Did you do the deathbed thing?

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Roux

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Did you do the deathbed thing?
« on: November 18, 2018, 02:10:17 PM »
I'm new so I hope this is all ok.

I want to keep this short. I am very low contact with my mother. So much damage and an undiagnosed PD there. She is reaching the end of the line and really wants to see me. I keep thinking, maybe I should, for her, for closure. The family are distressed with me. She is upset with me. I get confused, I feel sad, I'm starting to get mixed up with my desire for a genuine maternal relationship. I feel guilty, I still get sucked into that wanting to be a good daughter, a good person.

I'd like to hear how other people handled this situation. I know we all know it's going to come at some point, but it's actually getting through that and not losing my mind.

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illogical

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2018, 03:32:04 PM »
Hi Roux & welcome to the forum!

How did I handle it?  My situation was different than yours, in that I was NC with NM at the time of her death and had been NC for about a year and a half.  I was also NC with my GC brother.  A FM tried to contact me a few months before NM died and left a message on my vmail that NM and GC brother "didn't know why I was doing this"-- meaning (I assume) NC.  I did not return the call.

GC brother came to town a few days before my NM died (not sure exactly when, since I was NC with him as I said).  He came by my house and I was home, but did not answer the door.  He left a note on my front door that NM had died and when and where the funeral would be.  I did not attend the funeral. 

For me, the ship had already sailed.  NM and GC brother had over a year to show an interest in me and try to find out what was going on with me.  It was very telling how quickly they "gave up" on me.  Once I proved not to be useful to them (I went VLC for a couple of years before I was NC) and quit helping my NM with her doctor appointments, her moves to various AL facilities, her errands-- she was quick to turn her attention to GC brother and ignore me.  I also stopped visiting her in her AL facility and only spoke to her by phone.  GC brother was tending to her needs and her bank accounts (that's another story).  NM was always an ignoring mother, but I was still very surprised at the ease in which she quit trying to contact me, once I proved of no use to her.

It has been over six years now since NM died.  I have no regrets in not seeing her on her deathbed.  I do not believe anything positive would have come out of it.  I personally think that for me to think some sort of "reconciliation" could have been achieved at that point was tantamount to a pipe dream.  Regarding relatives, several tried to get in touch with me via Christmas cards sent the Christmas after NM died.  I did not return their correspondence.

I can certainly understand your desire for a genuine maternal relationship.  I think all children of Ns (and PDs) would like that.  But the reality is they aren't likely going to change.  My NM proved time and time again that any rift in our relationship or in the relationship with me and GC brother was My Fault.  There was no compromise.  There never was, and I am convinced there never would be.  Yes, it was sad.  But such is life. 

The bottom line is here that you have to do what is right for you.  I would listen to my gut.  I wouldn't expect that you would be able to achieve what you desire regarding a "genuine maternal relationship."  If you feel the guilt at not seeing her would overwhelm you and cause more harm than not, go see her.  But I would lower my expectations regarding a Hollywood reconciliation, where you show up and she admits how abusive she's been and has an earnest desire to depart this world with a "clear conscience".  The more likely scenario is that she will act confused as to why you have lowered contact, not admit to any wrong doing and expect you to adopt her version of the past, including a rewriting of all the pain she has caused you-- her version being that she was the perfect mother with only good intentions. 

I wish you well on this journey!  :hug:
"Applying logic to potentially illogical behaviour is to construct a house on shifting foundations.  The structure will inevitably collapse."

__Stewart Stafford

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Roux

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2018, 04:56:21 PM »
Thank you for the warm welcome and the reply.

I relate to a lot of what you said, particularly about when you didn't prove useful anymore. I have had similar treatment from my siblings and they lost contact with me when I wouldn't run around after them anymore.

I completely agree about reconciliation. I don't think I phrased it right about genuine maternal relationship. It's like, when I see a great mother/daughter relationship on tv for example, I feel bad and like I should be still making the effort. You know they always show these spectacular unrealistic reunions, which then turns into, maybe it's me making a big deal of this argh!

