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My mom died 6 weeks ago. She was in assisted living and I was there much of the time with her. Suddenly she developed pneumonia and 5 days later she was gone. I can't seem to get past this. I was with her when she died and the image will forever stay in my mind. I'm depressed and experiencing panic attacks every day. I have no desire to move on with my day. I do take antidepressants but they obviously are not kicking in. Mom was 92 and I know I should be thankful that I had her as long as I did, but it doesn't help how I feel.


Is this a common reaction? How long does this grief last and how can I help myself?

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I'm so sorry for your loss, aferrino. You can take comfort that she lived for 92 years. Many children can't same the same for their parents, sadly.
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Aferrino, I'm very sorry for your loss, and same to everyone who has lost a parent. Even though its been happening since time began, losing our Mother is a loss like no other. No matter what type of relationships were forged, losing the person who facilitated our entrance in to this life has got to be one of the harshest things of a lifetime.
I lost my Mom late last year at 94. There was even a point in her remaining months that I told myself & close friends I "was ready" for her to go, as she was facing health scares, not happy about her recent move to indie living from her happy apartment, was never huge on being a content person... its been 10 months since her passing and I still miss her so very, very much.
As has been said here, when we're caregivers for them, even more goes in to the equation of loss. You said you spent a lot of time with her - how many times did you hear your identity as "the daughter"? It was my ID through many instances especially throughout her move, emerg room visits, during her hospital stay, physio rehab, and finally, at the nursing home. It was how I intro'd myself for God's sake.. "I'm the daughter" -- like it was the code words to begin discussions, the dissemination of information, all that stuff.
Before that, things like the knowing smiles from people in the grocery stores, the department stores, driving down the street when out with Mom... there goes a Mother and her daughter.
Its quite the re-adjustment, this getting to the new normal. Its the next phase.
Please be okay with your grief, okay? Picture yourself as a good friend.. what would you tell your good friend with this situation?
It doesn't matter how old they grew to be... doesn't make it any easier. It means you had them in your life even longer, to hopefully grow close to, or learn things about.
If you are dealing with her items at all... another tough part of this adjustment.
I think someone has posted here about the 7 stages of grieving - if not, please look it up-- it may explain a few things for you. Like, how you think its Tuesday the 18th but actually its Sunday the 25th.
Things will get better. Its part of being human; having a heart. I'm glad you reached out to this forum.
Thank you, Aferrino.
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1nephew Sep 30, 2018
What a beautiful, wise & gentle reply. I am especially moved by what you said about identity; it really is a whole other dimension of loss when someone very important to us dies. I'm trying to prepare for the impending death of my mother, emotionally and practically. I want to resolve as much as I can before she dies, so I don't have unimportant stuff to attend to while I'm trying to adjust to her final death. (There have been so many losses- for all of us- and the really important ones have felt like small deaths of their own, e.g., loss of independent mobility, loss of the ability to care for her body in the most intimate ways. Not being able to scratch an itch, brush and floss her own teeth, get to the bathroom on her own...loss of the ability to perceive night and day. Each loss is an opportunity to grieve along the agonizingly slow march of this cruel, often merciless illness that is Dementia. And yet, I am grateful that she can still verbalize being in pain, being cold or hot, wanting her eyedrops or a drink of water. That she can still recognize her children. Especially that.

It is ironic that after years trying to separate from my mother, to create boundaries so that my life could be truly my own, and so that I need not carry the sadness she carried but could not work through, that life would find me back where I began...I wonder now how much of my sadness is really hers, as she tries to continue to deny an emotional life. I have been trying to write- and post- something about my experiences these days. Your note to Aferrino got me finally to take a risk. Thank you, truly.
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Give yourself 2 to 3 months then seek professional help - you knew this was coming but maybe you have some ostrich in you that doesn't want to accept she is gone

HOWEVER STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP !! - you have done all you could for her & probably more than she would have asked for if you asked her 20 years ago - my mom is in her last days & I am grateful to have her for this long - she is 92 also - 4 days ago she grabbed my hand & kissed it [I think & want to believe] then said thank you - but she has severe dementia & I lost her a long time ago in bits & pieces so I have premourned [I may have made a new word here] her already

