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Struggling after death of a family member

Hello, I might have a problem I can’t handle myself (since I’ve been trying for the past 2 years). I’ll try to keep it as short as possible.

If you’re discouraged by the length, you can jump to section 4 and 5.

  1. My mother’s cancer, moving out:

At the start of my college years, my mother found out that she had breast cancer. The fact that it’s a malignant tumor was hidden from me. She was going through chemotherapy, while I took care of my little brother (he was 4 years old then, I was 21) and taking care of our flat together with meals, I decided not to stop my education. I somehow managed to take care of everything alone (my brother was especially troublesome since he was too young to understand mother’s condition and wanted to spend time with her, while she had to sleep after chemo). I did not drop out somehow, but lost one year because of one exam.
About year later my mother and grandmother decided to let me move to another flat to finish my degree asap, while my grandmother took my place at our home (she was a nurse, this decision seemed logical).

  1. Last hospital, symptoms:

I’ll skip everything between that and the last therapy she took since it would just drag for too long, she finished the chemo and was taking other therapies (I thought it was just a precaution). At this point I still don’t have the degree.
She went to a hospital in another city for another therapy. After she got there I decided with my grandmother that we’ll take turns in taking care of her. She was there with her for the first week and I went there for the second week. I entered the hospital, gave my name to the doctors and they told me the directions and room number. When I arrived I realized it’s a room for people to die in, right in front of a ‘farewell room’. Cancer also took toll on her mind since she asked me after 5 minutes if we were taking a stroll outside of the hospital a moment ago and then bursted into tears knowing what’s happening. That was probably the last moment of her true self.

  1. My mother’s last days:

The doctors told me that this behaviour is caused by cancer spreading to her bones and bone marrow, releasing high amounts calcium into her bloodstream. That means she’s not going to get better, only worse. I had to feed my mother while she thought I was trying to poison her, same with water, which she tried to drink by herself, but her hand holding the bottle would just drop while she didn’t remember what she was doing. The times between that she’d sleep with her head facing up with her mouth dried up and open, occasionally checking if I’m still there.
I recieved a message from my grandmother of my mother’s death just after I left the bus near my home. Somehow I knew it would happen, didn’t cry, went to my flat and drank myself to sleep with whisky.

  1. My problem:

For the first 4 months after my mother’s death I decided to kill my sorrow with hard work, and managed to do a lot, probably the most intensive months of my life, continuing working for my degree while also taking an expensive IT course and taking care of the legal nature of my situation, but after that something snapped, I stopped being able to continue my work. Every day consisted of legal problems I might’ve faced at any given time (still can because of inheritance, my mother didn’t expect to die and didn’t leave any will, my brother’s father is my stepfather and we don’t share good relations), a lot of time went into taking my mother’s responsibilities on top of everything and trying to handle them, while trying to convince our bank that I’m able to pay back the loan on my own and stop them from taking our home.

  1. The present:

Now, for a long time (lost count how long) my days consist only of eating fast food and waiting for another day to do it again, since I feel like it’s the only thing left that’s giving me any degree of pleasure. I’m forcing myself through the college, still don’t have the degree since I lack the willpower to do anything (forcing myself to learn just makes me exhausted and gives a headache, can’t even sleep after this), but at least I didn’t drop out by some miracle. I failed my IT course since I stopped making progress, the money was lost and the opportunity for a well paid job with it.
Also my close family consists only of my grandmother (79 years old) and my brother (8 years old now), I am 25. I don’t remember my stepfather’s age but it’s late 70s (I don’t consider him close family, everyone from our family despises him for a good reason), also he takes care of my brother (because of monetary gains every month and law being on his side), but when my grandmother leaves me as well, I will be completely alone, with no close family to speak to, have a Christmas dinner, hug or come back to if something bad happens. If something happens to my stepfather I’ll have to go to court to take custody of my brother before my stepbrother, who’s a drunk, ruins my brother’s life just to get the extra money per month for more alcohol. He’ll have my stepfather’s support and the money to hire the best lawyers.

I know I’m running out of time, I need the degree and money to ensure my little brother’s future. That thought got me through the 4 months of intensive work, but now I can’t feel the distress I felt before. There’s not a single day I don’t think about my mother. Finding a soulmate didn’t work, I don’t feel any affection to a person outside my family, I can’t get involved in something serious despite attempts. I have to force myself to keep contact and spend time with my friends because I’m scared of what will happen if I am left completely alone. My life now is just having that pleasant feeling once a day and then killing time, trying to keep my mind on something unimportant to try and leave the past. I think I just hit a dead end in terms of taking care of it all by myself, but I can’t think of anyone who can help me out with it.


Hello Strick! First and foremost, welcome to the heartsupport community, I hope this forum finds you well.

Im so sorry about your situation and your loss. You have had to deal with so many complications all by yourself. I wish you well and recovery (although I know that the words of a stranger on the internet might not be the ones to make you feel better).

From what I understand, your mental health isn’t well. Overworking for those 4 months after your mother’s death probably didn’t let you grieve properly. Try to take care of your heath and eating habits, your little brother and grandmother need you. You could try to open up to your close friends to find some real life moral support outside of your family life.

Take things one step at a time. Consider just how much of a toll the last few years took on you. Don’t be so hard on yourself. My DM’s are always open to you, if you want to vent or to talk about something.

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@Strick I hope that sharing everything helped to ease the burden on your thoughts even if only sightly. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing with us. That is a lot of hard circumstances and I am so sorry that you lost your mom :broken_heart: My heart goes out to you. And on top of that loss, you spent so much time having to bear the burden of taking care of your mom and brother under stressful circumstances before that. I hear from your story that you have been caring for your family while working hard for your future for years on end. I admire that you did so. I can’t imagine how difficult that was. That is a very long time to be under so much stress and pain, though.

You shared that you’re just killing time and feel like you’re in a dead end. From what you shared, it sounds like you are burnt out in various ways. You are constantly juggling your concerns for your brother, the loss of your mom, and your concern for your own future in terms of school. That takes a serious toll on mental health. I would encourage you to take time to just be, and think about what is restful for your soul. It is okay and good to take times to yourself in order to work through things or step back and rest. In those times you can make space to feel all the pain and hurt that has built up, you can set aside time to rest and give your mind a break. It can be scary to start but I really think that giving yourself space to grieve the loss of your mom and feel the stress and pain from the last few years can help.

As stuck as you feel right now, I promise that it is possible to move forward and heal. Right now is a very hard time in your life, but it will not always feel this way. It’s okay to be hurting :heart: We believe in you and know that you will do great things.