Patient Perspective – Grief

This week is Dying Matters Awareness Week, and our patient blogger Vickie has written a blog on her experience of grief. Read it here.

I would like to dedicate this to my mom, who died 16th June 2018. I have never really known grief, until my mom.

My mom wasn’t just my mom, she was also my best mate. We would go for coffee, grocery shopping, clothes shopping. Even go out and she would dance anyone under the table. She was amazing. She had three daughters and eight grandchildren that she adored. We all sadly miss her.

My mom became ill around September 2017. At first, she was diagnosed with COPD, and it was the worst stage COPD. But we all said we will look after mom. Not long after that diagnosis, we had the worst news ever. My mom had lung cancer, and she didn’t have long left. She had just got remarried in September as well. I helped her with her wedding, made her cake and invitations; I loved going out with my mom helping her with her wedding. She had an amazing day, looking so beautiful, and so happy.

When I found out about her lung cancer, I was devastated. I knew the lung cancer wasn’t curable and I knew she was going to die soon. So, me and my family prepared ourselves, so we thought. We helped in every possible way.

Then in April/May 2018, she went into a hospice as she was getting worse. It was difficult looking after mom at home. Even though she had a husband, we all helped. We would visit her and help with her medication, dressing etc. But it was becoming more difficult. She needed extra help. When she went into the hospice, the staff were fantastic with her.

We had a meeting with the staff, and they said she would have palliative care. I wasn’t sure what that meant and asked them. They said it was coming near to her death. The pain I felt in my heart was horrible. She was my mom. She was 63 years young. I wanted to grow old with my mom, still shopping. It hurt so bad and still does. My mom deteriorated, both physically and mentally. The palliative staff were fantastic. They would always be there for her. If we ever needed to discuss anything, they would have time for us as well.

My mom was in the hospice for about two months. The staff helped my mom; as she would forget certain things, they would have a laugh with her, look after her, and they even painted her nails, as my mom loved that. When we visited, we would stay for hours in silence, thinking, when is she going? I don’t want her to go, it’s not fair. 

I remember taking her out for her birthday, 27th May, we took her to a local pub. We had a meal and a drink. My family was also with me and we really made every moment count. I was watching my mom, in her wheelchair as she couldn’t walk much now. I could see she was in pain and wanted to leave, so we did. We went back to the hospice and made sure she was fine before we left. My mom had a hard day.

We also took her out one more time in June to have pizza and look around the shops. She purchased each grandchild a ‘Build-a-Bear’ bear, with her voice inside the bear, so her grand-kids can always listen to her voice.

That was the last time she went out shopping.

My mom was worsening with her health over time, but the palliative care team were always keeping us informed of how she was doing. Towards the end of her life, we stayed with my mom overnight. I wanted to be by her side, to help her and let her know we were close by.

June 16th was the last day, but we didn’t know this. Six days after my birthday.

Me and my sister went home to do shopping for our families. We both got a phone call in the afternoon, saying our mom was getting worse. So, we went back to the hospice and spent our last few hours with my mom.

I watched my mom pass away, take her last breath. Her daughters were there to support her. She wasn’t on her own. Words cannot describe the pain to watch her take her last breath. There was nothing we could do but watch her and hold her hands.

When she passed away, the nurses said we could stay as long as we wanted. I stayed for a few hours, just looking at her, hoping she would wake up. But it was like looking at an empty shell. Even though her body was there, she wasn’t, if that makes sense. The room she was in was quiet, empty. I stayed holding her cold hands, watching her, crying. Eventually I gained the strength to go home.

When I went home, I was in shock. My mom has gone, she’s not here anymore. Why? Cancer.

Not a year has passed yet since my mom passed away, but it feels like yesterday. Sometimes I forget and go to phone her. Grief is hard and affects everyone differently. I have two children and a husband, which keeps me busy – without them it would be more difficult. Even though it’s still hard now, I miss my mom so much. It’s not fair she has gone. When people say it gets better, time is a healer, well I disagree. It gets worse. Knowing I will never see her again, speak to her ever again.

I try and keep busy, to occupy my mind. I have a family and pets – they keep me busy. But I will never forget my mom. Some days are better than others. Grief can last for years. I think of the happy memories with my mom. Would she be proud of me and my family? I always speak to my mom as well. Hopefully she is looking down on me.

If you are feeling very low and need to talk to someone, please do. Talking is great. It doesn’t solve the problems but helps process them. Contact Leukaemia Care if you need to talk to someone, or a friend or a family member.

I know my mom didn’t have blood cancer, but she had cancer. She was dying from cancer. There was no getting away from it at all. Cancer affects us all, whether we are the patient, family or friend. Please offer your support. Help in any way you can.

For my mom, Margaret Tongue. Forever loved.

 

Leukaemia Matters magazine

Leukaemia Matters magazine: where you'll feel informed, empowered, and supported.

Read More