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I miss my mom and can't bear to take down my Christmas tree

I know this sounds like a MARY!!!!! thread.

As I've mentioned elsewhere on the DL, my mom is declining with early-onset Alzheimer's. I visited her at Christmas (and took all precautions) and I was shocked at how much she has gone downhill in the last year. I talk to her on the phone daily, but seeing her in person made me realize she can't do small things by herself anymore, like brush her teeth or use the bathroom.

I was -- and am -- overcome with sadness. Sometimes it hits me all once, that I don't have a mom anymore. Not really. And I lost her slowly over several years. And ... there wasn't really ever a time I said goodbye. I tried, but in the early stages of her illness, she refused to talk about what was happening. She'd just sit in her chair and cry, "I'm dying, I'm dying" -- a scene that will haunt me forever. I know she is scared of death.

Now I'm back in my small apartment, with my small Christmas tree, and I can't bear to take it down this year, because I so strongly associate Christmas with my mother. She loved Christmas and every little tradition it entailed. It's almost as if putting the decorations away will close the door on her life just a little bit more.

I'm just ... very sad.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 5101/12/2021

So, you're not a Mary. Losing a parent to dementia is slow motion grief. I lost both my parents to it.

I can't give you any cliches that will make it better. I wish I could. You sound so sincere. I will say this. Stay close as much as you can and take strength and comfort from the idea you tried to do your best - and don't imagine you failed because I bet you're being hard on yourself. I am sorry COVID is getting in your way. I wish I could say something to comfort you but all I can muster is your post suggests you are a decent sort and decent people don't fail, even if they wish they could have done more. That wish to have done more is part of the decency.

And you keep that damn tree just where you want it for just as long as you want it. Although, maybe not til July. ;) xo

by Anonymousreply 101/04/2021

Hugs, OP. Keep your tree up for as long as you want.

by Anonymousreply 201/04/2021

Stay strong, OP

by Anonymousreply 301/04/2021

Don't you dare take that tree down (I hope it's fake).

by Anonymousreply 401/04/2021

Thanks, r1. That was very helpful.

And I'm sorry you had to go through this too.

by Anonymousreply 501/04/2021

OP, I would only add this... it's been many years and I'm at peace with it and me and that's why I was able to write what I did. And someday you will feel that way and your feelings right now are part of the road to getting there. You take it one day at a time.

by Anonymousreply 601/04/2021

[quote] Now I'm back in my small apartment, with my small Christmas tree, and I can't bear to take it down this year

For what it's worth, Opie, I'm not taking down my tree until at least mid-February. Christmas (according to the "old" Julian calendar) is on Jan 7th. The old Julian calendar was devised by Julius Caesar and was the predominant calendar in the Roman world and most of Europe for more than 1,600 years (!) (until it was revised in the 16th C to become the "new" Gregorian calendar). Each day of the "old" Julian calendar occurs 13 days after its corresponding day on the "new" Gregorian calendar.

And then February 12th is Oriental New Year (start of the Year of the Bull).

So I'm taking my tree down on Feb 13th. You'll be far from alone if you do the same.

by Anonymousreply 701/04/2021

Thanks, r6. It's funny: one moment I will think, "I can't imagine life without my mom." And then I realize how much I've already lost her. It's such a strange way to mourn.

by Anonymousreply 801/04/2021

Keep it up as long as you want, OP. Dementia is awful, and like a previous poster mentioned, is like a slow-motion grief. I went through it a few years ago with my grandmother. One of the hardest things I've been through. Do whatever you can to keep your spirits up. This past year has been smacking a lot of us down & we've had to just keep our spirits alive. I'm not taking my Christmas stuff down till at least February. I need it.

by Anonymousreply 901/04/2021

I both admire and am inspired by your beautifully brutal candor and profound depth of feeling. I wish I was with you so that so could give you a big hug, sit in front of your tree with you, and listen to you talk about whatever it is you would want to talk about.

Your pain and sadness are valid, as is your desire to keep the tree up. If I were you, I would allow myself to keep it up throughout all of January. Perhaps you can engage in a letting go ritual in which every day of the month you put away an ornament and reflect or meditate on the changes that are causing you grief. Just a thought. (Maybe say a prayer, too.)

Also, is it possible to stay with your mom or have her stay with you? If either is an option, I would consider this. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t try to get as close to her as you can now.

Thank you for your post. Although it must have been hard to open up and be so vulnerable, I think you doing so has prompted a few of us to think deeper and beyond the scope of our own issues and problems.

