She has been battling stage 4 metastatic liver cancer for 5 years. She finally reached the end of all treatment possibilities and is now on home hospice. She’s acting emotionally younger than before—like about an 8 year old. She is fixated on every detail of how she’s feeling, what she’s eaten, which nurse did what for her, etc. She’s emphatic and bossy. All our family and her friends are coming around and catering to her every whim. It kinda grosses me out. I had an expectation of her feeling sad or maybe somewhat scared now, humbled by the fact that she will die just like we all will die. She’s actually coming across as arrogant, saying, “I feel amazing! These are my last days on earth, and I’m going to use my power!” It rubs me the wrong way, but I’m trying to stay open minded. Is there some kind of spiritual experience going on here? Or are we all being played? All I know is that I have to take good care of myself and not get caught up in the drama. In the past 5 years I’ve been pulled into at least 20 “urgent”, “near dying”, “this is it” moments, only to have the doctors pull one more rabbit out of the hat. The tension has become unbearable. Any advice or normalizing is appreciated :)

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Never mind your mother for a moment. Let's concentrate on you.

I would like to give you my personal thanks for being so honest and open about your emotions at this time. "Normality", or convention anyway, dictates that we sit around the bedside keeping pious vigil and paying tribute to the dying person.

You, on the other hand, have had the balls to say that the tension is unbearable and your mother is driving you potty. And I for one take from that that everything else you say comes from a person who is enduring unbearable tension.

The "everything else" does include, in case you didn't notice this as you were typing, the question "why is your DYING mother so SELF-CENTRED?" You see the self-contained answer in your question? What should she be focusing on? Third World famine? National Debt? The sound of one hand clapping?

Somewhat scared... The poor woman must be bloody terrified. The prospect of her own death has been approaching for years. She's been more aware of it for a long time than most people are forced to be. And now it's actually here.

Look. Indulge her. It won't be for much longer, and at those moments when you really can't stand another second just step outside and get your bearings. Let her and those around her deal with this in their way, and you deal with it in yours.

Giant hugs and shoulder blade rubs to you.
Helpful Answer (19)

Sad, isn't it. I know I had the same sort of feelings with my hypochondriac mom when she was younger. It was always something that did eventually get lost as her life became more busy. But my feelings about her illnesses drastically changed as she aged. Diagnosed with Alzheimer's at about 78 my behavior changed. She would not be around forever and it became time to enjoy the time left with her.

Time for you lastwoman to get a break. Take a week, a few days, just get away for awhile to take care of you.
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lastwoman: Thanks for your honesty. I hear you about the tension of essentially "Mom won't last long now". Sisters and I have been through this for years. It's hard. It's exhausting. It takes a toll on all of us. I'm sorry your Mom and each of you are on this journey. Take deep breaths. Walk away when friends or other family members are caring for her so you have "me" time.

When I was in the military one of my guys was dying of brain cancer. I went to a counselor to help me understand what was happening to better help him and his family. Out of many stages a dying person goes through, one stage she told me about was the dying becomes self-centered. To me, that sounds incredibly right. As a person is mentally, emotionally, and physically preparing to leave this world, it's right they should focus on themselves.
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lastwoman - your mother is reacting pretty much the same way I'd expect my mother to act in the same circumstances. She is self-centered in the extreme, and a terminal diagnosis would be one more (and very powerful) reason to be even more so.

I know my mother well enough to not expect anything else from her. It sounds like you want something else from your mother. Perhaps you want her to be more reflective, more appreciative. Someone you could feel good about caring for in her final days. We want to feel that our sacrifice has some meaning. It's hard to find meaning in sacrificing for someone who is arrogant and self-focused.

