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So confused.

mom_of_2
Posts: 30
Joined: Nov 2010

Hi, I was hoping maybe somebody here could help me understand what is going on with my mother. My father has stage IV lung cancer, diagnosed 6 months ago, chemo didn't work, and started hospice about a month ago. They told us he probably had around a month, and so far, I'm having a hard time believing that, since he's still able to get out of bed and walk around some. (not much, but still a little bit) Anyway, he told my mom that since he is dying anyway, he would like to smoke again (he knows that's how he got here in the first place) My mom had the biggest fit over this, so mad at him and fought with him for even saying it, but talked to me, my brother, and sis-in-law, and we all told her that we didn't think it was a big deal, that's all he can do to make him happy, sit on the porch and smoke a cigarette every once in a while. She finally gave in and bought him some, but then he went outside to have one, and she cried for over an hour, then fought with him again. Also, he told me that she gets upset because when I go visit, I talk to him more than her, and every night before I go to bed, I call and talk to him (her also) and tell him I love him, just in case. Now, I don't ignore her by any means, and I understand she is losing her husband, however, she is fighting with him all the time now, and really upsetting me. I am a daddy's girl, and have never been close to my mom (still love her though)

So, I guess what I'm asking, is this a normal reaction for my mom, the fighting with my dad, the anger (or jealousy?) towards me for paying more attention to him? I don't understand what she is going through, I know that, I'm not there 24 hours a day. Maybe it's me, I'm just so confused. Sometimes she makes it seem to me like she is the only one losing someone, like I'm not losing my dad, my kids aren't losing their pap-pap. Sorry for the rant, just so upset right now, and thought someone here may be able to help.
Thank You.

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1580
Joined: May 2009

When the doctors told us that my brother would need hospice the nurses told us "if he drinks, buy him some beer, if he smokes, buy him his cigarettes". At this point it wouldn't make much difference and they felt he should have whatever he wanted. He didn't drink but he did smoke until a week before he passed, it relaxed him and made him happy.

My sister-in-law and his daughters acted similar to the way your mother is acting. It's as if they wanted all the attention and got upset if any of his sisters talked to the nurses or questioned anything that was happening. Maybe it's the fear and uncertainty that causes them to act this way but it did seem as though they felt like they should be the center of attention and all sympathy should be for them.

I'm not an expert but I'm sure it's probably normal behavior for someone who is losing the man she has loved for all these years. She's there with him every day watching him slip away and is probably afraid of what the future, without him, will hold. I don't know if it would do any good but maybe you could have a talk with her and gently explain that you are hurting too, that you are there for her also but right now you need to concentrate all your love and attention towards your dad. Do they have any counselors there that you could talk to and explain how your mother is fighting with your father constantly? Maybe they could help your mother to deal with this in a less combative way.

I wish I had all the right answers for you but everyone deals with pain and grief differently.

Take care of yourself,
Glenna

3Mana
Posts: 829
Joined: Aug 2010

Hi,
Just wanted to tell you to just be there for your dad no matter what! I lost my dad in 1990 from lung cancer. He also had his bladder removed from bladder cancer. MY sister, brother & me all took care of him cause our mom had died in 1989 from Pancreatic cancer. So we've dealt with alot. Hey if your dad wants a cigarette, let him have one. The damage is already done so if it gives him a few minutes of happiness don't deny him of that. My dad was also diabetic and when we had home hospice for him and he was so weak, they said "let him have whatever he wants" and they stopped his insulin cause he didn't need it any more. You know what my dad said ?? "Bring on the donuts!!!" We laughed so hard, and went out to buy some for him. So try and get your mom to understand that his days are limited so give him some happiness!!! Take care! Carole

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1613
Joined: Aug 2009

Anger is one of the first stages of grieving, and your mother has already started to grieve. This is very difficult for her. I lost my husband to cancer in October, 2009. It hurts to watch them fade away. It's scary to know that you are going to be alone. Losing your dad was probably her greatest fear when she learned he had cancer. Now she has to face that fear. She's angry that smoking caused this loss. She's not really angry with your father or with you. She is just angry that her whole life is changing and she is angry at the cancer. Yes, you and your children are losing someone you love, but she feels like she is losing her whole life. She is the one who will have to live on in an empty house. I thought that I knew how my mom felt when my dad passed away. I can tell you now that I had no idea how devastating it was. I don't think we really understand until we have been through it ourselves. Please try to let your mom know that you will be there for her. My sons' support was so very important to me. Tell her that you understand that she is scared and angry. Validate her feelings. Let her know how much you love her. Caregiving someone you love is difficult. Facing the future without that person is even harder. Your mother is dealing with both. Cut her some slack. Listen to her. That is probably really all she wants. I can remember arguing with my husband about eating those last few days. Of course, I knew it was silly. Why argue about food when it really doesn't matter? Your mother knows that smoking now probably doesn't matter. She just wants to do something to put off what she knows is coming as long as possible. I don't know if any of this helps. I hope so. Just remember that after your father is gone, you will miss him, but your everyday life will not change as dramatically as your mother's will. Be ther for her. She will need you. Fay

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1613
Joined: Aug 2009

Double post. Sorry!

mom_of_2
Posts: 30
Joined: Nov 2010

Thank you all for your replies. It helps me understand things a little better. I can't imagine what my mom is going through, you are right. Sorry I was ranting a little, it's just none of my friends understand or know what to say. I try so hard to be strong for my mom, and my kids, try not to cry in front of them, and sometimes I feel like so much is bottled up inside and I don't know how or when to let it out. Thank you again for all of your kind words.
Chrissy

hope4cure1
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2011

Hi Chrissy,

No doubt, all this is very hard for you, and it is hard to know where or how to let your feelings out. You have found a good place here. The only way I have been able to hang on is by attending a caregivers' support group at the Wellness Community. Everybody in the group "gets it" and the licensed therapist knows just when to step in to help. This might be a good support for your mom too. If you feel yourself sinking, please see if there is a Wellness Community, Gilda's Place, hospital support group or other community rssources available. They can't change your reality, but they can help you cope.

Take care, Chrissy.

Cheryl

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1613
Joined: Aug 2009

Don't try to be too strong. My grown sons and I cried together. It was good for us. Tears don't mean you are weak. They mean that you care. We are probably hardest on ourselves. Cut yourself some slack, too. Come here when you need to vent. We will understand. Fay

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