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My mother passed in 2020. I still miss her every day. We lived together 48 years after my father died. I took over his role in a way as a diyer fixing and taking care of everthing house and yard no charges to my mother. I write a "Note to Mom" every day as I have no relatives or friends where I now live to socialize with. My support group is gone as I was forced to sell our home to pay my mother's debts and cover probate and inheritance tax costs. When I am feeling really lonely and sad about my own present living conditions as an elder living alone in a new location I allow my self to cry, get angry or express any other negative feelings I may be experiencing at the time. And then once all the negativity is released I go about daily life. You do the best you can as a caregiver. When the one you cared for is gone there is a feeling of deep loss not only for losing your loved one but also your job as 24 hours a day caregiver. Feel the loss is not easy but those feeling won't kill you. You have the rest of your life to live and do your best to live it well. You already handled a very difficult job successfully. Now you do your best to take care of you. You earned that right. God bless you Jax. Remember your life matters too.
Now take care of you as well as you did your mother. Do her proud and carry on with your life.
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to SueNWPa
Tynagh Mar 5, 2023
What a wonderful, supportive, and common-sense answer. O hope to recall it when my caregiving journey reaches that point in the road.
Good Morning Jaxzee,

The fact that you are writing is a good sign, you are taking action.

You are so busy when you are caregiving that it's almost like being at a command post. Your routine is ingrained in you. You're centered and have your "list of things to do" and then just crash in a chair once Mom is put to bed at night.

For those of you who are new to this forum or new to caregiving, read and re-read this honest lady's cry for help. We can help you Jaxzee.

Jaxzee first of all, I think you are wonderful to do what you did, caring for your Mom. It's undervalued today.

Basically, a new normal needs to be put in place, for example--how about the following. Buy a pair of walking shoes, the good weather is right around the corner. Get outdoors, walk in your neighborhood. You would be surprised at the people you meet.

Get yourself a library card and check out the calendar of events for the month and choose one and ask someone to go with you or if you have to go alone and make yourself talk to someone--lecture, movie, book signing.

Join a Church--often a lot have groups for the grieving. Join one committee at the Church and after services see if one parishioner wants to go for coffee.

Volunteer work--there are so many wonderful organizations.

If you are able to work part-time or seasonal. Something fun, maybe work at a flowers shop for Easter. Start small, with little changes.

Honestly, some days I feel like I am going to War because you have to go up against the list of things to do in 24 hours per day. I just finished reading the book the 36-hour day.

But, you need to have some fun. If you can't afford a cruise how about a ferry ride somewhere or a retreat center. A lot of denominations have Grief retreats, you don't necessarily have to be their particular denomination.

When you depart on the retreat ask (2) people is it alright if I contact you and exchange cell or emails. In other words, start building a new group of friends that are not the CNA, Visiting Nurses, Doctor's, the tech at the blood draw lab etc. You see what I mean. This is really how we all live when caregiving. This is who we meet.

The local Y or some type of pool in your neighborhood will get you moving and out of the house. I have a great support group from a pool. Last week one of the ladies lost her husband. We all got out of the pool and when she entered we all hugged her gave her a book, had her over for coffee, sent cards. I told her you are not alone here, you have us. I know you have family but you have us here too. You can make a little family in an apartment building, your Church family and exercise family.

There are a lot of travel groups that you can join in on. I know it's hard. I am in it right now but I bought a violin, am studying Italian, work at night and make sure I write a check each month to my pension so I won't be living on popcorn in my old age. My siblings are literally traveling the world--I am not supposed to know, while I do all of the work. I honestly think they are hoping I will crumble after Mom passes because then they can say it was too much for me and that way they won't feel guilty for not helping out. There's no big estate so it's not like I am going to cash in.

But I have a plan afterwards. I am NOT going to be the girl in the market who took care of her mother and when you meet her she shows you a picture of her cat. There's a whole big world out there and our Lord will always be with you.
But, we need people too, and not online. The technology has its place.

You have to have a balance with these grief workshops too. Buy some flowers, a chocolate bar, turn on Kenny G, usher at local theater group to get in for free. Just get out of the house...Enough said!
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Reply to Ireland
LilMelba Feb 28, 2023
THIS IS TRUE: "You are so busy when you are caregiving that it's almost like being at a command post. Your routine is ingrained in you. You're centered and have your "list of things to do" and then just crash in a chair once Mom is put to bed at night."

Sending you PRAYERS and HUGS Jaxee.
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Start small - when I'm feeling alone I've found that just going to a coffee shop, the mall, a park or some other busy public place to be around other people is helpful. And taking in some form of exercise outside with as much nature as is available to you has been proven to uplift the spirit.
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Reply to cwillie

I can relate.
Add previously untreated medical conditions which exploded into the mix, having no family left for support, nor a spouse, and .... it's all very sad. When you're ready to cry the minute you wake up..... Well, it's hard. That's where I am today.