So I am going to play 'mom' to you & give you 'a slap upside your head' as we call it [because we're the same age +/-] - unless she was a very selfish person then she would be saying thanks for all you have done, thanks for being there to the very end, thanks for putting yourself out for me, NOW MOVE ON & MAKE ME PROUD

Then next do something she always wanted to do & never got to - so go snorkling with some fish, go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, go to a historic place she talked about & never made it, etc - use this as your final project for her memory & when you get there say out loud 'this is for you mom' - if you have her ashes with you okay but the point is to remove something from her bucket list for her as a LAST THING YOU CAN DO FOR HER

Now make her proud & move on with your life knowing you did the best you could do for her - this is your time to do something for yourself because you don't want the rest of the family to say after you're gone 'she never amount to much after her mom died .... such a pity' & such a waste of a vibrant person's life [as I see you] - I am sorry you lost your mom but instead being depressed rather rejoice that you had her so long when many don't have that priviledge

Hugs from all of in the same position - M
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I am sending condolences on the loss of your mother. You have come to the right place for support. You may want to find a grief support group.
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My mother passed on my birthday two months ago. I feel the same way, it is hard. I was her primary caregiver for the last few years and she was my only parent for 40 years, since my father passed. The rock that was holding the family together. I miss even checking on her to see if she is ok. I probably am going to have to look for a counseling group. Right now I am poring myself into other projects, but it is hard.
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You have my sympathy. It is not long since this overwhelming experience, and you are probably still dealing with the details of belongings, paperwork etc. There are so many things to keep you focussed on her death and your grief, because it is still taking up so much of your life. My experience is that I have mourned my mother’s death for twenty years now, but the time when it is strong is now very little of my life. I think of grief (and anger) as being in a box. At first the box is big in your life, and the lid springs open easily. As time passes, the box shrinks and the lid is usually shut. However the same grief is still there inside the box.

Try to build up the other things in your life (your children? earning a living? travel?). I am sure that you know you need to do this, but it takes time and a lot of self control to make it happen. Best wishes.
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I am very sorry for Your great loss Afferino and for all of Us Who have endured the great loss of Our Mothers We can feel Your pain. The pain of loosing a loved One is dreadful tough but the pain of loosing Our Mothers was unbearable for me too. Grief remains for a very long time because We adored Our oldest and dearest Friend Our Mother. We lived together and We were very cloce but I found from being Moms Primary and sole Carer 24/7 for three years an even greater trust and closeness grew between Mother and me.
When Mom died my World crashed and it took ten months before I could feel the joy coming back into my Life again. Cry when You feel like You want to cry, let it go and take Your time as the World will still be here when You are ready to kick on with Your Life, and You will. As a Christian I really do believe once I lead a good and Holy Life here on Earth that I will be united with Mother and All my love ones when I die. How Blessed We were to have Our Mothers in Our Lives
for all of those years. Rest in Peace.
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staceyb Sep 26, 2018
Johnjoe, you are the Sweetest Mam Ever! I Love the relationship you had with your Mum, the closeness you shared. What a Lucky Mother you had to have had such a Devoted Son in you!

I feel very much the same way you do about my own parents, taken from us far too soon. I miss them every day, but Thank God they left me with 5 Wonderful Siblings, who each hold many of the great characteristics of each of them, to carry me through my grief.

I am so often saddened by those who did not have the wonderful parents that you and I were blessed with, but I firmly believe that you make your family here on earth, and they don't necessarily have to be those we are related to.

For those still in the throes of grief, there is unfortunately no specific timeline for grieving, you Must put one foot forward each day, reach out to others, and never be ashamed to seek assistance from your Dr for help with medication either, to get us over the hump.

