How can I help my Mother get over losing my Father suddenly?

kcruegerMay 31, 2005

Hi, I am new and hoping someone here can offer me some advise.

Well, January of this year we lost my Dad suddenly. He had a Pulminary Embolism (blood clot to his lung), and died within an hour of waking up feeling fine. It was especially hard for my family since he had been battling Non Hodgkins Lymphoma (Lymph Cancer) for 2 1/2 years. Chemo treatments weren't exactally working the way the Dr's, and all of us hoped, so as a last resort, he was scheduled to get a Stem Cell Transplant in February. I always thought if I lost him, it would be to the Cancer, even though I doubted it would get him. I thought because he was as strong as a horse, he would beat this and everything would be fine. We all knew we didn't want him to suffer and die a slow painful death to cancer seeing him in so much pain as it was, and are thankful he died so quickly so he didn't have to suffer, but have to trade that with being able to say goodbye, which we never would because we didn't for a minute want him to think we were giving up hope.

Well, now it has been 3 1/2 months since his death, and I don't know how to help my Mother get through this. My two other siblings and I all spend time with her, but the hardest part for her is the weekends. I know she has to be SO lonely, and can tell when I call her she is really down. I tell her to come and hang out at my house, spend time with here grandchildren, and so on, but she feels like we have our own family, and doesn't want to intrude. I guess she feels like a 5th wheel. We love having her around and don't want her to feel like that.

I guess in a nutshell, I want to know how to make her stop feeling so lonely. I love her and don't want her to hurt so much. This weekend has been one of the worst I think because it would have been their 39th wedding anniversary. If anyone has any advise, I would welcome it.



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Oh, Karen, I am so sorry to hear about your dad. I, too, lost my Dad suddenly. He passed away four years ago the 22nd of May. He had had several mini strokes through the years and was in the hospital for tests because his memory was getting increasingly bad, etc. They kept him overnight. Early that night my Mom crawled up into the hospital bed with him and they watched a baseball game together. He then told her he had a really bad headache. The really bad headache was a major stroke and he never woke up from it. He died about daylight the next morning. He was still a very active, vital man at almost 84. He had mowed his own huge yard earlier that week, etc.

My first thought is how you phrased your post, "How can I help my Mother get over losing my Father suddenly?" The answer is - you can't. You can offer her love and companionship but you can't take away the loss or keep her from grieving. It's awful to even imagine what she's going through, but for her to feel less is to negate your Dad and what he meant to her.

I'm telling you this and also reminding myself, in a way. I know it's hard to see them grieve and be so unhappy but you have to remember that she lost the most important person in the world to her. One person (or many) can't take that place.

Just be there for her. Listen to her when she wants to talk. Reassure her that your Dad will not be forgotten.
Most importantly, just love her.

It's rough and I know what you're dealing with. I don't post a lot on this forum, but I do know that there are a lot of caring people with insight into just this type of loss.
Let us know how you all are doing.

Hugs to you and to your family. ((Karen))

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 1:27AM
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Thank you for your kindness. I guess I don't necessarily want my mom to stop missing my dad, but I don't know how to re-assure her that she isn't a 5th wheel, and we want her around. I think that in addition to missing my dad so much as all of us do, she also feels alone, and she isn't. Even though we have our own little families, she is part of the big picture. I guess I am so afraid of our family falling apart, not realizing until now that my dad was pretty much the backbone of our family unity. I don't know, just at a loss for ideas.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 2:16AM
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Karen, if your family is anything like mine, until you lost your Dad, you hadn't seen a lot of loss or grief for someone. It's hard to watch it (and experience it!)

I think I'd probably just call my Mom, if I were you, and ask her to your house to eat, to go out, to watch activities that the kids are involved in, etc. Let her know that it's okay to not be in the mood to do anything. Also let her know that you really WANT her to be involved in whatever your family is doing.

