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Heading For A Breakdown?

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I lost my mother Nancy in February. She died after a 3 year battle with lung cancer. She also had a stroke a year into her cancer treatments which left her unsteady, unable to drive and with slurred speech. Although she went through Chemo, and two series of Radiation, in addition to 40 days in the hospital for the stroke, she never stopped smoking. This was very frusterating to all of her family, as we were spending most of our time caring for her and taking her to Doctor appointments. It felt as though she didn't care about us. She was also very difficult to deal with, not taking her meds at the right time, over medicating herself, not eating, not allowing for the care that she desperately needed in the home. At the same time we were also caring for my 95 year old Grandfather who was suffering from blindness and kidney failure. His long time companion (who we also cared for) died two weeks before my Mother. Grandpa was what people described as "a piece of work" and although he agreed to a daytime caregiver, he refused care at night. His daytime caregiver threatened to call adult protection services unless he agreed to get a in home monitoring system, and after three attemps he finally allowed the people to install it.- All of this to say (and there is much more) for the past three years, caring for these people was hell. It seems to have numbed me to my feelings of deep love and connection that I once had for them, and all I have now is a sense of relief, tinged with anger that they put me through so much with their stubborn selfish behavior. My friends think there is someting wrong with me that I have suffered so much loss in such a short period of time, and yet I do not grieve. Am I heading for a breakdown?

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Hi Leslie,

I am sure you were under tremendous stress all the time because of all the responsibility you had. I could not tell you if your mother or grandpa could have eased any pain because perhaps they themselves were not in a position to make any rational sense of thier own surroundings due to what was happening to them inside with the cancer to your mom and blindness and kidney failure to your grandpa. I would rather reserve judgement on anybody going through such a phase in their lives so I would not blame them for thier actions. I am sure you grieve for them deep inside and I hope in time you would be able to express it outwardly. You just did with your first post.

Thanks for the post,


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I'm not going to say your not having a breakdown, but I don't think so. There are certain steps you have to go through and I think maybe you are going through the acceptance phase earlier than most. I know I really didn't cry much for my g'ma because she was 91 and wanted to go. I just couldn't feel bad for her because she was so unhappy. The only part I felt bad about was she was alone. She had gotten worse while we were at a wedding and when we came home I saw my mom's car at the funera home and knew.

It sounds like you went through so much while they were still alive and caregivers get so worn out that it is almost a relief when it is over. Just don't be surprised if later it hits you like a rock.

Just take each moment for what it is and accept it and that includes a good cry if the time comes. If these people are your true friends they will stand by to pick you up.

Keep coming here to express your feelings because we won't judge you.

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Hi Leslie

What a lot you have been through....

I want to say that from my experience, it was easier to be angry at the person for the things they done wrong by us/hurt us with when they were alive - than it was to accept and face up to their death.

My suggestion would be to get a counsellor or therapist with whom you can take plenty of time to talk this through without judgement for what you are rightfully feeling and get all of those feelings of anger and mistreatment out, because underneath it all there will undoubtedly be the raw pain of grief. [i have found this with counselling, under the anger waits the sadness]. But do this only when you feel the time is right. It has taken me 9 years! And don't worry what anyone else says about your experiences or how you are reacting, only you know what is really going on for you inside. Allow yourself the time and space to process everything. A judgement free space is essential so that we know ALL of our feelings are real and OK.

Perhaps you just have to allow yourself this time to feel all your anger? Just accept that and settle into it for a while, and it will soon shift in its own time. Embrace it.

Inquire within.



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My dear Leslie,

I’m so sorry to learn of your difficult situation in caring for all these loved ones all these years, and I can only imagine what that must have been like for you. Given the circumstances you describe, I certainly would consider your feeling a sense of relief from the burdens of care giving – along with the guilt such relief engenders – to be a normal and healthy reaction – and no, I do not think you are “heading for a nervous breakdown.”

I don’t know how you found us, and I don’t know if you’re familiar with my Grief Healing Web site, http://www.griefhealing.com – but I’d like to suggest that you visit some of the Care Giving resources I’ve listed on my site’s Care Giving page, http://www.griefhealing.com/care-giving-links.htm. I think you will find some of the articles and Web sites listed there to be quite relevant and helpful.

I also think you'd be particularly interested in the book entitled Liberating Losses: When Death Brings Relief, by Jennifer Elison and Chris McGonigle. Both authors have lived through their own “liberating losses,” and Chris’s husband Don died after fifteen grueling years of debilitating, progressive MS. The book has been praised by grief experts as "a remarkable and pioneering book about a profound and complex subject not previously addressed or understood . . . a gift to those struggling with unfinished business and ambivalent feelings." If you click on the book's title, you can read Amazon's description and reviews.

You might also find this article of interest: Widow Asks, Why Can't I Cry?

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Thank-you to all who replied to my post. Your concern and advise finally brought tears to my eyes. I really am angry, more angry than I realized, and I guess that's just part of the process. I will get some of the suggested reading, to help myself. I am learning that grief comes in many forms.

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