Follow
Share

Hi all,


I was my moms caregiver on and off since I was 14 yrs old. She had repeated bouts of cancer, then later a hysterectomy, rheumatoid arthritis and heart failure. She passed away April 28th. We were very close.


I keep having flashbacks of her last two weeks, she was in the hospital and they put her through so much on a daily basis, she was suffering so much, struggling to eat, she had needs twice a day plus tests, she couldn't walk and was in agony, they gave her nothing for the pain because of her heart. I was there everyday all day, it was unbearable to watch. I'm in my 40's my mom wasn't that old. Mom also was sharp as a tack but her brain went in the hospital and she was saying crazy things sometimes which was a shock. She called me at 130 in the morning her last day telling me she wasn't at the hospital, was in a dark place and they'd put her somewhere. That was the last time we spoke. The phone call killed me.


I keep having these flashbacks of her bruised arms, the needles, the way she looked, her pain, the last phone call etc etc. I can't sleep. I had to sleep with the light on for the first month or so and have been taking sleeping pills. Sometimes I have flashbacks when I'm out and about as well and I well up and get anxiety. Do these pass??? Counselling helps with the grief but not these flashbacks.


Other than the flashbacks I'm actually doing quite well. I'm very healthy and taking care of myself.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
You can get PTSD from going through experiences like yours. I've been diagnosed with it from watching my father die. I was there, holding his hand at the end, and repressed a lot of those memories. It was years ago, but then when hospice did not want me to take my mother to the ER for what turned out to be a treatable UTI, then the flashbacks started and the memories returned.

I'd suggest working with a therapist. The flashbacks and tears can be triggered by almost anything, or by nothing at all. Caregiving is a long term stress experience. On another forum, I read a comment by a veteran who said the stress is on the same level as that of combat.

I'm glad you're doing well otherwise. Now that the decades of caregiving are over, you can live your life. Your mother would want that for you.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

You may want to seek out a good counselor.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

It is so hard dealing with painful memories. You can’t fight a memory, any more than you can fight a thought. All you can do is replace it. Bit by bit, you can turn your mind to something positive. Look for things that give you pleasure, even little things. The song of a bird, a blossoming flower, a fragrance. In my case, watching shows that give me comfort and a sense of nostalgia, like the Andy Griffith Show, have helped. Listening to certain music, too. I recently decided to take it up a notch and learn to play the ukulele. There are free tutorials on YouTube, and you can go at your own pace.
 
I knew a woman who was a Polish refugee during WW II. She gave birth to a stillborn child while on a march to a Nazi prison camp. At the end of the war, she and other refugees were fleeing Russian communist soldiers. This woman was in her 80’s when I met her. She said she lived with these memories every day.
 
We don’t want to live with our sorrow every day, like she did. There are people who have suffered yet have managed to turn their inner life around with positive thoughts and actions.  (Viktor Frankl, for example.)  We must strive to be like them. 
 
You can do it. Be gentle and patient with yourself. Love yourself, and know you are loved by those on earth and in heaven.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

I too have been experiencing flashbacks of my parents' last days. I was their caregiver and they were in their 90's when they passed just 18 days apart, a year ago. That was tough. Visions of them on their last days still pop into my head and are often accompanied by feelings of guilt that I did not make the right decisions, that I could not help them be happier in their last months, that I failed them. I begin to cry, actually sob, and often find myself apologizing to them (out loud) for not being a better daughter. Intellectually I know I did the best I could with the resources we had, but still. These flashbacks can be triggered by a comment someone makes, a scene on TV, a phrase in print or nothing at all. It is especially difficult when I am with other people or driving. Sobbing uncontrollably while you are driving is not good! I've had to pull off the road a time or two. One coping skill I discovered is this. When a flashback just begins, I try to not let it continue and escalate. I immediately divert my thinking to a totally different subject. That usually stops it. The downside is I often feel I cannot think about my parents, because it might set me to crying. Must say, though, finally, after a year, the flashbacks are now beginning to be further apart. I keep telling myself that my suffering does not help them at all and interferes with me getting on with my life, which they would want. It is a process and will take time.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

I think it’s normal what you’re going through when you’re there for a loved one who is suffering. It does get easier over time but it’s still hard to forget what they went through.
My dad suffered through cancer & it was the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with. I can still see him when he was suffering but I can also now remember when he was happy & the joy he had while my kids were growing up. Take out the photos you have from when she was happy & healthy.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

I agree with everyone- time is about the only thing that will heal it as you can liken it to PTSD. That's one of the things that is so tough with aging/ailing LOs- you tend to remember the bad and the ugly and replay that in your mind. Try to focus on the good memories if you can when the bad ones start to creep in. ((Hugs)) to you.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

You are suffering with a kind of post traumatic stress. You need to treat it seriously and get counseling from a grief professional if it continues to happen. Don't blame yourself, you did your best and you are a caring person. Be kind to yourself. Do things that make you happy.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

Gato, I have these too. Two in particular
The first was when she was in hospital her last week. She never regained consciousness but one afternoon all my sibs had left and it was just her and I. She suddenly started to moan. She had barely made a sound those last few days. I leaned over her and her eyes were kind of open and she was crying and crying. She almost sounded like an infant when they cry. I felt like maybe she recognized me at that moment and knew that this would be our last moment together. My eyes well up just typing this.

I cannot think of that moment ever without getting emotional.

All I can say is eventually these memories or flashbacks if you will, will recede to the back of your mind and will only come out if you deliberately seek them.

I know I haven't brought this one out deliberately for a while. It's just too painful.

Be patient. It does get better.
Helpful Answer (7)
Report

Time does heal this, I found that I had to thoroughly process my trauma from being robbed at gun point by 4 Mexicans dressed as police officers.

I had to replay the experience until I was not freaked out by what happened.

Different situations but trauma is trauma and our brains react the same way.

I found a therapist couldn't get it and I was more aggrieved by the let it go attitude, yeah, I wish but it has me by my throat.

I hope you find a way to get through it, whether you find a counselor or have friends that you can relive it with. Time does make a world of difference.

Hugs! Losing your mom and watching her suffer must have been heartbreaking.
Helpful Answer (8)
Report

I think you need to be seeing a therapist about PTSD. Not a grief counselor...but someone to help with the aftermath of the trauma you just went through.
Helpful Answer (7)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter