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Mum is Mean!
FunnyBunny
24 Posts
Anyone have experience with incredible anger in dying? My mum is palliative. We were told 3-6months last October. Luckily Mum is still with us. She works full time at home from her computer but is now bedridden (new in the last week; previously spent most of her time in a lazy boy in the living room). She has been increasingly mean and angry when she does interact with anyone. Of course my Dad is taking the brunt of it daily. She’s 55. She doesn’t want to die. She refuses counselling. She won’t take holidays from work to spend time with anyone & she refuses to stop treatment or give up the fight yet she loses her absolute mind when she needs another blood transfusion or procedure or something that can’t be managed at home. Then she yells at nurses who call her and cry later that no one cares about her. I live a province away & have been begging to go visit (I’m a paramedic & fully vaccinated) but she tells me no because she works full time.
is this normal? She won’t even entertain the idea of speaking to someone about any of this. Is this potentially brain Mets? Anyone have experience or advice? The family & I are at a loss.
9 Replies
ACH2015
2007 Posts
FunnyBunny

My Aunt basically willed herself to death. She had lost the husband she knew to strokes that left him a very different man mentally. Her health had been declining for years, and her mobility was becoming limited and more painful. When my uncle became more challenged he could not drive, and that meant my aunt was more dependent on others to get about as she was a non driver. My aunt was given anti depressants, but she eventually refused to take them, see any doctors or do anything to help herself. She became abusive to my mother and father and anyone else that didn't do as she expected. I did not recognize her, as her appearance physically had dramatically shifted, and her attitude was 100% negative.

Loss and the inability to accept what is and find any way to move forward can be and is very destructive. I was diagnosed with cancer at 56, and know myself that the anger and rage that went through me was very strong and destructive to both myself and many relationships- including family. We only have the ability to take and deal with so much.Some get through it, some make peace with the reality of a situation, some find religion, and some just don't. I cannot say I would accept certain death with open arms, as acceptance of death would be extremely difficult to be my final reality. I have an incurable cancer - Unknown Primary. My 2nd oncologist told me way back at our first meeting "I can treat you - but I can't cure you". That I accept, and being NED after one recurrence, and years of treatments and years of surveillance CT's, blood work and gastro scopes - this is my daily reality. Do I get angry?. Yes, do I accept my situation? At times - Yes , and then at times No.

Those that have made peace with their situation and know that death is coming soon, I applaud them for the peace they have found and provide to others in that discovery. Those that have not found that peace - I could not hold that anger against them.

May I suggest writing your mother a letter, and let her know you love her and how it hurts to see her so angry and not at peace with the reality before her. Its just so she knows how you and your father feel. And perhaps it will help you as well in getting your feelings out before you, and give you some peace in sharing with your mother now.

It is a terrible thing to know your end is coming due to cancer - and nothing will stop that.I watched my father die of brain cancer. It took his sense of reality and he was very much like a dementia patient at the end. I watched my friend die, she and I have the same cancer. At the end Deb was unconscious and verbally unaware, but would scream uncontrolled although there were 7 different pain medications in her at any one time. To break through that is unbelievable. I think today the screams were her final release at succumbing to cancer after a two + year battle. Like your mother, Deb did not want to stop her (chemo) treatments either, even though they stopped working, and her cancer had metastasized into her sacrum and pelvis bones.

Know the anger is not directed at you or your father. It is because of where she is and it is a release of extreme emotions. It is tough for all concerned, and I hope my post can and will give you and your family some perspective, acceptance - and peace.

