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Minny9

First my wife, now my mother - some observations

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As you may recall from previous posts, my wife Rhonda died in December, 2016, at the age of 49 from an aggressive cervical cancer.  Her unexpected loss and the disbelief that accompanied it are the reasons why I first came here - and why I keep coming back.  So many stories so similar to mine have helped me feel less alone and more able to carry on in a world I never imagined.  Through the hurt and sadness has come a sense of comfort and solidarity that can only be experienced, I've found, with others who have similarly lost the most important person in their life.  For me, my wife will forever be that person.  Of that, I am convinced, especially now....

 

On October 28th, my mother passed away after a long illness.  She was an amazing woman who, after her divorce to my father when I was just 7 years old, raised my sister and I on her own and never remarried.  We were her life.  I have told people that, in less than two years, I have lost the only two people in my life who dedicated theirs to loving and caring for me.  It's a stunning realization that has set me back a bit in my grieving process.  But it's true - the only two people in my life who dedicated theirs to loving and caring for me are now gone.  This is not to say, however, that each loss has been equally as devastating.

 

I need to share how very different the two experiences have been for me, especially considering how close together their respective deaths were.  First and foremost, my mother's death was expected.  She was 80 and had suffered with COPD and had been on oxygen therapy for 8 years.  Her death was logical.  My wife's death, on the other hand, will never make sense to me.  It was not expected and I was completely unprepared for the myriad of changes there would be to my everyday life.  To that end, Rhonda's diagnosis and death 8 months later was not logical.

 

But is that the only reason why I find my mother's death infinitely less difficult to accept and process than my wife's - because she was old?  I still have yet to really cry since my mother died, whereas I still lose it from time to time with Rhonda.  And sometimes I feel guilty about that.  They both loved me unconditionally, and both shaped and molded me into the person I have become.  I owe so much to my mother for everything she had done to raise me, and for all the sacrifices.  So why is her passing not been as hard on me emotionally?  Again, where is the logic?

 

I sometimes tell myself that I'm just all cried out, that the tears and sadness for my mother's loss are still to come.  Perhaps they will, but I remind myself of something I often told people in the months after Rhonda died, especially those who haven't gone through the loss of a spouse.  Regardless of what you or others may expect of you, there is no instruction manual for how to feel and manage all the emotions experienced in grief.  "You feel what you feel", and do your best to cope.  You feel what you feel...

 

On the one year anniversary of losing my wife, I confided to my family that the overwhelming fear and uncertainty I experienced for several months after losing Rhonda had lessened to the point I was almost undaunted by whatever might happen going forward.  It was partly an acceptance of what cannot be changed, but also of knowing even then that there will never be anything more painful the rest of my life.  And now that I've just lost my mother, I can now hold that to be true.

 

Thanks.

 

Steve

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Hi Steve,

This was so powerful to read.

 

I have also had very different responses to my partner's death and to my mother's.

 

My partner died suddenly at 40 when our kids were three and six. Then 18 months later my died of the cancer she'd had for 8 years at 69.

 

The day after the second anniversary of my mom's death I realized I had forgotten it. I have the date of my partner's death seared into my head. A woman I know pointed out this made sense since the first death was a kind of trauma that the second just wasn't. Even though my mom was way too young and it came so soon after this first loss.

 

At this point, six years after my partner's death, it is my mom who I miss more on a day to day basis. But it is a different kind of missing to be sure and thinking about those differences helped me feel better about the different ways I have grieved.

 

What a bumpy ride all around!

 

Kate

 

 

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I lost my wife when she was 39, two and a half years ago.  It was an unexpected death and incredibly difficult.  My father died suddenly two months ago, at the age of 73 and I can echo some of your experiences mentioned above.  I had a great relationship with my dad, he was a great guy, a great father and grandfather.  I did cry some when my father passed, but it is entirely different than losing a spouse, not the same level of intensity of loss whatsoever for me.  I've been more focused on being there for my mother.  My dad died 6 days before their 50th anniversary and they did everything together .  I chatted with my mom about this exact topic this morning.  Hugs to all of you,

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My husband died in a vehicle accident.  7 years come Jan.  My mother passed in Nov. 2017 at 88 from congestive heart failure and 6 months in hospice. She had vascular dementia that was, of course, worsening.  I miss my mother, but she had been dependent for several years and required dementia unit care.  Losing her was nothing like my husband.  I miss my life with him so much.  My son was 8 when his dad died. I grieve because of so much loss. My mom was my number one cheerleader for so long until she couldn't be.  I took care of her 6 years then as a widow with my son.  I know she lived a long and mostly joyful life.  It was more natural for my mother, though still hard with the ups and downs in hospice.  For me, her loss was still natural. What I hope for.  A long life and my body or mind slowly gives out.  No major trauma here.  

 

Everyone is different.  The loneliness can be there regardless of age or circumstances of the death.  Complex, indeed. 

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I lost my dad unexpectedly in 2007. My husband died in 2011. To this day it it still seems unreal that 4 years later my husband would be the first family member to follow my father to the grave. Grieving for each was different. I believe it was because my father was older. Naturally I miss both but it is my husband's death that has the most impact on me. 

