What do I do now?

marksfFebruary 15, 2009

My family was small to begin with, (mom, my brother and me) we all lived together after finding mom had cancer and I was in a debilitating acident and couldn't work and 10yrs. has flown by. Me and my brother were taking care of mom through her cancer and other problems diabetes, arthritus and spinal decompression.

My brother had 1st stage cirrohsis but had stopped drinking 2 years back but he a;so had a spinal chord injury and needed help on physical things. So we all worked together to help 1 another until mom also got dementia and started having alot of mini-strokes which were heartbreaking to witness. We finally found a good nursing home for her and she seemed to accept it without any problem. Mom never complained about anything and after our weekly visit of playing cards out in the garden we got the call early the next morning she's passed in her sleep.

This paralyzed me and my brother because she seemed in such good spirits that day. Well after about 4mths. I had to get my brother to the hospital emergency room, seems his cirrohsis reached 2 more stages and he was referred to Hopkins for transplant testing. My brother was refused a listing because he had too many other things wrong with him and they didn't think he would recover but Hopkins never sent a letter stating this so I don't even know if my brother knew or not. But all I know is we were constantly waiting to hear from them and calling them everyday leaving voicemail messages. Well after being released from another hospital after 30days he was home for only a week and everything seemed fine and he suddenly lost motor skills and went into coma. That's when I foundout from Hopkins they had rejected him and he passed away 2wks. later never coming out of his coma.

I had been caring for mom for about 3yrs. and then for my brother another 3yrs. all in all while caring for myself that was my life for close to 10yrs. They also helped care for me when I couldn't walk after my accident but I ended up with sever nerve damage joint degeneration among other things but I can walk with kane. My problem is now I am alone with no-one to look after and going through depression from grief. Even though I am in a weekly Griefshare group it only helps while attending. I feel lost and out of place at home and pretty much the same way when I go out and this has been like this for over 4mths. since my brother Michael passed this past October. He was 58, I am 54 and mom was 84.. Obviously me and my brother were very close since our dad passed back in 66 and I just haven't been able to find another center for my life since I was caregiving for the past 8 or so years. Keep in mind I can't just go out and get a job because of my limited physical ability, before all this I was a carpenter, my brother and I had a remodeling business, then we subcontracted together until he got too weak to handle it and then later I had my disabling accident in 97.

Has anybody been through anything like this? Or does anybody have any ideas on what to do? Sorry for how long this post is but I tried to make it as short as I could.

Thank You


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Mark, I am so sorry for the losses in your life. It is normal to grieve, but you seem particularly vulnerable being all alone now. I am really glad you are going to Griefshare, I have heard very good things about it.

I have three suggestions:

1. Consider seeing your doctor to be evaluated for depression. Many people take antidepressants for a brief period to help them deal with life while they work through their grief.

2. Find a career counselor. Sometimes a local college will have a short workshop or course to help your evaluate your abilities and interests and link them with a job. There are probably many things that you could still do, you just need some suggestions to help figure out what they are.

3. While you are doing the first two things, volunteer somewhere. A soup kitchen, a hospital (they often need people to sit at the information desk, or to sit in the infant area and rock babies), a hospice if that's not too painful for you, a childcare center (kids love to be read to), a school (can you help tutor kids in reading or some other subject). If you like to sing, find a church or community choir. The list is endless, you are sure to find something that will give you a reason to get up and out in the world again.

I know it's hard when you've been stuck at home so long, but you can do it! Please write back and let us know how it's going.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 3:20PM
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I second watergal's suggestions. One of the best things to lift depression is volunteer work. And since you are a caring sort of person, there is a volunteer opportunity waiting for you. Also, I don't know how good your health is now, but exercise is very beneficial on many levels.

