My mom died after a long illness of almost eight years. It started with a TIA eight years ago. While at the hospital for some testing, she fell to the floor and stopped breathing. They revived her, put her on a respirator for a few days and she recovered. Similar things happened over the next seven-and-a-half years. She had congestive heart failure, COPD, among other problems. She would always bounce back, maybe a little weaker than before, but she always came back. She was intubated about seven times throughout these last eight years. On Sept. 23, she couldn't breathe and the paramedics came. In ICU, they intubated her once again and tried to wean her off the machines. She was not strong enough to come out of it. My older brother lives in Texas and, with the doctors and palliative care people, my younger brother, and I talked (my older brother on speaker phone.) It was decided that we had to let her go. My brother drove up to Ohio from Texas, picking up his thirty-something old son on the way, and we took her off all the machines the next morning. It was exactly eight years to the day that our dad died, both on October 3rd.
Although she lived alone, I was the one who was there for her whenever she needed anything. I lived only half a mile away and could be at her house in two minutes, if I had to. My older brother is three years older and he lives over 1200 miles away. My younger brother is 20 years younger than me and he lives only five minutes away. Mom's house is four stories tall and I'm the only one working on getting things done over there. All the memories are there. My younger brother only has half the memories I have. Three whole rooms are still filled with his stuff. He doesn't want me to touch it. But my older brother wants things done. It's very hard to go there by myself and work. Mom was never well enough to get Dad's things taken away. So all of that is still there, too. My older brother told me, as he was leaving to return to Texas the day of Mom's funeral, that I needed to have everything taken out and put into groups of things to give to people, organizations, etc.. by the time he came back up for Thanksgiving. I'm finding it very difficult to let go of 81 years of someone's life, especially since I was so close to her during these sick years. My brothers don't care about the stuff, but I do. Even if I'm going to throw it away, I still want to hold it and look at it and think of the memories. I can't just start in one day and have it all done a week later as my older brother wanted me to do. If my house was big enough, I would bring everything over here and look at it here and not have to worry about them complaining that nothing is getting done.
Does anyone else have the same stuff going on... being pressured to go through everything and throw it all away, when you aren't quite ready to do it? I about lost it one night because the pressure was so bad, that I was letting brother A down because I wasn't working and working and working at Mom's house the days right after her funeral. Brother B hasn't done a thing at the house yet, nor has he taken any of his things home that occupy three of the bedrooms. I also wrote every Thank you card that was sent out and letters to out of state family and friends who needed to learn about our Mom's death.
For my own sanity, I told my brothers I would do a lot of work over there, as I am the only one retired and here to do it. But I would have to do it on my own time and when I was ready, not on their time when they want someone else to get it done for them.
Question: Is it because I'm the only female that they think everything needs to be done by me? While I'm the only one doing the work, if there's something I think I would like to have, do you think it's OK that I take it? I have to tread so lightly around both my brothers as they both have tempers and are used to having their own way. One has always been in charge of running big factories and the other was raised as an only child, as he is 23 and 20 years younger than us. He's also a police officer and, to put it simply, he's used to calling the shots with everyone and getting everyone to do things his way.
I miss my MOM alot. We would always chat about how my brothers were. When she was able, we'd have fun going out to lunch and maybe a short ride to see things she hadn't seen in a while. As other posters have written, the phone is a big thing. It almost never rings now, but there have been many times since she died that I've picked it up to call her to tell her something trivial, as we both always did. Cooking over the holidays, I kept thinking that I should have watched her and payed a little more attention to everything she cooked, and everything else she did. I can't call her and ask her. The next best thing was that I called her sister to ask her stuff. I think I could write a book about what to do, and what to ask your Mom and/or Dad so you were sure you knew what you needed to know before they are gone.
