Watching a parent or loved one get sick and suffer sends you through a mirage of horrendous feelings. Watching cancer devour the body and mind of a loved one is very difficult, and I have now been through it twice. I watched as cancer ravaged my mother and took her from me when she was only 53 years old, and now I’m watching it take over my father, at the age of 83. It could be any disease process, not just cancer, that causes these feelings.
I’ve always said, it doesn’t matter the age of your parents or loved one when death comes for them, it hurts just the same. It doesn’t matter if they experience a quick, unexpected death, or whether they suffer from disease and it takes time. It’s your parent or loved one and it hurts! I’ve often wondered if a quick, unexpected death is easier to deal with because you don’t see them lose their facilities, become unable to care for themselves, or become a shell of the person you’ve always known. When the disease process, such as cancer, takes over, you are given the gift of being able to say whatever it is you want to say to them. As they begin to decline physically and mentally, the confusion becomes a blessing and a curse. The blessing is they don’t realize the things they are doing, because if they did, they would be mortified. The curse is they don’t know the things they are doing, so when you get upset with them, you feel horrible. The catch is, they WILL do things out of character, and you WILL get upset with them, especially once the exhaustion sets in from caring for them 24/7, but don’t beat yourself up. You are only human.
The tears will flow as these changes take place. They will flow as you get upset with yourself for getting upset with them. They will flow when it is over and you are reliving everything in your mind and questioning what you could have done differently. Hindsight is always 20/20, so all you can do, is the best you can do at the time. Some days, you will be able to do better than others and eventually the hurt will begin to subside, but the great memories of your parent or loved one will never fade!
Written By: Care Manager - Dixie Qualls, RN, BSN