, know the guilt I am likely to feel no matter what happens. Many in my life have lost their parents and those that have reflect on their loss, the good relationships they recall, and think of me as being lucky or blessed and some tell me I will miss them when they are gone. I suspect the same to some extent...but there are moments when I'd like the opportunity LOL. Caregiving, patience, they do not come easy and thrown that on top of a life-long antagonistic relationship. Also, you mention getting condolences...what else can you do but be polite, say thank you and put a pre-written note in the mail and they will think you're still grief stricken (and you are!) and not up to writing notes. Many people see my father as a good-natured, fun loving guy, and tell me how lucky I am...but they are totally clueless as to the exhaustion I experience and the load I am carrying to meet his demands and needs along with my mother who has dementia. You're not fake. You're very real and they are very clueless.
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Reply to gdaughter

You gave care to your Mom for years. I am into year one of having to provide not physical care, but care for my brother in assisted living to the extent I am power of attorney and trustee of trust. This changes relationships. You went from daughter of your Mom to nurse and mother of your Mom. There have been times my 85 year old brother and I have sunk into argument when we have spent our entire lives as he being my big brother and the boss when we are together, to me having to do things for him he once was capable of and is now angry not to be. At one point I got angry and then said to my partner that it is so much easier to be angry than to hurt about it all. Hurt for him. Hurt for me. For 20 years you gave care and were hurt for her, hurt for you, losing your Mom, becoming a caregiver. After it was over you returned to see in the memories you sifted through who you all were "in another life". Hon, both are REAL. You all WERE those wonderful folks with all those memories, and you were also those wonderful folks facing down the pain and confusion of the end of life. DO remember the good. And do forgive yourself and your Mom for what was so hard at the end. And 20 years of caregiving? You don't have a thing to kick yourself over.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

The circumstances of my mother’s death and my father’s death were totally, completely different.

After I married, DH and I had fertility troubles and thought we’d never have a child. After 3 pregnancy losses, I had a beautiful healthy baby.

Two and a half weeks after his birth, my father went to his garden to plant his asparagus, and dropped dead. I was totally inconsolable for 2 1/2 years, and to this day over 3 decades later experience guilt, grief, and remorse almost as fresh as the day he died.

My mother had a stroke at 85 and rehabbed herself to continue to live by herself until at 89, she fell and broke her hip. After a trial (unsuccessful) of living with me, we placed her in a nearby residential care center where she lived comfortably until her sweet and peaceful death a few days short of aged 95.

My dad was my anchor. My mom was a difficult but fiercely loving woman, to whom I became much closer following my dad’s death.

I grieved them very differently. I cherish memories of them both. I am grateful for them both. I feel no guilt at all about the different aspects of grieving them.
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Reply to AnnReid

Loved all the answers. I will be in the same situation when my toxic mother finally takes her leave. I am doing the very best I can for her and always will, but her death will not put me over the edge. I couldn’t grieve my father nor my two sisters’ deaths because of my care-taking role with my mother. It’s been a long, difficult journey with her. (8 yrs and counting with no end in sight). I used to feel guilty that I would not mourn her the way I want to mourn my dad and sisters, but it is what it is. I will be happy that she is finally reunited with everyone and I will leave it at that.
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Reply to nymima

I doubt if there is anyone in the world who loves their parents equally. My parents were divorced when I was 13, and I had never been close to my traveling salesman Dad. When he had a heart attack and died at age 63, I was surprised but did not feel real grief as we had had some tough moments in our relationship over the years (he was a lay Baptist preacher and I was and am an agnostic; plus he wasn't around much). My mother died of cancer at 80, only a few weeks after her diagnosis. That was a shock as well, and she and I had been very close. In many cases it almost seemed like I was the mother advising her. My sister, almost 9 years my junior, came along after two male children had died in infancy, and my mother always resented the fact that she was a girl. Worse still, she let my sister know it! The point is, every parent-child relationship is different. Parents don't necessarily love all their children equally, and children certainly feel differently toward their parents.
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Reply to Arleeda

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