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So overwhelmed  
Started by Elena
28 Jan 2023, 2:40 AM

Hello to everyone having to endure such difficult situations. My Dad just got diagnosed with lung and liver cancer. Doctors told us he's stage 4 already. I live in Toronto and came down to Massachusetts to care for him. He is in hospital and just finished first round of chemo.  I go to the hospital every day at 8am and come home to his empty house at 8pm. The toughest is returning to his house and being alone. I have 2 kids and a spouse that are back in Toronto. They came and visited for a few days which gave my dad some motivation I think. I don't know what to do. I hold his hand and try to be optimistic but we know that things are not good. There are good days and bad. I try my best but it's so hard to see a loved one deteriorating right before your eyes. And the guilt of not seeing each other as much as we should have. I need the strength to keep my sanity. 
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Reply by browncurlyhair
28 Jan 2023, 11:12 PM

Hey Elena --

I feel this... I flew one way from BC to Ontario at the end of November to help my mom with stage four stomach cancer and during the five weeks before she died it was incredibly isolating, overwhelming, crazy-making, sad, stressful, boring -- all of the emotions. I posted in this forum about feeling like I was in a personal hell cuz I didn't want it to end but at the same time I needed it to end, it was very intense, so I get you. This is not easy and no one will really get it until you're in it.

Because I knew that once this was all over I would be devestated that she was gone and I would be crushed if I hadn't appreciated the time I had with her, I was desperate to stay present and relinquish control from the not-knowing. Something that helped me with that was finding a few mantras that I could journal and re-journal. A few that resonated with me were, "I trust in this process. I trust that this journey is unfolding at the pace it should. I trust that I will look back and say, 'Everything happened exactly as it should have.'" It really grounded me and stopped me from swirling.

TBH, I don't know if there's a way to experience this without it being really, really hard, so you may need to just focus on your own basic self-care needs (so at least two good meals a day, a good sleep, one good walk a day, phone calls with friends or your spouse) and just managing the rest as it comes. Know that you will get through it. Know that you BEING there is the best thing for you and your dad, even when it's hard. Know that you will not regret being there for one moment.

And, yes, watching the deterioation is heartbreaking and overwhelming. I was really scared at the beginning, seeing how much weight my mom had lost, seeing how weak/exhausted she was when she walked, watching her experience pain, trying to wrap my head around her decline. I recommend crying when you need to cry. Hopefully you can cry in front of your dad and he can hold you. Let him cry, too. Those were some of the moments that brought me and my mom closer together. Eventually I came around to acceptance that this was what death looked like, and it was going to happen whether or not we liked it, and it was f*cking awful but it happens to all of us. This is what death looks like. Given that your dad is going through chemo it sounds like he'll have more time than my mom, but, yes, you are experiencing the dying process firsthand and it's pretty overwhelming, no two ways about it. <3

I don't know if any of this helps, but know that you're not alone, and you're heroic for leaving your family to be with your dad. It's courageous, selfless, and wonderful that you are there. You are doing a really, really good thing. Take care of yourself and keep posting in here as you need! 
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Reply by Elena
29 Jan 2023, 5:53 PM

 Thank you. it really means a lot that you responded dear. I am really sorry that you had to go through this awful situation with your mom. It feels different getting advice from people who have experienced the same awful diseas. I am preparing myself for the worst. His liver is full of masses. Doctors cant givr him too much chemo because his liver will fail. Such a delicate balance. My dad has been independent for the last 25 years after his divorce. Very strong stubborn man. He cannot accept that he is bound to a bed which he cannot even get up to use the washroom. He has outbursts of rage which affects me too. I have to take care of him reassure him. I feel that I have to take better care of myself too. I'll star taking those walk maybe do a little work out before coming in the hospital. He wants me there all day. I usually go there from 8/9 am until 8/9 pm. It's starting to take a toll on me. But I don't have the heart to tell him that I wan to come in a bit later.
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Reply by Christmas baby
30 Jan 2023, 2:27 AM

While in hospital I was my mother's safety net. She struggles with speaking and I became her interpreter and advocate. I knew what made her comfortable and what didn't. I was spending 12 hrs at the hospital and found it exhausting both physically and emotionally. So I started taking pee breaks and then would walk to the farthest bathroom. Upstairs and downstairs and even a short outside jaunt. Poor mom must have thought I had the runs but those 15 minute breaks every few hours rejuvenated me. I tried to "schedule" them around important hospital routines like meds and Dr rounds so I didn't miss anything. Now that she is home for her final weeks I miss those times where I could take a breath, have a break down and reach out to my support people. But the memories we are making and sharing are precious. 

It's hard to take care of yourself when you are a caregiver taking care of someone else. Do your best. Reach out to others to ease your burden. And let it out. Rant, cry, break down. 

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Reply by Elena
30 Jan 2023, 6:10 PM

Thank you for your reply. It is very hard to tak care of myself to be honest. But I do feel the impact this whole situation is having on my body and mind. I'll try my best to at least put some steps in maybe sign myself up for gym. Thank you again for your response. I really  do want to make up for lost ti and be there for him as much as I can.
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Reply by Sinc
03 Dec 2023, 7:41 PM

I am overwhelmed. I just lost my Dad. He was my North Star, confident and best friend. So why can't I grieve him yet? Is it possible to be so busy that grieve gets delayed and pushed aside?