You seem like a beautiful person to me right now and I will be thinking about you and your mom during meditation and prayer.

by Anonymousreply 1001/04/2021

Hugs, OP. Keep the Christmas tree up . Savor it and the time you still have with your mother.

by Anonymousreply 1101/04/2021

r10 thank you. And I really like this idea:

[quote]Perhaps you can engage in a letting go ritual in which every day of the month you put away an ornament and reflect or meditate on the changes that are causing you grief. Just a thought.

by Anonymousreply 1201/04/2021

Op, my heart aches for you. I am sending you a hug and understanding thoughts...

by Anonymousreply 1301/04/2021

My mom loved Christmas and I still have all her Christmas decorations. Every year when I take them out I think of her. She also died of a long illness and dementia. I have a lot of painful memories of her decline. Try to think of the happier times with your mom, OP. People’s lives are a lot more than just their death.

by Anonymousreply 1401/04/2021

You’re a good son, OP.

😿

by Anonymousreply 1501/04/2021

(((Hugs OP))). It’s so hard losing a beloved parent

Take care of yourself and leave that tree up!

by Anonymousreply 1601/04/2021

Awww thanks r15

r14 I think about that -- that she will live on in my memories of all the fun Christmas traditions we shared when I was growing up. And that she wouldn't want me to be sad.

by Anonymousreply 1701/04/2021

R12 You’re welcome and I’m glad the suggestion spoke to you.

I don’t want to get too much into what I’m going through, but let’s just say I’m in a phase in my life in which I am having to let go of, so goodbye to, and make peace with a lot of things (e.g. people, habits, ways of thinking, the blush of youth, etc.), so I can definitely empathize with you.

Recently, I was reading the varied responses in the thread “How did you cope with the death of your parent(s)” and I was both moved and inspired. If you’re too raw right now to read this kind of thread, I would totally understand. You might be able to find some solace in it, though. I was moved to tears and catharsis.

You’re not alone.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 1801/04/2021

*say goodbye to

by Anonymousreply 1901/04/2021

❤️ and many hugs OP.

by Anonymousreply 2001/04/2021

OP, I'm actually choked up by your post. Don't even question your sadness, let alone the Christmas tree. Why do you have to take it down? If it is symbolic, and giving you comfort, keep it up. Keep it up all year! There are no rules. That Christmas tree represents the mother you love and the things that brought her joy. It's a celebration and also a poignant remembrance of what can no longer be. I hope you have people around you that you can rely on for awesome hugs. I would give you one and sing carols with you if I could. I'd hug you while you cried. You are not crazy, you are sane. You are a precious person and I wish you strength and comfort to get through this.

And the same for all of you, and I know there are more than a few, that have been through this same thing, or are going through it now. I send my love to you all. It's very, very, very, sad and hard. Know that you are in my thoughts.

by Anonymousreply 2101/04/2021

I am going through it now op - funny - I have a tight chest and I’m upset about my mom right now so I came to Datalounge and found your post. I am herre of my mom during Covid - - her friends and co -workers have either died or aged away from her life. My smart confident mom can’t do simple math and has those scared blank eyes some days (like today) The Christmas Tree is half up - she just didn’t care this year - I hesitate to finish taking it down because I don’t want to think about where we might be next Christmas. Sad, sad, sad - my very best wishes to you!

by Anonymousreply 2201/04/2021

My Nana loved her Christmas trees. besides me, her cats and alcohol it was the only thing in life that brought her happiness. She kept that tree up until February when she did real trees and until... whenever she damned well wanted when she switched to fake trees. towards the end she just kept it up. if anyone mentioned it to her she would threaten to smack them with a big wooden spoon - not in a joking way.

and it made her happy. I think of that when I worry about if something I want would be seen as silly by others. I mentally brandish a wooden spoon and enjoy whatever makes me happy. take from all that what you will.

by Anonymousreply 2301/04/2021

It’s awful losing our parents; just know many people on here can sympathize with what you’re going through. Hope you can find some things to comfort you and make you smile, despite it all.

by Anonymousreply 2401/04/2021

R23, I think a lot of us have gotten a wake up call this last year. Life is short, anything can happen, and happiness is a valid and important reason to do anything, more than ever. Let’s not forget this year, and worry more about what other people think than we worry about what comforts us and gives us joy.

by Anonymousreply 2501/04/2021

Much love to you, OP.

Those who have said you're a good son/person are absolutely right.

by Anonymousreply 2601/04/2021

[quote]I miss my mom and can't bear to take down my Christmas tree

What kind of tree was your mother?

by Anonymousreply 2701/04/2021

Fuck off cunt @R27.

Disregard them OP.

by Anonymousreply 2801/04/2021

Leave it up for as long as you need to, OP. Disregard all haters. I was first exposed to this way of grieving as a young man in 1980s San Francisco. Here’s a big hug for you. ((())) I just lost my mom a couple years ago and I will never be the same.

by Anonymousreply 2901/04/2021

Awww, honey. We’re a bunch of hateful bitches, but we’re here for you. Losing your mom is the worst. Xxoo

by Anonymousreply 3001/04/2021

Thanks everyone for the responses. I cried several times as I read this thread.

I love you bitches!

by Anonymousreply 3101/05/2021

I get it, Miss OP.