I wish the best for everyone. This is very hard. I feel really jealous of my friends who still have both their parents. But I also feel bad for them because I know they will be having these difficult times in the not-too-far future, as their parents are all in their eighties. This sure is the most difficult thing I've ever been through. At least when my dad passed away, I had my mom to lean on. We helped each other. It's really different when they are both gone. I must say, at 58 years old, I am finally thinking of myself as a full-fledged adult.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Debbie, I feel what you're going through- I'm an 'adult orphan' & only child dealing with my mother's belongings,
I'm having a really hard day. I can't face going over, to go through my mother's apartment, there's sooo much stuff, two kittens to find homes for. And so many, many books. What am I going to do with her furniture? I can't just donate it all away, and I don't have anywhere to store it- I only have about four days to deal with this (I have no family support to speak of).
I haven't had time to grieve completely for my father and now I have to have this dumped on me too, I want this all to go away so I can cry and heal- there's so much to deal with, then I have to finalize a service ... I need to be strong and just get it done but I don't know how to start when I can hardly get out of bed!
Hi Debbie, I know what you are going through- I have been there. All that I can do is offer the advice that I was told and did myself. I was told I can't make my house into my parents and I can't keep everything because it was theirs. So what I did is kept the things that I loved and remined me of them and their table was much nicer then mine is I brought that home and threw out mine. But keep what you can fit and only what you can use. If you try to bring it all home because it was theirs you will never be able to move on. I didn't understand it then but it has been two years and I do understand it now. Wishing you the best, I hope it gets easier for you.
Carol
Hi Debbie, I am so sorry to hear of your beloved Mother's loss. Like your Mom, my Mom's medical issues were many after that for last 9 years. O my, I thot I had it bad w/just 1 bro. He has not been there for her &/or me before my Mom had a brain hemorrhage in 2001 or afterwards while she had to endure being in a nursing home. So be it. My suggestions if u could manage this financially for awhile at least is to box up and place all in a storage complex near you. Then when u think you can handle this better go through and decide 1 box at a time. Have bro B p/up his boxes & he can have them stored himself. Bro A will have to take whatever u give him if he wants it whenever he returns perhaps. My heart deeply feels your pain. I now have no one to talk to who knew my Mom & to share how funny she was. One of my old school friends told me that we are now orphaned. Wow! That word really struck me. My Dad passed in 1981 & I had my Mom to share all those good memories with over him, so now there is no one. That is so very hard to deal with. I do have a storage myself which I will have to deal with eventually. I am divorced w/ no childeren & there is no one in my life right now to help me with that undertaking. At least you have an Aunt to hopefully talk to and share with her your Mom's memories. My Mom & I were buddies too, so I understand that. Just know I am your friend if you need to talk. There are so many things we need to share with others so it doesn't lay heavy in our hearts. We will get through this, we can be strong! Take Care, Pam B
I think it's time to tell your brother's to come help or you'll hire a company to do it for them and let the estate pay for it. If there are things they want, THEY need to come get them it's not your responsibility. It also isn't fair to you to have to carry the burden alone. It's hard enough to lose someone you love but to be shouldered with 100% of the responsibility on top of your loss is too much. I have a friend that has 3 siblings and the estate was put on her shoulders alone. Five years of hard work and the youngest brother constantly telling her to hurry up and finish. There was a LOT involved and not one of her siblings offered help. I don't think you are alone in this situation but that doesn't make it right.

Try to keep in mind that your youngest brother may only have "half" of the memories you do, but it was his entire life also. That doesn't however, allow him to put things on hold so to speak. Tell him to get busy and help or you'll do what you feel is best with his 3 rooms full. (THREE rooms? Yikes!)

Lauran
I am going through something that is somewhat similar. My mother died suddenly the first week of November 2009. Since then my father has gone in to dementia, I had to become his guardian, had to put him in a nursing home, etc. I am in the proces of packing up their apt. My sibs all live far away. They are pretty supportive but there is really no way they can be here to do what needs to be done. We have not had any battles over who wants what or anything like that. I just have such feelings of lethargy when it comes to going over to the apt and packing things. Yet it has to be done so that we can give up the apt as of the end of January. Strange things, like the dish we always put the cranberry sauce in bring me to a stop when I am trying to decide what to do with various items. And with all the things I am going through with my dad i feel like i have not had a chance to grieve for my mom and that I don't even have a life of my own right now. In my mind, I know that eventually all these things will be done and I'll have my life back, but right now its hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes I just feel so lost. I'm thinking of getting a notebook and writing to my mother whenever the feeling comes on me. I'm not sure if that will help or not, but I figure its worth a shot. Part of me wants to wallow in my grief and stay there-but i have so many things to do, it just doesn't work out. I'm kind of worried about when i have all the responsibilities done that occupy me right now; afraid that THEN the grief is going to hit me really really hard. Part of me wants to be with her so very much. I look at her picture and just cannot believe she is gone. They say it will get better, but I'm not sure I really want it to. Part of me wants to hold on to my grief as long as I can.
