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Lonelyheart807's avatar

Is there something wrong with me that I feel this way?

Asked by Lonelyheart807 (2778points) 1 month ago

My dad died last winter, and now my mom is on hospice, and they think she maybe has a week at most to live. We (the family) have been seeing the writing on the wall for awhile, so it didn’t come as too much of a shock when they told us late last week about this timeline. Also, I guess in some ways I’ve been saying goodbye to my mom for some time now. She has dementia, and though still relatively able to converse and recognize us, I knew it was only a matter of time.
On top of all this, I know she’s ready to go. She cries all the time because she misses my dad. Now, I’m sure there are many people that don’t believe as we do, but I know she will see my dad again in heaven. (Let’s just leave it at that. You don’t want to fight with me on this right now.) She’s also in some pain from a non-healing wound she has, although she’s on morphine, so that helps a lot.
I don’t want my mom to die, certainly, but I want her to have peace and I don’t want her to be suffering any more. I don’t say that out in the open much, because I feel most people would think there’s something wrong with me. Certainly if they’ve not gone through something similar, they probably wouldn’t.

My work told me I could take off, (or work different hours, work from home, etc.) The thing is, right now it would stress me out more to have to show someone the ropes of everything I do, rather than to just come in and do stuff (or from home.) The one person who would be a good substitute, is actually leaving to go out of town for a week as of tomorrow, and I can’t fathom trying to figure out how to teach someone else everything in very little time. Plus, honestly, I’d rather just stay busy. I only work 18 hours/week anyway, and I’m surrounded by some very supporting people at my job.
So is there something wrong with me that I would just as soon keep on working? Should I just take off anyway? I would worry that everything was getting done properly, and would probably have to field a number of phone calls and emails, so I’d rather just do it myself.

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15 Answers

product's avatar

Sorry you’re going through this. It seems completely reasonable and understandable that you’d want to be at work. The challenges of work can be an appealing distraction from spending time feeling helpless in the face of loss. There is nothing wrong with you.

I visited my father (Parkinsons, dementia) in the hospital a little over a week ago, when they thought he was finally on his way out. What I saw when I sat with him was most definitely not him in any real sense, and I understand the mixed feelings and a desire for things to end.

Jeruba's avatar

Is there something wrong with you? I don’t think so. Please allow yourself to feel as you feel. It’s very good that you expressed those feelings here among friends and friendly strangers. Don’t add guilt to your present burden.

When my father was dying of lung cancer within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, I was here on the Pacific Coast. He lingered long and miserably. There was nothing for me to do but keep in touch and carry on with my life as usual, insofar as possible. I let them know at work what was going on, and sometimes I had to take difficult calls in the office, such as a conference with my siblings resulting in a no-special-measures decision. But the routine of work helped stabilize me. It would have done no one any good for me to take weeks off from work and sit around in a hospital in Boston.

In the end, pneumonia took him, and I’m thankful that I was at home when that call came.

With my mother, it was different. She was coming undone in a cascade of maladies that resulted in a cycle of hospital stays followed by rehabs numerous times over a period of several years. She too was in the Boston area, and I was still in California. Again, there was little I could do but keep in touch. She came back from the edge time after time, until I began to feel drained and worn out by the ongoing near-death drama with no resolution.

One night I felt so depleted and impotent that I confessed to my husband, quietly, “I’m tired of my mother.” I felt horrible for saying it, but her slow, lurching decline had exhausted me emotionally.

He said, “That’s completely understandable.”

Then one night her husband phoned me to say “It looks bad.” I jumped on a 3:00 a.m. flight to Boston, taking my work laptop with me. My boss the next day gave me permission to work remotely, and I did, from a Holiday Inn in Dedham. I spent as much time as possible by her side, and then went back to my hotel room to finish a day’s work. She died the next day, and I kept working there until the day after her funeral.

We have to hold onto something that makes us feel normal, especially under the stress of utterly abnormal events. I often think of Golda sweeping the house before she and Tevye leave with all their belongings at the end of Fiddler on the Roof.

We do what we can. And what we need in those dire times is nobody’s business but ours.

Forever_Free's avatar

I am sorry to read what you are going through with losing your Father and the state of your Mother.
This is completely up to you and what feels right. It is not out of the ordinary to work and stay busy and focused as you write. Grieving has no rules. You will find the time for that when you have the emotional space to do such. Talking about it when you can (even like this) can be helpful.

My prayers to you and the rest of your family.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

There is nothing wrong with you, nor is there anything wrong with your beliefs. I am so sorry that you lost your dad and are on the brink of losing your mother. I wish peace for all of you.

kritiper's avatar

There is nothing wrong with you. Life has setbacks for all of us, one way or another, and you’re going through a setback now. You’ll readjust soon enough and everything will be just fine. You’ll see!

gorillapaws's avatar

There’s nothing wrong with you. I’m sorry you’re going through this. Don’t feel guilty, because there’s nothing to feel guilty about.

filmfann's avatar

It sounds like your feelings and attitudes are normal and healthy.
Don’t worry about what other people think.

janbb's avatar

I can’t add much to the good responses above but just to reinforce that your feelings are valid and completely understandable. As far as going into work, my father had a long decline in and out of the hospital and my Mom always went into work for part of the day as a distraction. Completely normal.

Also, you described the situation with great clarity. Props to you for dealing with all of this! I hope she will be at peace soon.

KNOWITALL's avatar

My mom’s been fighting breast cancer mets for over 10 years now, and work is probably the only thing that kept me sane. I’ve also had many coworkers over the years going through hard times come in and work as a distraction, so no, you aren’t weird or wrong.

As a Christian, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking comfort from your religious beliefs, and/or reminding your mom to comfort her as well. Big hugs and prayers for peace for you and your mother.

si3tech's avatar

I think your feelings are normal and appropriate. God Bless!

Lonelyheart807's avatar

Thank you everyone for your responses, and for all of those who shared from personal experiences. A lot of times I feel people don’t understand me or my feelings, because, being an introvert, I tend to internalize my feelings a lot.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s perfectly fine. What ever gets you through the night.
It’s stressful, for sure.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

My older sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 of cancer and given six months to live. She fought it tooth and nail for five years before it got the better of her. When I told my supervisor, she figuratively kicked me out of the office to go “home” and deal with it. “We’ll cover you,” she said. And they did.

Your mother and the rest of the family need you to be there. And trust me, you will regret it if you aren’t there. The co-workers will understand this. Please…go.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Lonelyheart807 Same, I don’t tell anyone my feeling’s and internalize everything, that’s why I had a bleeding ulcer at 21. Don’t do that to yourself, we’re all here for you. Hugs.

NekoX's avatar

Knowing a person is going to die in advance doesn’t make grief any easier, sometimes it tends to stretch our denial out a lot more than it should though. I’m sensing the issue your having with work, the stress of finding a replacement is doing two things, it’s distracting you and it’s giving you a sense of something you can control. Its possibly the only part of your life you feel you have control over at the moment. Believe it or not your job will survive even without a handover, but you’ll be missed and supported and welcomed back to tighten things back up again. Take the time not just to be more present with your Mom, but to also give yourself a break, some “me” time will help you think clearer. It’s completely understandable that you don’t want your mom to suffer anymore, believe me the people you know are sharing the same sentiment. Be aware also that you may be having some feelings of guilt creeping in, it’s a natural feeling so don’t be too hard on yourself. Your going through an extremely difficult time right now, later on your new normal will allow you to move on. I always think it’s important to remember to Smile, it brings comfort to others and will help your self esteem.

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