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Anticipatory Grief and Losing my Mum

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Hi, first off I hope this subject fits into this forum. Recently my mum has been told she most likely has Cancer in her Gallbladder, Kidney and Lower Bowel. Although she is strong and survived Breast cancer before, this new diagnosis is grim. She has put on a brave face and swears she will fight it, but I can tell that unlike 15 years ago she doubts she has the strength this time. She is 76 turning 77 in November and even before this latest news she was getting frail.

We have always been close. She has always been there for me no matter what, and I talk to her everyday. I go to her for everything. I depend on hearing her voice every morning on the phone. I can tell she worries about leaving me behind because we have always had a special connection. I keep a brave face in front of her because I know if she sees me crack it will be devastating for her. I can't talk to her about the way I am feeling like I used to for obvious reasons. I feel empty, lost, afraid and guilty. I have moments of absolute collapse and others where I find a strength I didn't know I had. I want to be strong for her the way she has always been strong for me but sometimes I doubt I have it in me. 
I always feared the day she would leave, and now it might just be around the corner I am terrified. The world has changed completely. I have thoughts I might not be able to go on without her here. I know these are all normal emotions that come with grief, but they hurt so much I wonder if I will ever be able to manage.

Again, I'm not sure if this is the appropriate place for this post. I'm only sure that I needed to get these things off my chest. Thank you to anyone who reads this and if you are going through the same thing just know you are not alone.


6 Replies 6

Community Member

Hi friend Guest,

Big hug first off. I'm so sorry your mum is sick and you are both facing this illness and what it might mean. Sounds like you have a special connection and love each other a lot. You name many feelings I relate to: lost, afraid, guilty. I lost my mum last October, and I was terrified about her leaving too ... It is hard to hold and manage all those feelings. It is such a deep, important relationship. It's hard to know what to say. Except I believe you will be able to manage: day by day, sometimes hour by hour. Somehow, amazingly, this unimaginably difficult thing is also possible. I think it's brilliant you posted here now and it is such an intelligent thing to do--sharing what is happening for you. It's so big. Hope you keep posting and I send you lots of love and solidarity. Pawsy

Thank you! I really appreciate your support and your kind words. It means a lot to me. I'm sorry to hear about your mum last October and also send my love and support your way. It's so tough to deal with all these feelings each day. When I felt sad or confused about anything in the past, mum was the one person I always turned to. Now I can't do that because she is going through her own struggles at the moment and I don't want to make them any worse. Reaching out like this seems to really help and allows me to let off a bit of the emotional turmoil in my thoughts and body. So thank you again from the bottom of my heart. 

It seems like a slow and painful process for everyone. The advice to take it day by day or even hour by hour has never seemed so relevant as it does now. It's about being strong for those who have left or are leaving us. They want nothing more than for us to go on and lead happy lives and find love and all the other things they could wish for us. This is what I try and keep in mind. It will never 'cure' me of the pain I feel, but it does allow me to manage it.

I'm sending my love and support to everyone going through tough times. Stay strong for those who are leaving or have left, and for yourself.


No worries RK and thanks for the love and support--you sound like you have a wise perspective on what's happening, even inside the difficult feelings. Yes, 'day by day' was how my family managed my parents' illness. My mum especially lived it that way, just focussing on necessities and once they were in place, relaxing a bit. A friend of mine also said to me, when we were in the midst of everything, "Good days and bad days", and I think that was as good advice as you can get -- at least it helped me, because truly, that's how it goes. Not every day is bad, there are some good days! Then there are some bad days for sure, but they are not forever. Oh, my heart goes out to you. I hope you keep posting if you find it helps with the emotional turmoil. I have notifications turned on for this thread, so (I think) that means I will get a message if you post. Take care of yourself and your mum. Lots of love. Pawsy.

Hi Pawsy, thank you again for your support. It really does help.

Yes, each day seems to be a mixture of ups and downs. The thing I have noticed most is that sometimes I 'forget' what is happening and I feel normal. It obviously doesn't last and once I do remember I feel like I am walking in some dream. A strange half-experienced reality. I suppose this is what grief does. 

Nothing will ever be the same, and I know that this is just how life is, but it is getting used to that fact which hurts the most. How are we supposed to go on like everything is normal when we feel this way most of the time? I'm ok, and its like you said 'day by day.'

Thanks again Pawsy, my thoughts go out to you as well. I hope you have a wonderful day and feel the warmth and support you deserve.

Hi dear RK,

Oh yeah, that feeling of forgetting, then remembering, then everything feeling like a dream is soooo right. "How are we supposed to go on like everything is normal" is a big challenge in grieving I think. I must say I have this kind of stuff every day. And I remember it from when I was looking after my parents last year too. The everyday world keeps humming along, involving us in everyday things, but we are dropping in and out of somewhere else, where a lot of significant, unusual and sometimes unbearable things are happening. I think youre right, this is what grief does. I sometimes wonder if I will ever feel normal again, but folks assure me things will change over time. I hope you and your mum are travelling okay this week. Sending you kind many kind thoughts, Pawsy. 

Community Member

Today was a good day. It was filled with sadness and happiness and everything in between. I took mum for a nice long drive as she wanted to get out of the house. She can't walk without pain so her options of getting out are very limited. We were quiet a lot of the time but we did speak and point out things we found interesting. I played the music she loves and she told me it was good to be out and see that the world is still going on. 

I have a lot of guilt and sadness about not being able to provide her with the best healthcare or place to live. These thoughts bring up feelings which really hurt. It's like there is something I want to do to make it all better for her, but there isn't anything. I feel like I have failed her, and now she will be gone forever. My chance to give her what she deserves is gone. I know nothing is this black and white. At one point she put her hand on my arm and told me she feels a deep connection to me. She is beginning to accept the inevitable and this made me cry. I hid it the best I could but I think she noticed.

Is this normal to feel this way? To think that you didn't do the best for them? Everything is different now.

All I can do is be there for her in the end.