I’m changing the tune of my usual type of post here at Living Locurto to talk about something very personal. Due to the horrific violence that just happened in Orlando, I thought it was time to share something about my personal life that might be able to help others. I’m hoping these coping tips will help some of you who might be going through the same thing that I did this year. It was the hardest time of my life. I’m actually crying as I type this because I just can’t stop crying somedays.
I created Living Locurto in 2008 as a place to be PURE fun, because let’s face it… life isn’t always fun and full of happy dancing unicorns. I’m so thankful that you take time to read my creative recipes and fun party blog posts. I hope you will take a little time out to read today’s personal post.
Thank you if you have gotten this far!
I’m not the greatest writer, but will express myself the best I can in hopes of helping you or someone else who might need it.
Today, I’m sharing five coping tips that I learned during a very bad time of my life.
Please share this if you think it will help someone you know. I hope it will also help you get to know me on a more personal level as well!
A parent getting sick or older is an inevitable part of life, just like the moment you realize you can’t eat pizza anymore without gaining at least 2 extra pounds, or when your babies start talking back to you like a teenager, or when in my case your all-natural blonde hair you’ve had all of your life suddenly turns dark! You never know when it will happen, but when it does, no matter how big or small of a deal, life punches you in the face with unexpected changes.
Earlier this year, I left my family in Texas and moved in with my mother who lives in another state 5 hours away. It was not because I wanted to, but because she was at the end of her cancer fight and couldn’t live alone. I thought I would only be there for a few weeks, but it turned into months. I thought I could move her home with me to Texas, but she was too sick to make the trip. Mom eventually lost her fight and passed away in April when she was only 70 years old.
My life literally turned upside down starting the first of January and I’m just now to the point of where I can breath.
Before my mom was home with my help and hospice help, she was in and out of the hospital for months. She was on her 3rd type of cancer spanning over 25 years. She got breast cancer in her 40’s, ovarian in her 60’s and a few years after that some type of stomach cancer. Cancer is not a quick disease. If it is quick, I think it’s a blessing.
5 Things I Learned to Do During a Bad Time of My Life:
1. Prepare to Be Unprepared
When bad things happen, the only thing you can prepare for, is to be prepared for things to change daily. There is NO way to plan ahead. You can try, but I can tell you as a control freak… you have to just “let it go” and go with the flow. That was a hard lesson that I eventually learned.
What I did prepare for before the worst times were upon us:
~ Saved my money.
When mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer about four years ago, I started saving some extra money just for my “helping mom fund”. I stopped doing things I didn’t need to do like drinking $7 cups of coffee… any extra little amounts of money that I could save, I did! I assumed there would be a lot of costs ahead, and I wouldn’t be able to work at some point. I was right.
~ Visited her as much as I could.
We lived 5 hours away, but I would drive my kids to see her when we had a free weekend.
~ Went on vacations while I could.
I love to travel! I actually get depressed if I’m home for too long, but I knew there would be a time when I couldn’t leave mom. Last fall while she spent weeks in the hospital for the 4th or 5th time, I took my kids on a quick trip to Disney World. I had gotten to know the hospital nurses so well, that we all felt confident she would be okay for a few days without me. Plus, who knows when we would have a chance to go anywhere as a family again. And we really needed some happiness in our life. What better place for that, than going to the Happiest Place on Earth?
I’m so glad I booked our last minute Disney trip, because it was nearly 9 months before we were able to go on another fun family get-away.
2. Accept Help
Asking for help is hard to do when you are going through something very personal, but know that it also makes others feel better who just want to help you.
I’m an only child and my mom was a very private person. She didn’t tell anyone about her illness but her sister and her 87 year old mother. My Aunt was the only person who lived close who could help, and mom’s small town was too far away from a big city that could provide 24 hour nursing care. I needed her to come home to Texas with me where I could get more help. After weeks of conversations, I finally convinced mom that it was a good idea to move in with me in Dallas. So, I rushed home (a 5 hour drive one way) for a few days to clean and get a room ready for her hospital bed.
While I was home, two of my friends came knocking on my door with cleaning supplies and a bottle of wine. They wanted to help me clean my house. I so exhausted, still in my robe (it was late afternoon), I was embarrassed at how messy my home was and just too sad to talk to anyone. As I stood in my doorway telling them to go home, that I didn’t need help and my house was just way too messy… they wouldn’t take no for an answer and burst in my home.
A few glasses of wine later, me talking and basically watching them clean, I was so thankful for those friends! At that moment, I realized that I needed to accept more help in my life. We need to ask for help when something bad is happening. Something I’m NOT good at doing. I got that trait from my mom! ha!
Even though mom wasn’t able to move home with me, I learned a great lesson from that experience.
3. Say NO, even when you wish you could say YES.
I turned down some great opportunities and family time to help take care of my mom. I was angry that I couldn’t pursue my dreams and sad that I couldn’t be there for my kids.
There were 3 main issues that would pop into my mind daily…
#1: I’m a horrible nurse! I throw up when I hear someone gag, why am I having to do this?
#2: I’m a wife and mom of two kids with several businesses to run. What will happen to my kids while they are without me? Is my husband going to hate me after this? How will I pay my bills if my savings runs out and I can’t work?
#3 I kept wishing my mom had saved her own money and planned for this time in her life.
I know this sounds selfish and a bit silly, but I was so frustrated at the time! My daughter worked so hard, and I couldn’t even be home to watch her win her first cheerleading competition. Not being able to do the things I wanted and needed to do was maddening.
Now, that the experience is over, I have no absolutely no regrets!
I did what I hope and pray my kids will do for me someday. My husband did a great job without me and my kids made it through life just fine. I was lucky to have such great support from him and my friends while I was gone. I’m crossing my fingers that more great job opportunities will eventually come my way and it will be the right time to pursue them.
If you are going through something hard, saying no to things you would normally be saying yes to will sometimes be easy, and other times beat down your soul. Just know that you can only do so much and eventually your heart will be at ease knowing you did the right thing.
Prayer works. I could write two more blog posts about the crazy things that happened very soon after praying while feeling hopeless, desperate and exhausted. Many days, the only person I could turn to for help was God. There were definitely some unexpected and unexplained things that happened during my journey with my mom’s illness. I have always had faith, but this stuff actually started to freak me out! In a good way of course:-)
As I sat with my mom during her last hours on earth and listened to the stories of the hospice home nurses talk of things that happened with past guests during their last hours, I experienced even more proof of the power of prayer.
If you are going through something bad in your life, I can tell you from this experience that praying can definitely help you find peace and often time answers and solutions to things you thought were hopeless.
5. Try to Laugh
The best way I was able to cop with the bad, was to find humor in any situation that I could. You might be so sad that you think this is impossible, but please try to laugh if you can! There were many times my aunt and I would be crying and laughing at the same time. Crazy, right? ha!
Think about the good times. This is especially great to do when someone is sick. I have such fond memories of mom and I laughing about funny family stories while sitting on her front porch. I will treasure those last memories with her. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
When mom got to where she didn’t know what was going on and I was scared out of my mind, I would get on Snapchat and turn myself into a cat or give myself giant lips to make myself laugh for a moment. Who would have though that Snapchat could save my sanity? But it did.
Watch a funny movie, get a joke book, read a comedian’s book, call a funny friend, turn yourself into a dog on Snapchat. However you do it, find a way to laugh.
If you are going through a bad time in your life, I hope these coping tips give you some help and let you know you are not alone. I’m still coping with a lot, and feel overwhelmed with the things I still have to take care of, but writing this has certainly helped me to move on a bit. Thanks for reading!