Question: Dear Luise: I’m having a terrible time over my mother’s death. She passed very recently and I thought I was ready. She was almost 96, and really wanted to go. She was terribly weak, couldn’t think clearly or talk well, and was generally pretty much out of it and miserable. She wanted to stay home, so we got a caretaker to stay with her. The three of us that lived nearby took turns on the weekends, while the caregiver had some much-needed time off. I’m a nurse and I thought I was pretty well-informed and realistic about where Mom was and what she was going through. I told her we were ready to let her go and I really hoped and prayed for it on a daily basis. Then, when it happened just the way we’d hoped, in her sleep, I fell apart. I’m still not doing well. I carry a tissue everywhere because I just keep spilling over. What’s wrong with me that I’m not able to cope with this? Saundra
Answer: Dear Saundra: Nothing is wrong with you. This has probably been a long, and very difficult time and you’re worn out both physically and emotionally. At the moment, you don’t have the resilience and energy you wish you did. Those weekends at your Mom’s were probably harder on you than you realized and the weeks in between, while you were waiting in dread for the phone call that eventually came, took their tool as well.
It doesn’t seem like a blessing right now, but your ability to feel awful and have your feelings right up on the surface will get you through this much faster than if you were able to produce a smooth cover-up and look good. If you haven’t had a memorial service for your mother yet, know that that may give you some relief as well. Your nursing background, along with your willingness to see your mother’s life as complete, will stand you in good stead in the months to come, so mentally you sound like you are on solid footing The part of you that has you feeling like you are down for the count at the moment is a combination of fatigue, overwhelm and the very obvious loss of someone who has been a constant in your life, always. You can’t anticipate how that is going to feel. Knowing she was going to leave, and experiencing her leaving are two different things. Be extra kind to yourself while the parts of you that can cope help the parts that can’t. Work less, if possible, eat carefully and keep you fluids high. Rest more and if you can’t sleep for longer periods of time, at least give yourself more quiet, alone time. Concentrate on an exquisite level of self-care. You’ve been through the mill and it’s not over yet, for you. You have just entered the healing process, so be aware of that fact and compensate wherever you can. Blessings, Luise