God Bless all of us who are grieving the loss of a parent!
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Honey, Midkid is spot on. Going through the same thing on my end. I know I will be the one to get that dreaded call and I have also tried to prepare but nothing will actually help, I'll admit it. So I commend you for having to face this as fast as it happened. My Mom asked me to make her as pretty as I can, because she was meeting dad after 21 yrs, they would of been married 72. So I told her I would. Time will help like everyone says and those "bad" thoughts will start turning into wonderful memories.
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My Mom has been gone for 3-1/2 years, Dad 4. They were 92 and 93. They were my best friends. I have great friends, siblings, a wonderful supportive husband and daughter, and I am still sad every.single.day. I don't know how long grief ends. Some days I make it through a day perfectly fine, and other days I still have to take a nap to escape living in a world without them. I have not found the magic bullet. My parents would not want me this sad. I haven't stopped missing them yet. Take as long as you need. Do at least one thing each day that needs to be done. Find at least one thing each day that YOU want to do. Go to bed, wake up, and do it all over again. Good luck. Keep sharing. Someone else is ALWAYS walking in those same shoes. Sometimes there's a small bit of comfort knowing you are not alone in this journey, and everyone copes in their own way.
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An exercise that can help is to keep asking, "And then what happened?"
You said the memory of being with her when she died is difficult. Keep asking the question until you get to a state of quiet if not peace.

I saw her last breath.
And then what happened?
I sat with her.
And then what happened?
The nurses came and told me she was gone.
And then what happened?
I made phone calls to family. That was so hard.
And then what happened?
They came and we cried together.
And then what happened?
I went home and was able to sleep.
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It might be a good idea to review your antidepressant with your doctor. What you are describing is grief which can be very physical. You are in the early stages and it will likely continue for months, though not necessarily with this intensity - sometimes better, sometimes worse. Grief counselling and grief groups are helpful if you feel ready for them. Certain things/memories can trigger your grief, and certain times can be more difficult -3 months, 6 months, 9 months and a year. The images are hard. I hung a favourite photo of my youngest son on the wall where I could easily see it and when the images invaded my brain I looked at it to replace them.

You feel what you feel and for as long as you need to. Just work your way through it and be sure to look after yourself. ((((((hugs)))))
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I suggest a grief support group (they are available through your church, other churches, local AL or Memory Care in your area, etc. You don't have to belong to the church or have someone at the AL or residential care facility -- they will still welcome outsiders to share your feelings and experience.

I think the grief is different for everyone and you should definitely give yourself permission for whatever time you need. You don't get over it. Its like a wound that scabs over (you bump it and hurts and bleeds all over again), but each day it gets better and better.

If you spend alot of time with your loved ones and were very close or did the caregiving -- I would say there is some PTSD that sets in and it takes a while to find your new normal.

Give it time.
Rely on a close friend or two who are supportive no matter what
Find some new activities, daily routines, exercise that can distract
Maybe distance yourself from the house, memorabilia etc. for a few months - tuck them away so that you aren't having constant reminders of the loss -- you are going to feel that loss with or without the visuals.
Give yourself permission to shed the tears, set a time (20 min) and then force yourself to go for a walk, do a chore, or treat yourself to a milkshake or ice cream.
If this becomes so overwhelming after 6 months and you can't function -- then you may need to see a therapist to help you manage.
Remember - YOUR MOM/DAD WOULD NEVER WANT TO SEE THEIR LOVING DAUGHTER SO SAD AND DISTRAUGHT! That would wish you a happy life just as they had.
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Afferino--
I am sorry for your loss. And 6 weeks is not a long time--antidepressants take up to 6 weeks to even start showing any effect, esp when you are "new" to them--and they are just a bandaid when it comes to grief.

There are stages to grief, you will pass through all of them, whether you are aware of it or not. Time will heal this wound, and the last images, especially.

Have you a faith you hold to? This is the time to lean on your faith community. I know I have been buoyed up by my community many times. Everyone has lost someone they love. Everyone. You had the blessing of loving your mom and having had a good relationship with her. Many of us do not have that, and wonder what it's going to feel like when this person we are supposed to love passes--how will we feel? Guilt? Depression? I don't know, yet.

You do need to feel what you feel--and crying is OK. Don't let somebody tell you to "get over it". I remember the day my daddy passed (New Year's Day--12:45 am!) and after I finally got back home, I had finally gone to sleep and my son came busting in my room and said "Hey come go to a movie with us! It'll make you feel better!" Granted he was all of 25 and kind of thoughtless---but I know I was not pleased to have my grief "minimized".

