Grief, Mom, Sandwich Generation


NOTE: This post was migrated on 9/28/21 from my substack after getting all of my blog moved to a secure host. If you are confused about why I wrote on substack for awhile, get your primer about my site being hacked and the ensuing chaos HERE.

P.S. If this showed up in your RSS feed reader can you email me ( and let me know? I’m not sure how moving this stuff over and back-dating it effects things like my RSS feed. If all of these back-dated posts show up in people’s feeds I want to make sure I add them slowly!

Thursday. That was the last time I wrote here. That was the first day I even mentioned that my Mom was even going into hospice. And yet somehow, that was also the last day I spoke to her in anything close to consciousness. Everything just happened fast.

You know…they tell you a lot can change in 24 hours. “They” being everyone from kidney doctors to dialysis nurses to hospice care workers. However, it took my Dad 4 weeks to pass after stopping dialysis. So I was naively expecting at least half of that. And while he was tired and sleeping a lot, he still felt very alive up until he just wasn’t. The night before he died, 4 weeks after stopping dialysis, he was fully conscious and talking about how maybe there was actually nothing wrong with his kidneys.

So, when I wrote that post last week, no part of me was prepared for how fast my Mom would enter the “active dying phase.” (A term I never want to have to think about or read about or research again.) No part of me was prepared for how very difficult the next few days would be.

My Mom finally past Sunday night around 10pm. My brother and I were both by her side. I have a lot of emotions to parse about hospice and the dying process this time around, and I’m sure some day I’ll want to write about that. It might be tomorrow. It might be next year.

It is not today.

I do want to say that I feel very different than I thought I would feel. I knew I’d be sad, of course. But if I had a dollar for every time I said, “My Mom and I didn’t have the typical mother/daughter relationship, she didn’t raise me, you know…” to someone, I’d be rich. I think I thought the sadness would be surface level. That the grief would not hit as deep as when I lost my Dad, the man who did raise me and whose death was much more of a surprise even with the longer time in hospice.

But this sadness is hitting me very to the core of my soul. I just miss her so much. Which is so surprising because she wasn’t the easiest person to love or to care for. And yet…I looked at the clock yesterday at 1pm and started sobbing because I should have been taking her to dialysis. Yes…she would make me watch Fox news for 30 minutes before we left, and she would be complaining the whole time about how much she hated dialysis, and she would be irritated because I wouldn’t let her vape in my car (I used to smoke, I didn’t need any temptation)…but…I still miss it. I miss her. A lot.

And regardless of our relationship and how much time we might have spent together the last 3 years (definitely more time than the previous 20 years combined), she was still my Mom. And I guess I didn’t quite realize that the amount of hurt you feel losing a parent doesn’t directly necessarily correlate to the quality of the relationship or the amount time you spent together.

I’m sure I’ll be parsing out a lot about that in the future as well.

Last night I opened my nightly beer and cried because I didn’t have to worry about walking my Mom’s dog one last time before I was home for the night. He was sitting right beside me, now the official second dog to our family. A family he has felt a part of for awhile because of my Mom’s 3 hospitalizations in the last year and because he would stay at our house on dialysis days. But now? He’s just our dog now. Not my Mom’s. And I can tell he is grieving too.

My mom on Christmas day with her dog and my dog

We took yesterday “off” from everything around my Mom and her dying. We needed to shake some of that off of our souls in the form of work and caring for kids and just trying to do normal things for a change. We needed to separate ourselves from death for a day.

Today we get back to it. We have to go to the funeral home. We have to wait for the medical equipment people to come everything we used those final days. We have to do a bit more cleaning at her apartment.

I am now a parentless adult. I know it happens to most of us eventually, but it’s still a very strange thing to come to terms with. I’m wearing her rings which look strange on my fingers. My husband has been playing with her robot vacuum which feels like it doesn’t belong in our home. I’m curled up with her blankets which belongs on her couch. And yet…all of these things bring me such strange feelings of comfort. I miss her, but I want the reminders of her around me at every moment. I am feeling things I would have never guessed I would feel.

Thanks for listening. Jeezus, if I doubted the accuracy of the “Zoot’s Brain Dump” title of this newsletter before…I sure as hell don’t now.

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