I recently lost my mother. I am conflicted by my feelings of relief and anger. How have others coped?

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For the past 8 years I have been the sole family member caregiver to my mother. I was the POA and executor of her estate and healthcare POA. My brother and sister did nothing. I have been grieving the loss of my mother during this time while also enjoying a new aspect of her personality. She became less bossy and more funny. More appreciative. At least in the middle stages. The last couple of years I was on a constant death watch, even though it did not come for two years. I am so relieved to not have this constant 24/7, 365 day stress in my life and at the same time I am a bit lost with nothing to do. The people I saw every day, her caregivers at the facility she was in, the other family members who gathered at the lunch table to feed their care receivers. The meetings with management and nurses to go over my mother's progress, or lack thereof. These were all daily routines. Reasons to get out of bed. A sort of self motivating and self congratulatory way of life. I did not ask for it, and I am ambivalent about whether I would have given it to someone else, but it leaves me with a sense of loss I have never experienced before. Yes, I have lost or quit jobs, but I always knew I would have to get another one. But now at 60, having not worked for 8 years and having received a bit of an inheritance, I find myself alone (not married and no kids, no religious affiliation and in a town I don't want to be in) and not wanting to burden those around me with my grief, or feelings of guilt to want my mother gone. I think I will seek out the hospice counseling that has been offered. It has taken me a while to get to this place of need of counseling because so many feelings are starting to arise. I was just wondering how others have coped.

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Dear sdbike...my condolences to you. Although my father hasn’t died yet, the other day I was thinking how different it will be when he does in terms of not having everything to deal with what all I did. It is an adjustment to have that part of your life suddenly end along with the fact that your mother died. And being her caregiver was a part of your identity. Give it time and I’m glad you going to take advantage of hospice counseling. They will certainly be in a position to offer guidance. I hope you will find a way to carry on and even move to community where you can begin a social life again. You may even want to consider volunteer work eventually. Best to you..and hugs.
Hi there: I very much understand where you are coming from. I went through a similar situation with my father 12 years ago. It's a long story but I was also responsible for the handling of his care as my mother and 5 siblings simply couldn't make any decisions. Unlike you, however my father died in a nursing home approximately 8 months after he entered one. During that time period, I had to handle his financial affairs and any issues that would arise with social workers, etc. It all fell on me. At that time I was also dealing with 2 teenagers at home. I am now dealing with the same issues with my mother who is currently in her 4th nursing facility in 6 months. It is physically and emotionally draining and since I retired (also 6 months ago) my mother's situation has been like a job to me. Now that she is somewhat stable and will probably remain at the facility she is in until she passes, I am almost bored if you can believe that. No more calls from social workers, doctors, family meetings, etc. I always remember getting the call that my Dad died. There was almost a sense of relief in that (I hate saying that) and I have actually felt the same way about my mother. You just want it to be over but then when it is, you feel a tremendous amount of guilt. You dedicated 8 years of your life to your mom and for that you should be commended. She was lucky to have you. It sounds like now you need to take care of you. I highly suggest counseling as I recently sought out the help of a therapist to help me with what all of this has done to me. I also suggest exercise. I joined my local YMCA and have taken part in many of the classes. Now that you no longer have the social interaction that you experienced with your mother, you need to find it elsewhere. Staying active is key though I have to admit that many days I also struggle to get out of bed. Please note that I am also 60 and quite honestly, hitting that number this year was somewhat traumatizing for me and made me really take a look at my life. Many days I find myself quite depressed about life in general which is why I sought out the help of a therapist. I really hope you do take advantage of the hospice counseling, You need to take care of you now. I understand how hard it is to move forward but somewhat we must. I wish you the best of luck.
Okay, if you want a job, even at your age, check into senior services. Here in Ohio, we have a program that trains seniors how to re-enter the work force, how do update their work experiences and so on as well as teach you how to interview. It's amazing how many jobs are out there for people our age. (I'm 72). If you don't want to work, look into working for free. Volunteer work can help you feel you are doing something with your life. Would you want to volunteer in a nursing home? Maybe in a senior center or a senior day care? They all could do with your help. If you don't want to do that, there a 1000's of places that need volunteers to help. Usher at a local little theater, work at a food bank.... you name it, it's out there. And it will give more purpose to your life. Oh, and even hospitals need volunteers, from rocking babies to delivering flowers. Time to re-start your life and I wish you the best.
Dear sdbike,
All the feelings at the same time. I found a number of ways to process all the feelings.
- When I was cleaning out the house and it all got to be too much, I would drop what I was doing and go outside and walk. I had to move to process all the feelings, and to get away from the intensity for a bit, to find my strength again.
-And I would “talk” to her in my head. It helped me to vent what I was going through. Pushing the feelings away doesn’t help me. I have to feel it to get through it.
-Painting also helps me. Just pick a color and paint whatever you feel like.
There was a huge void that I had to be with for a while before I moved forward to fill it.
It’s a difficult journey.... and a rich one.
I love this site. You all are like me. One thing I know is to "let time have time". I heard that once, and never really understood it. We all want instant answers, and it really doesn't work that way. I too will have to place my little mom, soon due to money situation. I go there alone 3 times a week while everyone else lives their life. I have been given the chance to see Adeline as Adeline. I wish I had her as a young friend to run around with. She actually has a wit. It's hard. I hate looking at the filthy floors, shoveling snow, buying groceries, but this was put in my path for some reason, and I'm sure in the future it's reason will become clear. Take care, and have a healthy, and blessed 2018🌻
I will not share my story or how we may have had very similar experiences. I will just say for all the years you have given to this journey in your life, one I am sure you would not have expected nor wanted, 'time' is what it is going to take. Time on your own schedule. During this time, follow where your heart takes you. This time and the time that follows is now yours. Yours to live the way you would have wanted to live. Take time and be kind to yourself.
sdbike, you mentioned one thing that has not been addressed so far, and that is that you are living in a town you don't want to be in. I can relate because I am where I am now only because my sister wanted to move our parents here to be close to her so I moved here to help take care of them. My father is now gone and my mother is bedridden in a nursing home. I don't plan to stay here after my mother is gone. Did you like someplace you lived before much better? Or would you like to be someplace completely different from anywhere you have ever lived? Do you have any specific places in mind? You could use this time to help figure out where you want to be, or if you already know then you can start planning your move there.

