useless

OK. Sometimes when i’m sad i know why and sometimes i don’t. At the moment, i am fully aware of the reasons for my despair but i have no idea what to do about it, except write it out here. If i find that it has made any difference, i may share it with my therapist on Friday. Or not. It’s hard to admit the cause is because of my own failures, as both a caregiver and a daughter.

Last week, my brother-in-law got the news that his 90-something year old mom was actively dying. The next morning he flew to her home and her side. He is the youngest, with 4 siblings. My sister joined them the following day after arranging for someone to take care of the farm and their critters. They don’t ask me anymore, i must be unreliable nowadays.

No problems until one of his sisters posted a picture on Facebook of him curled up next to his mom in her bed. They’re both smiling. I burst into tears.

When my mom was dying at home under hospice care, almost 3 years ago, i joined my brother and sister to offer comfort to her and the family and say goodbye. But i discovered that i felt nothing, i had no emotions, and i had no idea how to be supportive or caring.

I spent most of my life as a nurse and later as a vet, but when the people in my world needed me to step up and be a caregiver, to help guide them and her through death, i failed. I simply detached and watched as the others tended to her physical and emotional needs. I was useless. She died hours after i came home.

So, when i saw the picture of my BIL and his mom, i remembered how i couldn’t be that person for my mom. And i hate myself for it.

Doc

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4 responses to “useless

  1. Hugs….

    Unfortunately, we can only be who we are. And it seems that we really have practically no control over that. We try to be the best we can. Apart from that, it’s a crap shoot.

    The external expression of love is touching. It brings us to tears, to see it. Love is a deep, deep thing. The roots of love are complex. As they say, still waters run deep. Your relationship with your mother was, no doubt, complex. Your last moments with her were filled with unspoken communications that even the two of you may not have been aware of. The work of dying is often not pretty, and things that have remained unspoken often get worked through in those last days, hours, and minutes.

    That’s what my religion teaches, anyway, and whether or not it’s right, it provides a way of putting these extremely mysterious and often distressing phenomena into a useable context.

    The take-home message is: If you were unemotional and impassive at your mother’s deathbed, it’s because there were processes going on in the background that needed those conditions in order for your mom to complete one of her final tasks on the planet. You were providing her with what she needed, in order to go ahead and die. It was an act of kindness, on your part, although you might not have been aware.

    My two shekels 😉

  2. As a nurse and vet you had to train yourself to take a step back from your own emotions to care for others in a way that was practical and necessary. You can’t get emotionally involved in every case to the point where it all becomes personal or you’ll start sacrificing parts of yourself and that just leads to bad places. I think you likely just clicked into that mindset when your mom was dying, which is a reasonable and totally okay thing to do. Being there is the comfort, I think, and because you were, that likely brought your mom and family a lot more comfort than you realize.

    xx

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