Tag Archives: grief

Memories Of A Life Passed – Two Years On

Mum in Hospital Feb 2011 

I’ll never forget our last words and sights of my Mum… We were leaving her house about 10pm on the 28th June 2011. We had taken some food round for her, and she had eaten a good hearty meal for a change, and had come to the door to see us off.

She stood there in her night dress, with a light dressing gown draped around her to keep her warm, her thin pale face and white hair, with brown eyes watching as we got ready to go.

I went over and gave her a light hug ( not too hard because of her chest) and told her we would see her soon, it was only three weeks and that I  loved her.

She wished us a happy holiday, and said she hoped we would have a good time. Her last words to me were ” I’m going to miss you two ” I said ” I’m going to miss you too Mum”….

How prophetic that was.

As we got to the top of the drive, I looked back and I could see her standing there, 4ft 11 inches tall, a sad , forlorn, frail old lady who was  probably worried how she was going to manage without us and probably more than a little afraid.

 mum

Two years ago today, 28th June 2011 ( it was a Tuesday), was the last time I saw or spoke to my Mum.

If you’ve read the entries from this time last year, you’ll know the reasons why, if you haven’t I’ll give you a quick resume.

My Mum who was 80, had to have open heart surgery ( risky at any age, but more so for anyone of the age ), to replace a heart valve.

Initially she made an incredible recovery -physically, though there was some evidence of memory loss, but overall she was making good progress….so much so that we arranged to go on holiday for a few weeks , before we knuckled
down to the serious business of primary carers.

I had set up all sorts of procedures so that she would have some contact with somebody every day that we were away, carers, family, etc. and it
was while we were away, that she had a fall and wasn’t discovered for possibly 36 hours.

It wasn’t that serious at first, so much so that my family didn’t even tell me that she fallen, and was in hospital as they knew I would be worried and besides, she wasn’t that ill…

Little did we know.

At some time post op, she had managed to get an infection in her chest bones, they hadn’t knitted together properly, and the infection finally
overcame her on the 14th July, just as we were about to get on a plane and get back home.

My entries from last year tell the story of that awful time, and the aftermath of her death.

 

I’ve had a lot of problems coping with her loss, blaming myself for going on holiday, not being there when she really really needed me, and also for not being able to say goodbye, and being able to tell her how much I really did love her, how much I was going to miss her, and all the other things I had wanted to say but just never got round to.

The first few months after her death were particularly difficult, and I spent most of them in a daze of shock, continuing with my life the routines that I had been involved in before her death, but with one massive exception

– Mum –

and crying a lot.

Tears would come at the most inopportune
times, whilst driving my car, out in the pub, sometimes just talking to friends, and for a period of time I honestly thought I was going to lose it completely and descend in to the dark black hole of depression.

Birthdays and Christmas’s were particularly difficult,  Mum used to phone up and sing Happy Birthday, something I quite liked secretly, and something I miss so so much now.

She would spend hours ( and fortunes ) picking cards for us, studying the words so that the card would convey exactly what she wanted to say,
and this became part of the Christmas or Birthday present-

Again something I miss so much.

We cleared her possessions, all her clothes, shoes, little things that were part of my Mum, then sold the house, it was like erasing her from our lives, and it hurt so much.

 

Now, two years later, my thoughts have come back to those dark July days and the last time I saw her, and these last few weeks have seen all the raw emotions and memories from that time resurfacing.

 

Kathy from Healing From The Loss Of A Parent recently posted an entry “ Living in The Present “ in which she describes her feelings and state of
life after her Mum died.

She talks of living in the past, and of how grief makes you do that, and also of how you can get stuck there. She has emotionally been through what I’m going through now, reading her posts are almost as though I had written them.

Her words and experiences, descriptions of emotions and states of mind and how she has dealt with them  have really helped me. For me, the most important part of her entry is

But true acceptance of what has happened helped me to move forward and move into the
present. I still think about my mom every day. I still miss her. But I am now living again, and living fully in the present. It’s a good place to be, and most of the time I feel at peace.

 

My Mum would not want me to spend the rest of my life in mourning, remember her yes, never forget certainly, but mourn her forever…. no.

She would want me to get on with my life, and enjoy it, rather than existing in a world of shadows and grief.

 

This has got to be my aim, my goal.

If I don’t come out of the shadows

What choice is there for me?…….

I’m going to miss you Mum.

Christmas 2003

Christmas 2003

Reprise, Regrets and Rememberance

Those who have been through the last 12 months here, will know just how hard this last year has been for me, and for my wife too, looking after me, coping with some pretty wild mood swings, from smiles to tears, to anger in 10 minutes, and making sure that I didn’t do anything “ stupid “ to myself.

