Coping with other people's grief and guilt

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Tender Face, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    5,379
    NW England
    I arranged to take a long-standing friend of my mother's to visit mum in hospital today ...... a previous neighbour from 40+ years ago who has known me since being a toddler as well as being a co-worker and good friend to mum over the years, although for health reasons of her own not a frequent visitor .....she was horrified at my mother's presentation and as aghast as me that the 'lady she lunched with' less than two months ago presents as she does now (obviously lots of physical problems going on besides the dementia and we are looking at end of life care) ...... the rapid physical and mental decline is unbelievable ....

    Came away today, heartbroken, mum didn't recognise her friend initially .... (but after some coaxing she did and they got on to 'old memories' and it was a fairly successful visit in the end for mum, at least) .....and that her friend said she would not have not recognised my mum had she not been there with me ........ I don't know which crippled me the most.

    I have contacted the 'circle' of old friends and family (which mum has managed not to fall out with pre or post-dementia!:rolleyes:) to alert them to the seriousness of the situation .... but wonder if I am doing right? It was so distressing for mum's friend today (I should have made the effort more often') and I felt so much for her ..... ... and distressing for mum (that she struggled to remember her 'best friend' from years ago).

    I'm so grateful for people visiting alongside me who can sit and chat and recall tales which do seem to raise her consciousness .... better than my chit-chat of 'I've washed your nighties' ..... but I'm not sure it's fair ....... on mum, me or them .... any thoughts?

    Love, Karen, x
     
  2. citybythesea

    citybythesea Registered User

    Mar 23, 2008
    632
    coast of texas
    u did right..

    I most certainly would have done the same. Most of mom's friends are gone now, so I don't have the same luxury of her friends.

    She has a group of friends and relatives that no longer can get aropund to see her. I email them regularly on our triumphs and tragedies. ONe of her older friends recently let me in on this piece of news..."I can decide for myself Nancy, I'm older than you. I can handle life." I call her spunky, but she is right, your mom still has something going on and can be prodded to remember. Warn her friends but don't keep them away..I think you too will over time learn more of your mom and come to enjoy the new "take" on your visits.


    HUGS

    Nancy
     
  3. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,438
    Dear Karen - I would agree with Nancy. By all means warn them about her deterioration but it sounds as if your mother got something from the visit, and that's the most important thing. After all it's not as you're kidnapping these people and dragging them kicking and screaming (or are you?;) ) If they don't think they can cope then they won't go.
     
  4. Tina

    Tina Registered User

    May 19, 2006
    420
    Dear Karen,

    agree with Jennifer and Nancy, I think you did the right thing. I know we did this with nan when she deteriorated massively, we did it with gramps, too, and Uncle Harry and his family did the same with Aunty Jean.

    From those who did visit and hadn't done for a long time, the reaction was similar to that of your mum's friend. I remember vividly old neighbours of my nan's who hadn't gone to see her in NH going in her final months and would not have found her or recognised her had we not been with htem. I remember nanny's oldest friend crying her eyes out after one visit but feeling so relieved and glad she had gone to see her.

    And I remember sitting at Aunty Jean's bedside 2 weeks after I had walked around town with her and had coffee with her and Uncle Harry, and I just couldn't get my head round it that the woman who had been completely confused a fortnight ago but still mobile, still walking, still recognising me, still trying to chat and still clearly pleased to see me, was now in a bed, paralysed down the right side, no speech, no swallowing, almost no reaction, doubly incontinent... so hard.

    But you did the right thing. Those who want to will visit and it might cheer mum a bit.

    Love, Tina x
     
  5. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Agree with the rest, Karen.

    You've seen the effect on one old friend, and now know to warn anyone thinking of visiting.

    But they're all adults, and capable of making their own decisions. If they feel they'd be too upset, they won't go. If they do go, well, you've warned them!

    Your mum enjoyed the visit, so it would be unfair to deprive her if people want to go. And they might feel better if they can make their own farewells.

    Love,
     
  6. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    10,824
    london
    #6 Margarita, Jun 3, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2008
    I know what you mean , when you say don't know which crippled me the most

    I wonder if they say that because they recognizing they own mortality, so I change the subject .

    I agree also if your mother getting something out of the visit go for it ask them .

    with my mother she does not mind seeing people from the past that new her as long as they don't talk about how the past was with mum . she just gets upset when they talk about the past . she tell me what do I want to talk about the past for? she get rude really because she can't relate connect to what they saying, because really she can't remember them or what they talking about . Then over time she just smile at them , saying that Nice you know me, but won't say another word to them , closes her eyes to have a nap .

