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Losing Oneself


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Dear Helen I can definitely relate to the feeling of redundancy. My entire life has been on hold and in some sense that has been very convenient: no need to make decisions, and now I can. Not so much the jealousy though, although for me it's very early days and I suspect that that will come with time: I'm still in the relief stage.




Registered User
May 14, 2006
Dear Helen,
I found it was a great shock to the system, when both my children had left school and gone to University. It sounds silly, but I missed the notes from school and the parents evenings, but once they go away to Higher Education, parents are no longer involved very much.
When Mum died two months ago, I also missed the visits to the Nursing Home and the conversations with the staff. Suddenly, quite a large part of my life and responsibilties had vanished.
Fortunately, I have been taking courses at Adult Education, over the last couple of years and unexpectedly managed to get a new job, which starts in September. My daughter is also getting married next year, so I have plenty to look forward to.
I do feel unsettled, as I know that my life has changed completely and everything from now on is going to be different. I'm glad I started the courses when I did, so that I have been learning new skills.
Perhaps you just need to take a break and then look around for something which interests you, or just join a club or a course "for fun". I think gaps in our lives, seem to get filled up somehow, so try and make sure it is what you'd really like to do!
I think the feeling of loss is all part of the grieving process.
Take care of yourself,


Registered User
Mar 16, 2005
Thank you for posting Helen, a chord definitely struck here. My youngest son is about to do his final 'A' level year, so him leaving the nest is getting closer.

I kind of look forward to not having to feel constantly responsible for his comfort and happiness, and I love the thought that he can be independant. Yet part of me wants to hold on to him because once he's gone I know the empty space that will be left - and I am trying to think about those "what comes next" decisions (Jennifer).

I suppose this mirrors the feelings I have about Dad. When he was in the Home, and even in hospital, at least there was still that presence, I had somewhere to go, something to concentrate on - hoping to make him smile, which in turn might make Mum smile. Now I am not sure what to do - and I am trying to think about those "what comes next" decisions (Jennifer).
Kayla said:
I think gaps in our lives, seem to get filled up somehow, so try and make sure it is what you'd really like to do!
I know this is good advice, Kayla, but I can't seem to put it in practise yet!

There is also another aspect of all this that I am finding particularly difficult at the moment, that is the parent left behind. I can't even find the right words to explain it. I should be so, so grateful (and of course I am) that I have my Mum, but dear old Mum cannot replace my Dad - perhaps it is as simple as that.

Love from Hazel.

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
Dear Helen,
Although I am not there yet, as my mother is very much with us (in the flesh, at least), I think your reaction is completely understandable. Intellectually, I know I must make the most of things while Mum is alive, because I know I'll feel so many mixed emotions when she dies. Emotionally, it's a different matter but I do try very hard to make my head rule my heart. Can't say I'm all that successful but oh well, life goes on.

I don't think your thoughts are particularly unpleasant, they are completely natural. Yes, you want your mother here, even though she was ill. There's no relief, as you've lost her.

Thinking of you.

blue sea

Registered User
Aug 24, 2005
Thank you for your post, Helen. It really struck a chord with me, as it has with the others who have responded. I can remember sitting by dad in hospital as he lay dying, thinking 'I know this is selfish as you are suffering so much, but please don't leave me yet'. Now he (and mum) are gone, I feel so bereft and empty and yet I know it is the natural order of things and has to happen to us all. Like you, this has coincided with my daughter growing up and leaving home. Although I am so happy for her in her new independent life, and still have a lovely close relationship with her, it is another loss of the nurturing role. I miss too all the small details about caring for dad, even though so much of it was very traumatic. I also find myself re running details of particular crises and wondering whether I could have done more. I feel I am starting to enjoy life again, but for much of the last 18 months since dad died I realise now I was just 'getting through'. I suppose we all have to find our own way through the grief, but it does help to know others share similar feelings.
Blue sea


Registered User
Apr 30, 2006
Hi Helen

I really empathise with all you've said:(

3 years ago my mum and dad were both alive.......ok....dad had cancer and I was blissfully unaware of mums dementia(to my shame.....:eek: ...however I've learned so much more about this disease now......at the time I thought she'd become a little eccentric:eek: )

My kids were 15,13 and 11 and still pretty dependant on me.
Dad depended on me to take him to his hospital appointments, to chat to him for hours on the phone when he was in pain or feeling low.

When he died I took over the care of mum.
When mum died i suddenly found I no longer had anyone to care for. I no longer had mum, I no longer had 3 children who depended on me ....but 2 young independent adults of 18 and 16. Even my 12 year old has branched out on his own this year....taking himself off into town,going swimming,going to the pictures.....

My eldest will leave the nest next year.
My daughter the year after.

It's a period of readjustment, Helen.....and you and I will get through it....it's just a case of struggling to find a new role for us!
We will always be needed by our "children"....it might not feel like it right now.

We've done the best we can for our families and we've nurtured our kids for so long and we've given them wings to fly away...........it hurts but we done good, Helen;) .....never forget that:)

I'm so glad you posted this.

