Mom died of lung cancer on 6/22/17

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Mom died of lung cancer on 6/22/17

by Kerrplat on Mon Jul 31, 2017 08:30 PM

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I just came upon this board after googling "how do I go on after my mom died?" My dear sweet mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in March of 2016 and she endured so much pain and misery for 15 long months of chemo. She passed away at age 74. I am 46, and I feel so cheated. Cheated out of all the years of memories yet to be made. People tell me I should be thankful she is no longer suffering, thankful that we had such a close relationship, thankful that she got to know and love my 3 young children, thankful for all the memories we shared. Blah blah. But I'm NOT thankful right now. I'm sad. Sad and alone. And I'm angry! Angry that she got lung cancer, angry that she suffered so greatly, and angry that she's no longer here. The one thing I'm so mad at myself for is for never asking her when she was sick," What do I do when I miss you so much that I feel like I'm suffocating and drowning and I just can't breathe?" She always was the only one who could make me feel better in times of tragedy and loss. Now who do I turn to? I'm angry at all the friends I have who are enjoying life while I am suffering. I have pushed everyone away and I have disconnected from social media bc it only makes me feel sad. I'm mad at the people who tell me to look for her...she's all around me....no she's not! She's not here!! She is gone. God took her from me when I needed her most. People say she wouldn't want me to mourn her like this; she would want me to go on and be happy. My head hears that but my heart is completely broken and I can't stop crying. How am I supposed to go on with life? How will I ever feel happiness again without her here? My older sister is doing so much better than me. She feels relieved that my mom is not suffering anymore and she accepts that she is "at peace..." So I feel angry when I see her laughing with her family, going on about her life and putting it all behind her. I just don't have it in me to move on. I'm stuck. When I close my eyes, all I see are the images of her suffering and dying.....her catheter, her hospital bed at home that replaced her beloved antique bed, her oxygen tank, her bloated limbs as her organs started to fail, her inability to walk, to swallow, to eat, and eventually, her gasping for air like a fish forced out of its tank. I call her answering machine just to hear her voice, I replay the recordings of our many many doctor visits, from diagnosis to a month before her death. I replay everything over and over, hoping for a different outcome, I guess. But it will never come. And I will never be the same. She is gone forever. Does anyone have any advice about how to go on when your best friend is gone? Thanks for any advice you can offer. I am truly devastated.

RE: Mom died of lung cancer on 6/22/17

by lindalay on Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:11 PM

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Just hugs and hugs. All the emotions you feel are normal, if not extremely cruel. You are not only grieving for yourself but also your mum, for all that she won't be a part of and enjoy. Eventually the dark tunnel you're in gets smaller and smaller and eventually that kick in the gut that comes over and over when something is horrible to bear, fades. Until then, be kind to yourself. There is nothing wrong with crying, being angry, even wallowing in it all, when you are ready to move on it somehow just happens bit by bit each day and eventually fond memories will overtake the sad memories. There is no time limit, and I think there is always a little place that aches forever after losing someone so dear to you. 

RE: Mom died of lung cancer on 6/22/17

by Kerrplat on Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:12 AM

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Thank you so much, Lindalay. I appreciate you validating that my feelings are normal. I guess I will just hold onto the anger and sadness until I'm ready to feel something else. I pray that happier memories will someday come me back to me. I miss her so much, and no one can ever replace her.

RE: Mom died of lung cancer on 6/22/17

by lindalay on Tue Aug 01, 2017 01:16 AM

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It's because your mum, the place she holds in your heart, can't be replaced ... that's why it hurts so much. Death is just so final and I think that's why people talk about a hole in the heart or a broken heart when they lose someone they are extremely close to. It's like that hole or our heart aches and it makes us feel sick and part of that reason is because we know it will never be filled again but wish there was someway it could.

No one will ever be able to replace the space in your heart your mum retains, and realising that like you have, is one step closer to eventually moving toward a middle ground where we accept it is okay to hurt, accept that it may always hurt when we revisit certain times. Eventually you will toss all the sadness, guilt, anger, and the million other emotions you currently feel over and over over until something pops into your mind on day about your mum that will make you smile, then you will start searching for more of those memories.

