My husband's mother is dying... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 04-18-2010, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
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...and Im not sure how to handle it.

She has been battling cancer for the better part of 3 years, and will most likely be passing in the next few days.

I dont know what to do - logically.

How long does the "do whatever they need" stage last? Like, he wants to drink tonight - I dont think its a good idea, but Ill do it because its what he says he needs. (FTR: he isnt an alcoholic at all, hardly drinks..). If he wants to stay in bed all day after she passes, how long do I let him do that before encouraging or helping him make progress? What are the signs he is ready for said encouragement?

Im very logical minded, not that Im not emotional, but I dont do the huggy cry on my shoulder support thing very well. Not that I wouldnt let him do it, but I know its not my forte. I dont know how to help him, I dont know what to do for him, I dont know how to do it; and most of all I dont want to screw things up.

How do I help?

Lindsay: DS#1 (06/06) DD#1 (09/07) DS#2 (10/08) DD#2 (06/09). AND A BABY DUE NOVEMBER 2013

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#2 of 4 Old 04-18-2010, 10:01 PM
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Are there other family members with whom you'll have to interact? My husband's mother died two years ago, after a long battle with cancer. It sucked.

Anyway, we found that there were things that needed to be done that kept us from spending days and days in bed. We needed to talk to family, to figure out details about the funeral, to divide up stuff, to buy flowers, to write thank-you notes to those who sent flowers or prayer cards, to go out to dinner with DH's father (divorced from his deceased mother, but distraught anyway)..... I found there was lots of stuff to do that carried us through the first part of the grief process.

Other than that, I really tried to give DH his space and ask him what he needed. He mostly wanted to not think about it, which made things easier for me. Mostly his sister and I dealt with everything. Two years later, he still doesn't want to think about it and I'm still dividing up and distributing stuff.

I'm so sorry about your mother-in-law. I hope the whole process is the smallest version of awful possible.
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#3 of 4 Old 04-19-2010, 11:31 PM
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I'm going to approach this from two sides.

First of all, my mother passed in January after a 2.5 year battle with cancer. As LaLaLa says, the first week was very very busy putting together photo collages, sorting through Mom's things, the viewing and the funeral. I live far away, so there were aspects in which I didn't quite feel like I could relax & let things out until we got back home.

Every person goes through the stages of grief differently. Every time is different, too. My grandfather's death four years ago was harder than my grandmother's last year. With my grandmother last year and my mother this year, it's taken me several weeks/months before it hit hard. My grandma was very obviously ready to go. My mother was fighting right to the very end.

I am the wage-earner in our family, so I have to get up most days to go to work. I've had one night where I thought I would call in sick the next day... but I guess I got enough rest that come morning I knew I could make it through the day.

The other perspective:

My mother-in-law started chemotherapy within weeks of my mother's death. She also is fighting this hard, and determined to live through it. It's an aggressive cancer, and I hope things work out for her. Right now, DH has been handling things just fine. Right now she's well enough to visit, well enough to help babysit still, and I think DH is taking the optimistic approach.

If the family knows she has days to live, is she in hospice care? Hospice should provide the whole family with good information about what to expect, about the grief process, and about what to do. We had a hospice aid every day, and the nurses nearly every day. There was also a social worker who came to help the family.

The funeral home had resources, the parish priest (minister, rabbi, imam, etc. as appropriate) has resources. Use them.

There are grief support groups out there. Any of the above may be able to refer you to one. I got referrals through a corporate benefit... that I haven't opened up and looked at going to yet.

Grief takes its own time. Most of the funerals I've attended in adulthood, people I was close to, hit hard for a few months, then things get better, and then it hits hard again about the anniversary, and then it's... I wouldn't say "done", but the "new normal" is familiar then. But just because that's my pattern does not mean it will be his.

Unitarian Universalist Pagan
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#4 of 4 Old 04-21-2010, 05:09 PM
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My mil passed away in Jan. We were both very busy before and after her death. At the end (last few weeks) she had hospice care. I was helping out a lot the past couple of years and got much closer to her so we both grieve together. We remember lots of stories to tell each other and this helps. We have some items from her home that remind us of her and this helps but it is a process. It also helped she was 86 and lived a good and interesting life full of travel. I just talk about my memories and he talks about his and its both funny and poignant and heartwarming to talk about her. We also talk about what she would think of this or that occurance. Sometimes just being there and holding his hand is enough.
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