And another confession, when I read posts about parents doing this, that and the other - I just want to say - well make the most of it - at least you still have them. I know that it is wrong to think that, cos I have not forgotten the pain they are going through - because I used to want it to end too. But part of me feels angry and jealous.
This I understand......it does ease with time I promise.......

Love as always


Registered User
Jan 4, 2006
Thanks for the replies - pleased that others have felt able to post too.
Funny you said about courses Kayla as I had already started to look at possible evening classes. Trying to decide which one to do.

Hazel - I think that I have some inkling what you mean about the surviving parent.
I am already thinking about Christmas. I have spent most Christmases with mum and dad, especially whilst mum has been ill, and am already dreading this one.

My feeling at present is to do something completely different - rent a cottage, or fly off somewhere - but have sons and girlfriends(!) to consider too.

Love Helen


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Amy said:
I am already thinking about Christmas. I have spent most Christmases with mum and dad, especially whilst mum has been ill, and am already dreading this one.
Helen, I think you know (none better!) how hard Christmas always is for me. However many gaps there are in the family circle, there are always others that we have to consider. We have to go through the motions, put on an act, while inside our hearts are breaking.

When my husband and daughter died, I had to put on the usual celebration for my parents, then for my mum after my dad died. I'm afraid my son was only too glad to escape to his girlfriend's. That hurt too, but I understood so well.

Have you talked to your family, and to your dad? There's no point in you putting on the act if no-one else wants it either. You might find that your dad would welcome the cottage, and your family would appreciate just a short visit. Or they might want things to be as near normal as possible.

Christmas is important to me, as much for the people who won't be there, but it's so hard. Perhaps we need a Christmas thread on this forum (not yet!) for people who feel like me. Or perhaps most people would rather just ignore it altogether?



Registered User
May 14, 2006
Dear Helen,
Colleges and Universities offer interesting part-time courses, as well as the local Adult Education Centres. There are also hundreds of courses to choose from at Learn Direct, which has centres all over the country.
The website is :- www.learndirect.co.uk
The local Library will also have information about courses and clubs in the surrounding area.
I hope you can find a course which you will enjoy.

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
I have hesitated a little on posting on this thread ... but if we're going to be honest .....

I think you have made a very brave and wise post, Helen - one which is a torch bearer for those of us who get so wrapped up in the care of our parents we can lose sight of our families too - let alone ourselves......

Guilty as charged!!!!! I think I spent the first 12 months from mum's first mooted diagnosis either wrapped up in her care - or posting here, in the library or surfing the net, learning, challenging, scaring myself to death ..... It took some time to find a balance - but one I feel I am achieving (thanks to certain folk! :) ) Yes, I'm one of the lucky ones ....... at this time and at this place ..... but I could have - and have at times - let dementia COMPLETELY dominate my life - and as a consequence those others I love besides my mum.

Yes, this is very different from caring 24/7 for a partner ..... I don't make a judgement that one situation is more difficult than another - simply that it presents different challenges - emotional and otherwise - oh but angry and jealous? Surely we have all been there? I recall someone mentioning how it feels to see an elderly person on the street and wonder why our mum/dad/uncle/grandma is not as capable as them .... I get jealous on my son's behalf he has only one grandparent - when all his peers seem to have huge family 'bashes' with every great-uncle since 19-nought-plonk still embracing a young family .... how do I explain that? ... I get angry my father never had the retirement he deserved with my mum ..... and so on and so on ......

And now I have my mum who has pinned a label on me as 'carer' - to add to those I wear as 'wife', 'mother', 'employee' ..... etc ...... When she is gone I won't even be a 'daughter'..... Isn't it a natural thing we become defined by who we care for or those who care for us? What we do for a living? We play out roles? It takes great courage to define ourselves in life ...

You have that courage ..... you are just being challenged now with the confidence to find it ......

You will. It is what your mum would have wanted for you.

Much love, Karen, x


Registered User
Jul 2, 2006
Newport, Gwent
with children leaving home for university/ reaching a stage where they are relatively independent, and I feel a bit lost.

Helen as a mother of one who left the nest last year, to buy his own nest, all grown up, I too felt redundant, not needed, etc etc and with mum moving into the NH I was not a carer either.

I was to learn very quickly, he might have a different address to me, but I’m still very much mum, in fact we seem to spend more ‘quality time’ together now. I’m not just the cook, cleaner and laundry maid who used to meet him on the landing in the wee small hours after he had an evening out, of course I wasn’t waiting up for him!! As if!!:rolleyes:

We now actually talk more now, his day, my day. Oh and the irony of being asked around for a meal, and me getting up and leaving the washing up, you see there are plus points.

There is also the other side of the coin, after he visits me; my fridge seems to be empty!! So sometimes, nothing changes.

Take heart, it wont be long before the end of term is here, then it will be a case of brace yourself for all that washing!! House full again of chattering teenagers and their friends, size 10 shoes everywhere, sofa full of their stuff, bedrooms a mess.

Its early days yet, and a lot of adjusting to do, but you will get there.


Cate xx


Registered User
Apr 26, 2006
Wanted you to know that I wish I could help Helen but don't think I can except to hope that you can find even more strength to carry on.