RE: Mom died of lung cancer on 6/22/17

by PunkyD on Tue Aug 01, 2017 09:46 AM

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On Jul 31, 2017 8:30 PM Kerrplat wrote:

I just came upon this board after googling "how do I go on after my mom died?" My dear sweet mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in March of 2016 and she endured so much pain and misery for 15 long months of chemo. She passed away at age 74. I am 46, and I feel so cheated. Cheated out of all the years of memories yet to be made. People tell me I should be thankful she is no longer suffering, thankful that we had such a close relationship, thankful that she got to know and love my 3 young children, thankful for all the memories we shared. Blah blah. But I'm NOT thankful right now. I'm sad. Sad and alone. And I'm angry! Angry that she got lung cancer, angry that she suffered so greatly, and angry that she's no longer here. The one thing I'm so mad at myself for is for never asking her when she was sick," What do I do when I miss you so much that I feel like I'm suffocating and drowning and I just can't breathe?" She always was the only one who could make me feel better in times of tragedy and loss. Now who do I turn to? I'm angry at all the friends I have who are enjoying life while I am suffering. I have pushed everyone away and I have disconnected from social media bc it only makes me feel sad. I'm mad at the people who tell me to look for her...she's all around me....no she's not! She's not here!! She is gone. God took her from me when I needed her most. People say she wouldn't want me to mourn her like this; she would want me to go on and be happy. My head hears that but my heart is completely broken and I can't stop crying. How am I supposed to go on with life? How will I ever feel happiness again without her here? My older sister is doing so much better than me. She feels relieved that my mom is not suffering anymore and she accepts that she is "at peace..." So I feel angry when I see her laughing with her family, going on about her life and putting it all behind her. I just don't have it in me to move on. I'm stuck. When I close my eyes, all I see are the images of her suffering and dying.....her catheter, her hospital bed at home that replaced her beloved antique bed, her oxygen tank, her bloated limbs as her organs started to fail, her inability to walk, to swallow, to eat, and eventually, her gasping for air like a fish forced out of its tank. I call her answering machine just to hear her voice, I replay the recordings of our many many doctor visits, from diagnosis to a month before her death. I replay everything over and over, hoping for a different outcome, I guess. But it will never come. And I will never be the same. She is gone forever. Does anyone have any advice about how to go on when your best friend is gone? Thanks for any advice you can offer. I am truly devastated.

Dear Kerrplat,

I can relate to what you are going through.  I lost my dear Mom in June 2013 from pancreatic cancer.  She was 74 and I am now 48.  My mother was ill for a total of 4 years, with a lot of good quality time in between.  She was supposedly "clean" for a while until it came back. I had a long time to process what was happening, and what would probably happen. 

It is totally normal to feel the way you do... sad, angry, broken, and it is still so recent for you. People mean well by telling you that you should be thankful, but that doesn't mean you have to accomodate yourself.  Everyone is different, and everyone copes differently. The first year after my Mom died, I was terribly sad and thought about her constantly.  After the year was up, I "let" myself let go some. But that's just me. I was very thankful that my Mom had stopped suffering, and got to know all of her grandchildren, including my 3 kids. I personally felt like even though she only lived till 74, and still had so much more to experience and be shared with her, nevertheless, she still managed quite a lot. I like to pretend that when I see that same bird on the lamp post from my shower every morning, that it is her watching. I believe in God so prayer helps me and the thought that she has finished her mission on earth and is now in a better place, and that I feel thankful for the time we had together, which was significant. Again, that's just me.  I know that time helps many people.......but everyone is differernt. For now, give yourself a break, and let yourself cry, be angry, grieve, and remember even the bad times.  Maybe you could join a support group?

I have no magical answers, but we are here to listen anyway. 

