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Advice - Please!

Posted by anna_in_quebec (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 5, 06 at 13:53

The last time I wrote here 2 years ago, I was anguishing over the tragic death of my brother at age 52, and also of my mother, age 83. Many of you responded with helpful words of advice or simply with expressions of sympathy, which I did so appreciate. December 22, my father also passed away - at home, age 83. My sister was the primary caregiver for both parents - I distanced myself from the situation for a variety of reasons, and I am not suprised that she harbours resentment against me for that. She has never left the family home, never married, no kids. I moved out at age 24 (and ever since was accused of abandoning the family) to live with my love, in a home of our own - but no kids.

After the funeral for our father, we had a reception at my home for a few guests (very few family and friends left), and it went very well. She and I talked, and a day later she came over for a nice dinner, etc. I had real hope that we could put the past behind us, or at least not talk about certain touchy issues for the time being. But now, she says that her life is over, there is nothing left to live for - there is no point. She is 50, I am 47. She is angry at me that I am not cooperating with her attempts to lay serious complaints against the daytime care-giver who stayed with my father while she was at work. My father passed away in this care-giver's presence, and now my sister is imagining the worst - that the care-giver hastened or somehow assisted his demise. She is accusing me of being uncooperative "as usual". She is also going into "what-if's" - re. calling 911 or doing something sooner, then he would still be with us etc etc. He was ill for a very long time, also had dementia, which she has never yet admitted to, he could do nothing for himself this past year or so - and when I say he had no quality of life, I am lectured that it wasn't true - and that it's not for anyone to decide if they are enjoying life or not. We just did not see his condition the same way.

In addition she is saying awful things like Mum and Dad hated life as well (they were both WWII survivors from Poland, later moved to England/Canada), and the only reason they continued on was for us children and we all ended up failures, and they were very distressed to see how we had landed up - dismal failures. etc etc. I have a home, a good job - respected by colleagues at work - I don't particularly see myself as a failure simply because I don't have children. And certainly my parents never ever expressed any desire to see grand-children.

Although my father and I were not as close as my sister was, that doesn't mean I am not grieving as well, and perhaps for more than just the loss of life, but for time wasted while we were all alive on petty things...grudges, etc. I do understand that her level of involvement was far greater both before illness and during, and that this is more painful in that respect for her than for me. But, when I hear the things she is saying, I worry - I get angry. I don't want to be dragged down into misery and depression which is not all that difficult for me to descend into at the best of times. And suggesting a counsellor is tantamount to heresy.

I don't know what to do, although it is still early days, and I realize that she needs time. I am at a loss.

Anna


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Advice - Please!

May I suggest that both of you attend some grief support sessions. They have the expertise to handle these situations. Your sister feels neglected as she does not anyone to talk to/take care of--etc. I would suggest that she look into jobs either in care taking, or nurse's aid. Or even in working with patients in nursing homes adjusting to the situation. You may have to have "tough love". with her. You have your life, she needs to develop her life, and even at her age it is not too late. I am sure there are people in the medical field that can offer other suggestions.
But like I suggested, grief support groups are great.


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RE: Advice - Please!

I am sorry for your loss. I lost my sweet father one year ago in August and I lost my precious mother last March. My father had leukemia and died 3 weeks after his diagnosis. My mother died of a bladder infection, yes, and as you can imagine, this was unexpected and has pretty much torn our family apart with the "what ifs" and the blaming. Some of us were there (5 married siblings) and some of us weren't, we took turns in the caretaking. Mom was horrible depressed and never recovered from losing Dad. She lost her will to live. We never wanted to let her go but she didn't have much interest in living. We all grieve so differently. My parents were the glue that held our family together and we all had different relationships with them, all very special. I don't think I'll ever recover from losing them both but it has been particularly hard with my Mother because of the way it all happened. The "what ifs" are endless. Please give yourself and your sister time, lots of time. We all do it differently. One of my sisters and I have much anger about my Mother's care and at one time, wanted to pursue investigations and legal action given her lack of continuity of care. The other siblings were against it. We did not pursue it and we do not discuss it anymore with the other siblings. They feel differently. And they're gone. Never coming back. What's the point? Mom was miserable without Dad. The only peace I have is my belief in God and a heaven that has the two of them together. And I know I'll see them again. It also helps me to know that the best way I can remember Mom and Dad and honor them is to live a life that they would be proud of. They wanted us to be close and happy. So I'm trying to do my part to reach out to my siblings and get along. We make the best of our time together and don't discuss difficult topics. And we grieve together. All except for one of my brothers. He sadly has refused all contact with us. He chose to not be there when Mom was so sick and we lost her. He is angry about that among other things. I can't do anything about him, just pray for him.
I have also been reading a book "How to go on living when someone you love dies" by Therese Rando, PhD. It is pretty intense so I can only read it a little at a time. But it really covers how we all grieve. It is detailed and normalizes our feelings, and helps to help anticipate what is to come in your grief. I think that your sister being so angry is part of her grief and everyone just needs to let her be for awhile. I also think that it is easier to feel so angry when you believe that you loved them the most, and no one else could ever understand. I know I've felt that way. Let her grieve her way and you grieve yours. Try to support each other in tiny steps but above all, give it lots more time. Losing your parents makes you grow up and take a look at who you are and what you've become. Sometimes it's so much easier to just focus on somebody else. Check out the librairy or book store. There is lots of good grief material out there. Good Luck.
Joanie


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RE: Advice - Please!

