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My mother is a toxic person and now she is dying. Do I go see her?

3 answers | Last updated: Apr 06, 2015
PennyK asked...

Caring.com User - Brenda Avadian
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Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's...
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Brenda Avadian answered...

Penny, you raise an important question with a two-part answer on whether or not you should go see your mother even though she is a toxic person and dying.

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On the one hand, you need to take care of yourself.

If she causes you such heartache and your finances are so lean as to not be able to travel 1,200 miles to see her, you should not go. Take care of yourself first; otherwise there will be nothing left of you.

On the other hand, if you DON'T see her before she dies, you may regret it.

As we grow older and experience life's ups and downs we often gain greater compassion for our differences. Although, this doesn't seem to be true in your mother's case as you describe it, it may be true for you.

Once the blood stops coursing through your mother's veins, she will live only in your memory. You may (or may not) regret that you didn't see her one last time.

If you even think there's a slight chance of this, which I think you are questioning here, find a way to visit her. Maybe your dad and mom can help pay for your trip.

Your and your daughter's futures lie ahead. Your mom has lived her life, made her choices, and although she's not happy, it's her life.

Ask yourself

Will I have any regrets if she dies and I didn't see her one last time? If so, find a way to see her.

There are other ways to see her. Consider using a video communication tool like Skype. Most laptops have a camera built in not to mention phones with this feature.

Also talk with your brother. Depending on your relationship and before your mother's death, could be a powerful time to share your feelings as brother and sister.

Another perspective on this can be found here: Wishing a parent would die


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PennyK answered...

Thank you! I spoke to several friends who know my situation. Although they have different relationships with their parents they understand and support my decision not to go. I have decided to write my parents a letter about any and all positive memories I have, the funny moments, honestly there were a few. I will explian that finanaces and my inability to handle the situation are preventing me from coming to see her in her last days. I doubt they will understand Mom has always viewed me and everyone else as a servant to her needs. I think however this will send some love and positive energy their way and allow me to preserve my delicate finacial situation. I have so little positive loving memories, It's hard to explain, but it's difficult to have sympathy for someone who tormented you for years, who made you and most of your family estranged, die. I'm human I can't not feel something for anyone who is suffering, even my mother, but I don't want or need that as my final memory of my mother. I'm directing my energy into my daughter to stop the cycle of abuse. To create a strong bond and be there for her whenever she needs me. Since she represents the future, I think this is a better use of my time and resources. Thank you again!


There Now answered...

Hi, I appreciate your questions. I've thought about how to answer, and all of what I have to say are variations on "no".

So no. Do not open your heart to this person. No. Do not sustain a fantasy that they'll have a deathbed conversion. No. No. No. To expect or want or hope that somehow in the face of death a person who considers others to be tools or toys to fill the bottomless pit of their needs will suddenly become generous. No. Please expect quite the contrary. You may choose to be present, you may allow yourself to feel, you may listen. Please, PLease, PLEASE, do not open yourself to the final gesture of projection and external parasitic validation the dying one is in search of. Be strong, be centered, be absent.