I find myself questioning myself now that my mother has been relieved of her earthly burdens (5/31/2020). On one hand, I know I have already mourned the loss of my mother in the previous few years as she became less herself and more of a child for me to look after, and I did cry at her passing. There are moments when I profoundly feel the loss, but overall, I am relieved for her and for me. It has been such a welcome relief to be able to focus on the good memories before the overwhelming stress of caregiving took over my life. I loved my mother dearly, but she was a tough cookie and made caregiving difficult. For the last 18 months I have felt like I was navigating a mine field every time we interacted. I guess I am worried that I am fooling myself and grief will overwhelm me at some point.

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I think those who suffer from guilt the least have it the most easy at the end. I don't really feel any guilt where my bro is concerned. We were so close all our lives, understood one another so well, there was no leftover "stuff". We were raised by parents who loved us, realized all humans are unique and have limitations, but who encouraged us to do our best and be our best selves. I think then, if you have done your best and if you have suffered for the losses you saw your Mom endure, and were honest about the losses it meant in your OWN life, and there was nothing ahead but loss, then this time contains relief along with grief. People on the forum often talk about guilt. I can't imagine where that comes from. Is it religion? Is it how a parent raised them making them daily feel not "good enough"? I keep saying "If you intentional physically or mentally hurt someone you can feel guilty; otherwise perhaps you are using the wrong word".
I DO grieve the recent loss of my bro. I made a diary I can "write letters" to him with, make collages. But I will tell you also that I feel relief for him. He was frank to tell me he didn't really want a long slow slide into what Lewy's dementia is. He was "ready" to go. And in his last days I literally prayed for him to be allowed to go. I am relieved he need suffer no more in the slow slide that would take away his dignity and strength a cut at a time.
I felt the same when my Dad passed. A good long life of a good and decent man. We all did our best. I went outside in the cold air and took a long breath and thought "I don't have to be afraid for you any more; I can be at peace; nothing can ever hurt you again".
I think there are times we get poleaxed by pain, just miss the person so, think of something we want to tell him or her about, think of something funny or sweet they said, think about a moment when we failed and wish we had done better, and we just utter their names, and miss them so.
But you and I seem to grieve in the same way. They did their best. We did our best. This is the end that comes to each man and each woman. They cannot be hurt again. We did the best we could, and the agony that is the end is OVER.
Perhaps it is just a function of how we are made. Perhaps we are of a more pragmatic or practical nature? I'm not certain.
Hugs to you.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
Siouxann Jun 24, 2020
I am sorry to hear of the loss of your brother AlvaDeer. Your posts have been of great comfort and insight to me since I have been on this forum.
Thank you for staying on and continuing to share your wisdom!
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I don’t think grief will overwhelm you down the road. My mom died a couple years ago after testing my patience for years trying to help her and dad. They were so stubborn, refused any help, except from me of course, and I was exhausted when she died.

It took me months to get over the last years of anger and frustration and remember what a good mother and person she had been. I’ve grieved in bits and pieces since, never a sobbing breakdown, just moments here and there, looking at old pictures etc. My mom had a hard life. I think about that more these days. It shaped who she was and how she navigated through her life.

Im still looking after my dad, he’s on hospice in a nursing home now with advanced dementia.

