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young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by noname on Sep 21, 2020 4:37 pm

I wanted to start a discussion to see if perhaps there is anyone in a similar situation.. I just turned 20 this year, my father has been battling colon cancer for about a year now. In April he was given 6 months to live. I am in university and am rarely home. The current situation in the world has allowed me to be home unexpectedly. I moved home at the end of August and since I've been home he has dramatically deteriorated to the point that I don't believe he has many more days ahead of him. I'm an only child and it really breaks my heart to see this happen; my parents are my best friends. My mother is also at home with me and it is obviously very devastating for her as well because she says he was doing fine before I came home. He barely eats, sleeps or does much of anything besides sitting in his chair in the living room. To make matters worse, both my parents are disabled and are very dependent on me and each other. My father is miserable and no matter how we try to help he is bitter to no end. Our house has been very toxic lately and I really can't stand it anymore. It feels as though we are waiting for some deadline to happen. I would really like to hear if anyone has any similar sort of experiences or how you'd approach a situation like this. 

Re: young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by Wendy Tea on Sep 21, 2020 8:57 pm

noname‍  I am so sorry you are facing this tragedy especially during a pandemic. Do you have access to counseling through your university,  your family doctor or through cancer family services at your dad's clinic? I can't imagine how I would react or how I would treat others when dealing with a terminal diagnosis. Each of us reacts differently. 
Please know that you are safe here. It is ok to be angry and we will do our best to support you.
Are you able to have a conversation with your parents' doctor to work on a plan to help your parents cope? Please let me know what happens. 
Healing takes time and opportunity. Wendy Tea

Re: young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by Trillium on Sep 22, 2020 1:11 am

Hello noname‍  - wow, you are dealing with a great deal of stress right now. My adult children’s father who was disabled with severe bipolar was given 6 months to live after living with lung cancer for a few years then brain tumours that were not treatable. My son with a disability Who lived the closest of the three kids tried his best to help care for his dad. The oldest sister came to move him to live with her but it became unmanageable for her. The other sister lived on the other side of the country and visited as often as she could but he would call her ten times a day or more (erratic behaviour). While they did not have anger to deal with they did have erratic behaviour, seizures and he would often fall. I suggested to them that hospice was a good option at this point and it did end up being the best option. He received the best of care. End of life time frames are an educated guess by doctors. Their dad lived for more than a year In hospice. You and your mom need more help then what you are getting at this time.

Men often have anger as a symptom of depression. This is something his family doctor can assess and treat. I have no idea if that’s what is happening with your dad but it should be checked.  Below is a link about depression in men. Please keep talking to us about how you are doing. Others will be along to offer support and suggestions too. You have come to a good place for support but I’m sorry you have to go through so much right now.

Depression in Men

Hugs to you and your mom.


Re: young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by Essjay on Sep 22, 2020 8:02 am

noname‍ I am so sorry for you and your family. Cancer is a devastating disease in its advanced stages, and seeing someone you love suffer is one of the hardest things to cope with. I am so glad you were able to reach out. 

others have given some good advice, but I wondered what supports your father is getting just now. Is he supported by a palliative team? They would help him with pain management and practical issues he might have, access to Homecare etc, and advanced care planning or his plan for the final stages of his illness. They should also support the psychosocial needs of the family, you your mother as well as your father. If he is not receiving these services you can see what is available to you at https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/palliative-care.html Or by calling the CCS information line on 1-888-939-3333.

And I encourage you to seek supports in coping with grief and what you are dealing with from https://www.virtualhospice.ca/en_US/Main+Site+Navigation/Home.aspx

I will be thinking of you in the coming weeks - keep in touch to let us know how you are doing, vent, whatever - there’s always someone listening who you can reach out to.

Best wishes Essjay
Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor since July 2018

Re: young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by Kims1961 on Sep 22, 2020 9:55 am

noname‍ Welcome to this community and am so sorry your family is having to go through this.  You have some excellent advice from the others.

My mother was unexpectedly diagnosed with colon cancer and died shortly there after, and our family was in chaos about how to help her and what to do. Does your Dad have any palliative support?  Essjay‍  made some great suggestions around this and in particular they can also help with his mood. I wished we had talked to palliative care sooner. There were times in her room at the hospital were we felt we were just waiting for her to die, so we brought in photo albums to look at. It helped to shift our conversations a little and laugh.

This is hard, very hard.  Are you able to share with your mom, a friend, a trusted person in your life on how you’re doing? It is not easy being present with a loved one who is dying.  When i was diagnosed with cancer, my daughter was in university.  She was able to access some mental health services and was given some leeway for her studies. With COVID and universities being “virtual” , there still may be some virtual support for you.

It is also a gift you are giving your Dad, in that not only can we have a good life we can have a good death.  We can still be present and surrounded by our loved ones, before we leave this earth. Are there times, he does better? Remember a lifetime of love and care is not replaced by giving yourself permission to take breaks .