My heart goes out to you Jaxzee. REALLY. I've been through so much in recent years, just one thing after another, loved ones and family were all taken, an awful car accident left me unable to walk for nearly a year at one point. I can honestly say that my compassion and empathy for others has increased exponentially as my formerly very happy life became more and more sad.

I definitely get what you are saying. Esp after a multi-year whirlwind of being there, caregiving and looking out for someone else, at the expense of your own health and life (no complaints from me about that though...I'd do it all again and would do anything to still have my mom like she was when 2020 began)...... I suppose I'm just tying to let you know I feel for you and I DO understand!

How you're feeling is especially normal after the loss of someone SO significant!! No doubt. Grieving is a process and there's no way through it,..except through it!

The time-frames and order of going thru grief's various stages are different for everyone. A grief support group or grief classes may be of great help. I know it was for me going way back to when my only sibling (younger brother) tragically lost his life right before his 21st b-day. Can I ask if you're a person of faith? Because I can absolutely say that God has helped me through everything in recent years. Sometimes in surprising ways I didn't expect. And I'm trusting He will do that again. If you're not a person of faith, this may sound crazy, but I truly KNOW that God has my life in His hands & will never leave or abandon me. I don't just say this in theory. I've lived it and seen some amazing ways He's worked.

Does that bring me comfort when I wake up so sad,...and feeling miserable like today? Does it stop tears from silently flowing down my cheeks as I type? No. Because I need to do better at reminding myself of the things I just told you,...and explaining to you is helping to remind me.

Bottom line, It's hard to feel alone in the world. Everyone has family, or someone. I have God, and that's a BIG thing. And I'll have whatever angel's He plans to send my way to get through what I need to now. Give yourself time Jaxzee. Try to be kind to yourself. This season will pass. Feel free to direct message me if you would like.
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Reply to Bandy7
LilMelba Feb 27, 2023
Hey you, things will all work out. Praying for you.
Jax, I am so sorry for your loss.

May The Lord give you grieving mercies, peace, strength and comfort for this new season in your life.

I just lost my mom and I don't think anyone can imagine the struggles of losing your mom, until you have lost your mom.

I think it is the most complicated relationship a female will ever have and it takes time to process all the emotions tied to this human called mom.

Great big warm hug! You will get through this difficult time. Be kind to yourself and spoil yourself a bit right now.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
Live247 Feb 24, 2023
your comments are so true. My mom died one year ago. We had a complicated relationship all our lives which complicates my grieving. I came here on agingcare today to search for answers to some of my self-questions. I appreciate your comments.
My mom passed in November of last year and I have struggled to figure out what the new norm is.

Someone told me once that there are events that we have in our life that are milestones. Those milestones become a moment in time where we use it as a benchmark. "That happened before mom died or that happened after mom died". We gauge our life by using that moment as a benchmark.

That is the way I feel. I did end up utilizing the expertise of the hospice counselors and I am not, by any means, saying that I have found my new normal. I am still wrestling with "should have, could have"....I am still flinching at 3:00 each day since that is when I went to visit her.

But every day I get just a little better. I am forcing myself to reach out to others. I am engaging in new things (Ireland has great suggestions).

This is not a quick fix. You can't snap your finger and be back to where you were before you were a caregiver. That experience will always be apart of you. What you have to do now is event what that new person can become....and allow the caregiver experience to be part of that new person. Sounds complicated but we are all sums of our past experiences. We learn and grow from bad and good.

Stretch yourself. I am doing that....not easy but can be done.
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Reply to Msblcb
InFamilyService Mar 5, 2023
Having gone through the same experience myself I completely understand. In a short time of 4 years my sick and elderly parents moved back to town for me & sister to care for. Sister became very ill with covid ( hospitalized & ventilator) so it was all on me. During the last of my mother's life through a stroke I found out I had a congenital heart defect & needed surgery. Mom passed Nov. 2022.

I sure did sleep a lot at first. You need to give your mind, body & soul lots of rest. Think of the good memories & yes journal. Let go of the wishes to have done things differently. Love and forgive yourself. No one can change the past and I feel sure you gave the very best care. .

I am now recovered from my health crisis and setting small goals for myself. Getting back to a simple yoga routine, getting green time everyday & eating healthy/clean.
Working on spending more time with husband & projects for our home. Reconnecting with a few friends. Seeing more of our grandchildren. This is a new chapter in my life but we still have his 94 year old aunt that needs care. She has everyday sitters so it does not feel as draining.

