So recently my mother told me I need to tell my story. I have never written about my life because, it’s not just my life… but she gave me permission to write about it.
It is time I open up and maybe by putting this out there, I can somehow help someone else.
I find I feel alone most of the time and I know I’m not, there are plenty of people going through the same thing.
So, I’m just going to say it. My mother has terminal cancer, there is nothing they can do to help. My mother is dying.
Update – My mother passed away. 04/06/2020
Being a Watcher (See what I did there?)
Watching someone in this state, watching them die slowly isn’t easy and it doesn’t really get easier, you just get used to it. You get used to that hole in your heart, you get used to the guilt and the feeling of uselessness.
You hold their hand while they cry, you know you can’t do anything to help. It is beyond help. They are dying and you are the one who’s holding their hand, telling them it’s going to be okay, that you love them very much.
You try to make it clear to them, you are 100% there for them, you will do everything in your power to make them smile, make them laugh, make them feel a little less like death.
You cry in private, you don’t let them see. You scream into your pillow because you feel like you’re drowning. You can’t imagine a life without them, you never want to let them go.
You wipe your tears, take a deep breath and go back to them. You smile and make jokes. You tell them you love them. This is the life of a watcher. We stay strong and be brave.
I know we aren’t the ones dying, we aren’t the one’s going through the treatments but we do have feelings and emotions and we must never feel bad for feeling the way we do.
To the person who is supporting a loved one going through the process of treatments, I believe in you. You are stronger than you think and I know you can be there for the person who needs you. You do have it in you to hold their hand. You will be okay to sit with them as they lose their hair. You can do it. You can rub their back while they’re hunched over the toilet bowl. If that person you love, if they need you then you will find the strength within to stand tall and be there for them. What they are going through is hard, they shouldn’t have to do it alone.
That said, there is level of respect you need to remember. If the person you love has made certain decisions and they would prefer to be alone. Don’t push them. Everyone goes through things differently. My main thing with my mom was to listen to her. Listen to what she wanted. I am there for her, when it came to my mother I always chose myself second (My Choice.) I know that may not the best or healthiest way to do things but there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my mother. She brought me into this life, I will take care of her. It is the least I can do… she gave me life, she took care of me, she made me laugh, she is my best friend.
So, all I will say is, listen to what they want, respect what they want and love them. Just love them. If they need space then love them from where you are, if they want closeness then give them cuddles. Understand what they want and try to give it to them to the best of your ability.
Taking care of someone sick isn’t fun but it is rewarding and so special. Allow yourself to learn from the experience, soak up the wisdom they choose to share and cherish every moment because we don’t know how long it will last. Honestly that is how we should live in every aspect of our lives. Death doesn’t let you know when he is coming, he arrives when it is time and we can’t reschedule.
So, no matter the severity of the situation… live it. Don’t check out because there are lessons to be learnt and you have the opportunity to make a person’s life easier when they need it. Don’t be scared you aren’t good enough or that you don’t have the strength. You do… you can do it.
Remember, if you need to chat… I can listen.
Accept The Tears.
Since pain is something that my mother has dealt with for a very long time, it sometimes claws at my heart when I hear her cries of pain.
I go and give her the morphine to try and give her some peace. Once the crying stops and her face relaxes, she finally manages to fall asleep. I will then leave the room and cry my own tears. someone so wonderful, kind, loving and strong doesn’t deserve to go through so much pain. I cry and cry, I make sure I don’t wake her… I keep my tears to myself.
Once I calm myself, I go and sit next to her. I try to focus on my work but instead I look at her face. I still see her as she was before the cancer started eating her. So full of life, so beautiful. I feel the tears coming again but I hold them back. My chair makes a noise as I face the computer to start working and she wakes up. I curse myself. While she is still drowsy, she can offer me a smile. I have a few peaceful hours with her and then the crying starts again. It is a never ending loop of tears. Either I’m crying or she’s crying. The tears keep falling.
Crying… it is natural. I often encourage people to cry, it’s a beautiful way of letting go. I know how to comfort someone crying, I know how to handle my own tears when I need to let go but I find it entirely different when someone is crying hysterically from pain. No one should have to feel pain, yet we all go through it in some form. For a terminally ill person, pain is a constant, it is a part of them.
A person supporting a loved one with a terminal illness has to learn how to live with the tears, how to accept the tears and how to comfort the one who’s crying.
When things get worse.
Ultimately there will be a time when things start to get worse for your loved one, and then it may get better but it may end in tears too. This is a truth we just have to live with, tomorrow they may not be there anymore. Though isn’t that just life in general, any of us could die tomorrow, I think the difference is the process. When it comes to terminal illness, we watch it happen… every day.
