Dealing with a dying parent

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anonymous user
Registered: 12-31-1969
Dealing with a dying parent
19
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 2:58pm

Not sure this is the right place for this, but I am the mother of two teens and we all have to deal with this. We live in Massachusetts; my parents live in the Seattle area. My dad is dying of metastatic prostate cancer. He has already outlived his prognosis of one year, but from here on out, it looks as if all the news is going to be bad news.

We've been out to the west coast 5 times in the past year. The last time was a few weeks ago, when we helped my parents move out of their 3 BR house into a small condo in a retirement community. My kids were troopers. We had a lot more packing and moving to do than we anticipated (because my parents refused to throw ANYTHING out) and they worked their butts off during a heat wave trying to get all the stuff (seriously, who needs 73 neck ties?) loaded and moved into their new place.

Where we really stumbled was in knowing what to say. I am generally a positive person, and I found myself saying stupidly optimistic things whenever my mom would say something sad. I know she is in despair anticipating the loss of someone to whom she has been married for over 50 years, so there really is nothing anyone can say that doesn't sound wretchedly stupid and trite.

In any case, I know some of you have BTDT, so I'm wondering what on earth you said to comfort the likely surviving spouse? The kids and I are sincere Christians and I know my parents also believe, but they really don't like it when we bring up matters of faith. Not sure why...maybe that will change down the line.

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Avatar for anotherheartmum
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-26-2002
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 8:27pm

Hi,

 

I just lost my dad about a month ago and I have three teen boys.  I just stopped in for a moment to read and dont have time to reply just now. I am packing up my house, I will stop in later tonight to reread and reply.

 

keep well

 

Avatar for anotherheartmum
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-26-2002
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 11:25pm
ok, I'm back now. I had to reread your post because I thought at first you were looking for how to talk to the kids, but now I see it's what to say to your mom. my dad just passed away July 14th, so not long now. I went to every chemo appt with him and my mom. sometimes I would sit the whole time with my dad in the chemo room and other times he would tell me to sit with my mom in the waiting area, she never went in the chemo room. that's when she would talk about her fears for the future. you're right, there really is nothing you can say that will make it all better. I usually just listened and validated her feelings. she expressed worry about not knowing how to take care of the bills, the yard etc etc and I told her that she didnt have to worry about that right now, that when the time came we would all sit with her and help her thru it. my dad would confide in me his worry about leaving her, that she couldnt take care of the house and bills etc, that she would get sucked into helping her flaky sister etc etc. I felt like a therapist between the two of them. but they really just wanted to be heard and not necessarily wanted to hear anything in return. I couldnt say things like I know what theyre going thru, because I dont. I wasnt looking after a sick spouse and I wasnt losing a spouse. my parent yes, and its a diferent feeling than what my parents were facing.

as for my boys, they handled it way better than I thought they would too, but I didnt keep any secrets and I didnt offer any false hope. I am not a sugar coated kind of person, I tell it like it is. so I did. right from the start I told my boys that their Nonno wouldnt have much time, but how much he had we didnt know and that we had to make the most of the time we did have. they all were pallbearers at his funeral and I am still amazed they carried the task with such grace and dignity, better than some grown men I have seen.

we are now selling our home and moving in with my mom for a while. she doesnt want to be alone and so far hasnt. one of us has been with her or she's been at our house. she has an acre and cant look after it, so we will be doing that for a while. it will give us time to find what we need without having to rush and while we're there, we can help her purge and go thru each room one at a time to decide what she wants to give a way and what to take to her new place once she decides to sell and move.

I'm so sorry you havve to go thru this with your father, it is not easy. especially watching each parent worry so much about each other. ((((hugs)))))

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