ACH2015
FunnyBunny
24 Posts
Thank you for your sincere and honest post detailing your experiences. My Mum was always the bubbly and reasonable one. She adores her grandsons (my kids) and nowadays she is annoyed at a FaceTime request by them. Ive thought about writing a letter many times however I believe there is no way she would read it. On our birthdays this year my sister and I received text messages stating HBD, sorry your gift will be late. That was it. No phone call, no usual social media post, and refusals of our phone calls to her. I know the anger isn't directed towards us however I find it very hard to find the balance between what she really truly wants and what I should do. Does she truly not want me to see her again and not visit? Or do I go and hope for the best? She might lose her mind on me for not respecting her wishes or she might get upset that I didn't care to be there for her. She's my best friend. We've always talked several times a day every day. I sort of pictured this as having time sitting or laying next to her asking her questions about my childhood and talking about the recent celeb gossip will sipping cocktails and doing sheet facials. I always sort of thought she'd write me a letter or have a heart felt conversation with me and leave me with some lasting parenting advice but instead I can't even get her to text me back. I'm not sure if this is how it ends? We don't know how much time she has. Everyone (Dad, apparently the doctors) all say things are "stable" but she's now bedridden, getting nephrostomy tubes, taking more of her dilaudid...the anger & withdraws from people....I wouldn't call that "stable" and I'm not certain we are getting the honest updates. I fear if I wait too long to go see her, she'll be gone with so much left unsaid. If only there was someone to tell me exactly what to do....
ACH2015
2007 Posts
FunnyBunny

I always say - trust your instincts. I trust mine, so do what yours are telling you to do. There is no harm in writing and sending your mom a letter. There is no harm in going to see her, you can at least see and spend time with your father if your mom does not want to see you. At least you know you made the effort , you let her know how you felt and that you wanted to see her, talk to her, be with her and all else you mention in your post. I don't wait for anything anymore. My life became too short and too much lost time since 2015 - when I had no energy- for no reason and the next year - 2016 I was diagnosed with cancer. I don't hold back anymore. I tell it like it is, and make efforts to share as much as I can - honestly. No sugar coating, just the truth and I think people appreciate that, as it sets a scene and gives them the equal opportunity to be honest in sharing all the good and bad as well.

No one can tell you exactly what to do here, only you can follow your instincts, and believe your choices are the right ones to follow for you and your family.I don't know how old your children are, but perhaps see if they would share something in writing for their grandmother as well. Just a simple card with some personal words to say we love you, and are thinking of you. Maybe even with an updated picture of you the kids, husband and any pets. This too is the effort put forward to share, and if your mom chooses not to see you or the grand kids - you tried, and shared and all concerned will know that. And most important - there will be no regrets in the woulda, shoulda, coulda department. Sometimes we only get that one shot. Hope this helps all concerned.

ACH2015
FunnyBunny

Thank you for trusting us with what your family is going through. I know from experience it is not always easy to talk about publicly. It is so so difficult to watch your parent change before your eyes. My heart goes out to you all.

When my Father was diagnosed with advanced cancer at 58 he had a lot of anger too. It was mostly directed at my Mom his main caregiver. He would often tell her to tell people he didn't want visitors or get frustrated when she would want to do special things together or talk about the situation. He also got frustrated when he would hear her talking to others about the difficulties of the situation. Luckily because me and my siblings lived close we just showed up and he didn't turn us away. It sounds like your Mom's job is a big part of her identity, maybe it makes things feel more normal for her? At the end, my Dad was able to make peace with my Mom. I hope this is the case for your family as well and you are able to get some closure.

The Canadian Virtual Hospice has some great information: Canadian Virtual Hospice :: Home :: Topics :: Emotional Health I hope you check it out. I found it very helpful.

Remember she may be refusing to talk to someone but you still can. I found it really helpful to talk to someone.

Keep us posted and reach out anytime,
Lacey
S2020
99 Posts
FunnyBunny

This sounds incredibly difficult for all of you. I am sorry for all that you, your mother, your father and everyone in the family are experiencing.

Others have posted very helpful suggestions and comments. I wanted to add that some of the medications, especially steroids, can affect mood and cause anger, irritability, etc. Fear, anxiety and pain are often expressed as anger, too.

Also, this comment stood out: “I sort of pictured this as having time sitting or laying next to her asking her questions about my childhood and talking about the recent celeb gossip will sipping cocktails and doing sheet facials.”

