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Coping with loss of mother and the aftermath...and trying to stay sane


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My mom passed away 8/2/17 after a 20+  year painful battle with MS.  She was hospitalized in early July with a myriad of issues which she just was not able to recover from.  My parents had a live-in caregiver for the last 5+ years to help with her care as it was more than my dad could handle but they were adamant she stay at home.  About a week and ½ before she passed, I was in a conversation about my mom with the caregiver when she started telling me that "there's nothing going on between your dad and I, we are just really good friends."  Ummm….this wasn't even a thought in my head at the time but thanks for putting it there now.  I talked to my brother and he thought I was crazy to go over analyzing it and that we should focus on mom and ignore this caregiver.  (It took a lot of getting used to when she originally moved in as it was weird having someone extra in my parent's home, but they had known her for years prior since she worked for an agency they went through once upon a time.  She's also somewhat domineering and brash.  I get along with her for the most part, but my brother and especially my Grandmother (mom's mom) never liked her.) 

Mom passed away and was buried Saturday, 8/5.  The following Saturday, ONE WEEK after my mother's funeral, I'm texting with the caregiver (because they started purging the house pretty much immediately) and she asked me if I would be ok with her and my dad "doing things" together.  I asked "what kind of things?" (being cheeky, really) and she said oh like going out to dinner, for drives, maybe a trip up north.  EXCUSE ME but it's literally ONE WEEK since burying my mother and you are planning vacations with my dad????

My brother and I continued to discuss the whole situation and of course we were just beside ourselves.  We didn't want him to be taken advantage of, have her moving her deadbeat family into his house (because we could just envision this happening) etc.  So he had a heart to heart with him.  It included the fact that Grandma cannot handle going back to that house, especially since this caregiver was still living there (for obvious reasons!)  So for the holidays we're going to need to do something different, that doesn't include the caregiver.  The gist of it all was we love you, we are concerned about you, just please have your eyes open, etc.  Well, my dad said not to worry about him, he's over my mom, etc. and he'll be ok.  (Mind you this was just within weeks of her passing.)

Days later we both got what I call "lectures" FROM HER.  He turned around and told her EVERYTHING.  So much for that.  She's there because he asked her to stay, she's not after his money she has his own, you can bring the holidays back here after Grandma is gone (oh and by the way she doesn't understand what Grandma doesn't like her) because she doesn't want to be excluded.  Oh, and would we rather have our Dad go pick up some street worker vs be with someone he knows?  (Excuse me, I thought there was nothing going on???)

Other things have happened in the meantime….but…fast forward to present day. They DID go on that trip up north (Halloween weekend).  And while on that trip, they GOT ENGAGED.  To us it feels like they are dancing on my mother's grave.  It's being jammed down our throats and we're supposed to be happy and like it.  Or don't….because if we can't deal with it then it's OUR problem, not theirs.  They are moving on, having fun, etc.

Now don't get me wrong…I totally understand and appreciate the fact that my dad basically set aside his life to take care of my mom.  Their relationship was nurse/patient, not husband/wife, and for a very long time.  On top of that, my mother was very demanding, and hard to live with (and I understand that too…her illness really changed her and she was miserable and wanted everyone else to be miserable with her.)  I'm sure he is relieved more than anything right now.  I'm sure he resented her on some level.  But he "loved" her and we are incredibly lucky he didn't leave her.  He sucked it up and stuck it out.  So I get that it's time for him to put himself first for a change.  But he's doing it at the expense of my brother, grandma and I.  WE are still morning my mom.  We haven't even hit the first holiday without her yet.  They want us to be happy for them, but we just can't.  They think we're going to be one big happy family with her adult kids, etc.  We don't want that.  There were issues between us and them before.  I can't just forget that.  I won't.  And we have NO desire to have a relationship with them.  I have my family, and it doesn't include hers.  If my dad wants to go attaching himself to them, then he can deal with them.

We are so afraid of my 97 year old grandma finding this out.  It'll break her heart, which is broken already.  She has survived her entire family, and most of her friends.  We are all she has. We're trying to protect her, and deal with our own pain at the same time.  I don't believe that he's "over it" either.  We think he's in denial.  He should be taking a breather to decompress from what he's been through, not just diving in with blinders on because he doesn't want to be alone, or doesn’t' want to have to date again, and just "wants to be married."

I guess I don't have any particular questions about this…I just wanted to get it off my chest, and ask if anyone has any pointers, advice, thoughts, etc. to offer up, or if anyone has experienced something similar that can relate to what we are going through.  Not only am I trying to deal with the grief and loss of mom, but this just adds a whole level of complication to it all that I never saw coming.

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My dear, I'm so sorry that your grief at the death of your mother is complicated by all the circumstances you describe, and my heart reaches out to you. Unfortunately, as you already know, there is precious little you can do to change what is happening in your family ~ but that does not mean that you don't have a right to address your own grief and mourn your own losses.

I invite you to read this article, in hopes that it may offer you some insights. Note that I've listed several related articles at the base as well: Remarriage in Widowhood: How Soon Is Too Soon?

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OMG, I can't believe someone else is going through that!  I went through that with my FIL years ago when my MIL was dying of cancer.  It's extremely inappropriate for a caregiver to get into a relationship with the spouse of someone they're supposed to be taking care of!  Report her!  This hussy victimized my FIL when he was at his lowest point and most vulnerable.  We were angry with him and her both, but honestly, in the time since, I'm older and wiser and see it from a much different perspective now.  With all that's going on in the news about people taking advantage of others, I view this very differently now.  Nothing to do with "love".  My MIL and FIL were married 40 years and she loved him so much and to think of her crying while she's dying of cancer, it breaks my heart.  My FIL did not take up with this hussy after her death, thankfully, but did "fall in love" a month later.  He had a need that had gone unmet for so long while his wife was dying, bedridden, for three years.  We didn't fully understand it at the time, but we allowed this woman into our lives and she became a companion and dear friend to him the remain 27 years or so.  He knew she didn't want to marry so they maintained their own separate residences, but they took care of each other and accompanied each other to everything.  I hate to think how empty his life would have been without her in it.  She is still alive and the family still visits and calls her, my kids consider her another grandma.