 

If you’ve managed to get this far and ploughed through the last week of entries, well done and thank you for your patience.

 

What I have tried to do, is to give you an idea of what it was like for me at that time.

 

The lack of information was awful, sitting on the end of a mobile phone, waiting for it to ring with bad news.. or good even.

 

Because that’s how it was then…Mum went from being a frail old lady who had had a fall and needed a bit of hospital treatment,  to an incurable  terminally ill lady in 10 days.

The information that we were all getting was so up and down, we really didn’t know which way to turn.

 

Poor old Mum went from dying in 24hours – get everybody here as soon as you can –  on Monday morning, to needing a 6-8 weeks course of anti biotics – Tuesday –  to  a regular chest drain every 3-4 days.

 

Even on the 14th July, her last day, 2 hours before she died, the hospital was planning to carry out the chest drain, and were making plans for her future care and rehabilitation.

 

When the end finally came, it was quick and catastrophic.

 

All Mum’s organs failed as the blood poisoning took hold.

 

And nobody knew.. not us . not the health professionals, no none, except perhaps Mum, who on Thursday in the only lucid moment she had that day,  came round and gasped “ I’m dying, I’m dying”

 

Those last six days of Mum’s life were like the worst roller coaster ride of our lives, with crests of hope so high we were delirious with happiness, to troughs of despair deeper than black holes.

 

We honestly didn’t know if we were coming or going.

We didn’t know if Mum was coming or going, though we knew that whatever happened then, even if she did survive, she would have really struggled, and it would just have been a matter of time before she finally succumbed.

 

We had to make some tough calls, and I know for one that I got my big call wrong.

 

We should have come back straight away, left the gear or sent it DHL. I should have been there, but I wasn’t and now I’ve got to live with that…. That and a million other could have’s and should have’s that prey on my mind when a loose thought triggers my memory.

 

I still think of her a lot, the pain of grief is still there, and I still miss her so much. I would give almost anything just to go back in time for a day, but I know that’s not going to happen, so I must wait for that day, when the call comes from above, and hope that everything I’ve been told about heaven and the hereafter is in fact true.

 

My youngest brother ( who has Downs Syndrome ) wrote a eulogy for her funeral.

The simplicity of the words, his view of Mum, are beautiful.

 

I feel blessed and honoured to have had such a loving and caring Mum

She was sensitive and kind hearted, compassionate but could also be temperamental.

 She had a heart of gold, and I want to thank God who gives joy to the world,  as we remember the life of a remarkable woman who will never be forgotten.

 Our love will never be extinguished because we will be her family forever.

 I will never forget the Mum who gave me so much love.

 Goodbye Mum

 

 

 If you have a spare moment any time, say a prayer for her please.

She would have liked that.

 

24 Hours.. just 24 hours

1 Day left- 24-HOURS – Wednesday 13th July 2011

With Mum being transferred to another hospital in the early hours of Wednesday 13th   , sleep that night was out of the question.We should have gone out with our Greek friends for something to eat (an occasion that we had been planning for a year) but because of the uncertainty of Mum’s condition and her imminent move, we pulled out.

It wouldn’t have been fair on everyone there, and also I felt like I was doing the dirty on my family, who were still at the hospital, and had been since Monday.

I tossed and turned until the early hours of the morning worrying about Mum, still undecided of the best thing to do, do we stay or come home, waiting for my phone to ring…which it did at 2.17 am UK time 4.17 am Greek Time.

It was just getting light.,…

 13/07/2011 02:17

Phone recharged tho signal shite. We have all made it to the QE alive, mum included! She’s hanging on in there.

02:19

Go girl ! She’s a fighter & no mistake 🙂 good luck to her, all our love xxx

04:05

Hi All, I’m so so sorry that I’m not there with you all. Thank you all so much for everything that you have been doing, I love you all so much. Hold her hand for us please, give it a squeeze & tell her we love her & are going to miss her so much it hurts. God knows what is must be like for you all there, it’s not good here 😥 xxx

 

That was it; my mind had been made up.

Against all the odds Mum had survived the journey, unbelievable..

God I was so proud of her.

 My brothers and sisters were exhausted, I was exhausted and I needed to be there, be in the hospital with them and Mum.

We were going home on Thursday, whatever the cost.

 

I called the dive centre, and told them that Mum was dying and we were going home.

We would come and pick all our gear up before they left harbour. They were very understanding and sympathetic, and said they would have it ready, which it was.