Punky

RE: Mom died of lung cancer on 6/22/17

by CathywithaC on Tue Aug 01, 2017 03:22 PM

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I'm so sorry for your loss. What you are going through reminds me of how I felt when my own mom passed. I missed her so much. I was sure I would never recover. I'm sure a part of the anger is from watching your mom suffer so greatly. No one should go through what you and she went through together. Everything you are going through is very normal and I'm sorry your friends don't see this. It's also very new! You really haven't had time to process everything you've been through. That takes time. Give yourself all the time you need, be very gentle with yourself and don't try to force anything you aren't ready for. If you need to cry, scream, rant, do so! You will get through this and you will be able to breathe and laugh again. Just so you know, your sister really isn't doing better than you. Everyone greaves differently but still go through the process, in their own way. Big (((HUGS))) from one daughter to another.

RE: Mom died of lung cancer on 6/22/17

by Kerrplat on Tue Aug 01, 2017 07:16 PM

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Thank you Punky! I appreciate you sharing your experience and how you coped with the loss of your mom after a very long illness. My condolences to you on your terrible loss. I did actually reach out to a few support groups and ironically two of them only allow you to start once you are three months past your loved one's death. But .....I need a group now! Very frustrating. I'm hoping this board will allow me to connect with kind people like you, who can offer support and have really been where I am and have walked a mile in my shoes. I'm eternally grateful.

RE: Mom died of lung cancer on 6/22/17

by Kerrplat on Tue Aug 01, 2017 07:24 PM

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Hi CathywithaC! I too am very sorry for your loss of your own mom. It really means a lot to know that someone else has had similar feelings to what I am feeling now, and I appreciate you trying to interpret them for me. I never stopped to think that maybe my anger comes from her great suffering but that seems to sound pretty true. How long ago did your mom pass away ? I'm just asking because it gives me hope that one day I will be able to breathe and laugh again. You are exactly right that I need to give myself time ....and I know I've always been an impatient person... as my mom liked to remind me all the time! And so I cry, yet another reminder that I will never hear her advice again. I guess I don't want to accept that she is really gone. It's like a brick wall that I can't climb over or get through Thank you so much for the hugs and support, and I send hugs your way as well xo

RE: Mom died of lung cancer on 6/22/17

by katbaran on Wed Aug 09, 2017 02:46 AM

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My heart goes out to you! You are only a little less than 2 months since your Mom passed. Give yourself time. It is all still raw and new. At the 2 month mark after my husband passed, I had lost almost 40 pounds, couldn't eat or sleep,  etc. I landed in the ER and overnight in the hospital getting fluids and counseling with more to follow at home.

Everyone grieves differently and it will take time. You will get through it. Some folks are really good at compartmentalizing emotions and are able to just put the emotions away, closed up tight for awhile to do other things. Some of us are not. It will be 3 years next month since DH passed. It took small steps but I am now way down the road from where I was. I still cry sometimes. It just hits me all of a sudden and I miss him all over again. Time will help.

Until then, one day at a time. One hour, one minute, if you need to.

Kathy

RE: Mom died of lung cancer on 6/22/17

by Silverfox71 on Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:24 PM

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Dear kerrplat

Firstly, I must apologise for not responding earlier. I actually read your post the day after you wrote it, and thought of how your life is mirrored to mine so much. But I knew how difficult this was going to be for me to write so have been putting it off.  Your age, three kids, your despair, and your mum's diagnosis the same as my lovely dads. My dad passed away last June (2016), having been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer.  He was only 69, I was 45, and my three children under 10. He thankfully did not suffer as your poor mother did (I'm so sorry to read that - that must have been awful).  He changed his mind about chemo and radiation after getting his prognosis of two months life expectancy without chemo, and possibly nine months with chemo! OMG, my family were in total shock. But I won't go on and on about his last five months, his struggle to survive (he changed his diet (drastically!), IV vitamin C etc etc - long story short he had a very good quality of life, and then went downhill so quickly that it left my family wondering what he actually died from?  I, like you, replay messages left on my phone to hear his voice (I even called his mobile number a week after he died so I could record his voicemail intro - sounds sad doesn't it?  I'm a very sentimental person, so have kept all the text messages from my mum, which give me dates and times of when he was still alive, and chronicle his declining health. I reread the updates from her, think how that was 'two, or three or four months before he died, then on to 15 days, ten days', and then the final text to say 'I'd better get to their house urgently'.  I look at photos, and find myself looking at the file info to see what the date was, and then think 'that was three years, or 5 years before the diagnosis, and wish we could all go back in time to relish more time together.