The death at home, of an 83-year-old man whose wife recently died is totally unremarkable.

Your sister is showing some of the well-documented stages of grieving:

Anger and blaming (directed against the caregiver, and you)

Anger at herself for not being there (I often saw this in a hospital, when patients died in the early morning as their relatives were catching a nap. We felt that the patients were "sneaking out" to avoid distressing their relatives.)

Playing "what if" ... trying to find a scenario that would have prevented the death.

She has lost what was a large part of her daily life - caring for her parents - which would leave a large hole.

She needs counseling - the emotions are normal, but if she persists, she can become consumed with the blaming and what-if-ing to the extent that it hurts her ability to live.


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RE: Advice - Please!

Lazygardens just stated, very well, what I was going to say. The death of an elderly parent, while certainly very sad, is expected in the natural scheme of things. Our parents are not expected to outlive us; nor would they want to. But your sister, rather than feeling any degree of acceptance at this point, is bringing her "issues" into the grief process. And some of these issues involve you. She needs some help, but my best advice to you is to "not let someone else's neuroses become your reality," as someone once told me.

I really hope you can find some common ground to come together. At this time in your lives the support of a sibling is invaluable.

Susan


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RE: Advice - Please!

Ditto. I was going to write exactly what Lazygardens and Susan wrote. My heart goes out to you because I know it must hurt to hear your sister's accusative remarks towards you even though you know you don't deserve them. Try to remember that this is her grief process and don't let it come between you two. Listen and tell her that you are sorry that she feels this way and remind her that you loved your mom and dad as much as she did.
Good luck and keep us posted.
Lu


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RE: Advice - Please!

Anna, I'm so sorry that things are not going well with your sister. I feel badly and just wanted you to know that we do listen on this message board. Wish I could make things easier for you. June


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RE: Advice - Please!

Thank you so much to everyone who posted. The people here always amaze me with the time spent on answering others' concerns. I think the only thing I can do is give her time, because the way it stands now, she doesn't want to see me or speak to me. It's all very sad and stressful...

Anna


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RE: Advice - Please!

most of us are here because we wandered in during a particularly difficult time in our lives, and the people here gave us the answers and support we didn't have (or couldn't ask for) from our normal supporters.

yes- about half of haulocaust survivors suffered some form of depression and/or PTSD that they never thought to seek treatment for. and if you grow up in a house with depressed parents, your chances of developping it yourself are triple or better than average.

with that goes the whole guilt thing (like children aren't supposed to move out when they marry) and your sister sounds like she inherited all your parent's bitterness and angst.

you deserve more support. she deserves more support. but I doubt very much that she's capable of giving or recieving it herself, and it sounds like you're the last person she's going to want to hear advice from.

I've had to completely avoid my own brother, who can't seem to forgive me for making peace with my father (who wasn't the perfect parent- but whose is?) and can't even stand to have my mother mention my name.

yes, it is very stressful, and all we can really do is light a candle, and pray that they'll find their own peace.

in my brother's case, he's got a wife who does look after him- it strikes me that your sister has never developped any relationships outside her house, and has no support network to tell her when it's time to seek counseling, or even that it's time to get her self together, sell off the house, and go have a life.


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RE: Advice - Please!

Chinacat_Sunflower - you expressed that so perfectly. What's worse, Dad always taught us 3 children never to talk about the family outside of the house. But I learned early on, that you simply cannot live like that - without sharing things - it doesn't mean one is betraying the family by doing so. She went totally the other way - internalizing everything, and not trusting anyone. So sad. Also - my Dad was consumed by the war, and talked about it all the time. My mother was totally opposite - never wanted to talk about it, and usually tuned Dad out when he would go on and on. I took my mother's stance on this, while my sister hung on every word my Dad said and they often watched war movies together. Hence, she became much closer to him and she knows much more about his war years than I. My brother and I were kind of the rebels in the family, always chumming together, sneaking cigarettes, dancing to the music of the day in the living room, while my sister hung back, or simply wasn't around. She was what we called really "straight" - not much fun. By choice? I don't know - but it made her seem like Daddy's "good daughter" - and she ceratinly didn't "abandon the family".

I guess there's not much point about talking about all that is past, but I am trying to understand, and there is so much involved here, that perhaps you are right - light a candle and pray that somehow, one day, she may find a way out of this, and that we may come to know each other - even if it's only to "agree to disagree" and move on.


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