Amongst the other resources suggested there is :  http://www.mygrief.ca/  

We are here !  Take care of you too.  Kim
Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom

Re: young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by Cupcakes on Sep 22, 2020 3:49 pm

Hey noname‍ 
This is a lot for someone only 20. You should be dealing 20 year old stresses only. When I was in my 20’s I went through something very similar. Both my grandfather and my uncle had terminal cancer at the same time and I was the one there for them. I then became my grandmothers care giver afterwards  (I was raised by my grandparents) watching them fall apart isn’t easy. Being their care giver and them rely on you isn’t easy either. We do it with honour of course but it is stressful and sometimes makes us feel alone especially at such a young age . The rest of the world can’t really relate to you but people here can. It is quite the responsibility you have going on right now. Even though your father is unhappy, he definitely appreciates you inside.  Know that what you are doing for your parents is incredibly selfless and courageous. That being said noname, try to keep your inner peace and joy. Don’t feel bad if you need to take a break from the toxicity. That is not your burden to take on. It doesn’t make you any less kind. Your caring heart will take you many places in life. You should be proud of yourself. 

Re: young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by noname on Sep 25, 2020 9:37 am

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for all your support and messages over the last couple of days. In response to some of the questions I've received; my Dad has been seeing palliative care for a while now. He's told them numerous times over the last few months that he would like someone to talk to about what's going on and still hasn't received that kind of help. Because of this and because of the anger building up at home, my parents and I just let it out the other day. Which ended up being for the better because now it isn't so hostile and sad all the time. He's most likely moving into hospice in the next couple of days. As much as I don't really want to see him go, I recognize that he'll be much more comfortable there. In terms of my Mother, she is just doing everything she can to make sure that she can live on her own. The part that I left out that might bring some more light into my situation is that in terms of disability, both of my parents are visually impaired. This is where the difficulties come in because there are many things around the home and around the community that rely on vision. I am living at home for a few more months which will be good for her so that she's not immediately alone. In terms of me, I know there are support systems available but I'm more hesitant to reach out to them, perhaps because I'm a bit stubborn.  I used to see a counselor when I was on campus for school but not since COVID. I sometimes will talk to my friends if I feel right about it, as well I  have an acquaintance that went through a similar situation who I occasionally talk to. I'm also working a full time job right now which Is good for me because I can break away from my parents and everything for a while. At the moment I don't really feel that counselling services is something I want to reach out to. Perhaps in the future. For now this sort of support here on this form is good enough for me, since I'm sporadically upset.

Re: young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by Essjay on Sep 25, 2020 3:20 pm

noname‍ it sounds like progress in the right direction in terms of supports for all of you. I hope the move to hospice is smooth and helps your Dad and your Mom. Things should ease up for you too so you can focus a little more on your studies. 

As for counselling - with COVID many services are online. I recently completed a CBT course online. I had a session with a counsellor who judged it was right for me, then I followed the program with her checking in on me. I learned a few new tools for my toolbox, which have been useful this week as My anxiety levels have peaked due work stress...

Do you have a tutor at school who knows what you are going through? You should tell them...

best wishes, Essjay
Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor since July 2018

Re: young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Sep 26, 2020 8:55 am

noname‍ , have you considered reaching out to the CNIB for some assistance in making your mom’s home more easily accessible for her?

I have a friend who is completely blind and an aunt who has lost vision after eye surgery. From these ladies I’ve learned many tips over the years. A bright yellow dot over the “start” and a red dot over the “stop” on the microwave pad, for example. I’ve put my house keys on a wrist strap, and I hang it near the front hall stairs on a “crystal” Command knob, so if I need them in the dark in the middle of the night, I know exactly where they are. A “home listening” device, like Echo, that can be integrated to things like thermostats and lighting might help.

As I say, CNIB might have some other ideas. I’d be happy to offer any other questions you have.

“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by Kims1961 on Sep 26, 2020 9:43 am

noname‍  Thank you for your response and some clarification.  I am a Hospice volunteer so am hoping you and your family find this move to the hospice home some relief. 

You brought up such a great point that sometimes when anger builds and it is released, it can be so therapeutic.  You had the perfect counselling session right there, particularly as it was helpful to shed some light on the issues for each of you. Anger is really a mix of so many emotions - hurt, scared, sadness, love, ...You can hear the love and caring in your posts.

It sounds like you know yourself well.  Working can be a great distraction and therapeutic. You need to take care of you too, so you can be there for your family.  Connection with others can go a long way in our own journey of self care.

We are always here!  I hope the transition to hospice goes well.  Take care.  Kim
Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom

Re: young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by Trillium on Sep 26, 2020 8:57 pm

Hello noname‍ - so glad to hear that your dad will now be involved with hospice. I’m just doing my training to volunteer for hospice and what I find so wonderful with the hospice philosophy and practice is that they focus on “living” with a disease or illness versus just focusing on the dying part but they do focus on a good death as mentioned by a previous person. They also see the whole family as the centre of care and needs so you should find that they will be able to provide comfort and care for your dad, your mom and yourself. They will listen and try to connect you with resources to provide for all of your needs.

My kids were ever so grateful for the care given to their dad and the willingness to be there to talk to them everyday as well. I hope this is the case for your family as well.

If at any point you find yourself having trouble functioning like you have at school you can always go to the counselling centre at the school. Another site that I found helpful was https://whatsyourgrief.com/blog/

Their will always be folks here for you.
May you and your family find peaceful moments in the days ahead.

Warmest hugs to you.

Re: young adult with a parent who is in their last weeks of life

Posted by Lianne_Moderato on Oct 14, 2020 2:52 pm


Wondering how you are your family are doing? 

I have been thinking about you.