Jump to content

Please help-Dad in profound depression

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I so much need advice. My father has fallen into a very profound depression. He won't eat unless you put food in front of hime and say "EAT" and even then it is only a couple of bites. He just goes from the recliner in the living room to his bed (mostly bed) with the drapes closed all day. He hasn't showered since last Wed!!! (over a week ago!!!!! ) My sister and I were over there yesterday and suggested it because the weather was warm so he would not get cold and he blew us off. You try to talk with him and he gives one word answers or stares off into space or snaps cuz he is irritable. Not so much irritability now. There was a lot a couple of weeks ago but now it just seems like profound sadness and despair. It is so sad to watch yet I just don't know how to change it or what to say. The odds of him seeking out a therapist or AD is very slim. He already has unmedicated bi polar disorder. He couldn't care less plus he denies there is anything wrong with him. Add onto that his addict personality and his current use of legal AND illegal drugs to help with his CA (supposedly).

In my Dad's defense, he has been battling lung ca and cancer tx for a while. HOWEVER, it hasn't been that long and he certainly is not doing as bad as he could be!! The doctor told him only 6mo to 1 yrs to live. It has almost been 6mo!! I think he really thought the chemo was going to really kill everything. I think he thought HE would be the miracle. I think he failed to research what was wrong with him. No, I KNOW. Well, anyway he isn't the miracle. He is likely a statistic. With metastatic lung cancer the prognosis is months, even with treatment. He has four brain lesions, one lung tumor, and a mass on his pancreas initially. Well, after the first round chemo, a NEW TUMOR grew in his other lung. Dissapointed with that the onc started second line tx, Hycamtin (topotecan). Made Dad very sick for a while; he even needed a blood transfusion. Well, since a couple rounds of that his stomach started to hurt where he felt he could not eat. He also had a growing pressure in his chest. Well.....last Friday he apparantly felt somewhat better, the pressure was relieved and he could eat!!! My sister said his spirits were better a bit. I think he thought he has won. Fast forward to 5pm. Doc calls. "It's back and there is more" "other organs are involved". I think he was crushed.

Now, he is more than ever acting how I previously described. To make it worse, he is MOVING!!! My brother is trying to move him (and himself) into this new house that already had furniture in it. So..we are making trips to the old house to get the furniture there to bring to the new, yard sale.....it's a mess to say the least, but necessary. :roll:

So........here is my question. How do I approach this ever so sensitively?? I want to say that I care for him, that we hate to see him like this. I REALLY REALLY want to say "you knew the statistics, what did you choose to live for". I want to cry and flail and beat on him. I mean, what did he think?? And now, because it did not go his way, he is going to waste the last month (possible) of his life. We go to see him and he does this. It is like "HELLO!!! Aren't WE what you chose to extend your time on this earth for??" He honestly would be better off right now with a big ol' hefty shot of morphine to stop his respirations. He is that miserable. How can I help him realize that he is not dead yet and in fact, he likely feels physically better now than he ever will again on this earth? I realize he has been thru a lot, but what can be done from here? It's like they said in Shawshank Redemption:

"Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'"

Which do you choose??? :cry:

Thanks for any help.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

(((Janice))) sending you hugs and prayers. I do understand how hard it is when they are depressed and won't speak or eat, my mom was like that. My only suggestion is to have a family meeting with your dad and have everyone share their concerns and let him know how much he is loved. This seemed to help my mom a bit. And yes we let her know that we were upset and that we just wanted what was best for her. I feel for your dad. I think it is especially hard for a parent when they are so sick, to face their children, and to tell them that they are tired of fighting and are ready to just give up. Plus while I'm sure your dad is depressed some of this just may be the effects of the cancer spreading.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I'm so sorry that you are going through this.

Have you thought of calling in Hospice? I really think it would be a good idea not only for your Dad, but for you and your brother. They did so much for my Mom, including anti depressants, which really helped with her anxiety.

Hospice also gave us a book on signs that the end is approching. Not wanting to eat, and becoming detached (1 word answers) is all normal.

I wish that things were different, and none of us were here, so know that I'm praying for you and your Dad and you are not alone.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has your Dad ever been involved in a church or does he know a minister/ pastor/ priest that he would be willing to speak with? I have found that deep despair is very common for individuals that have a real sense of death and yet no hope or solid faith in an afterlife and salvation.

