Step dad died suddenly a week ago - how else can I help mum?

(14 Posts)
Runoutofideas Tue 03-Sep-13 10:31:25

Hi all,
We have had a very sad week. My lovely step father had a heart attack a week ago Sunday and died last Tuesday after spending 36 hours in hospital. I was with my mum the whole time from calling the ambulance to deciding to remove life support and waiting for him to finally pass in hospital. It was all truly horrific and shocking.

Since then family have been around - my siblings and step siblings and they have been dealing with lots of the practical stuff and funeral organising. My mum is struggling hugely, as you would expect.

My brain feels frazzled though. I seem to need to be in 3 places at once - I have 2 school aged children, childmind for 11 others and am the only family member local to my mum. My sister has come up to stay for a few days - thank god! but I am really concerned as to the levels of support my mum is going to need going forward and whether I can actually cope with this. She is ringing me up when she has run out of milk or needs a newspaper at the moment, which is fine but I'm worried that she is not trying to leave the house or do anything for herself. Should I gently encourage this, or just go with what she wants? It is all so shocking and raw at the moment that I don't really know what to do for the best. Also I can't completely abandon my own children in the way I have had to over the past week. DH has been fantastic, but he does have to go to work. My children are upset as they were close to their step-granddad and they need me too. ANy advice? thanks

Badvoc Tue 03-Sep-13 10:39:40

How old is your mother op?
I am very sorry for your loss. I lost my dad suddenly 5 weeks ago. It is desperately hard.
Do you know when the funeral is?

Runoutofideas Tue 03-Sep-13 10:58:15

Mum is 62, step-dad was 72. She's seeing a very empty life stretching ahead of her at the moment. Funeral is in another 10 days time, which seems like forever.
So sorry to hear about your dad. Is your mum still around? How is she coping? Hope you are taking care of yourself.

Badvoc Tue 03-Sep-13 12:07:11

Thank you.
My dad was 67, mum is the same age.
Dads funeral was 2.5 weeks after he died...it seemed like forever so I can relate to how you are feeling.
My siblings and I live locally to mum which helps.
Sadly my mum had a heart attack the same night dad died (they call it broken heart syndrome) so it's been pretty horrendous.
She is doing well now.
They were married for 42 years. I cannot imagine how she is feeling tbh.
My siblings and I are trying very hard not to "infantilise" mum...we have an aunt who lost her dh and the family just started doing everything for her. She is now totally incapable of doing anything for herself. It's really sad.
But of course, totally understandable that they wanted to help her.
It's such a difficult time.
Hard to know what to do for the best.
It's very early days for your mum. Is she mobile and able bodied?

Runoutofideas Tue 03-Sep-13 13:49:53

Hi badvoc - so sorry to hear of your mum's heart attack as well - how terrifying for you. Glad she's doing better now.

Yes mum has her own car and is quite fit and able. She is however finding it hard to do anything at all at the moment, but it is all very recent and raw. We suggested going for a little walk in the woods near her house, but she didn't have the energy. I think it is hard to find the balance between wanting to help an as you say "infantilising" her. She is a young 62 year old who could easily have another 30 years of life ahead of her. She needs to eventually get her head around how that new life could look.

Thanks for your message and help and hope things settle down for you soon too.

Badvoc Tue 03-Sep-13 15:41:04

Do pop onto the beareavment boards if you have chance.
Such lovely people there who have been a great help to me.
I am so sorry for your mother and the rest of the family x

Badvoc Tue 03-Sep-13 15:41:53

Sorry...meant to say the "anyone grieving for a parent" thread.

Badvoc Tue 03-Sep-13 15:45:11

One thing my sister and I did was take turns to stay at night with mum at first.
We don't now but did for about 3 weeks.
We also take her shopping to M&S etc and she gets meals and stocks up the freezer...it's good knowing she has decent food each day And food which doesn't take much effort to just stick in he oven.
We also try and take her for a walk each day even if its just to the cemetery to see dad.
On thurs I am taking her to a fashion show at church...it's just about getting her out of the house for a while, but it's still such early days for your mum and I am sure she won't want to go anywhere until after the funeral.

Runoutofideas Tue 03-Sep-13 19:39:37

Thanks Badvoc for all your wise words. We are doing the staying with her and making sure she eats well at the moment. Luckily my sister has been brilliant and she's here for another few days, but she lives 3 hours away. I will not be able to regularly stay with her without disrupting my children too much so it is a bit of a juggling act.

ItsDecisionTime Wed 04-Sep-13 01:29:19

I completely empathise with you OP. It's very easy to feel guilty about not giving your mum 100% at a time like this but the fact is you can't and, although things will be very raw and emotional for you all at the moment, life will go on and you will all get back into your routines. Your mum will learn to cope on her own and whilst she won't be able to see it at the moment, this is the beginning of something new for her. You'll find yourself stretched in all directions and won't know where to turn but you will find you are more able and capable than you think. Hang in there until after the funeral then take a deep breath and start to get yourselves into a routine that works for everyone. I hope everything goes well for you in the future x

Clobbered Wed 04-Sep-13 01:34:32

You mention trying to cope with your own children and the ones you mind as well as supporting your Mum. Perhaps she could come over to your house and spend some time with you during the day if she doesn't like being alone. The change of scene would probably be helpful, and she could busy herself with pottering around helping you out a bit - it would give her something to do, or she can just sit quietly in another room knowing that you are nearby.
It's so soon, there's no way of knowing how things will be in another week, month etc. All you can do is get through each day for now and know that it will get easier in time. Do make sure that you take care of yourself too. thanks

Runoutofideas Wed 04-Sep-13 13:57:55

Thanks for your kind words.

Yes I had thought about her coming round to "help" me more with the little ones. She gets pretty exhausted by small children though at the best of times so I don't think it is something she will do too often. Walks to the park with them though, or through the woods might be more up her street. She used to volunteer at a local school and help children with reading. In time I will encourage her to start this up again as she will need some sort of structure to her week. Thanks for your help. She seems to have bad days and slightly better days at the moment, so we're hanging on in there.

Do you think the funeral will provide any sort of closure? I can't really see how things will be any different after the funeral than they are now....

Badvoc Wed 04-Sep-13 14:49:47

I thought it might.
It didn't sad
Not for me anyway.

MovingForward0719 Fri 13-Sep-13 21:16:24

Hi I think your idea of encouraging your mum to get involved in things again is a fab idea, in time. We lost my dad a year ago and my mum is lucky, she has a large family so several visitors every week but imo she would benefit so much from having more of a purpose and sense of independence. I see her once a week and find it a bit draining and I am one of many siblings. In time, you will want your mum to have a little bit of get own life or it will get exhausting for you. It's very early days of course now, I'm talking further down the line. Take care of yourself too x

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