My mother is dying

by Rey
(Malaysia)

My mother is an undiagnosed schizophrenic and is now dying from renal failure.

Ours is a complicated relationship and I sometimes feel I haven't been a better son. I've hurt her many times with my words and I feel so bad for them. What hurts me more were times when I got physical. Every time I look back, I feel ashamed, sorry. I'm heartbroken. But I've always sought to make it up to her and I made a point to make her proud.

Last year, she was diagnosed with kidney disease. A doctor told her to start dialysis, but because of her fear of needles and the entire idea of having dialysis, she refused any medical intervention, choosing instead to fight it out with pills and herbal medicine.

Things were OK at first but as months have passed, her health gradually deteriorated.

Still my brothers and I can't convince her to get professional help. she's convinced her death would be hastened by dialysis.

Now she looks terrible, eyes glassy, skin pale. Parts of her body are bloated. She has red blotches on her arms. Portions of her legs are hard to the touch. I fear that water has entered her lungs.

She could barely walk and appears to be exhausted. She is and I've noticed how she labors for every breath. It can't be denied. She is nearing death.

And she knows it. Just earlier, she told me she'd want to be buried, not cremated and how she'd want to be interred at a memorial park near our place.

I cry sometimes when I'm alone. In my room. In the car. In the bathroom. I could not do anything but prepare.

Comments for My mother is dying

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Mar 08, 2013
Dear Rey,
by: Pat in Missouri

I am glad you wrote back. I know this is not easy. It never is. My mother lived 1000 miles away from me, when she passed. One day, my sister-in-law called me and told me I should come, if I wanted to see my mother before she died. I will be forever grateful for that call. I went and my mother died 3 weeks later. During my final visit with her, I bought her some new comfortable clothing and shoes. I did whatever I could to help her through her final journey. It felt right and good to help her, but it was tough to see her slipping away right before my eyes.

When she passed and I went back there for the memorial service, my father asked my sister and I to clean our mother's things out of their apartment. He could not bear to see them there without her. My sister and I attempted to do that, but as we went through her clothing, we both fell apart and could not continue. My parents were in assisted living. When the staff saw how difficult this was for us, they took over. We donated all of my mother's clothing and other personal items to a local charity. I am sure things like this will also be difficult for you. Talking with your mother about these kinds of things, ahead of time, will help you do what you know she would want and you will have more peace, when the time comes to do these things. I am glad you live near your mother. Spend as much time with her as you can, do whatever makes her comfortable, and encourage her to help you make these tough decisions before her time comes. If she does not have a will yet, try to help her do that.

The conflicting emotions you are feeling are very normal. Losing a mother is one of the most difficult things any of us will face. You will have highs and lows for a long time. Get as much family and friend support as you can. I am so proud of you for writing about this before your mother passes. I have not seen that on this site before. It shows your strength. What you are dealing with is called anticipatory grief. Keep allowing your emotions to flow out. The more you do that, the better it will be in helping you to get through all of this. Do I sound like a counselor? That's because I am one, but more than that, I have been where you are. I am also mourning the loss of 3 other loved ones. Getting through this is tough for everyone and we all need support. I wish you well. Don't forget to take care of yourself. I send you many hugs.

Mar 07, 2013
Thanks
by: Rey

Thank you, Doreen and Pat.

Yesterday, I went on leave from work and spent the day with her. I took a lounge chair from my house and took it hers and I'm happy she feels very comfortable in it.

We talked about the past, my childhood, my two brothers, the challenges of her single parenthood and, well, some of her eccentric beliefs.

Waiting for something you don't want to happen is really difficult. It's a mix of emotions that's hard to make sense of. One part of you's saying I should welcome death for my mother but the other's telling you me I should'nt think that way. I feel guilty having thoughts like that.

But assisting your dying loved one, just being there for him or her really helps. It's therapeutic in a way.

Mar 07, 2013
My mother is dying
by: Doreen U.K.

