Many adults will have the opportunity to care for a loved one, who is in the dying process. As life will have it, there will be work and other commitments calling your attention. How do you handle all of the emotions and responsibilities?
I will share with you my situation. My mother was an 89-year young widow, pretty independent until January of this year. She was experiencing shortness of breath and ended up in hospital for congestive heart failure. My sister and brother-in-law graciously agreed to stay with her and they are still giving excellent love, care and support for mom. She didn’t want a lot of treatment and was admitted to hospice January 31st.
Tidewell Hospice has a consulting physician who is excellent with fluid management. He adjusted medications and mom began to flourish. This meant she could walk three quarters of a mile to Venice Beach, eat, enjoy time watching volleyball, the sailboats and walk home. She went to church every day. Covid 19 came. Mom became ill with covid 19 and survived. She has been declining ever since.
I was approaching retirement and looking to take my coaching and healing practice full time. Retirement worked out surprisingly easy. In the last months of work, I was working from home which was a wonderful experience. During this time, I was able to get some business processes in place.
After I retired, mom continues to decline and I was needing to help my sister with her care. I moved in to be with them and share this experience. I also had the expectation that I could do a little work. Hmmm.
Dr. Kubler-Ross worked with and studied patients who were dying. She was an incredible woman who provided us with a model of understanding and moving through the process of grief.
Grief is a process and you go through stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Everybody experiences grief. These experiences include things like graduation (ending of high school or college), end of a relationship, loss of a job, receiving a terminal diagnosis or actually dying. By the time we experience dying, we will have gone through the grief process many, many times.
Mom is going through the grief process as we are. Here is my experience at this writing.
Denial: this is not happening or this will happen months/years down the road, not today. We will delude ourselves pretty much until the moment of death as in my example. Denial can look like avoidance, confusion, or shock which can simply be the “no” that is said at hearing some bad news.
Anger is experienced as well as frustration, irritation and anxiety. Our energy system will change with impending “bad news” even when we know what is coming. Our aura will begin to contract, become prickly (and more) which will affect any project or interactions we have. Things don’t go smoothly and everything take longer. Expectations can no longer be met. We do what we do in these situations. Anger can flare.
Bargaining can look like “If I am good, make this go away.” “If I do this, will you stay.” Here folks can experience difficulty in finding meaning of life or why this?
Then depression comes along and shows in the forms of overwhelm, helplessness, and bitterness, resentment. When someone feels depression, they experience low energy, slow thinking, thoughts of low self-worth and more.
Acceptance is resolution, making new plans and moving on.
The deal with the grief cycle is that it is not in a straight line. One might think, so many days in each stage and then I’m done. Doesn’t work like that. A person may spend time in denial, go to depression, back to anger, looping back into bargaining, denial. Eventually we embrace acceptance.
The person who is dying pretty much needs to complete all of these phases before death. The rest of us get to go through the process before, during and after. If you need help with your emotions at this time please seek out medical, therapeutic help. Hospice offers bereavement for the patient and family members. Some hospices offer this to others in the community.
One of the things I am experiencing is mush brain, foggy, difficult to focus and think of anything outside of mom’s condo. I had expectations that I could get some things done. I have my list. It is becoming smaller everyday as I assess as not essential and can wait.
The important thing is to be aware and present to the essentials, like family. We are all walking through this process with mom. We need each other’s support as well as mom need’s ours.
Be well, be awesome.