Depending upon your financial situation, you now have some freedom to travel. Are there any things you would have wanted to do during those 8 years of caring that you had to postpone? Others have suggested various opportunities for volunteering, etc., which are all fine, but are you a person who would rather start a business, found a new organization, write a book, build something, or engage in another activity that will use your specific interests, talents, knowledge and skills more intensely? Would caregiving/charitable activities appeal to you or would you prefer to put this completely behind you to pursue something completely unrelated? I recall reading where someone on this site said or quoted "it is never too late to change the trajectory of one's life". People sometimes joke that there isn't a tag on one's toe with a certain occupation printed on it, but if you just happen to find a tag there you now have the freedom and opportunity to write on it whatever you want.
Grief counseling sounds like a great idea. My dad's hospice offered counseling too and I declined. I wish I had sought it out when it was available (and free). But at the time I just wanted to be left alone. I regret that decision.
60 is young-ish! If you are an animal lover, consider adopting a dog, cat, ... fish. A pet is like a part-time job of daily walking and/or playing, training, grooming, etc. And I think hospice counseling is a great idea. Also, get a hobby. Hobbies are not necessarily expensive. Bird watching, for example, is virtually free. Use your library as a resource for finding things in which you are interested. Volunteer at a food pantry or delivering meals to shut-ins. Consider taking a class at your community college. And please remember to be kind to yourself.
Sdbike, we're very similar. I'm single, never married, no kids, not religious. My mom died this year after me taking care of her for 15 years. I did the very best I could for mom (and dad as well) so I have no regrets. When mom died, I felt so much relief and peace. That stage of my life is over.

Right after mom died, I had lots to do - clean out her apt, close out her estate, etc. Now, seven months later, I'm still figuring out what to do next. I had a non-profit job that ended in August. So now I'm doing a LOT of just watching TV, sitting, working crossword puzzles, and not much of anything. I'm doing some exercise. I'm doing some volunteering, driving seniors to doctors' appointments. I want to do more, but I'm drawn to doing nothing right now. I think it's those years and years of doing so much that now I just want to do nothing. And it's winter and cold and I feel like I'm hibernating. And that's OK. When I'm ready, I'll do more. I don't regret the time I spent taking care of my folks, I couldn't have done anything else.

I agree that if you need it, counseling is very good. So is volunteering. Just take your time and trust that you'll come back to your center and figure out what you're meant to do. Sixty is YOUNG these days! You can work or volunteer or start a new business (I'm contemplating that), or travel, or start a MeetUp group for something you love to do...the world is your oyster. You just have to believe that!

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