Actually in my case, it's almost like her illness has fuelled her behaviour and elevated her victim status to crazy levels. And similarly to you, it's my fault, my craziness, my holding a grudge, being selfish etc etc

I thought perhaps I could see her, keep the conversation very limited, make her happy and that she would feel like she'd got what she wanted, to see me and die at peace. But, the thought of her in that covert, sickly sweet, you are my best friend, victim status turned my stomach and I just couldn't do it. Plus. It probably never would have been enough anyway.

You wrote:

'her version being that she was the perfect mother with only good intentions'

Couldn't be more accurate. Thank you again for sharing, it helped as I'm currently immersed in a world of people who tell me family are the most important thing, you only get one mother, she gave you the gift of life don't let stubbornness ruin your chance to say goodbye etc.

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illogical

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2018, 05:53:33 PM »
... It's like, when I see a great mother/daughter relationship on tv for example, I feel bad and like I should be still making the effort. You know they always show these spectacular unrealistic reunions, which then turns into, maybe it's me making a big deal of this argh!

Actually in my case, it's almost like her illness has fuelled her behaviour and elevated her victim status to crazy levels. And similarly to you, it's my fault, my craziness, my holding a grudge, being selfish etc etc

I thought perhaps I could see her, keep the conversation very limited, make her happy and that she would feel like she'd got what she wanted, to see me and die at peace. But, the thought of her in that covert, sickly sweet, you are my best friend, victim status turned my stomach and I just couldn't do it. Plus. It probably never would have been enough anyway.

I totally get the above.  Especially this time of year with the holidays approaching, it's all feel-good movies about family.  But I just tell myself that while some are lucky enough to fit the Hollywood "picture", there are many of us who, through no fault of our own, got dealt the hand of PD parent/parents. 

My NM also used illness to enhance her victim status.  In my case, she faked a terminal illness about twenty years before she died.  I was still in the FOG and. later, when I came out and realized what she had done was shocked that she would go to that level and deceive so many--  all in the name of N supply.  But it happened.  It wasn't a bad dream, but reality.

As far as "making your mother happy", we are each responsible for our own happiness and you and I don't have the power to "make" others find happiness.  I get what you are saying about the thought of your mother acting sickeningly sweet and suddenly she's your best friend.  My NM pulled a similar act after my enF died.  She became quite attentive, when she had been the quintessential ignoring mother all my life.  But now she needed me, since GC brother moved several states away in order not to deal with her and her failing health.  Every time she said "I love you" my mind would translate it to "I need you" because that was about the size of it.

... I'm currently immersed in a world of people who tell me family are the most important thing, you only get one mother, she gave you the gift of life don't let stubbornness ruin your chance to say goodbye etc.

Completely understand what you're saying here, also.  But those people haven't walked in your shoes.  As such, they don't get a vote in what you do with your life and your relationship with your mother.  My two cents.  Take care.
"Applying logic to potentially illogical behaviour is to construct a house on shifting foundations.  The structure will inevitably collapse."

__Stewart Stafford

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Zebrastriped

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2018, 08:25:50 PM »
Roux, welcome.  You certainly asked the deep question.  My uBPDmom died in March.  I was helping my parents get thru her decade long decline by assisting with errand running once a week.  I never told her anything I wouldn't have said to the person behind me in the grocery store checkout line.  Maybe she thought we were reconciled, I don't know.  I did what I was comfortable with so I would have no regrets, and so far, I seem to have accomplished that.  There was no great deathbed thing, by the time I arrived at hospice she was unable to communicate clearly.  Sometimes, I wish I'd known the last time I saw her able to interact was the last time, but I'm really really glad I didn't .   The takeaway here, from me, is be prepared to be confused and have conflicting feelings.

PS.  I yelled at the steering wheel of my car, in private, more than once over the difference in the way the tv people who needed oxygen behaved and the way my mother did.  The whole idea of a sickly parent/grandparent who follows their medication regime to have more quality time with the family is not within my experience.

I hope you find a path to peace.

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JG65

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2018, 09:45:10 PM »
Roux,

I'm sorry. It is a terrible thing to have to make a decision like this. My NF is now dead and I didn't have to make that deathbed choice. Others have already said what I would as well: do what makes you most comfortable. If you decide to go, keep expectations very low. Finally, I had to accept this when my diagnosed NF died: conflicting emotions are normal. In addition, relief, anger, hurt, and hate are normal emotions to have when a person who abused you dies.