Has anyone ever talked to him about Christ? Often times people feel like they are "unforgiveable" and that simply isn't true for our Lord is a God of mercy and forgiveness. "His mercy endureth forever" and He removes our sins (all of our sins-- past, present & future) as "far as the East is from the West". If you start traveling East guess what? you can never reach West. :)

I would suggest getting him in touch with someone that can speak to him at this level and helping him to see that things are not lost. That there is hope for an afterlife... its a free gift that just requires accepting.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, Janice: hugs and more hugs to you -- I wish there was an easy answer to this, but I don't think there is. I'm on my second round as a caregiver to a parent that is going through cancer. Lost my dad last April to brain cancer (that was a real devastating process; I lost him 8 weeks after initial onset of any symptoms, when "by the statistics," I should have had him around for a year and half or so) and now mom is dealing with LC as you can see from my history stuff.

The depression, moodiness, and pushing help away isn't easy. My dad had a fighting spirit going until at some point it was like a switch went off in him and he decided to quit fighting just as we were getting chemo and radiation treatment going for him. What I learned during that experience was that part of what made it so hard for him was that he didn't want to "give up" in front of us for so long because he was so worried about mom and I -- it came out at the last that he continued on with treatments to please us, when he didn't even really want to do that with everything he was going through as his condition worsened (stuff he just didn't tell anyone along the way). We had absolutely no clue about this until the very last and we went through all the frustration, anger, etc. that you are describing here -- that dad was having so much internal turmoil going on like this explained after-the-fact alot of behavioral things that I just didn't get at the time.

That really made me mad inside at the time as all I wanted to do was support him in what he wanted to do all along...and there I was spending enormous amounts of time fight, fight, fighting for everything that went along with tackling the issues that went with his disease and treatment options.

It is such a "powerless" place to be in (at least it feels that way in this process). From what I have learned so far, my best advice is to let your dad know that you care and will support him in whatever he decides to do, To Live or To Give Up -- just ask him to be honest about what he wants to do and that it's OK to change his mind along the way -- from what I witnessed, that is about the best thing we can do and it just might help put his mind at ease in his own internal struggles with this.

Try to find a way for it to be OK inside you if he decides to fight today, give up tomorrow, but wants to resume the fight later on, as well (that's my personal plan for my current situation).

Lastly, is there any possibility of some independent home help for bathing, eating, etc. (maybe hospice help?). From what I learned here so far, hospice support doesn't mean "I quit", but it might help support your dad in those areas and he might be less likely to brush off a presence that isn't family....kind of like putting in place a reason to get out of bed, get dressed, etc. Might help gently support him out of the cycle of current depression when therapy isn't a viable option. I think folks have said that hospice support can be cancelled at any time it isn't needed anymore and resumed later on (I am not an expert on hospice info. so check into that if you think it might be an option for your dad).

Sorry so long, but I hope I made some sense with this....got to admit, caregiving support advice with this is awkward at best at times -- keep us posted and we'll try to help as best we can.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am so sorry you are dealing with this right now. Does he have computer access? Maybe you can show him this site and have him read other people's stories. That could give him some inspiration? What is the doctor's plan of action? What treatment is he currently having or going to have?

My prayers are with you,


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I have read your post over about four times now. I see it as being more about you and your feelings than those of your father.

From the patient's side of the fence, let me toss some thoughts your way. I came home after surgery and nine days in the hospital. I couldn't even clean myself. When I went to the bathroom, I ended up in tears because it was so painful to bend to take care of the "paperwork" but I was NOT going to ask for help, having my mother or husband shower me was humiliating enough. I was SURE I was going to die in my sleep, I was scared to come home from the hospital and the 24/7 monitoring. Although I wanted to live, I focused a lot on dying.

I grieved the future I wouldn't have, how I wouldn't see my son grow, wouldn't teach him to drive, see him graduate from high school and then college, get married and have kids... I was NOT all that fun to be with. I wallowed pretty deep in the pity pot - and one day, the switch flipped and I "got it". I needed to LIVE each day as if it may be my last. NO ONE is promised a tomorrow. I could still be hit by a beer truck, this cancer thing does NOT have a monopoly on my mortality. Truth is, no one gets out of life alive, it's what we do between birth and death that matters.

Your father is dealing with a big ugly. Facing one's mortality is scary as hell. To tell you the truth, you will never understand it unless you experience it for yourself. There are too many unknowns on the other side - no one has ever come back to describe the journey and the destination.

