Trigger Warning: The following post discusses themes and details around losing parents, hospital visits and cancer. If you are aware that these topics may be triggering to you there are other places on the website that you can read through while you are working on your healing. If you'd like to read on and this becomes triggering for you I encourage you to reach out to someone you trust to share your feelings and participate in self- care. If you are unsure on how to do this please reach out to GGH.
"Being pregnant has really impacted me I think without her being here because I feel so sad I couldn’t experience this with her. I felt like I grieved her in a whole new way and it's another first I am going through without her here."
I am a(n) Educational Support Specialist, Parent Support Worker, sister, girlfriend and soon to be mom.
How do we know each other?
We've been friends and co-workers for about 4 years.
Who have you lost/ what life altering event have you experienced?
My mom and dad passed away within 6 months of each other. My mom and I had an amazing relationship, whereas my dad and I had a very strained one so the effects I think were different for each.
How long has it been since?
Almost 3 years
Can you talk a bit about the day of/days leading up to your loss/these life changing events.
My mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. For the next 4 years, she fought to try and keep the cancer from spreading however she had to deal with many other health complications as a result of chemo. She spent the last year of her life in and out of hospital. My mom knew she was sick but didn’t really let us know how sick she was as she wanted us to just live like a regular family.
In October of 2016, my mom went into the hospital for internal bleeding and stayed there until right before Christmas where she was able to be well enough to come home. We spent Christmas together at home and even though she was sleeping lots, we had such a nice Christmas with all our family there. It was very peaceful and loving. In March, my mom began to feel sick again and couldn’t keep food down. We took her to the ER where they discovered that the cancer spread to her brain. She was admitted into the hospital and began radiation to try and slow it down. Again, she came home and seemed to be on the mend.
Over Easter weekend my mom was very sick again and admitted into the ER where she caught an infection that led to her being in the ICU and needing a breathing tube. It was so scary and sad and we had to make decisions on whether or not to leave the tube in if she didn’t get better in a couple of days. But, my mom was a fighter and within 24 hours was able to get the tube out. She had an MRI done while in the hospital that told us that her cancer was not getting better. She was admitted to the oncology floor and we had a family meeting where the doctors told us she wouldn’t be coming home and most likely not going to live very much longer. I was completely heart broken. I didn’t know how I was going to survive without my best friend. The next couple of months were spent in the hospital, just getting as much time together as we could. We brought things from home to make her more comfortable. My older brother made her a really nice collage of pictures, my little brother brought his hockey jerseys and I pretty much moved into the hospital and only went home to shower once a day when my aunt was there.
Our last mothers day together was really nice. We made her a build a bear with my niece's voice talking to her and all took pictures with the bear. We spent mother's day in the garden at the hospital with these really pretty trees that were blossoming, it was so peaceful and calm and everyone just enjoyed their time together! My mom even ate a couple bites of pizza. My niece chased bubbles and we all had mimosas which was my mom's favourite drink. The rest of the days were spent just being with each other.
Then on June 13th, with just myself and my mom in the room, she took her last breath and passed away listening to her favourite music while I watered her plants.
How did you cope in the month that followed?
I decided to take the summer off of work to be able grieve on my own and in the time frame that I needed without any pressure. Life was very different after, you miss being at the hospital and having that person to care for and just know they are there. I moved back in with my gramma and brother and was happy to be surrounded by the family that was closest to me. My biggest challenge was probably just learning to deal with her not being around.
For probably a year after, I would go to call her every time I got in the car. Family functions were really hard to go through, I often felt guilty being there without her or mad that she couldn’t be there with us. But her being gone also gave me strength to let go of things in my life that no longer served a good purpose. I feel like I dealt with it in a healthy way. I had been going to therapy for a couple of years prior to her dying and still was seeing my therapist weekly which was a huge help for me. I had a very good circle of friends that were there to support me.
Spotlight on your loved one (share what they meant to you, how they impacted your life, a special story or something that always reminds you of them):
My mom was truly my best, best friend. I told her everything. I trusted her with everything, she always made me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to and that I was just the best person and it was such a confidence booster and made me feel so good and loved. I loved doing everything with her so I can’t really say an exact memory because we could do anything and I would enjoy it. Christmas was something she always made feel so special and getting room service in hotels definitely makes me always think of her.
How do you cope now when you miss them or when you think back to that time in your life?
Thankfully, I did a lot of work around this so I feel like I do well handling and recognizing signs when I miss her or something takes me back to that time in my life. For example, around this time of year, my mom went into the ICU and I was feeling really irritable and grouchy and was able to realize that I was processing this time of year so I allowed myself to feel those feelings and think about her and that time and I’m pretty good giving myself time to cry if I need it.
When I am really missing my mom I feel like she sends me signs to let me know she’s still around. I also will often look at her pictures or try to talk about her with other people.
How does this loss impact you today still?
The impact of losing her will never go away. I think everyone is always healing from losing a loved one. I feel like the impact over all has been a positive one. I have made a lot of changes in my life that I don’t think I would have made if she was still here. Being pregnant has really impacted me I think without her being here because I feel so sad I couldn’t experience this with her. I felt like I grieved her in a whole new way and it's another first I am going through without her here.
If you could tell yourself something during that difficult time in your life when so much was changing you would say ....
“You did everything you could.”
I tried to tell it all to her and we were both very open with sharing our appreciation for one another but I would probably have asked for more advice on things to take with me when she left and I would just have told her a 100 times more she was the best mom ever and I would take a shorter time with her than have anyone else as my mom.
Finish the sentence:
Girls gotta heal because ... we deserve to live our best life!
Grief In Me: Sister stories will continue next week. These are a collection of stories and conversations with women I've encountered and have formed connections with along my own grief journey and healing. Join the conversation on Instagram Live every Tuesday with the Sister Story guest of the week.