The unaskable

I can’t thank you all enough for your messages of sympathy and support in response to my last post. You helped me feel validated in my devastation, and less alone than I have felt. So thank you.

I confess I’ve spent much of the last week in tears. I’m not sure how I’ll ever come to terms with this. The PNT says I probably won’t. For a control freak like me, that’s hard to take.

Mum and I haven’t talked much about her new diagnosis either. It’s not her way; not our way. I have, of course, been reading endlessly to find out as much as I can about this new hideousness. It’s not good news. So bad, in fact, that instead of celebrating my first festive season without my ghastly father, I now fear this will be my last with Mum. 😦

Mum, of course, hasn’t been reading and even if she had been I’m not sure how much of the horror she has understood and absorbed. I know she hasn’t been telling her friends the truth. Not the whole truth, anyway. She’s mentioned something about another cancer, but that’s about all. Not the ugliness of it being highly aggressive and incurable. I’m not sure if this is because she needs time to process it all, or is in denial, or both.

The obvious question, of course, is why don’t I ask her? Yea, right. How do you ask someone how they feel about dying? Do they want more treatment, or not? Is there anything they want to do before they go? How do they want to spend what might be their last few relatively healthy months? Is there anything I want to say to her before I lose that opportunity forever?

Of course, now is precisely the time I should be having these discussions with Mum. I’m not sure I can. Not only is it not our way, but I’m constantly afraid I’ll cry. And I’m afraid she’ll get snippy and cross and defensive. The Wonder Therapist said all of those things are pretty much guaranteed, but there are more serious things to worry about here. She’s right. I need to find the courage, somehow, to ask the unaskable.

10 thoughts on “The unaskable

  1. You and your mom’s way is the same as mine and my mom’s way. It is very difficult to not be able to talk about how we are feeling, and not be able to discuss serious topics. I think your therapist may be right and perhaps with her help you will find that courage you need.

  2. Thanks Harriet, I’m sorry you have this sort of relationship with your mother, too. It’s almost impossible to talk about feelings, because they’re not “normal”, right? Sigh. I am hoping to find the courage somewhere to do this. It’s too important to miss this time around.

  3. I’m so sorry about all this, Kerro. Might it be possible to approach it, initially, from a practical standpoint rather than a feeling standpoint just to initiate the conversation, and get to the harder stuff from there? Sort of like…maybe start by saying you’ve been doing a lot of research and reading about her condition, and you are wondering how best to be of support?

  4. Thanks David. I’m sorry, too. It’s just sh**. Monumentally sh**. I like you’re idea of starting with the practicalities, or may be the facts, or both. I’ve skated pretty close to some facts, though also speed skated away pretty fast too LOL.

    On the other hand I can’t *believe* you suggested I ask my mother what support she needs. What were you thinking?? *Face. Palm.* 😉

  5. Dear Kerro, I don’t think there are any shoulds here. Everyone handles death and the dying of their loved ones in different ways. Whatever happens, whatever you feel is right for you, above all, go easy on yourself. It’s one of the hardest things to face, it’s ok to cry, and to talk or not talk about it. I hope you get to enjoy your time together. Wishing you peace in your heart and hers~ sending warm wishes~~~

  6. In the beginning, I could not have these conversations with my mom. Over time, it became ok. However, my mom could not do it at anytime. She never seeemed to be able to take it. She said what she needed to say in her own way. My whole life she said she loved me maybe twice, but after the diagnosis, she said it numerous times. She also shared some about her will (how it is set up, etc). But that was about it. During her last month I would aske her how she is, and she would answer about physical stuff. Then I would say, “No, I mean emotionally. How are you?” She would answer again with like, “Well, my back hurts a lot….”. She just couldn’t go there, and I had to respect that. I can tell you I wish I had more time, ore opportunity for those heart to heart talks. I encourage you to try, but you will have to use your intuition as to when is the right time. Most survivors have unbelievable intuition, so you will know when the time is right.

    Hugs, if ok.

  7. Hi Kerro,

    I experienced this with my mother and her sister, one year apart. Neither of them were good at coping and avoided a lot. I found that they were able to get some things said with a minister who came to do pastoral care for them. I think there are also hospice workers that can come to assist on some issues. Is something like that a possibility?

    My sister did most of the work with our parent, which was good because otherwise it would not have gotten done. I know that you don’t have the luxury of another sibling. With my aunt, my sister and I were able to divide up the work better, as she was a non-offending relative to me and I was much more involved with her on a day to day basis.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


  8. Hi Kerro,

    Can I just ask what is going to make you feel better… talking to your mother, or not? Do you have a bucket list of things you’d like to do with your mother before the hellish reality of the situation comes and whacks you both out of the ball-park? I know that might sound really selfish, but I wonder if that’s another way to broach anything beyond that practicalities with her? – I agree with David that the practicalities are the place to start…

    Just a thought. I know people react so differently to these realities, and each persons journey is individual. It’s going to be difficult to manage your very real and normal emotional needs, with your mothers stoic attitude…

    Wishing you all the best, and with lots of (((hugs))),

  9. @ David – yes, you must have been! 😉

    @ Katie – You’re right Katie, there are no “shoulds” and no “right way” to handle this. But there’s also the issue that I don’t want to be left thinking I wanted to say this or that or something else. No matter how much time we have, or how many things I say, I suspect I will always wish there was more time. Sigh. Thanks for your good wishes.

    @ Lothlorien – I’m so sorry that you had to go through this with your mother as well. I’m glad, though, that over time you found the courage to say things you wanted to say, even if your mother wasn’t able to respond in a way that you would have liked. I have to confess I chuckled when you asked her how she was emotionally and she responded about her back. So like my Mum! I’m really glad she was able to say she loved you though – that’s so important. Well, it is to me. My mother has practically NEVER said it, and I’ve always wondered if she did or not. This Christmas she wrote “I love you” in my Christmas card. It brought me to tears. I’ve just stuffed that away, unable to deal with it yet. I also liked what you said about survivors having good intuition. I talked to PNT about something randomly related to this before the break, so I’ll blog more. 😉

    @ Kate – I’m sorry you had to experience this and not just once, but twice! How horrible! I’m glad they found a way to talk to someone, though. I had a social worker visit my mother in the hospital – all he said was “Gee, she’s a tough nut to crack!” LOL That she is. We’re not quite up to the hospice thing, though that is a possibility down the track.

    @ Castorgirl – Wow, difficult question, CG. I say difficult because it makes me look in places I don’t want to look LOL. I do want to talk to my mother and I want her to talk to me, though I know that is unlikely. The bucket list is definitely on my agenda – I want to know what’s on Mum’s bucket list, and I want to help her do some of those things. I say “some” because I’m sure paragliding is one of the things on her list, but hell will freeze over before I do that!!! Practicalities are a good place to start, but still way too hard for me right now. At the moment I’ve given myself until Mum’s next scans – they should tell us what is what and a bit more about how much time there really is. I’m hoping that will be a better opening for some of these conversations. Of course this is just procrastination, but we both know I’m a world champ at that! Thanks so much for your love and good wishes.

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