My Mum is Dying



feeling sad

I first noticed my mothers heavy drinking in 1999 when we went on holiday together. We’ve never had a great relationship, she was quite horrible to me growing up and can be erratic and scary so I didn’t bring it up with her at the time. About 15 years later my sister joined Alanon and did bring it up with her and she got angry and was in complete denial about it. I asked her then if she wanted to talk about it and she said no, so I’ve still never properly spoken to her about her drinking, which writing this out makes me feels ashamed and like a coward. But I know deep down it wouldn’t have made any difference, she doesn’t listen to anyone.

Anyway it’s too late, Mums been drinking heavily for at least 24 years and now it really shows, she’s looks ancient, her face looks like a skull with some flesh draped over it. She must be in the last year of her life. I know she’s drunk to repress her emotions / abusive childhood which she never wants to talk about so while it’s been very difficult for me I also have a lot of compassion for her. She’s suffered enough in life so I would like to support her the best I can to have peaceful death. It’s very difficult to find practical information, because anything alcohol related is interwoven with recovery but I know she has no intention of stopping drinking.

I feel very alone with this, I am quite a practical person so I want to be prepared, but I have no idea where to start. It’s so hard because I don’t feel I’ve ever had an honest / decent conversation with her about anything, so talking to her about death is feels impossible. Can anyone advise me where I can reach out to in terms practical support to help with the passing of an alcoholic parent?

  • listener


    It's difficult to know why alcoholics become addicted, you point out though her bad childhood and it appears that often alcoholics are addicted because of something or sometimes just addiction purely out of the addictiveiness of a substance.

    I see you're just wanting to have the best send off possible which is understandable, it makes sense. On the NACOA website if you click on 'Research and resources' and then NACOA publications there are a list of publications that include one called 'Coping with the Death of a Parent (for adults)' which sounds like what you're looking for, I hope it proves helpful. You seems like you're primarily concerned though with actually having a decent conversation with her in her latter years. Alcoholics as you have noticed tend to get quite defensive when the topic is raised, I personally would make sure to avoid it initally until perhaps some form of trust is built around her knowing the topic won't be raised often.

    On the resources section I mentioned there are another two related and potentially helpful publications called "Alcohol - the Family Illness" and "Talkin to someone about their drinking". I wish you the best of luck and all of your family.



  • here2help

    I am so glad you came here to share this, and how you are feeling. It shows so much strength that you are able to view this situation more objectively, understand the impact that heavy drinking has had on your mother’s health and feel compassion for her.

    I think someone else here has left some very good resources already which sound really helpful. My suggestion would be to maybe write down everything you’d like to say to her, even if you know you won’t really say it all to her directly, but just sit and do some free writing for a while. Then you can read through what you’ve written and consider which parts you feel would be most important for her to know. Either way, having a chance to let out your feelings can be really helpful for you even if very little of what you’ve expressed is comfortable to say to her directly.

    For more practical support, you might consider reviewing some resources through other charities which focus on end of life care such as Marie Curie or Sue Ryder to see what sort of options may be available to support you and your mum when the time comes. Sending you courage and best wishes, I know it’s very hard to see someone you love so much pass away because of their drinking. I hope you’ll be able to find some peaceful moments to spend with your mum. Take good care of yourself.

  • ashbash

    Hey there

    I am sorry to hear about what has been happening with your mum.

    Please don’t feel guilt over how you feel you have dealt with this. You have to do what’s right for you and can only do what you think is best at the time.

    Looks like others have put resources up and maybe counselling or having someone to talk to yourself would be helpful too. It sounds like you love your mum very much despite the difficulties. Please take care of yourself.

  • feeling sad

    Dear All, Thank you so much for taking the time to write in response all great suggestions. I've spent these last few days researching what happens when you die and came across the work of Dr Kathryn Mannix who's worked in palliative care for 40 years. I'll put a link below to a beautiful short animated video that she created called dying for beginners (suitable for anyone 7years+) and I can highly recommend her book With The End in Mind (for adults) which I'm binge reading (differently addicted!!) it's super beautiful, well written and has excellent resources section.

    It's early days but I'm still yet to come across detailed practical information to support those dying from alcoholism. But I'm now much more informed than when I first wrote and defiantly feel much better in myself with it. Also I shared my findings with my sister so the weight of this doesn't rest on just my shoulders.

    I did spend 24 Horus with my Mum over Christmas, we binged watched The Crown the last season and that has lots of death and funerals in it so it was a very convenient ice breaker to start a conversation. It seemed to be well received when I was there in person but I've since had quite nasty texts from her - usually towards the end of the day when she's more pissed that are twisted and now I imagine that like most of her life she'll go to her grave in denial - it seems that's the alcoholics way. But at least I've said what I need to say, now she can choose what she does with it.

    Thanks again for all your help, Sharing the link below in the hope it will help someone else. I hope that's ok to do so. Best wishes everyone 💕

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