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Mom is Dying


My mother has terminal lung cancer, and we are all very saddened by her recent diagnosis. Whil she is in treatment, there is really very little hope of even a short-term cure. 

We are all shocked and are struggling with her diagnosis. It is hitting us very hard.

Mom is acting very matter of fact about the situation. She is making plans for her funeral, and she is giving away all her prized possessions to her children and grandchildren. Mom is a take charge and get things done kind of person, but right now it does not feel right.

Her actions are so emotionless that it takes us all by surprise. It is very uncomfortable to be offered her favorite things while she is living. The funeral planning and talk of death are unnerving also. 

Is her behavior unusual or do some people handle death this way?



No two individuals handle disease and end-of-life the exact same way. Your mother is doing what she feels that she needs to do currently.

It is likely that she is doing what comes naturally for her. Taking care of business seems to be your mother’s usual manner and that is what she is doing. It is likely that she has a lifelong skill at compartmentalizing. She is getting business done when family is around. 

Your mother may be only comfortable grieving over her diagnosis when her children and grandchildren are not around.  It is also possible that she is someone that moves through the stages of grieving very quickly or she is still in denial while her actions suggest acceptance. 

We all grieve on our own schedule in our own way. Your mother is processing her disease in a way that makes sense to her.  Yes, it may be uncomfortable for you, because you are witnessing the last days of your mother’s life and anticipating her loss. 

My recommendation is that you meet her where she is at. Planning your own funeral is not that unusual.  People do plan their own funerals and it is just fine to do that. It is usually, take charge kind of people that do that. 

I also applaud her for giving her possessions to her loved ones while she is living. It is actually a very good way to give away one-of-a-kind items that are impossible to split evenly after death. 

It is also okay for you to be sad and tearful in her presence while you process your grief and anticipate the loss of your mother. She may or may not open up to you about how she is feeling. At this time simply being with her is what’s important. It could be sharing silence, a walk, a cup of tea, or sitting on the couch watching an old movie. Let her take the lead and be the mother that she is.

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