Transparency in Piggyback Stress

It took more than a year after my mother’s death to allow these thoughts to run through my head in full sentences:

Mom’s illness was incredibly stressful. This doesn’t need further parsing. After my dad died, the weight of the consequences of her illness, all of them, fell to me, a natural outcome as her only child. What I could not knit together then, couldn’t hold in the same space without guilt and intense discomfort was that the only way the stress of her illness was going to let up, was going to cease, was with her death. The second that reality tried to speak out loud, I crushed it. What child allows themself to think/say, ‘This horrible situation won’t last forever… Mom will die and it all end for both of us.’

In the summer of 2019 I realized my mom’s rush of health problems were cumulating into what I called an ‘unsustainable’ situation. I knew she wasn’t going to be with us to a lot longer. That’s different than admitting your painfully stressful situation will end with your parent’s death. That admission, even if barely acknowledged in raw moments, was a piggyback stress to the already ridiculous stress caused by mom’s Alzheimer’s. I’ve never heard or read about this.

A year and a bit after mom’s passing, and certainly now that the estate is settled, I can look this in the eye without a load, without guilt, and without additional tertiary stress.

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