I don’t remember driving those 45 kms toKostown, I do remember crying my eyes out so much on the way that we had to stop for 10 minutes for it to stop.

When we got to the centre, our friend who owns it gave me a big hug, and I just burst in to tears again. I couldn’t stop, in front of everyone, the tears rolling down my face and in to the harbour water.

We said our goodbyes, and wished each other good luck, the tears running  down both our faces now.

 

13/07/2011 08:52

Hi Al, we are coming home either tonight or tomorrow, should be back Friday at the latest. Can’t hack it here, can’t stop crying.Paradise isn’t so nice anymore. Will call you when I have a definite time/ flight. How is the poor old girl & how is everyone else? X

08:54

She’s hanging on in there, so are we. Doctors to update shortly. No Positive Outcome, just a matter of time and making her comfortable.

 

The stress was on the no positive outcome and this confirmation of how ill Mum was didn’t help at all, causing another outbreak of distraught tears. When I had recovered I phoned my sister up for more news… and got a stressed out woman, who had had very little sleep for the last 72 hours, not too much to eat, and was at the end of her tether.

After a short conversation I put the phone down, feeling like I had been given a proper flea in the ear.

 

14:48

Sorry I got a bit shirty earlier, need a glass of wine and a weeks sleep;-) I know you’re just trying to make it through. Same for all of us.

14:54

Al no worries at all. You are coping with this so much better than I could even think of, & I will be forever grateful to you, to you all. I’ve been in the 24 hours hospital pressure pot) tho not for as long) & I know what its like. We can all just do our best, when I said earlier about seeing everybody it was because I just want to hug you all. See you soon, fingers crossed for the next update xxx

18:00

Hi, how did the 4 o’clock update go? How is mum? X

18:01

No change, for better or worse. No immediate danger. Just wait and see.

18:03

Sorry Al, will do 😦 just worried about her as we all are x

18:04

No I mean they’re saying we just need to wait and see…

 

That was it…

It was now as my sister had said a matter of waiting. The Q.E. had run a load of tests on Mum, and had managed to remove some of the pus from her chest, Mum was responding to the anti biotics at last, but the outlook was still not good..

 

I still had another week of holiday left after we got back, which I could see was going to be spent at the hospital all the time,supporting Mum and my siblings, so I thought it only fair to let my boss know what was happening as although the prognosis wasn’t good, the time scales for poor old Mum were changing by the minute.

 

 

 13.7.2011

Hi Ed, / Karen.

 I have had some very bad news from home about my mum and we are coming home  this Friday as the hospital has given her 48 hours to live.

 

 She had a fall while we were here, and was on the floor for at least 24 hours- the carer found her on Monday- she didn’t use the phone or the careline.. I don’t know why?

 But we didn’t find out here until Saturday evening, as my family didn’t want to worry me  & the prognosis wasn’t too bad.

 As the weekend has progressed her condition has worsened, she has  developed a severe case of blood poisoning, and abscesses in her chest from the operation. Her chest apparently has never healed up properly, so the infection is very severe.

 This has got worse over the last 24 hours , she has been transferred to the Q.E. for assssment,which was a risk in itself, where the specialist has told my brothers & sisters that she has got no chance of recovery, the infection is too deep rooted, and that basically there is nothing they can do… just managing her pain until she dies, which could be anytime from now.

 She’s a fighter though & giving it her best shot, which might prolong it for the 48 hours, so we might get back in time , though it isn’t likely.

 They aren’t going to put her onto a ventilator or life support as all this would do is prolong her suffering,.

 

 I’m sorry to send this terrible news by email, but I can’t talk at the moment, & I’m finding it very hard to keep myself together right now.

 It’s not fair on our friends here, or the other holiday makers, so we have brought the flight forward a week.

 I won’t be in next week as arranged, but I know that K is off for a week after that. I’ll try my best to get in but I’m not sure right now how long for  / when that will be.

 It might be a good idea to refresh other people with cashing up

 Sorry both, I’ll call you when we get back. I though you should know, it’s a bombshell 😦

 Hope your last 2 weeks have been better than mine, Ed you were right, what have we done???

 Cheers

 

 

The rest of the night finished in a bit of a haze with lots of tears. Tears of sorrow, tears of hope. We found some more Jack and finished that off  – not as much as the last time though,  I needed to be able to wake up if anything happened .

The next day, Thursday 14th,  we were due to go to a beach barbecue with our friends.

A lot depended on the news about Mum, if any, that night.

Mum was a fighter and would give it her best shot, whether she was unconscious or not, but at the back of my mind all the time were three words…

 

No Positive Outcome.

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