My journey these past months started with flying from BC to Ontario to spend Thanksgiving and Moms birthday as well as start to get my parents affairs in order. My Dad had just received a " bad scan". How can someone go from driving to pick me up at the airport on Oct 6th and be dead by Oct 26th? None of us saw that coming.

So after the beautiful celebration of my Dads life,our entire family came down with Covid. I guess with the many people paying respects to Dad at visitation,we were at risk. 

Now what do we do with Mom?  She's not safe living at home alone as my Dad was her caretaker. Luckily we were able to find a lovely facility that Mom liked and she moves in tomorrow.

But now what happens? I know I'm numb and need to get these stuck emotions out. I have tried researching articles,buying grief books and even went to our local hospice to see if there were any counseling sessions. (Nothing until Jan 24)

Friends keep saying.. just trust the process. You will grieve in your own way and in your own time. Right now I'm feeling guilty!  Why did I fall apart with grief when I had to put my dog to sleep and I have been so clinical about my Dads death ( by MAiD). I should be incapacitated with grief knowing that I'm never going to see my hero again. 
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05 Dec 2023, 4:30 AM

Hello Sinc,  Your words, "Why did I fall apart with grief when I had to put my dog to sleep and I have been so clinical about my Dads death (by MAiD).." reminded me of words written by the clinical team at Canadian Virtual Hospice in response to that same sentiment sent in by a  person grieving the death of someone they loved. 
     "Many people wonder if their grieving is normal. If you’re not crying you may feel you’re not grieving as you should, and it can make you uncomfortable. Yet, grief can be surprising and unpredictable; you may well feel emotions you hadn’t expected." I know you said you have been trying to read and research - and I know too that it can be overwhelming and so tiring to read in the midst of grief. But just in case here is a link to the entire one page response Is it normal 

Good to know you have friends who are supportive and can listen to you. Do you have family apart from your mother? 


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Reply by Sinc
05 Dec 2023, 4:59 AM

Thanks for your reply Katherine.
Yes, I have a brother who lives in Ontario ( 30 min) from Mom and a sister and family out here in BC. We are a very close knit family which has given us strength through a number of tough times recently. 

My concern is I am a health care professional and I need to get back to work. But right now I don't feel I have anything left to give my staff and patients. I need to " sort myself out" before I try to return to having to " be there for everyone " at work. 

Ive been so skilled at having to push my emotions down until an appropriate time to deal or grieve that I feel like I've gone too far. Now I can't feel anything when I need to the most. Such an uncomfortable feeling. 

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Reply by eKIM
07 Dec 2023, 1:01 AM

Hello SINC

I am so sorry to hear of your loss and what you are going through.  I am a 75-year-old dad with two daughters who are currently “fussing” over my wife and me as we experience our own health challenges.

I am not a professional therapist, simply a hospice volunteer with 13 years experience helping people who are dying and their grieving families.

I have found that people who are undergoing a deep SoulSearch, usually do not find the “answers” from an external source.

People know themselves better than anyone else can possibly know them.  The “answers” that they seek are buried deep inside themselves.

The key is to find someone who is willing and able to listen to their story, over and over and over again until they have their own “lightbulb” moment.  

Their own “answers” will come bubbling to the surface and point them towards their path, their journey of healing, which does last a lifetime.  

There is no such thing as “closure”.  There is simply learning your very own personalized “skill set” of coping techniques that allow you to have the best possible future.

Do you have anyone who could act as a “good listener”, a compassionate companion, who could patiently listen to your story without judgement, or the desire to “fix” or try to “rescue” you?

If you do, that may be a starting point for you, my dear.

Also (but not instead of) there is a group of people here at Canadian Virtual Hospice who are ready and willing to “listen” to the messages that you post and respond.

In the meantime, I send you thoughts of peace and love.

- Ekim

Here is a poem that I wrote that I hope brings you comfort:

Hope is not lost forever if hope is re-defined.

What can hope for your future be?
Hope that your next breath comes without
a shudder of sadness.
Hope that the next hour will be
easier than the last one.
Hope that tomorrow your spirits
will rise as the sun rises.
Hope that the next day
will bring a wee respite of happiness.
Hope that the next month
will see you engage more fully with the world.
Hope that the next year
will see you in a new role of re-defined hopes and dreams.
Hope for a new future even as it unfolds
without the familiar presence of your loved one.
Hope to feel their loving presence with you, always.
And lastly, hope that one day you
will be reunited with your loved one for eternity.

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Reply by Sinc
07 Dec 2023, 4:03 PM

Dear Ekim,
Thank you for your email and words of wisdom. This has been such a different journey for me. I have been a nurse for 35 yrs and have seen and experienced my share of death. I was honoured and blessed to be able to care for my Dad in his final days and be there as he took his last breath. 

I am very lucky to have my sister living minutes away so we can go for walks and talk about Dad. I am also blessed to have some close friends who check in with me frequently and with whom I can share "Dad " stories with. 

But I'm still numb. I look at his pictures, say Hi Dad, Good Morning Dad... but the tears are still blocked. I haven't processed that I will never see him again. I will never get his amazing, healing bear hug as I am greeted at the airport. 

I can see why everyone's grief journey is so individual. We all have different relationships with the loved one lost. But Dad was my North Star right up until the time he died. How lucky was I to have his wisdom and influence for that long?
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