Rey you have been put in a difficult position. You want your mother to live and she is scared to live with the fear of what is going to happen to her with dialysis. Perhaps you could get a therapist or psychiatrist to talk to her, which they would do in a therapeutic way that may make sense to her. I have worked in Mental Health voluntary services for 8 yrs. and met a few unwell people who were mentally challenged with periodic episodes of being able to articulate their needs in a way that they understood but family didn't. In my depression I sought counselling and it worked very well for me. But when I was in my depressed fearful way I could understand somewhat of how your mother feels. She is fighting hard the feelings of fear. In her mind she feels this is the wrong thing for her. If she cannot be convinced that it is her fear talking which is part of her illness there is not much you can do but to give her wishes a voice and hear what she says and try to honour her in this way. Tell Mom that you are hurt by her decision but you will honour this. As long as she knows how you feel and what her loss will do to you all as a family as you feel she will be dying sooner than she needs to. She will know you all care. My father is 91yrs. with a declining health and poor quality of life. He has wanted to die for the last 10yrs. He is still here. My husband was young and healthy till he got cancer and He wanted to Live but died. Life doesn't give us what we want or our families. My husband did not want to die in the hospice. He wanted to die at home and I gave him that wish. I have done everything to help my husband. I gave him the encouragement to Live till God says it was his time to go. I encouraged him to make his life right with God because I wanted to see him on the other side. I am happy I did everything I could to make his last days good ones. That is all you can do as a family.
Your Grief at losing your mom is making you feel guilty about not treating her well. This too is part of life. As humanity dictates we will all say and do things we don't mean. But whilst you have the time you can tell your mom what you told us here on this site that you are SORRY for causing her pain and saying hurtful things that you can't undo or take back. This will release you from guilt. I bet your mom will have no hesitation in FORGIVING YOU quickly. That is what mom's do. I nursed my dying husband for 3yrs. so I know how difficult it is living with someone you love who is dying. I hope it works out for you better than at the moment. Please write back with an update of your circumstances and how your are feeling.

Mar 06, 2013
Dear Rey,
by: Pat in Missouri

This is awful for you to have to live through. There isn't much I can say to ease your pain, but I do know that some people choose their own time and way to die. Since your mother is mentally ill and cannot see how dialysis will help, the only way you could help is to try to get legal guardianship over her so that you could make the medical decisions for her. I do not know the laws in Malaysia. I think you would have to consult an attorney. From what you have told us, it does sound like your mother has chosen to die in her own manner. Since she has not been declared incompetent, she still has the right to make this decision. It sounds like her body is retaining toxic fluids. This cannot go on for much longer. There is no reason for you to feel badly about your relationship with your mother. I am sure you have always just tried to get her to do what you thought would help her. Unless you can take legal action, the best way to deal with this, now, is to accept it and let her go in peace. It sounds like your mother has also had to deal with mental demons, as you say she is an undiagnosed schizophrenic. If she really has schizophrenia, she is probably hearing voices and they may be telling her not to get dialysis. This feels very sad for you because there is help for schizophrenia and there is help for people who have kidney failure. For reasons you will probably never understand, your mother seems to want to die. It will make you feel better to help her to make her own final arrangements. You can give her support and love in this manner. My own mother died in 2009. I wanted to do everything I could to help her get the care she needed, but she simply refused everything. She had been very unhappy for 20 years or more. She finally just gave up. When she died, she only weighed 55 lbs. She had given up eating and drinking. She developed pneumonia and died. Everyone of us in our family knew she was miserable and wanted to die. It was a gift of love to help her get through that with comfort and care. She went peacefully in my father's arms. Although it did not feel like it, at the time, death was a blessing for her. She is at peace now and her spirit is still with me. She talks to me often. I find myself laughing at the funny things she used to say. Losing a parent is one of the most difficult things we will ever face. I think you, your mother, and the rest of your family will feel better about this by helping your mother die the way she wants to die. Help her make her own burial plans and even help her plan her own funeral. By doing so, you will be honoring her in the best way possible. I know this is not easy. I did not tell you all of my story, but just know that I do understand. Since my mother passed, I have lost 3 others. Being able to carry out their final wishes is the most comforting thing I think we can do. I send you many hugs and hope my message was of some small help. Pat

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