I wish you the best in making a choice and I hope that whatever happens, you find peace.
Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences - Robert Louis Stevenson

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WomanInterrupted

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2018, 02:55:34 AM »
Hi Roux - and welcome!   :)

I didn't go to unBPD Didi's deathbed - I'd avoided visiting her for at least six months, and had managed to lower phone calls from *daily* to once every few weeks, so she started acting out by having herself hospitalized, over and over again, for Makeitupitis.   :roll:

It didn't make me budge an inch.  I called even less and still wouldn't visit.   :ninja:

Then, around the end  of October, she started the, "It's caaaaaaaancer!" - "Oh - my bad.  Not cancer."  "It's caaaaaancer!"  "Oops."  "Caaaaaaaaancer!" - two-step boogie, and I *still* wouldn't bite.  And didn't bite for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years and suddenly!  A Flying Messener Monkey in the form of a *nun*  called to tell me that she doesn't think I know how SERIOUS this is.   :blink:

I politely told her to MYOB and not call again.  I knew *exactly* what was going on - but I didn't, because Didi really *did* have cancer, and was moved to a Hospice facility a few days later, after going back to the ER *again*, after they'd specifically told her NOT to come back, due to her DNR.   :roll:

But...she'd cried wolf so many damned times, I just didn't *care.*  I was sick of all the damned drama, of her trying to "motivate" me to move her in here and treat her like a baby.

And honestly, a part of me really did think she'd somehow snowed her way into the facility and in a few months, they'd figure out they'd been duped, and give her das boot.

Still...I thought about going.  After all, it really *was* a Hospice facility - but then I thought about what would happen  when I walked through the door to her room.    :sharkbait:

If she had a limited amount of time, Didi would make damned sure she got all her final digs in.  She'd unleash all the bile and venom in her soul, and I'd be her target - being her only child, and adopted, too, which in her mind meant bought and paid for, so I OWED her and never lived up to my obligation.   :aaauuugh:

It would NOT be a kind or loving reunion, with tender words and meaningful moments, to be cherished and remembered - it would be her last chance to rip me to shreds and dance on what was left of me,  and anything left after that, she'd grind to dust with her heel, smirking  that inhuman smirk of triumph, that occasionally let me see the real person behind the mask.

I stayed home instead.  I thought about thinking about going tomorrow - and probably would have thought about thinking about going the day after that, but she did the decent thing and finally left this world in the company of a couple of total strangers.

And I felt nothing but relieved.  I even did a happy dance around the house, knowing I was FREE. 

Her wake was 2 miles away and her funeral was 3 miles away (yeah - I lived THAT close!), but I told unNPD Ray I was too "overcome" with emotion to attend.

Frankly, I couldn't be bothered, and emotions are unNPD Ray's kryptonite - nobody can have them but him.

I didn't tell him the emotions I was "overcome" with were NOT the ones he expected.   :evil2:

Ray's in a nursing home now (LONG story!), and I'm NC.  He's incompetent, I'm POA, I made all the right moves (thanks to this Forum and a wonderful eldercare attorney   8-)), and the only involvement I have with him is shredding mail that comes here and having his taxes done.

I consider it a small price to pay for my freedom and happiness.   :woohoo:

He had an elaborate pre-paid funeral arranged for himself, which I had to make an irrevocable trust for Medicaid purposes - meaning  our state gets any money left over from Ray's funeral, and not me.

That meant I got to speak to the funeral director and dismantle the farce Ray put in place for himself - he's NOT having a wake or a full Catholic mass, with pall bearers, flowers, an organist and the whole nine yards - he's being taken from the nursing home to the funeral home, having whatever legally mandated embalming is necessary, and he'll be chucked right into his marble mausoleum with Didi, in whatever clothes the nursing home sends him over in, with NO service at all,  barely a mention in the paper, to be forgotten.

