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Am I In The Right Place?

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Geez, where do I start? There have been so much built up in a big ol pile the past 6 years, I haven't had time to catch my breath. Many different stresses and "losses", culminating in my dad's Alzheimer's death in May and my sweet ol' spunky neighbor's massive stroke death in July.

I (MN) had been estranged from my IA dad, and 3 years ago his Alz was very apparent and I found out he he's had me listed as his "Power of Everything" since 1995! So I took the reins and my siblings disappeared. I cleaned/repaired/sold his house, moved him in with us, moved him to care center 8 weeks later as his condition was becoming very clear to me, fought Medicaid, his 3rd wife's kids pushed divorce to protect a trust (that was untouchable in MN anyway!), and he just drifted into "nothingness"...handled his brain donation, funeral arrangements (yes, prepaid) alone, and the aftermath alone.

Then our neighbor died unexpectedly, and my (now) 15yo and 17yo sons don't have a clue what it is like to be so piled on with stress. My grief is to the extent that my dad is gone, even though I wasn't close to him. My husband isn't empathetic or supportive and my sons mirror that lack of compassion. I had a talk with them yesterday and explained that I wasn't a bad mom because I don't shop for food or cook or that my daycare business has gone to pot since dealing with Dad. I told them if they can't understand, and I don't expect them to, that they need to be respectful and TRUST that I am not just being a slug. That I'm going through some very real feelings, and just because something (crushed talus/foot, for example) happened 3 years ago, doesn't mean I have mended from the experience. Or the 3 out of 4 leg bones fractured. A mom just doesn't "get over" that like a teen boy does.

Enough info for you to get a sense of the pile. Since it isn't JUST death losses, I'm wondering if this is the "right" place to unload all these things that have beaten me down including sons' broken bones, dealing with mother-in-law health issues (she doesn't even like me!), and credit card sending me to probate twice in a year. Everything started with a bang when my (then) 9yo son broke his femur, 3 days later 11yo son broke his jaw, MIL moved to town with big depression issues, husband broke arm...

If I'm in the wrong place, can someone please direct me to what kind of group is more appropriate?


Barb B

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You are in the right place, both by being here and in your grief. I'm a little confused about the 6 year thing when you talk about your dad 3 years ago, so I'm not sure if you've had another loss too.

I'm sorry your immediate family isn't supportive, but I'm sure they are thinking you weren't close to your dad so why are you so upset. Well, sometimes that makes it even worse. Whether he was right or wrong you are upset about the times you missed with him.

Are there any grief support groups near you? Sometimes meeting face to face helps too.

Being here is always safe. You can say ANYTHING and will not be judged.

I hope you find peace here.

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Barb, dear, I'm so sorry that these last six years have been so difficult and challenging for you, and sad to think that you're receiving so little support and understanding from your family in the wake of your father's death and that of your "sweet ol spunky neighbor." As Mary Linda has said, by coming here to us, you've found your way to a safe and caring place, with others who understand and are ready and willing to embrace you.

I want to point you to a few resources that I hope will be helpful to you:

Article, Less Than Loved Ones, http://www.grief.net/Articles/Less_Than_Loved_Ones.htm

Book, Becoming Myself: Living Life to the Fullest after Losing Your Parents, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/007...68/griefhealing

Article, Helping Yourself Heal When a Parent Dies, http://griefwords.com/index.cgi?action=pag...&site_id=82

You'll find links to these and other helpful resources listed on these pages of my GriefHealing Web site:

Death That Brings Relief, http://www.griefhealing.com/death-brings-relief.htm

Death of a Parent, http://www.griefhealing.com/death-of-a-parent.htm

Regarding the death of your neighbor, according to grief expert Harold Ivan Smith, "The death of a friend is one of the most significant but unrecognized experiences of grief in American culture." You might also want to explore the links listed on my site's Death of a Friend page, http://www.griefhealing.com/death-of-a-friend.htm

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Thanks for your kind reply and making me feel welcome. I know I'll get some support and peace here. I made a list awhile back to make sure I wasn't losing my mind and there were legitimate reasons to feel so overwhelmed. I put that on a spreadsheet a few weeks ago, and now I put it on a linear graph so I could visualize it. I put it on a webpage so you can see better what the 6 years thing was...that's where this onslaught began www.barghahn.com/stressgraph.htm the losses before my dad were losses of parts of "me" when things kept happening. I take Rx for ADHD, anxiety, and depression and all this really ramps me up. Oh, I almost forgot, this spring I had blood work done and at 48 I'm in full menopause with symptoms of feeling I was run over by a truck and probably mood swings. Hysterectomy in 2000, so I didn't know before that.

I'll warn you, my ADHD wiring allows me to jump around a bit, go on tangents, and not know how much to say or when it is time to stop, so this could be long! :o You may need some coffee...here's my story. I'm sure it will be cathartic for me and thankful you are here to listen...