It does take time. Be patient with yourself.
I, like others who have responded, know exactly what you are going through. I was a son who take care of his mom for a number of years. We had a daily routine that worked well for both of us. Set time getting up. Set time going to bed. It was only after I said "good night" to her that I would sit down to take a breather. I was lucky, as for most of our journey, mom was very cooperative and appreciative of my efforts. I was commended by her doctor, nursing staff, and even her hairdresser for the way I treated her. As I tell everyone, while it was the most challenging job I ever had: physically, mentally, and emotionally, it was also the most rewarding. She was able to remain in the family home up to the day before she passed at age 93. I was proud to have been with her as she completed the journey to the sunset of her life.

Suddenly, I had no daily routine. Funeral arrangements, and finalizing the estate kept me busy over the next month. I also had to deal with the fact I needed to start earning an income again. Through luck, I was able to find a job in the field I worked in years ago. At my age, I thought I hit the jackpot. I would be able to retire from this position and had a daily routine again. Well, to my surprise, I was let go for not being a "good fit" (I may never know the real reason). I am back to looking for employment and am experiencing the same feeling of exhaustion I had as a caregiver. What a roller coaster year it has been!

Mom was my number one advisor. She supported me and my siblings (who were not involved in her care) through life's ups and downs. I still say "good night" to her portrait and whenever I feel down, I look at a video I keep on my cell phone of the last time she had her hair done (Two weeks before she passed). She is smiling and when I ask if she enjoyed the visit, she replies: "Absolutely!"

I concur with many of the comments already provided. We will always grieve for the loss of our loved ones, and the process of moving forward will be different for everyone. Just knowing there are others who have experienced the same helps as we move forward with our own life journey.
Helpful Answer (6)
JimRWeyMA Mar 5, 2023
Your response brought tears to my eyes. I am one of six children, I have three sisters and two brothers. I am the fourth son and primary caregiver to my dear 84 year old mother who has dementia. I assumed the role of primary caregiver to my mom when my dad passed away almost 4 years ago, he was her rock. Like you, I have been the one to sacrifice in order to keep my mom at home in our family home, where she's lived 45 years. I've cut my hours at work, and basically given up most of my life in order to take care of my mom. However, I am not complaining, caring for my mom is a true labor of live, it's given my life meaning and purpose. I tell myself everyday that someday I will miss these moments. I am coordinating a legacy chat with our local VNA that will allow me to talk to my mom about her life, memories, etc. This will be captured on video for us to always cherish when she's gone. I'm planning this in the spring or early summer so my mom can be sitting outside on our deck surrounded by her beautiful flowers in her window boxes that I prepare for her every year. I really can't imagine my life without my mom, but sadly I know that day will someday soon come. I don't want any regrets in the care I've given my mom, I just want her to be happy and comfortable in her home surrounded by those she loves. I can tell you were a wonderful son to your mom and I hope you take comfort in her beautiful memory and the wonderful care you showed her. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it touched me deeply. I wish you all the best in this next chapter in your life, stay strong, and know your mom is always with you. God Bless.
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I’m sorry for your loss. You’ve been through a long and hard journey of caregiving and what you’re experiencing now is perfectly normal. Consider attending a GriefShare group, there are many and don’t cost, very helpful to a lot of people. As you emerge from this phase it will become time to consider what you want from the next stage of life and consider new possibilities. We all need hope and something to look forward to, allow yourself to begin thinking on this. For myself, I did a lot of volunteer work and then went back to work part time in a field completely different from anything I’d done before. I wish you comfort and peace
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Reply to Daughterof1930
Isthisrealyreal Feb 23, 2023
Sorry for your loss, Jaxzee. Unless they have walked the path no one knows the lonely, all-encompassing duties of the caregiver. May you find peace somehow. I don't have advice, only sending a hug.
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Reply to Tynagh

I'm so sorry for the loss of your mom. Grief is natural and has to be experienced. Your life was filled with care giving. There's now a huge hole left. The loneliness will cure itself once you are able to find other things to keep you busy. What helped me first was signing up for a tai chi class at the senior center because I was spending 4 or 5 hours a day, when not at my job, just sitting with a feeling of emptiness. Those were the hours that I had been with my mom or taking care of her house, finances, and you well know, all of it. There was no sense of relief, just a nothingness that was so sad. Also, I had not taken great care of my own health, so I had to get busy on that. Eventually the hours were filled. I called friends who I hadn't been seeing much of over the years and started going places with them. I of course still grieve, but feel her presence, coming right along with me, encouraging me to be myself again. Your mom would want that for you too. If you can't do it for yourself yet, do it for her.
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Reply to ArtistDaughter

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