Caring for parent during bereavement

I sadly lost my father 9 weeks today to an aggressive form of cancer. I was has carer for the previous few years. Apart from being devastated, I am also looking after my mother who seems to be having problems grieving. Whilst the care for my mother is very different and less demanding to that for my father, I have noticed she has become very frail and says she is not ever hungry. She always says she will have food later and is typically only eating one meal if that per day, with little snacks like biscuits or cake in and around the day. I’m afraid she has either got a recurrence of an illness which resulted in partial removal of her colon about six years ago, or she is just not wanting to eat and get on. I’m going through bereavement counselling myself as my fathers death and the time before was traumatic for me. Apart from the eating issues, my mum seems ok, but I know I cannot go through another few years emotionally, mentally and physically like I’ve just had if she starts to deteriorate. I hope this does not seem selfish. Does anyone have any similar experiences to share in relation to bereavement please?

Hello, Paul. I’m very sorry to hear about your loss of your father. You obviously loved him very much.
I lost my lovely dad 18 months ago. He was 91 and he died from pneumonia whilst in hospital. I had been caring for him and my mum for many years and have some wonderful memories of him. I still miss him every single day. But I promise you - the grief does fade. Now I look after my mum who is frail with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
May I ask how old is your mum and do you live with her?
My mum is nearly 90 and lives nearby. The way I cope is by ensuring I have other outlets going on besides looking after mum. The lockdown has made things incredibly difficult because so many places have temporarily shut down. But I will return to my aerobic dance classes soon and I hope to return to another local meeting group I belong to. I also belong to my local gym. During the last few months zoom helped a bit.
Think about what you liked doing and where you liked going before you became a carer. And then make yourself some ‘me’ time every week and do something that will make you happy.
Please let me know if this helps.

Hi Paul, I was suddenly widowed at the age of 54, my husband had a heart attack in his sleep and had passed away when I found him. It will take mum a very long time to adjust, her life has changed forever. At this stage, it really doesn’t matter too much what she is eating. If she can’t face a meal, let her nibble.
Try not to treat her like an invalid, just step back and let her go through her grief in her own time.

How old is mum? How old are you?

In various ways I supported all four parents, all disabled for years, plus my son with learning difficulties. I see now that with each carer, my resilience declined, I could never quite bounce back to where I was. However, I have made a new life for myself, as you must. For the next few months, really look after yourself. If you don’t want to do something, then don’t.

Mum must accept outside carers, and in time, may need residential care. Need, not want.
Normally I would tell you to get away somewhere warm for a couple of weeks, I usually go to Crete every September to a singles only hotel, where I have made lots of good friends. Sadly, as I’m in the “vulnerable” category, I don’t feel it’s wise to go.

Instead, plan a break away, ideally self catering, for a week, to think about what has happened, and what you want for your future. I would recommend a book called Starting Again by Sarah Litvinoff, usually found on ebay. Designed initially for divorcees, it’s very relevant to anyone at a crossroads in life.

What YOU want is every bit as important as what everyone else wants!!