    So her friends ask me in the street how mum getting on, I love them telling me storys of how they rememeber my father, mother and my brother & I as a child :).

    It make me feel more positive reminding me of how mum look like before this happen to her , that I get the photo out to reminded me of how my mother use to look like act like , but I have to take a very deep breath other wise the water works won't stop, So I put the photo to my cheast then put it down . Move on into my hear Now , how mum is now , Just shareing how I cope .
     
  7. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    5,379
    NW England
    Thanks all of you!

    Today's visit (with another long-standing friend) was a very different experience ... immediate recognition - lots of laughs ... lots of lovely memories ..... mum thanked me because she had had so many different visitors and knew it must have been down to me letting them know (wow! :)) ... hadn't an earthly clue who they were but she knew she had enjoyed it! :D

    Took me back to advice I had more than two years ago - doesn't matter if they can't rememebr the detail - if they have a 'good feeling' about something then it is worth it ....... :)

    Maggie, think you are a mind reader at the minute:

    I feel terrible I hadn't even thought of that when when my own mortality and what might happen to my own son is something troubling me as I face the imminent loss of the 'second parent' ........

    and ....

    This has been an eye-opener ... there has been a special comfort in being in touch with people who once 'babysat' me!!!! :) My mother turned to her friend at one point today and asked her 'You will look after her for me won't you?' You can imagine what THAT did to my tear ducts!!!!!

    I just want things to be so right .....

    Love, Karen, x
     
  8. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Karen you're doing everything in your power to make things right.:)

    How lovely that your mum was able to recognise what you had done, and was able to thank you. And then to ask her friend to look after you --- wow, no wonder you cried. Such a wonderful visit for you, and one you'll never forget.

    I bet your dad looking down and feeling proud of you too!:)

    Love,
     
  9. Kayla

    Kayla Registered User

    May 14, 2006
    621
    Kent
    Dear Karen,
    Before my Mum went into a care home, I organised an 80th Birthday Party for her at my house. I invited as many of her friends, relations and neighbours as possible and Mum enjoyed herself, although she was a little vague at times.

    Afterwards, Mum said "They all seemed like very nice people!"
    We said,"They should be nice people, as they are all your friends!"
    Mum was really surprised that she knew them, but at least it was a good memory for everyone to treasure.

    My Mum died three weeks after her 82nd birthday.
    My daughter is getting married in July and we are growing pink and white cottage garden flowers for the flower arrangements in memory of my mother and mother-in-law, because pink was their favourite colour.
    It is sad that our Mums won't be at the wedding, but the flowers will remind us of them and we will still have plenty of the flowers left in the garden afterwards.

    My thoughts are with you at this difficult time and I hope that your Mum's visitors can be a blessing to her and remind her of happier times.

    Take care of yourself,

    Best wishes,

    Kayla
     
  10. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    5,379
    NW England
    Perhaps I might explain why I am as high as a kite tonight?

    Wasn't sure whether to share this - but I figure the 'good moments' and the laughs are a must for sharing ... and mum laughed at this more than anyone .......

    I tried to explain why one of her closest friends wasn't able to visit .....

    'Sorry, Teresa can't come.'
    'Jesus?'
    'No, mum, Teresa..... Te-re-sa.'
    'Oh I thought you said Jesus.'
    'Well, no, mum, he's not coming either .....' :eek:

    At which point all the staff round the nursing station were ready to help me pick mum off the floor for too much giggling ... you're so right Skye ... a wonderful, wonderful memory - to see such laughter .... I think Jesus was actually there with us! :)

    Love, Karen, x
     
  11. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,438
    Lovely Karen, simply lovely :D

    Love
     
  12. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    10,824
    london
    #12 Margarita, Jun 3, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2008
    Yes I can , but What a lovely thing to say to a daughter.

    your mother does sound like she has a lot of courage, that what we can show our children when we are facing are own mortality

    I had an uncle like that he also had a cancer his last words to me was his was not scared of death ( I always wondered what he meant of that, as he said it to me in the car on the way to my father funeral but now I understand what he means and it give me comfort ) few weeks later he pass away .

    Nice to see you on TP Kayla. wishing you & your daughter all the best on her wedding day
     

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