My Mom has spent the night at my house two nights since my Dad passed away. Get this, I had to break my ankle and have surgery in order to get her to do that! LOL I kid her that having surgery is the only way she'll stay at my house overnight! LOL We live 80 miles apart and I call her everyday - usually twice a day. We've talked more by phone in the last four years than we'd ever talked in our lives.

My DH and I and our kids and grandkids make it a point to at least spend part of every holiday at her house. She likes to stay home, so we go to her. I DO feel sometimes at her house, when everyone is there but Daddy, that there's the proverbial "big gray elephant" in the house that no one mentions. You know what I mean? Everybody is highly aware of the fact that he's no longer with us, but nobody wants to talk about it for fear of upsetting somebody else! Now, when it's just my Mom and me together, we cry (and laugh!) when we feel the need to.

That's something else that I haven't thought to mention. Let her cry when she feels the need to cry. I guess you don't have to say a word, just be there for her.

She and I both have talked about the fact that Fathers are the HEAD of most families. Then, as women, we both agree that the Mothers are the HEART of the family. Maybe you can reassure her in that way that she IS a vital, needed part.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 3:20AM
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Hi Karen,

I am so sorry about the loss of your father, and the pain everyone, especially your mom, is experiencing. Please remember that your parents were together for decades. In a flash, the one "constant" for your mom in all those years was gone forever. At three or four months she is just getting started with her grieving.

When you say you want to help her "get over" her loss, I know you mean well. But you might want to consider a different goal: Helping your mom "adjust" to her loss. Do you see the difference?

Your mom needs time to rebuild a new vision, a new picture of what her life will be without your dad. She's lucky to have kids who are there for her and WANT to help! Rather than leaving an open-ended invitation to come hang out, maybe you could be more specific. For example, invite her to lunch next Tuesday. Continue to ask her for her input about mundane things that you probably talked about before. What does she think of your garden plans, can she help you paint the dining room? You get the idea. Do what you can, but without pressure. Let her grieve in a way that works for HER. Your parents obviously raised a wonderful daughter. Things will be better again. Hang in there.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 3:26PM
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nikoleta's got it right...

if you're trying to make her feel needed- need her. need her help with a recipe, or a sewing project, conspire with your kids to create crisises (grandmom, I'm doing a report on the Witch Hunts of the 50's, and how they compare to the current Patriot Act- and i have no idea what they're talking about!)

I'm going through the same thing- retirement was ok as long as she has dad to take care of, but she broke down this weekend after the doctors released him, and he didn't make it 10 miles before he was back in ER on his way to ICU...but now she's facing being alone just a year after their golden anniversary, with too much house with too many memories, and only one kid who comes to visit...

which lead me to break down crying to my husband that I wanted to have a baby just to give mom something to DO! when she's not at the hospital holding my dad's ever weakening hand.


gods blessing on you all...

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 3:54PM
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HI Karen,
How is it going with your mother? I am writing because I was looking for help with this myself. I lost my father on Sept 30 this year. My mother is 45 she is having a very hard time with this. I understand that she is hurting and has to go through this whole grieving process, just like the rest of us. But I am very concerned, I have never in my life seen her so low and depressed. We include her in everything we do, but I just wish I had some advice to give her, on her DOWN days? How has your mother been with your advice?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2005 at 1:09AM
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my father also recently died after a long and painful illness. Our mother and brothers and sister (there are 4 of us) were with my father constantly,averaging about 5 hours a day so that he had constant companionship at the hospital. He passed about a week ago and since then we have been constant companions to my mother as well. She is grieving and seems weak and needy. We have been comforting as best we can and spending time with her everyday. Until tonight we have been spending the night, taking turns. Tonight is our first night without being with her. My sister just called and said she is going to go to my moms because she seemed emotional and needy. My question to all of you is this. Should we be there for my mother 100% of the time. Are we in danger of her needing us 100% of the time if we don't pull back ever so slightly. I would have her out to my home but she has a dog that is not condusive to any of our homes. We live about 1/2 hour away from each other- What do you all think? Please reply. If you could e mail your answer that would be great. I am new to this site and I am not sure how to read any responses. Thank you, Mary

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 12:12AM
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