Remember who comforted you when you did difficult things that were new? Who wiped away your tears when you were scared to go to school or do anything that was new and terrifying to you at the time? Your dad needs some of that compassion, he's SCARED - and men aren't real good at being scared.

Some people are comforted, as Joe said, with getting in touch with their spiritual side. Whatever works is worth doing.

I guess you need to put aside your preconceived notions about how it "should be" and deal with how it IS. There are no do-overs, and it is what it is.

Good luck, strength and patience to you,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

You all had some great suggestions. I did talk briefly with my Dad today and got an idea about how depressed he is. I think it made him feel a bit better to talk about it. It wasn't good but atleast we layed it on the table. He called his doc and they upped his fentanyl patch (doubled it actually) and put him also on Percocet. He felt better after that, thank goodness, and ate a bit. Apparantly he had gotten overdue on his Fentanyl patch and had a bit of the withdrawal symptoms. Either that or increasing pain.


When you say,

"Remember who comforted you when you did difficult things that were new? Who wiped away your tears when you were scared to go to school or do anything that was new and terrifying to you at the time? Your dad needs some of that compassion, he's SCARED - and men aren't real good at being scared.

Well, I can tell you it WAS NOT my father. My father wasn't the best of Dad's in that area. My childhood was filled with his addiction and manipulation. It is hard to see him now, abusing illegal drugs in addition to his prescribed meds, and not get angry. The old tapes play you know. You wonder if you are being manipulated now. That's all. Hard to stop that. Maybe I am being a bit selfish. But my Dad has been selfish all his life. It was always about him, always about my mom, never us. But we were the reason he chose to live, chose to seek tx. I just wish it were different. I am trying to understand. Trying to hold it all together. I hope I can for him.

Thanks for all the suggestions. My father is somewhat religious and actually has a much bigger support network than myself. All things considered, he should not feel so poorly. He needs to see what he has. He has lived a pretty full life. I think he is so so afraid. He doesn't know how this cancer will take him and I think he is scared about having a painful death. I think I will approach his doc with the idea of hospice and see what he thinks. We go tomorrow.

I'll keep you updated. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know how hard it is to see your Dad so depressed. I spent so many hours trying to figure out a way for my Dad to get the most out of his last months with us. Many times I was frustrated with him, but did not let it show. Instead I decided to just accept Dad for who he was. He never gave up eating, but he would not leave the house for about the last 4-5 months of his life. I spent lots of time with him at his house were he was comfortable. Sometimes we did not speak much, but words were not needed to feel the love. I'm so thankful for that time we had together. My advise to you is to just show your Dad love every chance you get. We (caregivers) will never really understand what it feels like to have this terrible cancer.

God Bless,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't add much to what Becky and Linda wrote so beautifully....your dad is dealing with ALOT and all of this has to be about his wishes. As much as we want our loved ones to fight, treatment is so much to deal with and then facing mortality is on top of that. I do think that hospice will help you out -- even though they will suggest you face some things you may not want to yet...

It is so very difficult. I'll be keeping you in prayers today.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just wanted to let you all know that my Dad was told there is nothing more the docs can do for him. They gave him weeks to one month. Hospice has been called in. He has been having some pains in his chest (around his heart) and the doc confirmed that the tumor is pressing on his heart. So...hopefully it won't take long and won't be as painful. Anyway, I am trying to clear the schedule and be there. Thank you all for your support.

God has his reasons I guess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hang in there Janice and keep us posted as much as you can -- what the docs or anyone says as a timeline ain't necessarily so, just know that. And you are right on that God has his reasons going on here......what I didn't know how to say before is that all our personal histories with our families aside, I swear this is the most sacred act we can do as caregivers: not to make too much of our own issues (we save those vents for folks other than the patient), just help another in their journey, wherever that will take them....and to be there through all the twists and turns along the way. Not an easy thing at all, but it can be done with "detached empathy" for our loved one -- putting ourselves in their shoes and just thinking about how we would want to be treated in that situation goes a long way toward sound decisions and actions along the way.

Best to you,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I really feel for you!

I know we do not know what it is like to be the patient, but your feelings are very real, and very understandable. I remember the same frustration in dealing with my Mom over whether she would choose to do chemo or not. I, too, wanted to ask if we weren't enough of a reason to keep trying.

Of course I never did, and neither will you. It is good to be able to come to a forum and vent such feelings, however, without worrying what others will think. I do it all the time.

I will keep you and your dad in my prayers. Keep us posted!

:) Kelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.