Hopefully, I will never see him again  - Didi was my primary abuser, but Ray was something worse - her henchman and attack dog, who enabled her and abused me at her behest, like he didn't have a mind of his own.   >:(

Whatever YOU *want* to do is what you *should* do - there's no right or wrong answer.  Please don't let others try to FOG you into submission - do what feels *best* and the most *right* for YOU.   8-)

Your comfort level is what's most important - and you know your mom best.  If you're posting here, I suspect you already know you won't receive loving deathbed words - she'll most likely lash out and  verbally tear you to pieces, because she WILL have her last say, dammit, and has NO F's to G.   :pissed:

Like me, I suspect you've heard it all before - do you *really* need another live performance, when it's still running around in your head, because it's all you've ever heard?   :spooked:

Didi has been dead nearly five years - time really DOES fly when you're not constantly negged and invalidated!   :evil2: - and Ray has been in the nursing home nearly three years.  I haven't spoken to him for close to two and a half of those years, when they *finally* took me seriously and stopped handing him phones!

And I've never felt like I've done anything wrong.  Never felt a sense of remorse, like I "should have" done something differently - I did  what I could, in both cases, and sleep as well as a life-long insomniac can.   :bigwink:

Do what's best for you and you'll never regret it - and your conscience will be *clear*.   :yes:

 :hug:

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Roux

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2018, 05:32:15 AM »
Wow, thank you all so much for your replies. I'm going to respond to some points but honestly, just reading them and knowing people understand helps me feel so much better. Even people who don't openly judge me around me, I can tell a lack of understanding when I say I'm not planning to see her.

Ok to illogical: Yes, exactly, the holidays! It's everywhere and the obligation expectations are higher. My mother had the illness for a long time and has just cried wolf about the seriousness. I am sorry that you had to go through that with her though.

Gosh that is so true. About us being responsible for our own happiness. It's a different situation to what sometimes goes on in my head. For example, if a 'normal' person said, it would mean everything to see you before I died....and you did it, it might mean everything and closure for them. For a PD it's a win and a chance to hurt that person. I've got to keep reminding myself of that.

The 'I love you' to 'I need you' translation is incredibly helpful. With the added thought. I need you to do what I want. Thank you again <3

Zebrastriped, indeed I went straight for the jugular! Sorry about that I'm just at that point of crazy.  :stars: Thank you for sharing, it sounds like you managed a good balance and avoided getting drawn into some of the argument I'm having in my head of letting her think everything is ok between us. I've got to let that go because I know she's never going to get it. The language is very much 'I'm sorry that you feel that I' blah blah blah

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Roux

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2018, 05:51:15 AM »
JG65 thank you for saying about the conflicted emotions. It's so confusing already. To feel sad and angry and bitter and a little relief entering in and worry that all that is denial....gah. She has already messaged me saying things like the rest of the family don't hate you for this, but I'm guess you won't want to know when the funeral is? Just jabs and digs.

WomanInterrupted, wow. Exactly! The crying wolf, the flying monky guilt trip visitors. I still have the doubt that this isn't the end The End but I do know she is close at least, so I was saying to myself if I visited it would be The Visit. In my mind at least. In fact, I agreed to go and then I woke up and imagined what would happen, how she would be and I couldn't do it. With her, there are tender words, there is excessive amounts of trying to hug but....none of it feels real because it is laced with....I don't know, blame, guilting, her trying to forgive me for getting every thing wrong. It's insidious and it messes with my head. But yes the real person behind the mask, I see her from time to time, that external appearance of love and understanding isn't real, it's another technique because it's slips when the frustration rises.

I can honestly say I feel over trying to get her to see where I'm coming from, having that big moment of truth. I know it's not going to happen. I think I'm afraid I will be full of regret but you are right, staying true to what feels right at least I know I've done what I can. Perhaps I need to write some of how I'm feeling down so that in a few years time if I'm feeling guilty I can clear it up in my head.

Thankfully I'm free of the financial obligations, I'm glad you managed to be free of yours. That's a whole other thing isn't it? She's told me on and off I'm out of the will and I don't give a....well I just don't care and she hates that it doesn't work on me.

I can't see I will go to the funeral. To face all the others and their grief. Especially the ones who she was an actress in front of. Nope. They will be judging me either way.

Thank you all and I'm sorry that you have all been through these things too.