My mother has reached a tipping point, she has always been incredibly strong. It gets bad and she fights it, she fights to live. I have stopped counting how many times a doctor has told us that she won’t live to see next week or next month but she proves them wrong every time. I don’t know if that will be the same this time. She’s tired and that’s something we have to make peace with. They get tired and they do deserve peace. So once again, whatever her choice may be, I support her.
It’s Okay To Hope.
I know it feels strange to hope, useless even. I don’t think I will ever stop hoping, not till the day she actually passes on. The last few times my mother was on her death bed I thought it would truly take her but she kept bouncing back. I have similar thoughts every time things get bad.
This time is the worst I have ever seen her. She has started on the Morphine Syrup and she will have to go on nappies soon. I’m getting her a pack tomorrow. She can’t stand anymore, she can’t do much at all really. Though I remain hopeful, I have never met anyone as strong as her. She may still pull through. I know it isn’t likely this time but I keep telling myself that it is okay to hope, I am gentle with myself.
So keep hoping, keep that hope in your heart even if it’s just to comfort yourself.
I don’t know about your loved one but my mom loves flowers. Just like my grandmother. Flowers bring her happiness. I’m all for anything that will make my mom smile. Smiling really is the best medicine! Laughter is even better! Though most of the time she’s in too much pain to laugh, but smiling is just as wonderful.
Now that things are going so fast, I live for those smiles. I make sure to always smile at her, I offer her soft smiles all day. I speak to her as I usually would, I make conversation and I give her all the celeb gossip (silly but it makes her smile. She doesn’t really care but she enjoys when I spew out random stuff at her.) I offer her sips of my coffee and we share something sweet. I bring her flowers because they make her happy.
My mom is dying but she’s still my mom. The best mom in the world.
No More Words.
This is not the first time I’ve held someone’s hand while they have been on their death bed. This is not the first time that I have changed adult nappies. This is not the first time that I have been woken up in the middle of the night by someone crying out in pain. There comes a time in this journey, when there are no more words.
My mother no longer has enough oxygen to speak. She is silent. She has no more words.
This doesn’t mean one should stop talking to her though, now more than ever it is imperative that she has constant noise around her. Music, movies, audio books, my constant silly babbling. It is hard talking to someone who can no longer reply. It is discouraging to get a blank look after you have made a joke. I have to remind myself that she is laughing on the inside and that she really appreciates my nonsense.
The one thing she cannot stand is when people just stare at her and say nothing. She will close her eyes and pretend to be asleep. Wouldn’t you feel the same? I mean, she isn’t an alien. It’s not like she’s a weeping angel and you have to stare at them, without blinking. She’s a human being and she deserves to be treated the same as she always has been, with respect.
So if your loved one has reached the point of no more words. Talk. Talk to them all the time. Smile at them, laugh, sing… they can still hear you.
When You Have To Say Goodbye
I had to say goodbye. My mother, my beautiful, wonderful, brave mommy passed away last week. This has been the hardest week of my life.
My mommy passed while I was sleeping. Around 4am. My puppy woke me, she was sleeping on my mom’s lap. She jumped onto my face and when I looked around my mommy wasn’t breathing anymore.
There will be a time when you have to say goodbye. Though sometimes you don’t get the opportunity to say goodbye before they leave. There are many things I wish happened differently but, I don’t have a say in the matter. None of us do. When it is time, it is time.
I know I did my best, I gave her love and I nurtured her. I wish I could have done more but there was nothing to be done.
There will be a time when you have to make peace.
We are not always in control, people get sick and they may die. What we are in control of, is ourselves. We can love those who are ill unconditionally, make them happy and comfortable while they are around.
I am going to have to learn how to live without her, she was my world.
The time will come when life goes on. Life will keep happening no matter what, no matter how heartbroken and alone you are. You will have to stand tall and keep on because they would have wanted you to keep living.
I will strive to learn more, and understand more. I will try to find myself in this messy world, I will keep on loving and caring for people. I will accept love and care from others. I will never be able to fill her shoes but I will try to make her proud.
The time will come when you can smile and mean it. I believe that one day happiness will return.
Ultimately this time is hard, messy and ugly. We mourn and we cry. The tears don’t seem to stop but our loved one is no longer suffering, they are no longer being eaten by illness. They are free of the pain. For that we can smile, and be grateful. We had good times and bad, they left so many memories within us. They will never truly die.
Be strong and remember, you are not alone.
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