Good luck to you. It takes time.
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Reply to Windyridge
Jasmine9 Jun 27, 2020
my mother has vascular dementia and it has been horrendous trying to help her for years...........very stubborn........resists suggestions........insisted on walking so unsteadily with a cane........told me I'm not being "encouraging" she was recently hospitalized for a UTI and then moved to rehab as the Palliative Care Nurse at the hospital didn't do her job when I asked for hospice..........she didn't know of the terminal diagnosis of worsening vascular dementia.........they apologized profusely when I called to complain, but really that doesn't help me.........they said the nurse was not able to do an appropriate evaluation of my mom at the time...........they're so sorry and feel awful..........but now I have to watch this useless PT in Rehab, for a 94 year old woman with a terminal diagnosis...........she's bedridden............has qualified for outpatient hospice, but I'll need extra help if I take her home..............I pray for some relief from the misery of this has been so difficult
Exhaustion also plays a part in a Caregivers grief.
We have mourned the loss for sometimes years while our loved one slowly disappears. Bystanders and sometimes family members that have not been as involved find the death more "sudden".
We are numb.
We grapple with not just the death of the person we loved, we cared for but our own "death" of sorts. We are no longer caregivers, a role that has been a major part of who we are. We no longer have to look at our watch when we are shopping and think...the caregiver watching him has to leave in 20 minutes and I have to get through this wake up at midnight and again at 3 or 4 AM to change him and realize there is no one to can actually sit and read a book or go to a movie but you are still physically and emotionally exhausted that you fall asleep reading the book, or you will pay $15.00 to see the movie and you fall asleep...
No one can tell you how to grieve or for how long. This is a personal thing that will happen on your time no one else's.
Do not be surprised if while driving down the road one day a song will come on that for some reason will trigger a memory and you will start crying. The same with an aroma, a snippet from a commercial, or something someone says.
Time. The old saying Time Heals All Wounds....
Like any wound grief can be raw, red, angry but it begins to slowly (and some people heal faster) fade and heal. Some wounds leave a large scar some smaller but even the scars fade but if you look they are always there, others may not see them but we know they are there. It is the memories that we carry that make us who we are.
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Reply to Grandma1954

Condolences on your loss. You may not feel much more than relief, or you may. My mother was mentally ill all her life and that was a burden to me. As she aged I became her POA medical and financial which increased the burden. I did love my mother and respected the good things about her but felt nothing but relief when she finally passed. aged 106. Life with her was always a mine field. Now I am able to recall more of the good than the bad (which was more plentiful) and that is a blessing.

Their is no right or wrong way to grieve. I grieved the lack of a nurturing mother all my life. Grief becomes problematic when people get stuck in anger, guilt or etc. Sounds like you are doing very well.
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Reply to golden23
Jasmine9 Jun 27, 2020
I'm still going through the process of watching my mother's been going on for years and can be exhausting.........I pray for some closure to this, and to finally get some solace for me and my mom
I am so sorry for your loss.

May God grant you grieving mercies and strength during this difficult time.

I think that it is wonderful that you can remember the good times before you started losing your mom. It says a tremendous amount about the love you shared with her. I never had the break down after I lost my grandmother, I grieved while she was alive, leaving me one brain cell at a time over a decade. I was happy that her struggle with AD was finally over and she could finally be at peace.

Take care of you now and know that she is finally at peace.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal

Amazing, and courageous responses. Couldn’t have added a thing! I will say, I wish for all of us that I knew a healthier and happier way to face the end. My journal holds many memoirs of days I felt I couldn’t find the nose on my face, much less patience for my Mom to just be free.
Only grateful for who she was, and what she taught me.
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Reply to pnutbutrnchoc

From your description I’d say your grieving is very appropriate. I also felt like I lost my mother twice. The first time was when she had such an enormous stroke that took away her every ability and suddenly I went from having a mom that I did a lot with, was very close to emotionally, to having a mom who was unable to do anything and emotionally detached. Then four years later she died and I lost her all over again. There have definitely been moments of intense loss, but there also have been times of almost gratitude that the torture she went through is passed. And over time, the smiles at the memories have become more than the tears. As for asking if there’s a wrong way to grieve, most will say no. My thought is yes, I’ve seen some who just can’t get to a place of acceptance, who can’t move forward, no matter the time that’s passed. I don’t think that grief is healthy for anyone
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Reply to Daughterof1930

I wondered why I was not crying/grieving so much and was as concerned as you are now until my sweet cousin, who had lost her father a few years prior told me that I had already grieved my mother while watching her deteriorate with all of her health issues and doing all that I knew to do to get proper help for her. I realized my cousin was right. I grieved her as I sat by her bedside for the last 5 years of her life listening to ramblings and trying to figure out what she was saying. I talked with doctors, got caregivers to assist, and she was admitted to nursing home. Yes, I grieved her gradually all along.
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Reply to elaineSC

You have some good answers here. Like others, I think you are doing well. We all grieve at our own speed and in our way. With the stresses of caregiving come a lot of grieving over what has been lost. In a very real sense, you have already grieved a great deal while in the midst of caregiving for someone who has changed significantly because of illness. There is even a medical term for it--"anticipatory grief."