But there is a big difference in someone taking advantage of her profession to infiltrate someone's life and someone he's met AFTER his wife died.  If this is happening one week after and she made that remark while your mom was alive, it was going on beforehand.  Please talk to her supervisor, not to get her fired but so this kind of thing gets stopped from happening to other families.  They don't need the heartache on top of everything they are already going through.  I don't take this behavior lightly.

There is a big difference between someone preying on someone's vulnerable situation and someone "falling in love" and having the family's best interests at heart.  I felt prey to someone after my husband died and looking back I can see it now for what happened, whereas I could not begin to see it at the time...it's sad that anyone would take advantage of someone's situation.

Hopefully your father can begin to see what is really going on without the dire consequences I had to suffer.  A ways on down the road he might meet someone he could enjoy spending time with, but with a "relationship" starting out this way, it's not a good base for it.

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WOW.  KayC thank you for your reply.  I'm sorry you've gone through this before...but forgive me for saying I feel better knowing someone else knows what I'm dealing with.  I agree, I don't care what he tells me that "they weren't gettin' down while mom was alive" I'm not buying it.  You don't go from "we'll see what happens, we're friends, maybe things will develop" to less than 3 months later and you're in love.  There isn't an agency involved at this point.   My parents know her because of an agency they used when the just needed a few hrs a day.  So they've really known each other for 12+ years.  Eventually mom needed in-home care and they contacted her to see if she would be interested....and she moved in over 5 yrs ago.  I don't know if my mom was ever suspicious.  My brother, husband, sister-in-law, grandma.....never trusted her from the beginning.  I got along with her ok because, what can you do?  This is the arrangement, she's going to be there, etc.  It's the new norm.  And we get along.  I make jewelry, she likes and buys it.  I've sat and had conversations with her, etc.  That's all one thing.  Now putting the moves on Dad is a completely different story.  Your FIL watched his wife dying for 3 years.  My dad did the same - for over 20.  Which is why I can understand his eagerness to move on.  But do we question her intentions here?  You bet.  The chances of them getting married and divorced shortly after are probably pretty high.  And she'll take him to the cleaners.  I get that they've known each other for a long time...she lived in their house....how could you not have built a relationship?

As of now, they are engaged and she's flashing pics of her ring all over FB.  The husband wants me to unfriend her or block her posts but I'm afraid there could be backlash if I do that, she could use it to poison him against me that your kids are against her, etc., plus it's nice to keep dibs on her and it might keep her in line somewhat knowing I can see her posts.  We can't control what he does, hopefully he's not going to get screwed over.  Hopefully she'll prove us wrong and we'll be eating our words.  We're gonna find out....

In the meantime it's just hard to mourn the loss of Mom when that is being overshadowed by all this other crap.  She probably has her own gravitational pull spinning so fast in that grave!  (I know her soul has moved on and gone home....but it's hard to separate HER from that and not feel like I'm channeling the pain and loss she would be going through if she saw what was happening in her absence.) 

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I'm so sorry you find yourself thrown into this situation, it's very hard.  They aren't living in reality.  I realize what Marty was saying, we can't control their decisions.  In my life I have learned that what you build your relationship on does matter, if the base, the core, was rotten, how can they expect it to go well?  They are starting their relationship out upsetting/alienating his kids, no way to go about things.  I would recommend a prenup to him.  This happened to a friend of mine and her father died one month after he remarried and the stepmother wouldn't even let her have her mom's dishes!   I feel she's infiltrated this family and lord knows what her motives are, but it's too bad they didn't proceed slower.  If he had 20 years of caregiving, he may have been ready to have a relationship, but it's too bad it didn't wait until she was gone first.  My own MIL, I found her crying in her bed one day when dad had told me not to come over and the neighbor called me and told me he'd gone out of town with another woman and left her alone (she needed help getting on the pot, having meals and medication brought to her, she couldn't be left alone), and to see her crying because her husband was out with someone else when she had enough going on with her cancer to deal with, that just broke my heart.  The kids got so mad at him afterwards you could hear them yelling a block away!  She made them promise to not cut him off though, to still love him after she was gone.  We did.  But it was hard getting past all that, I can tell you.  At least he moved on from her and didn't marry her, thank God!  

It's going to be hard because if you don't "accept" her/their relationship, it can drive a wedge between you and your dad.  The worst thing to do is to "make him choose", that doesn't usually go well.  You may have to accept that he has a relationship with her and hope for the best for his sake, but I'd still encourage him to talk to a prenup lawyer, even if he thinks its not necessary.  You wouldn't file taxes without knowing tax laws, would you?  So why would you marry at this age without knowing what can happen and protect yourself?  (I did once and got screwed over royally...am still paying for that one, also after losing my husband and being very vulnerable and not clear in my thinking due to grief fog.)  Also, maybe he would consider seeing you without her occasionally for "father/daughter time" (I would put it that way so he doesn't view it as excluding her, but rather wanting to spend time together just you and him).

My heart just bleeds for you and your family, hoping for the best.  We can't control our circumstances, only our attitude towards it, but sometimes it takes a process to get there.

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