Eileen

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You expect to outlive your parents. You don't expect to outlive your spouse, your life partner. EVERYTHING changes with the death of a spouse who is your soulmate. NOTHING is ever the same again

With the death of a parent, no matter how close you wete, changes some things but definitelynot everything.  I  was not in the least bit surprised by the vastly different reactions you express

Hugs to you

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Posted (edited)

I don't want to take away Minny9's experience (death of family is awful), I too am exhausted with grief, but I've have had a similar experience. I lost my mom in February 2018, my husband November 2018 and my dad June 2019. I’m an only child and now I don’t know what to do with my assets should I die any time soon. My husband died too soon, he was only 53 and we didn’t have wills (that was a mistake), and now I know I MUST do this now. I’ve given away all the family jewels to a cousin (that should have them) as she has children that she can pass them on to.

 

I have no idea what to with my assets and to whom I should give them to in my will. I have a lot of cousins, but only a few that I’m close to. Others have suggested willing them to charities. Not sure about that as charities often misspend donations.

 

I’m going to set up a meeting at the Lawyer’s office once I get my father’s estate settled, but I’m at a loss for who should get it all. I have a cousin set up to become my power of attorney for health issues, but not sure who should be that the for the financial issues. I should also mention that we weren't blessed with children so...

 

Thoughts? Anyone been in this spot?

Edited by Sillyjerkycat

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Yeah, that is a bit of a sticky spot. You probably don't need a POA for your financial things (I'll come back to that) but at the very minimum you should draft a will and then in the will name an executor/executrix. It does not have to be family - if you have a trusted friend/neighbor perhaps that is the right choice for you. 

 

As far as the recipients of your assets, is there an organization whose work you like? A school, hospital, or some other? Perhaps them (if none of your family members are good candidates). 

 

Back to a POA for your financial assets - if you appoint one now, they will have the same rights as you do as soon as the POA document is completed. Do you really want that? Not to put too fine a point on it but that means they can spend your $$, or liquidate your accounts, without your knowledge or permission. So, as I mentioned, a POA for financial items may not be the way to go right now. 

 

There have been a bunch of posts here throughout the years surrounding financial concerns. Some are pretty good and very detailed.  I'll poke around and so if I can dredge one or two up. 

 

Mike

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9 hours ago, Sillyjerkycat said:

My husband died too soon, he was only 53 and we didn’t have wills (that was a mistake), and now I know I MUST do this now. I’ve given away all the family jewels to a cousin (that should have them) as she has children that she can pass them on to.

 

I have no idea what to with my assets and to whom I should give them to in my will. I have a lot of cousins, but only a few that I’m close to. Others have suggested willing them to charities. Not sure about that as charities often misspend donations.

 

I’m going to set up a meeting at the Lawyer’s office once I get my father’s estate settled, but I’m at a loss for who should get it all. I have a cousin set up to become my power of attorney for health issues, but not sure who should be that the for the financial issues. I should also mention that we weren't blessed with children so...

 My Ken died at 53 too, no will and we too don't have children together.

 

A year after he passed away I had my will done. I live in the UK so it might be different over here but I had to nominate 2 executors (1st my sister and 2nd my best friend) who will deal with everything whilst I'm gone (and with Ken :)). As for any money in my bank account, my sister will withdraw it. I specifically requested for 50% of all money to be given to my nephew and the remaining 50% split between my sister, my nephew and any future kids my sister might have). I don't own our flat so it will go back to the Housing Association. Easy and one less problem to think about. As for other stuff (furniture etc) I don't really care and didn't specify any instructions. My sister lives in Spain so she will not take anything (unless she wants to) so it can either go to a charity/ be disposed of/ left in the flat. I really couldn't care less. All I care about and I am kind of obsessed with since Ken passed away is to keep as little stuff and as organised (in storage boxes etc) as possible so that my sister will have it easier when I am gone.

 

As for grieving differently, Ken's passing on 19th Jan 2016 destroyed me. Completely. 3 months after Ken one of my grandma's passed away - I cried but couldn't really go deep into it as Ken had just passed and I was too numb to experience anything. One year later, on the first anniversary of Ken's passing (19th Jan 2017) I found out my second grandma, my mum's mum who I was super close to, too passed away a few days earlier (I travelled to Spain to be with my sister on the 1st anniversary and even though my grandma passed away on 16th, my mum didn't want to tell me when I was on my own). It hit me hard (1st, because I was told on the very day of Ken's 1st anniversary which made this awful day even harder, 2nd, because I was extremely close with her and all my life I dreaded her death) but still, it doesn't compare to loosing Ken. I too feel guilt about it - feels like I didn't care about my grandmas but loosing Ken was the ultimate nightmare. I think there is only as much shit as one can process - Ken's death drained me of anything and I simply haven't been able to grieve my both grandmas properly.

 

Today I don't fear my own death at all and kind of look forward to it. But I fear the death of my parents/ sister/ nephew. Not obsessed with it but I don't even want to imagine what it will feel like if something happens to them.

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Thank you Bubu27 for your reply. It is different in the U.S., but I get where you're helping me figure out how to structure it for the future. My husband's date, for the mess the occurred, is coming up on September 10 (when his brain injury happened) and two months later he died in hospice (November 11). I am still young enough to enjoy what's left of my life and I hope you can too. Deep breaths and see who is around you. I have found in the last year that many people are willing to help and truly care about me and I'm sure there is a future for me. I live on a street where there are two other widows in their later years of life and they've kept on going, so shall I. All the best and hang in there.

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Aw @Sillyjerkycat, I hate when the date is coming up. Yours is pretty soon. Mine - 31st December (when Ken first felt unwell) and lasts till 2nd Feb (date of the funeral) and it sucks every single year. As for the will, think about it, get some legal advice and get it done. It gives you peace of mind, that's for sure

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