I remember the phone call from my mum last February, telling me that he had lung cancer.  I remember thinking how am I going to tell my kids, then sitting them down and crying before telling them the awful news. And thinking 'why'? He was a smoker but gave up over 30 years ago but it still got him. I see people smoking everywhere that look like they've been smoking way longer than my dad, and wonder 'why' did my dad have to die from cancer? I see old couples holding hands in their eighties and wonder why that can't be my parents, still together enjoying retirement.  My dad hadn't even retired!  Why couldn't they have had at least another 10-15 years together or even longer?  I see granddads and grandchildren enjoying the park together and wonder why that can't be my family.  I've never been angry which I'm lucky with I guess, just incredible heartache and always thinking why did he have to suffer, why did we have to suffer with him, and grieve for months before his passing, watching him struggle valiantly to hold onto life?

I'm so sorry for your loss, and I'm sorry to not be able to give you some magical information that will alleviate what you are feeling.  I still wake up sometimes in a state of surreal shock, that he is gone forever. I agree with you entirely about friends all around you living life, enjoying life and laughing.  I'm relieved for them that they don't have to live my existence, feel my pain and grief and struggling to do the day to day things to keep family life moving forward.  I try my best to hide how sad I am, from my children and my wife.  I'm also over social media (not that I've ever liked it that much).  Facebook is a big 'look at my life', and how awesome it is - so that is difficult to look at.  All my friends still have both parents, so they have no idea what I'm feeling.  They have been supportive at first in the months after, but then everyone moves on and think that you do also, but you feel your feet are stuck in the mud.   Then you will have all the 'firsts'! The first family birthday party without your mum, the first Christmas without her, her next birthday to miss.  My mum had to celebrate her 65th birthday without her husband by her side.  That is one of the things I find most despairing, my mum's life without my dad.  I grieve for her perhaps more than I do for myself.  I actually think she is doing better than I am which is great for her as they did have a great long life together which I'm thankful for.  I'm the oldest sibling, and my brother was a bit estranged from my dad, so he wasn't as emotional as I have been.  So I wonder how he can simply move on so easily?  People always talk about moving on from the loss of a loved one, and that grief can be put behind you.  My perspective is entirely different - I feel that grief and loss are something that becomes central in life, and I manoeuvre around that grief as best I can to be functional in life. To get the kids to school on time, to get to work and get paid, and then return home to absolute exhaustion.  I'm so tired.

I was invited to a grief management course with our Hospice three months after my dads passing (must be the right time to be able to talk about it same as where you are).  I did find that very worthwhile, and I would hope that you are able to take part in something like that.  Listening to others stories was very humbling and the group being small (ten people) was comforting.  It was actually easy to open up to strangers, but strangers that knew how I felt.  OMG there were some difficult stories to listen to.   It really put into perspective what others have endured.  I also felt incredible guilt as I had performed CPR on my dad as he had collapsed and was being supported by my mum and Aunty, who had dialled emergency services and the operator misheard my mum say he was terminally ill, and the operator shouted at her to begin heart compressions.  That destroyed me doing that to my dad.  I've only told three friends that as well as the hospice group (which at the time was nice to offload from my mind).  As I prefer to hold that close to me as I've always felt bad doing that to him.  Incredible guilt subjecting him to that when it was unnecessary.

I certainly hope that you can find some peace where you can keep your kids and yourself moving into happier times.  I do feel a little better, but to be honest always a little sad.  I do know some people around me that are in the cancer struggle, and they seem to intuitively know that I am someone that can be questioned about all this horrible fight to live.  I don't mind that at all as I didn't really have anyone to talk to about any of this, so I like to help out when I can - even to be a shoulder to cry on as we know what that person is going through.  Sorry for this being so long!  I could probably write a book about my grief (but who would want to read something so sad!). :-)

Jason

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