This sounds like an enjoyable girls night with your mother. However, as someone in the same age range as your mother, I can tell you that this would be incredibly difficult and emotionally painful to do with any family member within four months of a terminal diagnosis, but as your mother-the person you said is your best friend-the emotional/physical pain, fear and grief she is experiencing must be unimaginable. Your mother may be fighting for and grieving the loss of the life she thought she would have with you, your sister, her grandchildren, her husband, the work she still wanted to do and many other plans she had for the future.

People who grow old go through various life stages as they approach the end of life. Many are fearful, sad, wanting to live longer, etc. Others reach a level of acceptance that their lives may end soon. People given a terminal diagnosis have all the stages forced upon them at once without time to fully process all that’s happening. In ordinary, day-to-day life, it’s disappointing to lose out on a promotion or a cancelled holiday. It’s annoying to arrive late at a job interview. It’s painful and inconvenient to break an arm. These are all temporary and yet we can have very strong emotions about them. Understandably, even more so, with our own impending death.

It’s sad that your mother and all of you are going through this. Be there for her but also step back when you need to and take care of yourself. Return here when you need to talk to someone. This is a very supportive community.
FunnyBunny

So many good things have been said. But I wanted you to know that you are not alone. Many elders turn angry and bitter as death approaches. Folks have made some good suggestions about how to address it. I spend time with metastatic palliative patients. Some accept it and make the best of it. And others turn angry and turn that anger on every one around them.

ACH2015‍ talks about instinct. Sometimes it can be hard to tap into that. A friend shared with me a simple technique that he uses to access that instinct. Flip a coin. Heads you do, tails you don't. Don't pay any attention to the actual result. But check how you feel when you see the result. Do you feel relief that you are going to go, or an intense sense of foreboding. Those are the feelings that can guide the decisions. Not that it should be a strictly emotional decision but that is part of what makes this decision hard. And being aware of them is valuable.

The "still working" part of your post is the part that caught me. I know for me that continuing to work was part distraction and part needing to feel useful and part denial. If I could still work surely I wasn't dying. I have a complicated work life and have had to give it up slowly but have found other activities that continue to fill my days. But no one at the end of their days says "I wish I had spent more time at work." Exploring why she is making this decision may give you some clues as to how to approach it. If it is distraction then are there other things that can distract? If it is denial then maybe helping her come to terms with it is what might happen? If it is usefulness, are there other ways that need can be met.

Final thought. Look to yourself. Not easy to do but understanding what you would like in this situation and looking for other ways to make it happen will give you solace when the end finally comes.

Fair winds.

Angus
Charles
95 Posts
FWIW --

I had a funny thought about this . . .

The Bible has two famous, very different "deathbed scenes".

One is at the deathbed of Jacob, who dies with his family around him. He gives each of his sons a description of their character, with advice on how to handle themselves in the future. That's how we expect a patriarch to act.

The other is the deathbed of King David, who uses his time to tell his son Solomon (who will succeed him as King) whom to reward, whom to punish, whom to kill. There is very little mercy, and lots of delayed vengeance. David is working at his job -- being King -- till the very end.

I suspect that your mother is dealing with her own death, in her own way. "Leave me alone, I'm working" may be her way of saying:

. . . "Dying is very important to me, and I don't want to be disturbed while I do it."

She's probably also very, very frightened. I don't think you can do much about that.

. Charles
elle29
220 Posts
I am so sorry you encountered this mean meltdown directed at you from your mum with cancer . But I learned it is not what we want when helping a loved one . Each person deals goes through stages emotionally with this in the way they feel they can tolerate .
And she sounds like she just wants to be supported for her decision being mature and the one with cancer . Some just want to work at what they know keeps them sane or,as long as they can . Otherwise we are pushing our expectations on them . Denying them their living and dyeing wishes . Roll with it or prepare what u can . Hope this helps in someway . Elle 29
CR25
4 Posts
She is currently is dealing with depression and anxiety. She needs a psychiatrist to help her solve all her mental health issues. It could be a side effect of her disease as well but from my opinion it is mostly depression. I am not sure if she is dealing with memory loss in that case it could be either dementia or alzheimer's.
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