Incomprehensible, Surreal, and Heartbreaking

Discussion in 'Loss of Both Parents' started by Melanie W, Jun 24, 2016.

  1. Melanie W

    Melanie W Member

    In May of 2014, my life changed forever. Actually, the summer of 2013, is where it all began. That summer, my mother was showing some major signs of Dementia and was diagnosed a few months later.
    My sweet, funny, smart, and loving mother became a person none of us knew. We tried desperately to take care of her- of course most of the responsibility falling on my father. She became paranoid, hostile, and just plain mean (totally the opposite of herself) with much of this directed towards my father. We didn't exactly know where to turn and what resources to use, and my father wanted to do whatever he could to keep things "normal".

    The week of May 19, 2014, my father spent much of the week in bed. I knew something wasn't right because
    he was such an active person-walking, cycling, landscaping, etc. I thought it was depression. Although he was groggy at times, he still seemed himself, answered my annoying questions appropriately, and swore that he did not need to go to the hospital. I even emailed our pastor to come see him to help him with his "depression". He did get up and do some things so I tried to convince myself that he was okay. My sister and I had tried to convince him for months that he/we needed to find help for my mother before it took its toll on him. My dad had always meticulously recorded in a notebook when he took his medication throughout the day, and my husband (Jamie) and I noticed that from May 19th and on nothing was recorded. When we took him to the hospital on June 2, we were informed that he had suffered from several mini strokes, and was eventually diagnosed with Vascular Dementia.

    Two parents with Dementia-although the cause was different for each. That summer we watched my dad slip away mentally and physically. My parents needed 24 hour care, so caregivers became part of our family, as they took care of our parents in their home. It was definitely surreal, incomprehensible, and heartbreaking. On September 8th, 2014, my dad passed away.

    I could truly write for hours about that summer. I have so many layers of feelings that I can't even explain. I feel tremendous guilt for not taking my dad to the hospital sooner. My mom had to be put in a home with a secured Dementia unit, although physically, she was in perfect shape. I haven't even shared the sadness that I endured with my mom. I was equally close with both of my parents, and seeing two relatively healthy people deteriorate before my eyes was beyond horrible. I was always lucky that although my mom could be feisty and nasty because of her Dementia, she was still as loving as she was able to be with me, although I don't think she always knew who I was.

    One year later, on October 19th, 2015, my mom passed away. Although I knew it was coming, getting that phone call about each of my parent's passing was still shocking. Having support from my husband, sister, and other family members has made this experience easier, but I still wrestle with so many emotions that are hard to explain. We have moved into my parent's house (it took awhile to make that decision) which I have found some peace, but I often feel sad, guilty, and regretful. I wish I had forced my dad to get my mom help. I wish I had taken my dad to the hospital sooner. I wish I had spent more time with my mom at the Nursing Home... And of course to this day, it is still so surreal and heart breaking that my relatively young, healthy parents are gone. Although the pain has lessened, it is still very much there.
  2. griefic

    griefic Administrator Staff Member

    Thank you for sharing your story, Melanie. You have been through so much in such a short time. I find that a lot of the work of grieving comes in processing all that has happened. When going through something like this, the focus is often on what's happened (incidents, illnesses or diagnoses) and what needs to be done next (doctor's appointments, changes in medications, facility placements)...and therefore there really isn't time to absorb the emotion of all that comes with it.
    Dealing with two losses in such a short period of time is extra challenging. I would imagine when your father passed away your focus turned to your mother and her care. There was probably so much to worry about with her care, that you may not have "had time" to consider what his loss meant in your life. When she passed away only a little over a year later - suddenly it can be like losing both parents at once.
    Of course you already know it's hard, but often times I think it's important for a griever to understand (and have validated for them perhaps) just WHY it's so hard. For people who haven't had a loss, and for the way "society" treats death and dying, it may seem that these losses occurred a long time ago. But of course you know that's not the case at all. If it feels that there is still so much for you to work through, then give yourself time to do it. With the same patience and compassion you'd have for your best friend....allow yourself time to mourn, and time to heal.
    Thank you for being here and for allowing us to be on this journey with you.
  3. Melanie W

    Melanie W Member

    Thank you and you said it perfectly- alot of the focus at the time was on doctor's appointments, changes in medications, and facility placements. My sister and I had numerous conversations about what needed to happen next- it was definitely nonstop. And yes- when my dad passed away the focus had to be on my mother. Throughout the summer of my dad's illness, my mom of course with her illness, required much attention. Even on the day of my dad's funeral, my mom was challenging (I say that lovingly!) and it was hard to be completely "present" at his service with alot of energy and focus going to her. Thank you for your support and I am grateful to have you on this journey with me!
    griefic likes this.
  4. taylormary11

    taylormary11 New Member

    So sorry for your loss. Dementia is the worst thing. I work in long-term care and see it every day.
    I also have a lot of regrets about my parents. Should I have told them to stop coding my mom when they called and asked? But I hesitated and said "uh... let me call my stepdad".
    Just know you aren't alone.