My mom was the heart of our family and the heart of Christmas. It's never been the same since she's been gone.

by Anonymousreply 3201/05/2021

R31 Stay strong, keep feeling your feelings, and keep us updated! ❤️

by Anonymousreply 3301/05/2021

Sending virtual hugs to you, OP.

by Anonymousreply 3401/05/2021

OP, how about getting a really beautiful wreath that you keep up all year long? (Instead of the Christmas tree.)

by Anonymousreply 3501/05/2021

OP, one of the things we did to remember my mom after she died was to get a shadowbox where we could put a photo, some small items (our baby bracelets) and a few other things - maybe you could do something like that and put an ornament inside, so you have a memory all year long to display?

by Anonymousreply 3601/05/2021

Who takes care of her if she can't do things like brush her teeth? I took care of my mom for two years. It's hard.

by Anonymousreply 3701/05/2021

OP I kept mine up last year thorughout January. I did keep watering it but I think I was watering a dead dead dead tree.

This year no tree but I have these huge branches - dead and dried obviously - in a large Chinese vase and I decorated that. Probably stay that way until Easter.

If it comforts you then keep it up. But take some nice pictures of it and maybe print one out and frame it.

Hugs to you, OP.

by Anonymousreply 3801/05/2021

Having lost my mother on January 7th 2002 after a six month long illness which included all the Fall holidays which she loved, I can totally empathize with the OP's grief. I still miss her. So fuck every one who considers me a hater.

I just knew how many of you Marys would be all mushy, so I figured we needed some vinegar.

Get over thyselves.

by Anonymousreply 3901/05/2021

I’m really sorry OP.

Sending you a hug.

And you’re not a MARY at all - that’s incredibly difficult.

by Anonymousreply 4001/05/2021

r37 my dad takes care of her, but we've never been particularly close

by Anonymousreply 4101/05/2021

R1, I have a parents with it and I know someone who has two parents with it. I can't imagine the strength required to deal with two parents getting it. I'd just break.

And I'm the one on here who goes after any complete idiot on who says Biden or Trump has it. They have no fucking idea about the disease if they think either of them have it, esp., galling when used as an insult. It's a horrifying disease that just breaks you.

by Anonymousreply 4201/05/2021

a parent*

by Anonymousreply 4301/05/2021

All of you get a MARY!

But a respectful, empathetic MARY!

by Anonymousreply 4401/05/2021

Love you OP.

by Anonymousreply 4501/05/2021

Someone in your situation once said to me: "This is what's left of my mother".

Sympathy, OP, dementia is a terrible slow death, where the person you knew dies long before their body dies. If you have a way to cope that isn't self-destructive, like keeping up your Christmas tree instead of drinking yourself blind, then keep the fucking Christmas tree all year round! Get a potted pine if you want one year round!

by Anonymousreply 4601/05/2021

OP, do whatever you need to do and Want to do to give yourself some comfort and peace. You do not need to feel guilty or bad because you have done everything you could possibly do.

by Anonymousreply 4701/06/2021

Last night, as I was falling asleep, I thought of the trips we used to take together (every couple of years, we'd drive out west. My mom loved both the scenery and the history and we would visit state/national parks and historical museums, stuff she'd wanted to do when younger but had lacked the resources).

Anyway, I thought of taking those kinds of trips on my own, without her, and all of a sudden, it was like a huge hole opened up in my heart. It's hard to describe. Just a peculiar feeling of emptiness that will never be fully mitigated.

by Anonymousreply 4801/12/2021

Long before personal computers were commonplace, IBM introduced a Selectric typewriter with a memory function allowing the typist to recall and revise something previously written up to 4000 characters. I worked for a surgeon whose specialty was the treatment of pancreatic cancer. It's an awful disease, one then (mid-1970's) and still today almost always fatal - the best thing he could do for most patients was to delay the inevitable. When they died, I had to type up a condolence letter and I recall a line in every one of them I'd read as it scrolled out across the page: "the pain and sadness you feel now will in time be replaced with memories of better and happier days. I know because it has happened to me." He'd lost a daughter when she was seven or eight years old and it affected him for the rest of his life.

I was young then, right out of college, and death was the furthest thing from my mind. It was a kind thing to say if a bit formulaic to me - expressions of sorrow a sad but necessary part of the job - but I never gave it much thought until my parents died years later and found out how right he'd been.

It must be worse when a parent is still alive but no longer the person you knew and loved, OP; like a death in slow motion as they slip away. It'll take longer for you because it's usually a long goodbye, but it gets better as the thoughts of pain, loss, and regret you're experiencing now recede with the passage of time. The sadness probably won't ever go away completely, but for most of us the good memories eventually crowd out the bad. I hope, for example, that you'll be able to enjoy the memories of those trips someday rather than regret your inability to share them with her any more.

You're doing what most of us eventually have to do. I wish both you and her peace and comfort on that journey.

by Anonymousreply 4901/12/2021

R48 ((hug))

by Anonymousreply 5001/12/2021

Thank you r49 / r50

by Anonymousreply 5101/12/2021
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