Do you have a pet? A dog or cat can be a wonderful companion for you. Good luck and keep us posted.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 7:25PM
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Dear Watergal & Blueheron:

Thanks for your replys and constructive suggestions, they are all good ideas. The Griefshare group has done alot of good and I also am attending a "Christianity 101" course at my local church. Since I have drawn so much from the lord through prayer in these very tough times I feel I should try and get to know him more.

These do wonders while particiating but after they are over it's back to reality. I have 4 things that after so much time in grief that are giving me alot of trouble:

I now feel alittle uncertain about having mom and brother cremated and keeping their cremains since reading about how it's not totally an accepted Christian method

I also worry about the fact that since my brother Michael went into a coma all of a sudden and never came out of it if he had a chance to profess his faith. After all we weren't church goers because we were both so involved in trying to follow his meds and keep ahead of this disease plus dealing with all the specialists on the transplant team but I know he had strong faith because even in his condition he never complained or showed any fear of dying, which amazes me now that I think about it. I could never be that strong and not use my brother for a shoulder.

I also remember when he got really bad and he lost ability to make it to the bathroom and before I got use to the extra duty and got a system down, I made some remarks to the effect of "wow I sure hope this doesn't last very long". He got such a sad look on his face like that remark made him lose what little self respect he had left. And even though I told him shortly after I didn't mean it and after getting use to it it wasn't that bad at all brother and I was just freaking out at first from the shock of the whole thing. He then said "don't you appologize because I don't want to be this way and the tougher you are on me the more it will push me to do all I can".

It wasn't but a couple of hours after that he started to go into his coma and looking back I should've had him in the car and gotten him to the hospital whether he had control or not instead of waiting, and these things..

The Griefshare group puts alot of emphasis on how harmful it is for us to dwell on the guilt and there are always things we will remember that we should've done different but we must accept the fact and have faith that it was the Lords decision and our loved ones time, but even knowing that I still have trouble. I guess I saw my brother get overlooked so much in this life by the transplant team and his local hepatologist that I hope the Lord has welcomed him into heaven where Michael will finally be at peace without any pain and reunited with Mom, Dad, and Grandma.

It shows if my faith were strong I would already believe this to be true and not be worying about these things. But putting this all into words has helped me out and I thank you both for taking the time and interest to help

Thanks and bless You both

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 3:44PM
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Mark, first of all, regarding your concerns, everyone second guesses themselves. I was doing it just this afternoon regarding my mom. She's still alive and lives in a memory care facility, but I've been her caregiver for about six years now. My family tells me I've done a good job and even gone overboard at times. Yet I still get nagging feelings every once in a while. This kind of self-doubt is perfectly natural. Especially for you now that you're both grieving the loss of your mom & brother and trying to find out how to deal with this next phase of your life.

From a spiritual or Christian perspective, have mercy on yourself. You know that Christ has forgiven you for any of your missteps in your brother's care. Trust Him and accept His forgiveness.

It also sounds like your brother forgave you for your off-the-cuff remark when you were cleaning him up. Accept his forgiveness too.

Regarding your brother's spiritual state, trust God to take care of everything. He knows what was in your brother's heart. God made our bodies and knows exactly how they work, so He certainly isn't limited by a coma, blindness, deafness, or anything. You may not have been able to communicate with your brother when he was in a coma, but that condition wasn't a problem to God.

Regarding cremation, different Christians have different ideas. There isn't a particular Bible verse that teaches against it, although the practice in both the Old & New Testament was burial. One thing is certain, though. Whether a body is buried or cremated, the soul is not affected. There's no reason for you to worry about heaven for your loved ones no matter how their earthly shell is handled.

Take care and be sure to post here when you're having a particularly difficult day. We've all gone through similar feelings and are eager to encourage and support each other.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 8:10PM
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Your comments made my heart lighter and I want to thank you for that. And I am glad your mom is still with us and sure she appreciates all you've done for her over the years and I hope she continues to do well. Reading that also brought back good memories of when my brother and I would visit our mom at the nursing home and play cards outside in the garden.

Thanks for the support

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 2:44PM
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