Slow Grief

by Mellanie
(Australia NSW)

I am almost 40 and feel I have been grieving most of that time. My dad passed away when I was 19, from a burst bowel because of undiagnosed bowel cancer.

Prior to then, before I was even born, he had a series of heart attacks and lost some cognitive function (short term memory). I grew up knowing I was loved by him and my mum, his carer, but I was definitely weighted with a great deal of overflow emotion and responsibility.

As my mum shut down and the decision to turn off his life support fell on me, our roles changed and I distinctly feel I became the parent from that moment.

There is too much detail in all that came before then in our relationship to explain and, too much since then to explain and debrief myself of here. But today, I arrive at this impasse.

My mum, largely blind through glaucoma and macular degeneration and struggling with a significant mobility issue, is laying bed bound in my home.

She was diagnosed with lung cancer (she is a life long smoker) the week of her 72nd birthday, 10 weeks ago). Because of her general health and the size of the tumor she has been deemed 'terminal'.

She is weak, but cognitive with some confusion at times. She was given maybe 12 weeks and I have been doing all her nursing care (I'm an assistant in nursing in aged care but have taken leave from work).

As well as some nursing support services, I have the support of my two beautiful boys, 15 and 11 and a fabulous husband, but, 3 weeks ago, my husband's mum had a turn for the worse in her 10 year struggle with terminal breast cancer. She has just weeks left.

My poor boys. Their world will be turned upside down, if not already. I just had no idea that by 40, both my parents would be gone and my husband would lose his mum as well. My mums brother has motor neuron disease, my husband is his nans guardian (she has Alzheimer's) and we lost 2 friends through different cancers, within 3 weeks of each other a few years ago.

Mortality is not something held at arms length. I know so many people have so much worse and I am so grateful for all the good bits but there is a lot I haven't said here about my own journey as a carer.

I just feel overwhelmed and want my life back and some time for happiness. I didn't want my boys to lose their cloak of childhood innocence yet. Life is good, and I desperately want it to feel that way to them. Now is just a lot and I wonder if I am I enough.

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