I feel for you. But I also agree with rocket said above. I would find it more difficult to deal with my mother if she were scared and looking to me for comfort and reassurance. I hope you can make peace with who your mother is and allow her to die in her own way.
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I guess everyone is different, but I would not want my Mom sad or scared or "humbled" as she approaches the end of her life. No. How awful that would be for her. It would be heartbreaking for me and I dont know how I would deal with it to comfort her. We are very close, but never been the most touchy-feely nor religious family. I would take bossiness any day, at least I would know what to do. You are fortunate that her friends are present and accommodating some of her whims, so you don’t have to do it all. This is how she’s dealing with her emotions, which she has a right to, perhaps trying to be strong until the end. That’s her path, and sometimes we daughters are just along for the ride.
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Hey Lastwoman,

Most of us don't know when we're going to die. Your mother has had that looming over her head for 5 years. That's a hell of a thing to deal with. She knows she's got metastatic liver cancer and it's all over her body and she can't do anything about it. She knows it'll kill her, but when?

I wouldn't doubt that she's a little "mental" about it. You would be too.

It sounds like there's a bit of sarcasm to what she says, maybe covering for anger.

She obviously is a wife and mother. That's a lot of sacrifice for a family. Maybe she feels it's HER time now to be spoiled and pampered like she did for her husband and kids. Can't necessarily blame her for wanting to get her portion before she dies.

"I feel amazing. These are my last days on earth and I'm going to use my power."
WHAT power (really)? She can't make the cancer go away. She can't force people to visit or do what she wants. She knows she has no power. It sounds like a sentence to cover up being scared silly. Maybe it's wishful thinking. Maybe it's positive thinking. Maybe she's trying to show she's brave.

Be glad that your mom isn't hysterically crying or loosing her mind or trying to commit suicide. Maybe it is her "spiritual experience". If you ARE "being played" it's not going to last much longer. It'll all be over when she dies and all the drama will be gone.

Try to cope for the time she's got left. (Hospice is for people who have less than 6 months to live.)
If your mental health can't take it, don't visit as often as you have been.
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Also, try to remember - and it is so hard - that this will end. It will. Speaking for myself, after all the months and years of praying for it to end (so my dad wouldn't be suffering any more), when it does happen, you will be caught off guard. In my case, the doctor literally told me that he didn't think "this time" would be the one where dad "kicked the bucket." Dad died. He was in a paranoid loop, and I was literally counting to him the times he had repeated the same information over and over again. We were up to around 45-plus. Then everything nose dived. Then he was transported to hospice. Then I took a break in the family room to catch my breath after days in ICU. Then he died - less than six hours after arriving. Then - after taking care of him for almost six years - I howled like an animal because I had "missed" it and I could NOT believe he had ACTUALLY died. Logical, yes; emotionally, it tore me apart. So vent in safe circles; but keep in the back of your mind that this going to end, and try to cut her some slack. You won't believe it. You won't. Almost because as you wrote, the doctors keep pulling tricks out of their hat. But there will be that final moment and strangely, despite being in the fox hole for years, you will still be in shock. Who knew? (Almost two months out from my dad's death. No regrets, but not doing great either.)
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What you’re feeling may be the beginnings of the grieving process for you. I’m not saying that Mom is not being a pain in the butt. Sure sounds like she is. And now everyone else is catering to her. Grrrr! 

My mom and I loved each other. And sometimes I’m convinced we disliked each other as well. She would tell me “I will always love you, but right now I don’t like you very much. “. When she passed, I was so afraid of “losing it” that all I could think of was what a negative, paranoid. Drama Queen she’d been all my life. If I allowed myself to remember how much I loved her, I’d have gone over the edge and losing control is NOT me! God has now given me little bits and pieces at a time of my life with my mother to remember. Not the last days, but the wisdom and life experiences that it took me 64 years to understand.

As others have written, remember that this will not last. It’s a shame this has to be your last memory of Mom. Mine is going to visit her and finding her practically in a coma with bits of food on her bib. But I don’t dwell on that. Just take a deep breath, smile and say “Yes, Mom! What can I get you?” I guarantee you won’t regret it.
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At the end of life the world shrinks and the dying loved one can only focus on what is left of their tiny world. So the result can only be self absorption. This is the only way this particular Mom knows as a way to communicate. it is her way of making sure she is important and loved. Maybe she has always had this personal insecurity and now this is her main focus. Last woman can only keep some space between herself and Mom. You can follow her wishes or not as you choose, there are plenty of other people ready to jump when she calls. Don't forget to spend some quality time with Mom and say the things that need to be said before she slips away. Blessings your feelings are perfectly natural.
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