My dad grew up in an orphanage, had no "normal" relationship role models, and divorced my mom when I was 2, so I was never close to him. She raised 5 kids alone and when I was 11yo there began on-going molestation by many different men. including my state trooper foster dad. That was the most difficult. So I guess I lost my childhood, as well. Being a survivor, I made it through high school, young adult wild life (proud to say, no illegal drugs!), and then got a bachelor's degree in Marketing. That's when I met my husband and I'm sure he was what I needed at that time in my life. His dad accepted me but died 3 months after we were married, his mom is disrespectful to me unless I am useful to her, and his sister hasn't said 3 sentences to either of us since 1986...she's mad that my husband divorced his first wife. My mom married the father of a good childhood friend (who died of breast cancer at 28). After his 1st wife died, this man stood and watched his brother fondle my friend and didn't say/do anything to stop him. Then my mom, married him. UGH! After I had kids, I quickly didn't want him around my kids or my family. Since Mom won't come to visit (3 hrs) without him, by choice I've pretty much lost my mom, too.

My dad's 2nd wife died of cancer about 12 years ago. He soon after married his 3rd wife, 10 years older than him. She had dementia issues that were not addressed, and so "we" kids had to make some decisions for him. While cleaning out my dad's house to sell when it wasn't safe for him to be there, I found a 2'x2'x3' stack of pornographic video tapes. EWWWW. If that weren't bad enough, I also found dozens of letters from women talking sexy to him. I'm sure he was sending them money, part of his social/sexual disinhibition due to Alzheimer's. When I ultimately shredded all the letters, it honestly filled a black garbage bag. I'm so glad my teen boys weren't there when I found them! I did find every letter that we had ever sent him while growing up. I also thought I only owned 3 photos of myself growing up (my mom couldn't afford a camera), and I found a goldmine of photos of my siblings/my childhood. That was wonderful to find. During a lucid period, I was able to let my dad choose to have me destroy his porno (it was "his" property, I felt awkward just doing "something" with it) and also thanked him for keeping all those letters and photos.

There was a county Medicaid worker who knew my ethics because she knew me from my daycare business. She made it h#ll for me when I had to file Medical Assistance papers. Two appeals, using a legal services atty, and lots/lots of stress. I was offended that my integrity was being questioned, or that's how I felt. He never had anything and lived hand to mouth, not counting all he spent on the porn and what he was being scammed out of monthly from a "bad guy" in his neighborhood before I got in the picture.

My dad's 3rd wife's kids arranged a divorce because of a trust they believed my dad had access to for his healthcare. I never told Dad about the divorce, and when he died, I "reinstated her wife-ship" or whatever you would call it, because it was the right thing to do. She loved him a lot and was treated as his "wife" by the funeral home.

I never saw my dad as a "dad" per se as my foster dad was the closest thing to a dad that I had...until the abuse started, of course. I'm more upset with how my husband apparently isn't able to be there for me when I need him. I'm busy being overwhelmed, how can I say "oh, by the way, could I have a hug???" I thought it was normal to have some empathy, but apparently it is a learned skill/trait. Regardless, I don't get that from him or any other family members.

The 2 hardest times with Dad's death were when the nurse called me at 6:00pm while I was at a night class and said the end was near. I asked if that meant minutes, hours, or a day+. She said probably hours. Since it was very important to me (and my dad had it in his living will) to donate his brain to Alz research, I nearly had a panic attack when this happened because I hadn't completed and faxed out his donation paperwork. I ran home and got the paperwork, zipped past my husband, and went right to the hospital to finish the paperwork. It didn't occur to me until 8:30 when my husband called and asked me when I would be home, that he didn't even come up to be with me while I dealt with the brain donation paperwork. That was hard to think that he didn't go with me to hospital. I didn't go in to see my dad that last day but am at peace with that. I didn't want to be there when he died. After completing all the paperwork and talking with our pastor who stopped to visit with me, I left the hospice wing at 9:20ish. The nurse called me and said he passed away at 9:25pm. He knew I didn't want to be there, even though I wasn't in his room.

It abruptly dawned on me that Dad owned no suit. I had to go to the thrift store and find a suit for him. Luckily there was a nice pin-stripe with burgundy shirt (his color) and nice tie there. The thought that I was shopping for my dead dad's funeral suit popped in and out of my mind. That was weird. And his new underwear and socks that I bought for him cost more than the entire suit! Weird.

I spent Memorial Day weekend (missing my sons' motocross race for the first time ever) making a life DVD to play at his memorial service. I'm very happy with the video as well as the barbershop music that played during the viewing. He would have liked that. The 2nd hard thing to do alone was when it was time for the immediate family viewing. The funeral home guy's dad had been a good friend of my dad's so he was very good to me. They probably are good to everyone, right? Since I filled him/John in on the divorce and that I wanted her treated like his wife, he knew that I was the "real" immediate family. My siblings hadn't shown up yet and my husband ran an errand to make copies for me. John came and took me by the hand and asked/told me, "Do you want to go see your dad now?" as he walked me that way. It was very lonely to be there by myself. I just told Dad "I did the best I could for you, Dad, I know you would be pleased." I did the duty that he chose me to do and can sleep well at night.

I feel mostly relief and some anger at how my duty to him impacted my business. It was mentally exhausting and everything else was going on, on top of it.

The memorial service was May 26, and I still don't have all the Thank Yous sent...what does etiquette say??? I really depend on forums and message boards to help me through these times. I'm out of words, so I guess this is where I stop. Thanks so much for listening to me, and any words/input/advice you can give me. I KNOW you understand...


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