Talk about it--seek therapy to wokr through your feelings if they persist. They say it takes about a year to "get over" a trauma of such a kind. Be good to yourself and patient. This too will pass.

How wonderful you loved your mother so much. That love still exists..no matter where mother's body has gone, her spirit is still very much alive. She would want you to live and be happy.

{{Hugs}}
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I highly recommend speaking to a pastor. He/she can help guide you without you having to depend on any drugs. God does not want any of us to struggle with grief on our own.

God, I pray that Aferrino finds peace in you. In Jesus' name.
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both my parents died within three weeks of each other. time goes so fast. dad will be gone oct 5 one full year. both of my parents died in my arms also. I feel as if it happened yesterday. I cry all of the time, I cant sleep or eat. my husband comforts me but he is not my daddy, if you know what i mean.I am dealing with their affairs and trying to sell their home since we have our own. I feel like the house is my only connection to them left. I walk into the house and I see them, talk to them. the house makes me feel close to them. I know I must sound like a wacko but its how I feel. all I can say is every one handles pain differently. I keep telling my self time will heal my lose but my heart will always have a huge piece. missing that can never be filled.
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Yes, 6 weeks is a short time, like a wound that needs to heal. It will be 2 years this week that my mom passed. After about a year, I found I could talk about her and not cry. But recently, while having a visit in Mexico with friends who live there, I discussed the place she died in and hospice (inadequate), and spilled some tears to my friends. That is what still upsets me that the siblings, who had control were clueless. That probably upsets me more than her being gone.

I miss my mom, but am glad she does not have to suffer. I attended a grief support group and I honor her with flowers at her grave and with some of her ashes I keep to honor holidays and other events we celebrated.

Take care of yourself, treat yourself, honor your mother and in time you will start to feel less sad. I feel my mother with me and you will too. We all grieve in different ways and time does heal. Blessings.
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Six weeks is not a very long time. Grief is its own thing unlike anything else. It's not depression. It's a normal part of the human experience. You loved her and now she is gone and you are grieving. Each person's grief has its own timeline and you are allowed to feel everything you feel. It's ok. You will always love her and you will always miss her. Right now it's huge and the only thing you can think of. It's the only thing you can feel. As time goes by, you will be able to think of other things as well. You will be able to feel other things. Little by little you will gather up the other parts of your life. All of them. The multitude of good things and bad things, the ordinary and the mundane that we all have. She will always be there and that will be one of your good things. You will be fine.
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I was there when my father passed and the image was very real for some time but after 8 years it has lessened. You might need a different medication. I went to a group for grieving. It was helpful to be with others experiencing the same sadness. Your mother lived a long life. Eventually you might find solace in that. There are so many stories here of people living so long in such bad shape. That causes it's own grief. I hope you have better days ahead.
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I know how you feel about "Being there" when it happens. You just can't shake the image from your head. One day we were at a bridal shower, and my father and my uncle went out to dinner at the local mall. As they were driving back, my uncle had a massive heart attack and my father (Who was driving) thought he was "Snoring" when really he was taking his last breath. he ran into the hall and said "I can't wake him up"...the entire bridal shower ran out. The "Look" on his face is what haunted me, and my father for the longest time. a little xanax helped though. It took about 6 months for me to forget the face of death. I am sorry for your loss...it will get easier with time, try to remember when she was smiling, laughing, etc. that "image" will carry you through.
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Whenever symptoms like this are intrusive to your daily living, it may be time to seek professional counseling to speed things along
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Yes, it is a common reaction, especially to those whose lives were so entrenched with a loved one who has passed. Find grief support groups. Was she on hospice? There are counseling services available through them. Find a therapist to assist you in processing the loss of your mom.

Unfortunately, there is no time limitation on grief. That is up to you. That you ask the question shows that you want to move past your mother's death, but it really was not that long ago. It will take work. Each day do something special for you. Go out to lunch with a friend, attend yoga classes, find something that you will enjoy doing to get your life going again. A book club? Read Being Mortal.

I am so sorry for your loss and accept that mom is now at rest.
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