I understand what you're going through. My mom died Nov 20th. We have to clean out her house and sell it. The logical part of me understands this. My brothers, sister and I are extremely close and all worked together to take care of mom and honor her wishes. since I am out of work, and, as my brother says, "have time on your hands" dealing with her personal effects and household items has been left pretty much up to me. This first thing I tackled was the fridge. I had no idea it would be so hard. I remembered the last time mom and I went grocery shopping. She was taking chemo and sick but so excited to be doing something normal. She got sick there and barely made it to the restroom in time. She worked so hard and fought with everything in her to just to go to the grocery store and here I am throwing everything in the trash. Giving her clothes away was a real nightmare. Her closet was arranged according to size: at the beginning of her treatment last January she wore size 12, by the end size 2's were too big. I wish we could wait until we are thinking is clearer, when our emotions aren't so raw. We've making decisions that can't be undone. How am I going to feel about having given something away a year from now? The problem is we don't have the luxury of time. I keep reminding myself that mom isn't in the "things" but in my heart.
It's funny you should say you feel like a full-fledged adult at 58. I'm 54 and the whole time we were taking care of mom I kept thinking "when will the adults get here?" I think as long as you have a parent alive, on some level you can still be a child - regardless of how old you are. It doesn't matter that we may have grey hair, mortgage payments and retirement worries, we were someone's child and now we're not. We have to mourn that loss as well.
If noone is going to help you then they don't get to say. I know that's easier said than done. I do know that since my mom died, May 1, 2009, for the first time in my life I feel like I'm turning into an adult. Kinda wierd. I also don't know some things about my mom and her life I wish I would have asked. I had the same thought about writing a book about what to ask and know before your mom is gone and it's too late. I also dread the day my husbands mom dies because he just has no idea. He did lose his dad at when he was 18 but that was 40 years ago and he has had many years with his mom and I just know it will be very different for him. Truly the most difficult thing I have ever gone through. I still have some of her things and I have let a little more go each time I need too. I smell her clothes and things only once in a while now, but I used to do that every day. Sometimes several times a day.It would make me cry and be sad but I just had to do it. I took one of her shirts with me to Christmas at the kids and grand kids and wore it Christmas day. I almost forgot I brought it though. That was good and bad. Just last evening on my way home from work I thought I should call her and let her know about the day. Very strange how that happens. I shared these things so you know that what you are feeling is absolutely ok. Your brothers are going to grieve and deal with this their own way. You do it how it feels best for you. I say you should take whatever you want as they had the opportunity to participate and chose not to. I wish you luck.
DONT EVER LET YOUR SIBLINGS fool you into their bitter negativity. You can never know why something was important to your parent, and if your siblings are anchored into denigration and criticism YOU WILL NEVER CHANGE THEM.

I hope we (us here) give each other strength knowing that each of us have our own perfectly valid values. I still face periodic thinly veiled abuse from my brothers and sisters who couldn't have bothered spending their time off with Mom and Dad until it was too late.

I was luck enough to relocate fairly close to my parent's retirement home when my wife and I both realized how much we enjoyed spending our time with them. When my mother passed away I was able to retrieve what was most important to us and our daughter before the vultures descended.

I feel uplifted and freed now that I have disconnected from my former brothers and sisters. The phone number has changed, they know to not come to my house and soon the email accounts will dissipate.
