How to support a parent who wishes to die.

My mother has been battling cancer all through covid, she has had all the chemo, and then stem cell/bone marrow treatment. (She has blood/bone cancer and the way she described it, they took some of her blood, "washed it" and then transferred it back in her).

After the treatment and chemo, she is in remission, and has been for the last 6 months or so. After she hit remission she said when her cancer comes back she will not be doing chemo again.

Since remission, it seems she has had one thing after another, she had a scabies infection all over her back for 2+ months, then knee problems which ended up being diagnosed as gout, and now she is ill with a suspected chest infection, but x-ray was clear of her chest and she now has to go for a full body scan to see what's causing it.

I had a phone call yesterday where she told me she just wants to die, she has had enough of being sick, and coughing, not eating, etc.

I tried to support her as best as I can, but do not know how well I did, she said she doesn't have anyone depending on her as we (my brother and i) are adults and not dependents like my teenage kids are to me. I said that while we are not dependents in the same sense she still has a lot to live for, she has 8 grandkids, ranging from 21 - 2, who will miss out on having her as a grandparent, and while they don't see her often, especially with covid, they still care about her.

I asked if she had told her doctors how she is feeling and she said she had, and they told her the Macmillan nurses would be in touch to support her, she is adamant she will not take antidepressants as "you have to be mental to take them" I asked her to please not write them off and to possibly give them a try as what's the worst that happens, she tries them and they don't work and she stops them?

She seemed OK towards the end of the call, I did make a point about how she has to grieve the person she was, as who she is now is not necessarily how she saw herself being. (She has always been active and staunchly independent, and she is taking the change hard).

So yesterday after the phone call went OK. But this morning I didn't want to get out of bed, finally got up at 1.30pm ready to go shopping with hubby, but within 1.5 hours my mood had rapidly changed and I was angry, depressed and just wanted to be alone, so much so that I went back to bed and slept the rest of the day, and night- well I woke up at 3am and its now 4.26am but planning on going back to sleep soon.

O don't know how to cope and support my mother, I can't go and see her as she lives a couple of hours away and doesn't want us to visit because of covid, so it's video chats only. My depression has taken a major nosedive, and if making me withdraw from my family, my husband is struggling because I am withdrawing from him and blocking everyone out. My kids are OK as they are used to my needing to spend a day or two in bed every so often as I have my own long term chronic health conditions.

I just don't know what to do. I am trying to support my mother but we are alike in the sense that we won't talk about things until they are really bad and even then only if we must. We both bottle things up and try to deal with them ourselves.

I don't know what the outcome of this post I want, if anything, I just felt the need to share and hopefully get some good advice. This is the first time I have talked to anyone other than my hubby about my mother's cancer, and even with my hubby I don't speak that much, and generally only in terms of how she is doing etc not how it's affecting me.

  • Oh it sounds like you handled it beautifully with your mother - you’ve given her what you can.  The only other thing you might try on the antidepressants is telling her that cancer and the treatments can change your biochemical makeup, and sometimes you need antidepressants to get the chemical balance right again.  Maybe that can help her think of them as vitamins to get her feeling back to normal rather than hallucinogens that take her away from herself (as it sounds like she considers them).  In terms of how it is affecting you, I completely understand.  I also sometimes just want to stay in bed and sleep. It’s so hard bearing the emotions of a loved one fighting this terrible disease. A friend said last week I was very cold and distant and wanted to know why I was shutting her out.  I realised I had just put up a wall because I couldn’t bear to feel my feelings anymore, and I realised I was acting that way with everyone (but only my friend called me out on it).  Do try to take care of yourself.