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daughter

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2018, 11:37:33 AM »
I'm likely facing this same decision in next few years, the former "dutiful daughter" SG, NC for 6+ years with a malevolent NBM and enNF "boss of you" set of parents.  I've gone full-circle, from former obedient and complaint "good girl", always at my parents' beck and call, to resolutely GONE from FOO Family life.  For me, their post-NC bad behavior, which still affects me on occasion, large (my oldest DS) and small (legal bills related to disinheritance), served to validate my NC decision, and determine my decision to not participate in any "deathbed reconciliation".  I've relied on talk therapy to navigate this process, and feel no lingering regret, nor do I foresee any personal positive effect for seeing them again, even "at deathbed".  It is no longer my duty, nor my responsibility, whether to absolve my parents, or to provide them ill-gained "comfort" of seeing me one last time.  I don't think this decision is "unchristian", or mean-spirited.  Nope, it's simply a matter-of-fact honest assessment of our relationship (non-existent), where the degree of intentional harm and malevolent hurt inflicted has appropriated and destroyed whatever bond we had.

This "deathbed reconciliation", that "last-time visit", is foisted on estranged adult-children as something "owed".  It's not.  All people, including our parents, are responsible for their actions, for the significant harm they've caused.  They're not entitled to absolution if it's not genuinely earned.    Ignore the sanctimonious statements.  Ignore the exhortations towards "forgiveness" manifested as physical act of visiting them. 
« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 11:41:03 AM by daughter »

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Roux

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2018, 05:18:45 PM »
Thank you for you sharing that daughter.

I have a similar experience of going from being fully compliant, to NC to being hoovered back in for VLC. The behaviour I get because I am controlling the contact has made me stronger in asserting my boundaries.

I really like what you said about responsibility and harm. I definitely believe forgiveness is important. For me personally at least, I need to forgive so that I can try and move on, but forgiving doesn't mean that I have to put myself back in harms way, I need to remember that! It's to try and heal. I guess I do still make excuses for her and I have to be careful to not get sucked back in because I know she won't change, she can't see the need.

Thank you, what you said is really helpful. I need to ignore the obligations and social pressures.

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FlowerPot

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2018, 05:31:56 AM »
I got middle of the night call from the hospital to say my demented mother had suddenly taken a turn for the worse, I am a doctor myself and chatted to the very junior doctor (who was doing a splendid job) at 0300 . Did I go to the hospital the next day? No I went to work - it was a Sunday, could have tried to get someone to cover but didn't - all sorts of reasons but don't have to tell people on this forum about that.  DH doesn't do death bed dashes either.

Got updates from the hospital and told a  relative  the other side of the country who I felt should know.  Final sensible conversation with a nurse at 0200  the next night where  I explained I knew what was happening, my mother wouldn't know if there was anyone there anyway. 

The staff probably thought I was awful (they never said a thing but probably chuntered about me) but I can cope with that -  gave me closure in a different way

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GettingOOTF

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2018, 10:20:41 AM »
I feel that in these situations there is no wrong choice. You need to do what is best for you.

I did go see my mother. I don’t regret going but there was no deathbed acknowledgement of what she’d done or asking for forgiveness.

My mother’s death hit me much harder than I was expecting. I mourned for a long time. It was hard as there were no happy times to look back on. I came to realize that I wasn’t mourning for her but for the relationship I’d never have.

I’m sure the staff don’t think you are awful. They will have seen this before. And even if they do, their opinions don’t matter.

Be kind to yourself and feel what you feel. I found this to be a confusing and emotional time. In many ways her death helped me heal as it was final. Having her gone from my life allowed me to finally move on with  mine.

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Free Rebel

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Re: Did you do the deathbed thing?
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2018, 01:09:19 PM »
My late sister and I talked about this very topic many times.  She and I both were/are no contact with our narc parents but she had her only child turned against her.  She told me that the only reason she would go to their deathbeds was so that she could whisper in their ears what she knew they did to us and her child.  She wanted them to leave this world knowing that she was aware of all that they had purposely done to abuse us all.  She was the golden child until she was made the scapegoat after I left the dysfunctional family and our parents turned her child into the golden child.  She finally realized what they had done to me and why I was no contact with our mother and very low contact with our father. 

I have no wish or desire to go to my parents' deathbed if they die before me.  I saw what they did when my sister died and I had already made up my mind to not go before that.  It was firmly cemented when I was around them during that brief time and saw for myself (although I already knew what to expect) that they were still the same sadistic, toxic narcissists that they always were.  It is something that every one has to decide for themselves, but I will feel no guilt for not rushing to them or not attending their funerals.