PamB said:
Hi Debbie, I am so sorry to hear of your beloved Mother's loss. Like your Mom, my Mom's medical issues were many after that for last 9 years. O my, I thot I had it bad w/just 1 bro. He has not been there for her &/or me before my Mom had a brain hemorrhage in 2001 or afterwards while she had to endure being in a nursing home. So be it. My suggestions if u could manage this financially for awhile at least is to box up and place all in a storage complex near you. Then when u think you can handle this better go through and decide 1 box at a time. Have bro B p/up his boxes & he can have them stored himself. Bro A will have to take whatever u give him if he wants it whenever he returns perhaps. My heart deeply feels your pain. I now have no one to talk to who knew my Mom & to share how funny she was. One of my old school friends told me that we are now orphaned. Wow! That word really struck me. My Dad passed in 1981 & I had my Mom to share all those good memories with over him, so now there is no one. That is so very hard to deal with. I do have a storage myself which I will have to deal with eventually. I am divorced w/ no childeren & there is no one in my life right now to help me with that undertaking. At least you have an Aunt to hopefully talk to and share with her your Mom's memories. My Mom & I were buddies too, so I understand that. Just know I am your friend if you need to talk. There are so many things we need to share with others so it doesn't lay heavy in our hearts. We will get through this, we can be strong! Take Care, Pam B
Hi Pam,
I feel so blessed to have my aunt. She has a cold now and it scares me. That's how it started with mom. My brothers, sister and I have gotten closer through this and that helps. When I read posts here from people who don't have that my heart goes out to them. Like you, I'm single so I kinda have to make my own family now. Mom was both mother and best friend to me. I know I'm never going to fill that hole. Today I've been distressing my cabinets and I'm so excited about how they're turning out. I headed for the phone without thinking to call her. That happens so often. I know I'm not making a lot of sense. Thanks for listening to me. I feel like this is a safe place to share my feelings. I don't have to be strong when I'm here. Take care. I'm here for you.
Thanks so much to all of you for you thoughts and suggestions. I think I have decided that my house will take forever to get ready to receive many of the things I would like to bring to my house. I was thinking that as I go through the house, I could put things I want to keep, or even keep long enough to have time to look through them on my schedule. I bought some of the "beautiful!!???" shade of green boxes with lids. I think I will just go over there and finish up pulling things out in the open in the kitchen and bedrooms. I will sort them into the storage boxes and just leave them there until I am ready to take home what I finally decide I'd like to take home. I do have areas in the house where I've put things for my brothers to look at. After they are done looking at them, they can take them home or throw them out. I will make a rule that they can provide a boxes or bags for them and I will continues to put them in those, as I am doing the same for mine. It will be much easier to have them done and separated than not to have gone through at all. Brother B doesn't want anyone to go through the stuff in the attic, but, if I get through everything else and the attic still hasn't been conquered, I will be headed up there, as I know there are things there for me...... all my college books that have been well-hidden behind toys, toys, and more toys, as brother B was born when I was in my second year of undergrad school. My Mom's hopechest is up there and, since I'm the only daughter, I am taking that and most likely everything in it. As I write this, I am getting fired up to go over there this weekend to get things in boxes. I do have places in my basement for tons of stuff. I will just bring stuff I am interested in over here, just to get it out of there. I can always sort through it later. I think I will work on finishing the kitchen and my parents' bedroom tomorrow.
I hope the pain and frustrations of all of these required things we hate to do are easing up on all of you. Each day, I feel just a little lighter in spirit. Sometimes there have been little setbacks, but all in all, I am doing OK. It's been almost three-and-a-half months. Having Mom's cat helps, too. I can't feel bad for me as much as I keep thinking of the little cat and all the changes she's had to adjust to through all of this. (My philosophy has always been that pets are people, too.)Take care all of you. I enjoy hearing from every one of you. Sharing our sadness, problems, etc.. is really helping me to find different ways to deal with things to make this bumpy time run a bit more smoothly. I hope it's working for others, too. I'd love to talk with any of you anytime.
Best wishes, Debbie
Ya'll help me so much too. I don't feel so alone on this journey. I love each and everyone of you and pray for you daily. Take care,
Debbie

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