If you now find activities and relationships that bring you joy, don't feel guilty about it. We all have a right to live our lives and choose the purposes and people with whom and for whom we live.

Prayers and hope for the future
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Reply to BritishCarer

My condolences, "guiltridden."

Please let me say, "FORGIVE YOURSELF!!" You have no reason to feel guilty because you are only human and you did your duty with love. BE PROUD! Imagine how many "children" don't even give a damn about their helpless ill parents.

My mom died on June 9th, 2020 and I feel what you're feeling. Dementia robbed her of her faculties and we often felt like we were dealing with the "terrible twos" with our 94-year-old baby. Temper tantrums, favorite word "no", and of course the inability to use the bathroom.

Any time I might have felt like not doing something for Mom, I had to remind myself of the countless acts of love and sacrifice she made for us. I asked myself, "How many dirty diapers of mine did she change? How many times did she nurse a sick son or daughter back to health? And how many times did I hurt her and disappoint her as a rotten teenager?" My duty was never in question.

But I often said, "This person is our mother, but this is not Mom!" Quite simply put, she was ill. It's quite normal to lose patience and raise a voice when every conversation is interrupted and after you've heard the same question for the umpteenth time. e.g. "For the umpteenth time, it's 12:15. Wait....12:16!" I must say it always broke my heart a little after I would raise my voice in exasperation (and to make it easier for her to hear) and the poor little sweet old lady would look so sad and say: "Please don't yell at me, I was only asking." :(

And don't forget, some other folks just can't handle the stress of caregiving. After one day my mind was as confused as hers was and a stiff drink was in order. (Only for me, of course!)

My sister is an angel. She is retired and moved Mom into her home and, in addtion to the formidable existing stresses of her daily life, she cared for our mother 24/7 for more than 5 years. She was the one changing diapers and leaning awful messes. Despsite my best efforts to relieve her when possible, she was so dedicated to our mother that she rarely left her side 24/7. She is the most selfless and patient person I know, and those "minefield moments" were frequent. But the love was never in question. I still don't know how she did it.

Now my sister has her life back just like my mother wanted (and yours, too, I'll bet.)
But it's a big adjustment and it hasn't sunk in yet. And of course, we all miss her, but I feel we did our grieving for 5 years. Mom was ready and not afraid of the inevitable so no one was more relived than she was. She had a strong faith that death brings new life.

So really, go easy on yourself. You did your best when thrown into a chaotic situation and you responded the only way you knew how, like the rest of us who step up to the plate. Often with little or none of the help we may expect from family. You lived up to your responsibility to your mom instead of abandoning your elders like so many others do. THEY, NOT YOU, should feel guilty!

The suffering is over. Hallelujah! Enjoy your life and don't worry you're not grieving enough. Because as HILLARDMH wisely says: "There is no right or wrong way to grieve." Caregivers have to develop a thick skin to defend our own sanity so feeling de-sensitized can't just be shut off. It fades.

But don't be alarmed if one day sooner or later, you bust out weeping out of the blue! Maybe triggered by some little thing you didn't expect like a song, or a memory triggered by a glimpse of one of your mother's personal items, or maybe by nothing at all. And it will be the best cry you ever had! But please certainly don't fault yourself if it never happens that way like it did to me years after my dad died.

Everyone is not as able or as strong or caring as you are. SO SHED THE GUILT, "guiltridden"! You have earned it!

Here's to happier times ahead!
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to mojo61
shad250 Jun 27, 2020
That is beautiful. Thank you.

I am sorry for the loss of your mom.
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