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Anticipatory grief

6 Mar 2018 01:37

So my mother has end stage metastatic Breast cancer. She had just started chemotherapy a month ago but the treatment has been stopped after one and half cycles as her PET CT showed that the treatment had had no effect.  

We went from a prognosis of several years to a few weeks over the space of a month and I'm not sure I know how to cope. I feel very emotional but I'm having to keep it under wraps for the sake of my mum. I wonder if anyone here has had any experience of dealing with anticipatory grief and how they managed. I don't want to ruin what time we have left by being depressed.

 I'm an only child, and my dad passed away many years ago, so I have no support structure in place. I'm also currently at uni which is also a concern.

Re: Anticipatory grief

6 Mar 2018 08:28 in response to Nik90

Hello Nik90.  Welcome to this forum.  I am sorry to learn of your mum not responding to chemotherapy which has meant a drastic shortening of her life expectancy.  It is some years now since my own mum died from cancer but I remember a lot of fear as much as anything else because of course I had never known a life without my mum who, being a mum, loved me unconditionally.  And confusion about how the family structure would reorganise itself.  My sister, father and I gradually got our separate feelings together and worked out the best we could to ensure that my mum was the centre of what was happening but this is a situation for which there is no preparation and it was muddly.  As you have no other close family this is particularly hard for you and you need to find sources of support.  Do you have any wider family (aunts, uncles, cousins for instance) with whom you are close and to whom you can speak openly.  Also friends?  You need to let  your uni know what is happening so they can give you a bit of leeway if your studies suffer at this time.

I am attaching some information from this website about carers' grief and how to look after yourself.  Amongst other things it gives you a link to MacMillan Cancer Support who will help anyone suffering from or caring for someone who has cancer.  You might find it helpful to give them a ring as they are very experienced in helping carers/family/friends through this awful time.  And please do come back to this forum at any time when you just want to rage or be upset.  Lots of people here have had similar experiences and will understand what you are experiencing.    Annie

Re: Anticipatory grief

6 Mar 2018 09:39 in response to Nik90

Welcome to the forum Nik although I'm sorry to read about your mum's diagnosis and the situation you find yourself in as a result.

Many members here have dealt with anticipatory grief and you can read about some of their experiences here and here. The first discussion is from 2016 but has a lot to offer and the second is a more recent discussion about anticipatory grief that you may like to get involved in.

Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

Kind regards, 

Steph, Cancer Chat Moderator

Re: Anticipatory grief

6 Mar 2018 12:38 in response to Moderator Steph
Thank you both for your replies. Really appreciate it. @Annie I'm sorry to hear that you have also experienced something similar. Do you mind me asking how you went about enriching the time you and your mum had together? Otherwise thank you for pointing me in the right direction. @Steph thank you very much for the information I will carefully read the threads you have linked to.

Re: Anticipatory grief

7 Mar 2018 10:26 in response to Nik90

Hello Nik90.  It can be difficult at first to know what to say to your mum but I remember I was trying to talk about things I wanted to say and also to continue just talking about the things we always talked about.  I didn't want to give the impression that my mum was no longer the same person that she had always been so I made little jokes about things that would make her laugh and mixed in some happy memories that (I hoped) made her feel good that I was still remembering these things.  I found that these were mainly small things - like the big family outings we used to have on the beach - I was brought up very close to the sea.  Not flashy or expensive but lots of love and laughter and much appreciated by us when we were children.  And sometimes I would just let my mum lead the conversation wherever she wanted it to go.  She told me one day that she had been "seeing" her brothers who had died in the Second World  War; I felt that was a clear intimation that she knew she was dying but it was okay because she was happy about this.  Don't know if this is of any help - you will have your own memories and thoughts you want to talk to your mum about.  Annie

Re: Anticipatory grief

7 Mar 2018 23:37 in response to Nik90

Hi Nik90 I am in the exact same boat as you right now, My mum is in end stage and my dad passed away of cancer some years ago. Every day is a struggle right now, I feel like she is already dying as she has gone downhill so much in the last few weeks after a very long and successful battle so far. I am only in my twenties too. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone.