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Oneofseven


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Wow, I am heart-broken, bewildered and angry.

A brief history into my family dynamics. There are seven of us, 2 boys and 5 girls. I am the second to the youngest #6, a single mother to a wonderful pre-tween. My siblings for the most part are married and their children are grown. There are three of us girls who live in the same town with our parents now parent. The others 4 are spread all over the west coast.

I am heart-broken, bewildered and angry about what has happened since the passing of my pops in February of this year. The level of hatefulness, insensitivity and power plays have left me confused, hurt and mostly angry.

The last two months during and since the passing of my pops to say the least have been intense. Since his passing "I" have been accused of neglecting/delaying my father's care which ultimately resulted in his death. I/mom/sister#5 know this NOT to be true. I can't even begin to tell you how much this comment has grieved my soul, injured my heart and has caused me to re-play in my mind what if anything did I miss in providing him care. I cry the "ugly" cry as Oprah puts it, regularly. When will this pain stop? I can no longer bear to cry. How on earth can any family member (weekend warriors) say such a heartless comment? and to say this during such a venerable time in my life during the passing of our dad.

Why does this particular comment cut me so deeply? I have been caring for both my parents for the last eight years. Literally have been available 24 x 7, 365 days a year, all hours of the day or night, just like the postal service motto, "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night," will result in the delay of care for my parents. They are elderly in their late seventies and early eighties. My father had been chronically ill for some time now. He was on heavy-duty pain medications, heart meds, and debilitating arthritis meds. Mom was his primary care giver with minimal health issues. She has been a wonderfully devoted wife and friend to my dad.

Where are the other two in-town sisters? Sister #5, works full-time and visits every Sunday for several hours (she maintains the yard and their dog). The other sister#7 is retired and for several years committed herself to their care. Eventually, she could no longer mentally or physically care for them, without displaying visible signs of resentment. She up and left town for one year with little to no notice. My parents were devastated but understood.

So I made the tough decision to sell my house (located on the other side of town) and bought a house close to my parents. I was ok with this decision and I was looking forward to strengthening my relationship with my parents. I didn't have grandparents when I grew up. I was excited that my son had a chance to bond with his grandparents.

Prior to becoming a parent, I was a workaholic. So I am temporarily living off of my retirement savings. When my mom passes I will have to work the rest of my life because I will have depleted my savings. My parents do not pay me to care for them. My parents insisted that they at least pay for my gas during my trips to the hospital and while running errands for them. That adds up to around $25 a week for two years. So my dear siblings I am not making a killing off our parents! Keep your snide comments to yourself.

Sister #7, recently moved back into town but only helps out when she FEELS the need is necessary.

I made the decision to show my love for my parents by taking them to their doctor appointments, scheduling their follow-up appointments, fill and retrieve their medications, take them for their annual flu shots, clean their house, register/maintain their vehicles, repair/maintain their home (I am very well versed in remodeling homes: electrical, plumbing, tiling...you get the idea) what I don't know I learn.

I have chosen not to take vacations that would be more than 2 days long. Did I mention I have a pre-tween? If anything the little guy sacrifices more than anyone. I feel so guilty and torn and it is a daily decision/struggle as to who needs me more, my son, my parents and or even my own needs. I hope these decisions will not cost me my relationship with my son in the future.

So you "weekend warriors", those of you who call mom/dad now and then, visits several times a year, don't contribute any significant time or money, always filled with good intentions, ill informed about their own parents health issues.

Do us, the ones who have consciously, willingly made the commitment to care for OUR aging parents: Shut the hell up! Help out without tooting your own horn, causing strife, initiating displays of drama that leave behind a tornado of "well intentioned" gestures.

Please keep these things in mind when you are here. Yes WE who care for them, day in and day out have the final say so! Why you ask?

Because: Where were you when they were sick? Where were you when pops fell and broke his hip twice? Where were you when pops couldn't make it to the bathroom and we had to clean him up? Where were you when pops could no longer hear and we had to sit through endless frustrating conversations’ trying to convey what was said? Where were you when we had to witness years of depression? bouts of not eating, watch him waste away year after year, to skin and bones? Where were you when we watched him go from an independent man to a fragile dependent man? Where were you when we had to tell him he could no longer drive? Where were you when we listen to stories caused by PTSD? Where were you when we had to sit through discussions of death and dying? Where were you when we had to fill out a DNR? A will? Where were you when we had to make gut wrenching promises to care for the remaining parent? Where were you when his meds were changed and he turned into someone we didn’t recognize?

More importantly, where were you when” I” listened to pleas of love spoken by a grieving wife of 60 years to her dying husband, Where were you when” I” saw pops take his last breath. Where were you when “I” had to pick mom up off the floor after pops passed? Where are you when mom cries? Where are you when you can read the grief on her solemn face? Where are you when I take her to dad’s grave site and her pain is palpable.

So, where were/are you! You were going about your everyday life. Planning your future, retirement, attending your child(s) events just going about your every day life. But you struggle with the loss of dad. Will you be there for mom? Or will you struggle with her passing too?

So please, next time you visit or call, don’t disrupt our lives, routines and boast of your sacrifice, exchange words of self-serving wisdom concerning their meds, diagnosis and prognosis? Display your selfish insensitive power plays, disrespect and harsh words? Keep your drama to yourself.

If you can’t show respect while you are here, or bite your tongue, or pass on your ill advised wisdom concerning their health, I will be happy to hand over the reins...just tell me when you plan to move out here to help OUR aging, now dependent and fragile mother. Is it so important for you to be right that it is at the expense of others? If your own guilt is killing you, deal with it but don’t make us the object of your frustration or disappointment.

Those of us who are left to pick up the pieces, all we want from you are respect, kindness and compassion. It that really too much to ask?

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To help me make it through the really bad days, I listen to music, comedy CD's in my car and I love on my dogs until my little guy comes home from school.

Sometimes ya gotta laugh, the more the better, just laugh...hold your belly and wipe the tears of laughter from your eyes and things don't seem so bad...just laugh!

1. KLOVE, 89.5 FM

2. Mercy Me : "The Hurt and The Healer" and "I Can Only Imagine" these two songs will melt your heart and take away

the pain...

3. Brian Regan: Any of his CD's/DVD's are hilarious, check him out on U-TUBE

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Wow, I am having a rotten day again. I cannot stop crying...my eyes are swollen shut. I feel compelled to write; I know it seems a bit nutty but I find it helps to write.

Pops I think of you often. When at your house, I still feel your presence. While in the kitchen I find myself peering into the living room thinking you're sitting in your favorite chair, watching your favorite programs. But you are not physically there.

Since your passing and two days after your 60th anniversary mom lost a total of 18lbs, she went from 100lbs to 82lbs. She started to sleep 15 hours a day (yea I know, she never took a nap and barely slept 6 hours straight). Her BP was very low too and she had no appetite. We were really scared; she had the same symptoms you did. We thought she was experiencing the “Broken Heart Syndrome/Takotsubo Cardiomyopthy” discovered by a Japanese doctor. Know you would find that interesting.

I took her to see her doctor, that same afternoon she was hospitalized. We stayed with her 24x7, until they released her 3 days later.

Yesterday, I took her in for a swallow study. It was really cool to watch. It was kind of like an angiogram, you could see everything in real time. We watched as she swallowed several liquids with different consistencies. I remember you telling me when you were a kid (a Billy goat, hahaha) that you would put your foot into some kind of fluoroscope and you could see the bones in your feet. See I was listening.

She will need an additive to thicken her liquids so she doesn’t choke. We are going to have a speech therapist come in to help her strengthen her swallowing muscles.

She is on the road to recovery. Yesterday she weighed in at 90lbs. BP is good and she was given some meds to help her increase her appetite. Going to get her a Life-Alert system soon, that way if she should fall the service will call 911.

Of course she misses you really bad. She tells me when she lays down to sleep, she turns to her body pillow tucked in under the blankets and says, “dad you better help me”. We have a good laugh.

“B” is doing good, continues to be a loyal dog to mom. Needs a bath and a haircut. He still searches the house for you. Not sure what goes through his mind? Mom doesn’t spoil him as much as you did, ha-ha.

I was driving into McD’s about a month ago and saw this little dog running around, thought he was going to go get hit by a car, we coaxed him into the car with some fries and hamburger (how convenient). He was covered in fleas and ticks and not chipped. So my favorite little guy now has two hairy brothers!

So pops, how is it up there? Must be unbelievably wonderful! How is grandma? I am so excited for you; finally getting to see your mom after you lost her when you were only 7. I bet you must be bragging to her about how beautiful, kind and compassionate mom is.

I can’t help think you two are like two long lost friends catching up on things. Actually more like two giggly little girls having a blast. Your jaws and ears must be really sore…hahahaha! It warms my heart, makes it a little easier to move along knowing you are so very happy.

Miss you pops, will continue to care for mom so no worries there. Love you and chat with you soon.

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Oh Marty, I cry as I read your post.

Thank you, thank you for listening, thank you for letting me know I haven't lost my marbles. Well they just come loose and are rolling about a bit. Ha-ha

Marty you are truly a blessing to us who write hoping to purge the pain and trying so desperately to find answers to questions of our burden hearts.

Thank you again Marty for being there for me with your kind words of encouragement.

Today I am weary; mom is back into the hospital. I have been sick myself for the last three days. I am so tired, no sleep, starting to worry and now to boot I am starting to have these bouts of panic, except I have nowhere to go. I jump out of bed and run outside desperately seeking the cool night air. I look up into the skies, it brings me some comfort, they haven’t closed in on me like the ceiling and walls of my bedroom.

I can’t stop eating. I am not even hungry. I am so tired yet I cannot sleep. I can’t breathe…

Please, those of us who are stricken with pain, insomnia and a broken heart, please say a prayer for my mom and me. Thank you, thank you they are so very much needed…

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Hi, OneofSeven. I am one of four. A lot of us here have been through an ordeal with our siblings. I can identify with everything you have written.

Here is my own story, and I'll try to be brief with it. When my father died ten years ago, my sister became extraordinarily abusive. Obscenity. Name calling. Anything to hurt or hit a nerve. She was at war with me. So I severed contact for 7 years. I regret having done that now. Then, when my mother died three years ago, my younger brother decided it was okay to fly into temper tantrums, throw things about, and scream at other people. He has a rage problem, and he's caused a lot of damage. Now, a few years have passed, and we all have changed. Instead of harboring resentments and fighting with one another, we are trying instead to preserve family relationships. We all know that we were difficult, bratty, or at times hurtful back then. Now we are doing our best to repair the damage to our relationships. And for the most part, we are kind and considerate, and make effort to have family gatherings when we are able.

But it's been such an ordeal. The difference between your situation and mine, I think, is that I've had a few years to cope with my siblings. Lookiing back, I can hardly believe how wound up I was after each parent's passing. My levels of anger towards various of my siblings were pretty extreme, and it began to affect my mental health. I had to see a psychologist two years ago to help with that. And I did regain some sense of calm. My anxiety began to lift. And my anger began to diffuse. I started feeling 'normal' again. But it took a lot of time to get the healing underway. You, on the other hand, are still in the thick of grief, not just coping with the passing of your father, but also shouldering most of the responsibility for caring for your mom. Not to mention taking flak from your siblings.

I wish I could just give you peace and some rest, but that's not the way grief works. Each of us has to pass through grief on our own terms. Probably it does help to know that others have walked the same paths.

I too was a target of accusation. My sister made an effort to make me feel guilty; told me that I had abandoned my mother. I knew she was just reaching for anything hurtful to say. But it still upset me, and I had to do some soul-searching to clear my conscience.

Oddly, it was my sister who offered the best explanation I've heard about sibling conflict during parental loss. She'd been seeing a psychiatrist, and he explained that siblings who haven't interacted much in adult life are suddenly thrown together by the ordeal of dying parents. The theory goes that we revert to old sibling rivalries we had as children and adolescents. That's how the bratty and hurtful things we did as kids come back into our adult life. Makes some sort of sense. I don't know how else to explain the broad lack of civility and lack of respect that occurred within my own family. I admit that I had a few collisions with other family members, and that I might have been occasionally at fault. And feelings of resentment did sometimes overwhelm me. Somehow the passage of time (3 years) has helped lift me out of those difficult family circumstances, and I'm very glad for it. I never want to go back to warring with my siblings.

I too was a care-giver to my parents during their last months of life. But not like you. I'd stay for weeks at a time, not anything like the 8 years that you have devoted to the care of your own parents. You have also endured financial hardship, by putting your parents first. So, I think you are above the criticism inflicted by your siblings. Hold your head high, as you know you have done and are doing the right things.

It's extremely difficult sometimes not to feel resentment. When demeaned by the critical comments of other siblings, just how are we supposed to bounce back like things are normal? I'm still learning basic things about retracting my own anger, and about not feeding resentment. I usually get in trouble when I start acting out and getting demonstrative with my anger. If there's one thing I do that helps, it's to walk away for a while, and minimize contact with the person who's hurt me. I feel so lost in the meantime, and it's a god-send to find good support from people who really understand my ordeal. Eventually, I recover and am able to face whomever hurt me, without resentment.

Somehow the death of both my parents has humbled me. I think we all experience a storm of emotions at first when going through grief. Later, my grief has turned into a persistent sadness, but also a thoughtfulness that runs pretty deep. My parents legacy matters a lot to me now and gives me some sense of purpose. Perhaps I am beginning to feel my own mortality. I just want to be at peace with others and to do a little good before I am gone.

I'm not so sure that we can take our siblings to task for neglecting parents. I too feel they have an obligation to do their share. And not be critical of our efforts, particularly when they've done so little. But my brothers and sisters have their own lives. It's not up to me to say what they should do or how they should comport themselves. It's true that I'd like to throttle them sometimes for their callous, stupid, and hateful behaviors, but that's just my petty and temporary resentment. My brothers and sister have their good sides too; I've come to appreciate that. I've got to accept them 'as is', with all of their faults.

I've come to the realization that I'm not going to change my brothers or sister by reprimanding them. My best chance of influencing them is by being kind to them; sometimes that shocks them into being a bit more considerate. For example, I inherited the family photos, so you can probably guess what I do. I send them photos of mom and dad. That plucks their heart strings, and issues they have about me just mostly dissolve. And the effort is coming from all sides, not just from me. They are trying to upright their sibling relationships too. It's just taken a couple years for us to figure it out. We all want to preserve what's left of our family.

I hope you can work constructively to deal with your own sibling issues. No doubt, the ordeal of grief and your mom's care is weighing pretty heavily upon you now, so it's a difficult time in all respects. If there's any advice I can give, other than sharing sibling issues, it's this: Stay as healthy as you can. Eat well, Sleep well. Keep doing those things that feed you some positive emotion, whether it's your music, your dogs, your child, or whatever. Somehow you will be able to find friends or family who understand your issues; that kind of support is precious. Find time for yourself too, when you need it. I had to get counseling; maybe that will help you too.

I appreciate when people here tell their grief stories at some length. For me it's like a banquet of ideas, and I particularly value how people give verbal expression to their emotions. This helps me think through and feel my own grief in a systematic way. I know most others here tend toward brevity in their posting, which is more conversational and easier to reply to. I hope you don't mind my wordy response; I really appreciate what you have posted.

Stay healthy!

Ron B.

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Hello Ron,

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I will respond once I have digested, pondered, and sat still long enough to hear and try my best to understand what you are trying to convey to me.

My mom was released from the hospital this evening....we are exhausted...little one is in bed, doggies are asleep too. I've decided to sleep over at her house this pm, just to make sure she is going to be alright tonight. She had some awful procedures done, she's weak but very happy to be home (don't know what it is about hospitals, their staff just won't let ya sleep). Haha

Again thank you for your reply. It may take me some time to reply.....I am angry, resentful, frustrated, overwhelmed, not sure what to call it?

but know it is tipping me off keel and I may soon capsize! I will do my best to channel my thoughts to my "happy place" so I can rest up for tomorrow.....

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Hi ya Pops,

Mom is home now and resting. GREAT, SUPER-DUPER, WOW, TERRIFIC, NEWS, NO cancer! This sudden trip to the hospital was a dozy(sp? yes I am still a terrible speller...but I can do calculus hahaha).

Ugg, she is now down to 80lbs. She is in good spirits compared to the last time she came home. 5 (2 she doesn't ever expect to fly in at the last minute) of your kids didn't show, thinking that had a lot to do with her good spirits.

Two of us were with her from 5AM till as late as we could stay 2AM. We did have her laughing...we teased her about the Space Shuttle Program, kept telling her we thought they ended the program months ago. We even had the nursing staff laughing. Think we were all a little punch-drunk with exhaustion. Wow, it was good to see her laugh so hard, you know, that "milk out the nose" kind of laughing.

Also signed her up for that: "help, I've fallen and can't get up"safety alert system. I should have it dialed in and ready to activate by mid next week. All three of us are are a little relieved and find comfort should something happen.

Can't remember if I told you but my patio roof blew off during a recent windstorm. Insurance adjuster came out and assessed the damage and cut me a check that same day, three days later I had roofers replacing the roof. (Thanks pops for teaching me how to take care of stuff like this).

So, with mom's permission, I asked my insurance company if they would give her a home/auto quote. If she should accept the quote, they will insure the house at a greater replacement value and at a lower premium than the insurance company you've you guys having been using (renewal premium have increased). Mom's a little concern about her income, at least till every thing gets straighten out.

I've been sick too (cold/flu?), but feeling a little better...finally getting to sleep throughout the night without waking.

OK pops will write soon. Gotta feed the little guys(2 have wiggly butts) and get them to bed. Again not to worry moms in good hands. Love ya! Say hello to Grandma/pa/auntie and uncle for us.

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So hear we go again, I woke to a fit of coughing, rather than lie in bed tossing and turning, thought I would get up and get a glass of cold water to sooth my throat. My poor nose is so raw; it hurts to even look at it. Hmm, are there any gizmos (sp) I could use to catch the snot so I don't have to wipe, blow, yet one more time. My poor little noss. Yuck!

This cough is starting to hurt, my throat burns whenever I cough, and maybe it is time to get it checked out. Can't remember when this all started?

Yesterday, Mom shot me a look of concern when she said, oh no, what would she do if I got pneumonia or was hospitalized. I reassured her that was not going to happen.

My dilemma, sort of, I don't have any health insurance, well at least not available to me in this state. I only have “catastrophic” insurance with contingencies in another state.

Thank you Ron, your take away on caring for myself hit me like a ton of bricks. Lets see last time I had a mammogram was? Pap? I will have to check and get on the ball on this one. At least I got the flu shot for this year, oh no that's right I decided to temporaryly forgo cause pops started to go down hill around that time and I just plain forgot about it. Don't think my thyroid meds are working, will need to get a blood draw so I can at least have it adjusted.

Thank God I have friends that are physicians. I dread and rarely have the nerve to ask for medical advice well at least ones that concern myself. I don't shy away when it comes to mom/dad diagnosis and or prognosis. They are compassionate and understanding friends, always prefacing how they cannot diagnosis and/or treat anyone without seeing them first. They will only give their take on things. Their advice is like music to my ears, at least they steer me in the right direction.

Oddly enough when I first wake pops it is you whom I first think about. Towards the end I could see the fear of suffocation come across your countenance. Your beautiful deep dark blue eyes would widen, as if to speak themselves. We have had our many discussions on claustrophobia and suffocation. We watched in horror while those Chileans Miners were trapped under ground for so long. We both acknowledged our limitations.

Pops sister #4 implied in an email to the rest of the family that I neglected to follow-up on things concerning your health and she thought that neglect ultimately resulted in your death. I have been combing over all your medical records. I have to get this out…I am sorry pops, I just have to get this out, purge it so it doesn't consume me. I feel I don't have anyone to talk to, never would discuss this with mom and have her re-live this ordeal, NO WAY. Not only would that be insensitive it would be just damn selfish on my part.

Same with other family it is just not an option. But you, I know you would shake your head…and tell me “I don't know why your sisters treat you so badly, can't always understand where they are coming from and your mother and I will not take sides, but don't let them bother you so much. But pops this time I can't say ok and let it go. This time I ache with pain by their comments, behavior towards me during and since your passing.

1/10/12:

➢ Took you in for your annual physical: Dr. H gave you a clean bill of health, considering your chronic conditions.

➢ Kidneys, Liver, EKG all look good

➢ Overall blood work and urine are good, HDL/LDL ratio great

➢ Instructions: Increase water intake, will help with dry mouth (caused by meds) and constipation

➢ Have to increase your appetite, will give meds for this

1/12/12:

➢ Took you to DMV to renew your drivers’ license. Today, I regret taking you to the DMV. I sometimes think maybe you would still be here if I hadn't taken you. But to see the joy on your face when you passed the vision test. We both knew DMV would never renew your DL considering your health issues. It was your last fight for independence; I understood that, so I took you.

1/20/12:

➢ Met with Dr G concerning the onset of your acute pain; (mom said you over exerted yourself trying to prepare yourself for the DL exam) he adjusted your meds and we are to follow-up in one week. By that time will have reviewed your xrays. Will discuss during your next follow-up appt.

1/27/12:

➢ Follow-up wt Dr G to see how your new meds are working; he made minor adjustments; give it a month, come back and let him know how they are working. He didn't bring up the results of xrays. So I asked, he didn't have time to review them. Will call if sees anything wrong.

2/6/12:

➢ Took you to the ER for severe back pain, they admitted you into the hospital;

2/9/12:

➢ You were discharged from hospital; yet you couldn't produce any urine. We (mom and sisters: 2,6 &7) asked how could you be discharged without the ability to urinate? They said to schedule an appt wt your Urologist. It was more of a bladder problem than a kidney problem. My physician friends and all of us caring for you, disagreed with their plan of treatment. You don't discharge a patient to see a Urologist, you have a Urologist come to the hospital and examine him. When pops produces urine then you release him. The hospital docs insisted that this was not a kidney problem and pops you could wait until Monday to see your Urologist. Their Urologist were all deployed and one was just not available. Reluctantly we took you home. They didn't even give you a Foley, just a bag with a condom so we could monitor your urine output. Bastards!

➢ Since we could no longer lift/transport you on our own, I had to scramble and line up an ambulance svs to take you to your future appointments. Tried to get you in next day but Dr T was booked and we had to make an appt for Monday. We watched the urine output bag over the w/e like hawks. We measured every drop and documented your output. You did urinate but how the hell are we to know what is an acceptable amount. Bastards!

2/13/12:

➢ Sister #2 flew back home Sunday afternoon. Your health declined drastically Sunday night. You had little to no urine output, we couldn't even get a BP on you. Your body was ice cold to the touch. We tried to convince you to go to another hospital, you would not consider it, mom begged you, you still said no. We were all really scared mom cried. I called an ambulance, the paramedics couldn't even get a BP on you! Things were not looking good. Mom was already sitting in the Ambulance when I said “see you soon” and you said, “hey maybe we should order a thin crust, sausage pizza” your comment threw me. I half smiled and said sure dad lets do that, you returned the smile. I touched your arm as you passed by. They put you into the ambulance with sirens blaring. Sister #7 followed you to the hospital. I stayed behind having to pick up the little one from school. Knowing we couldn't go to see you later because of his own health issues. So we stayed home and waited.

➢ You are transferred from the ER to ICU.

2/16/12:

➢ They transfer you out of ICU to a regular patient room; your BP dropped like a rock, they rush you back into the ICU

2/17/12:

➢ We have a frank discussion on what options are available. Considering taking you to an Out Patient Facility since we can no longer care for you at home. We have no way to transport you to bed, bathroom or shower. You would only stay a short while until you recover and are well enough to be cared for at home.

2/18/12:

➢ I had to fly out of town (an all day event) to drop the little guy off so he could have a blast with his daddy. I flew back that night.

2/19/12:

➢ Pops you stopped eating, that's what the nurse told us. (how the hell is he going to eat solid food if he cant even lift his arms to feed himself? He doesn't even have his dentures? What the hell is going on?) Pops yelled that he was starving! So friggin frustrated! We finally insisted they insert a feeding tube. By this time 4 out of 7 of us were in the hospital with mom. Yet no one wanted to explain to you what was going to happen. So I went with the doctors to try and coax you into agreeing to accept the feeding tube. They were aggressive, they had to be, within 15 minutes you pulled it out, no you yanked it out. As I turned, I realized we weren't alone, sister #7 was balling like a baby, I wanted so much to take away her pain. We both knew this was the defining moment, it was only a matter of time before you would be gone. I plopped myself on the chair as she left the room. The docs said lets try this again tomorrow.

2/20/12:

➢ A second attempt was made to put in a feeding tube. Again you pulled it out. Pops we know you are a tough ole guy, a war veteran, survived the passing of your mom at such a tender age and if that wasn't bad enough you survived on your own as an orphan during the depression after she passed away. Couldn't you just keep the feeding tube in?

➢ It was time to bring you home to pass. Could mom handle it if you passed in “your” bed at home? Would you scream out for help while passing even though you said you didn't want to be on a ventilator? or any other device that would only sustain your life. Remembering your conversations of Quality vs Quanitiy of life, you both chose Quality.

➢ We met with the hospitals Social Worker. We spoke for hours and when she told us about “Hospice” we all agreed this would be the best and only proper way to let you go.

➢ By that afternoon you were transferred to “Hospice” ( I cried so hard when they bathed you, shaved you and combed your hair. They gave you some of your dignity back,they were kind).

➢ 10 hours later you finally let go…

Selfishly I know, but I have to tell you whats also killing me. I am grieving over the comments and the behavior of my sisters, especially during and since your passing, are they really my own flesh and blood?

You, mom, little one and I had 8 years to get to know each other better, to love on one another, to share memories: of laughter, politics, cash cab, pawn stars, myth busters, your love of B and your interests in Physics and the solar system. We celebrated Christmas’, Birthdays, Thanksgivings and other holidays and special events. Those memories are nicely tucked away and readily available for viewing.

Of course I miss you but you're not really gone, I just go to those fond memories and they replace the images of your suffering especially during your last days on this earth. I am content, happy, relieved (seeing the grief on those who are not as blessed as me).

Pops, I've been blessed to know you not only as a father but also as a friend. You've been a mentor to me and now my son. I love you for that pops! Ok, ok, I will do my best to not let them get to me.

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it's 3 am I wake up suddenly, feeling panicked, trying to coax myself back to sleep, again pops I see you laying there in the hospital bed, your rhythmic grunts haunt me, what were you trying to say? Are you in pain? Hungry? Asking for mom? Mom has been by your side every waking moment her body would allow, before collapsing in exhaustion. Why did you stop speaking? i hate it, just hate it, waking to the vision of you lying there with your mouth open while making those grunting noises, i haven't even been able to open my eyes and adjust my night vision, why when i awake you're there? my eyes are not even moistened, i haven’t even had the chance to blink them awake, yet you are right there in my mind. the silence, quiet sounds of the early morning hours, I hear the trees reselling in the night wind, hear the chimes dancing about as the winds tosses them into a somewhat soothing night melody, I can't breathe, i sit up in bed, take a few breaths trying desperately to calm my creeping thought into full motion, I hate this night grief it is so quiet and no where to go., i am so tired let me sleep, i hate being left alone to my own thoughts, want to shut them off just long enough to sleep...i guess i need to purge my thoughts into words, i am so tired i want to sleep, just let me sleep even if for a moment, and hour, a day, just let me sleep

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Dear one, I am so sorry ~ and although there is nothing we can do to change your circumstances, I just want you to know that your voice is being heard . . .

I came across a resource today while doing some work online, and thought of you. I share it with you now in hopes that it may help: Caregiving with Your Siblings

And here is another: 5 Must-Read Books for Sibling Caregivers

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Hi ya pops,

How are you doing up there? Wow an uninterrupted continual happiness. I guess that really isn’t a question one would ask when you’re in heaven. More for us mortals who are stuck here on earth going through are day-to-day lives.

Mom is good could be better, still misses you, your routines, discussion of politics and of course the never ending medical issues that strike all of us sooner or later. She is not sleeping well, wakes up to arguments in her dreams with your dumb ass daughters (my words).

We’ve managed to coax her to put on weight she is now a whopping 89 lbs, not over the hump yet. Still is getting physical therapy, speech therapy and a nurse comes out once a week. Eventually all of this will get weaned down to the point where she will reach full recovery. Can’t come soon enough. All though physically looking better every day, I can’t help think she is still very sad inside, not only because of your passing but because how your daughters have/are treating her.

I will try to schedule a regular routine with her in the mornings, a coffee break if you will. Discuss the day’s events, what she would like to accomplish that sort-of-thing. We are now 3 months into your passing. Mom has been preoccupied with getting better and mulling over her issues with her kids. I think it finally has hit her, you are gone! I see the loneliness in her eyes. Grief is finally allowed to set in.

I am very angry with my sister for putting her through this crap, delayed her grief for you because of their selfish issues. Mom recently told me again and again that sister #2 had barged into your home screaming at mom about issues that were brought up since your passing. She was disrespectful, mean and frankly a bully to mom. If I had been there I would have knocked her on her ass, figuratively of course or maybe not? hahah (or as Ron put it, I would have throttle her, sorry Ron I know that wasn’t what you wanted me to take away as a life lesson).

That brings up an issue I would like to discuss further. I embrace anger; think it is a necessary component to getting through grief. Society shuns anger, people who fly off the handle and get angry. Well for me, I think it necessary to embrace and at times even be demonstrative to this extremely powerful emotion. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t condone violence with words or actions. That’s not what I am saying at all.

I think of it this way, anger wells up inside, a tremendous force, if not released it can delay, damage, distort, extort all other emotions. Think about it, as in my case, I try my damndest (sp?) to not let anger control me. I try to redirect it, push it in a direction that will be useful to me, to the recipient, to society as a whole.

I use my anger, this being a perfect example, to write and express what I feel no holds bar, about my situation, my siblings, my parents, my kids (yes even the two wiggly butts). I write on paper, never meaning to send, never meaning to take to fruition, never meaning to inflict, never meaning to burden, just a useful fitting way to direct this tremendous force out of my heart, mind and push it down to my fingers, to spill it onto paper. Others I suppose could play racket/hand-ball think it might have to be a one-man sport. If not the recipient of your angry balls, hits, and pushes, whatever the case might be would be felt.

I feel, if I were to bottle my emotions of anger, well I would internalize it and it would result in disguises of anger: Sarcasm, disdain, indifference, vengefulness, high-blood pressure, ulcers, hatefulness, I suppose even death, death to your marriage, friendship, relationship with family. Death to your ability to draw close to? (fill in the blank).

I heard this somewhere but can’t remember who wrote it? With my own interpretation, it hit me hard and brought me to my knees. It goes something like this:

A mother and son were fighting, (use what ever relationship that is pertinent to you); the young boy would hurl harsh words at his mother. Each word with their specific honing device, intended to inflict pain, a well-meant defining sting. The argument would eventually get resolved they would once again embrace their love for one another.

However, his mother wanting her son to learn a valuable life lesson would ask her son to hammer a nail through their solid wood fence for every untruthful hurtful word he said to anyone. This went on for a year. Her son each time asked why are you making me do this? She replied at the end of one year she would reveal why she asked him to do this. Needless to say within a years time there were quite a few nails hammered through this piece of wood fence.

Finally a year had passed, she asked her son to remove each nail from this now aged wood fence. Reluctantly he did, finally with great effort, splitters and all, he painstakingly removed each nail. Now what do you see? She asked her son. A piece of wood with a lot of holes, so what? he replied. She explained each hole represents a harsh word that was spoken and not meant, it pierced the wood, like someone’s heart, no matter how many times you say your sorry, the hole is still there, the damage was done. It hurt!

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, is a lie, words can wound just as bad as sticks and stones. Son, if you can learn this life lesson, you will be a better son, husband, father and friend.

Although I would sometimes like to hurl hateful words to my sibling or better yet throttle some of them, I don’t. Instead I put my pain onto paper, they will never hear my unbridled words of hurt/pain. I will sit instead and weigh each of their comments, action and transgressions for its validity.

My dad (sorry pops) would tell me/us kids constantly as we grew up how dumb he thought I/we were. By the time I was in my twenties, I had believed him. Determined to repudiate his curse, I set out to prove him wrong. During this journey of self preservation I discovered, although my father, my flesh and blood, he was also a man who didn’t have the corner on “truth”, Jesus is the only one who can claim that honor. I graduated with honors from college with a BS in Engineering. (I dropped out of high school, got a job to help the family and it took me 10 years of night school to get my degree). Pops doesn’t think I am dumb anymore, actions speak louder than words!

It is important to have anger, it is in fact for me a necessity, and without it I would have no ambition, no motivation to seek justice for those who are wronged. Don’t give anger a bad rap, be demonstrative (like my deliberate key strokes) embrace anger just express it in such a way that you don’t inflict doubt and pain onto humanity.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I’m sick of it, I don’t want to go to another doctor’s appointment. I don’t want to speak to another doctor, nurse, physical therapist, speech therapist, radiologist, technician of any kind! Nor do I want to sit in an office, waiting room, lobby or anything that resembles a doctors or healthcare facility.

I don’t want to hear about how you are doing medically, I don’t want to hear about your ailments, your family’s ailments, and the neighbor’s ailments. Please don’t stop me down the street to talk to me about your ailments. I don’t want to know! Please just pass on by when you see me checking my mail, I just want to be left alone, I am burned out! My vocabulary is filled with medical terms, I am so well versed on treatments, medicines, tests, procedures I am often asked if I am a nurse. I am oh so done! I want and need time off.

Oh please don’t misunderstand me! I am forever grateful for doctors, ICU nurses, nurses, technicians, phlebotomist, biomedical machines, medicines, hospitals, MediVac pilots and their nurses. I am just simply burned out!

I tried to explain this to sister #3. I explained to her I was feeling overwhelmed and I asked for some down time. Her response, what do you want me to do? I can’t take any time off from work to take mom to her appointments! I have three years left before I retire, I don’t want to ask for time off, I can’t risk loosing my job.

Ok then can you spend more time with mom on the weekends? That way I could have some time off and spend more time with my little guy. #3's reply, I can’t spend more time with mom on Sunday; I would like to see my husband you know. Saturday is when I have to do my laundry and shopping! I don’t know what you are complaining about? If I were in your shoes, it would be a piece of cake! Really, I said a piece of cake?

I felt used, taken for granted, defeated! I said, you have a husband who is retired and at home who can help you with the laundry, cleaning and shopping. I have an eight-year-old son who I would like to spend time with. My son, a child, would like to see his mom at home, not stressed out, trying to do everything and accommodate our mother’s daily needs.

I still have a house that is under renovation and I’m doing the renovation myself. I am also trying to work part-time from home for extra income and still balance all of the daily responsibilities that go along with being a single mom. No one does my laundry, dishes, cleaning, paying bills, yard work, house work, investments and everything else under the sun. I don’t expect anyone to do them either. I realize they are my responsibilities. You can’t get your husband or make some temporary adjustments to take up the slack for a couple of weekends so I can just get some down time for a while?

Your response, don’t bring my husband into this? Huh really, that’s your response! Really! Well, I don’t know what to tell you, but I am going to take some time off. I was hoping to work out a schedule with you but you are not willing to do so! I am going to take some time off with or without your help. Your need to do the laundry and shopping does not over-ride my need to spend time with my son.

Angrily I finally said, and I may not return. I would like to have my life back. Once the house is finished I will gladly put it up for sell and move back to my old stomping grounds. You can either work with me to figure out a way to manage mom’s needs or you may be left holding the bag. I can no longer do it alone.

Her response, you and I both know you would never do that to mom! Thinking to myself, yes, you are right I could not bring myself to ever do that to mom. Sister #7 already did that to mom/dad in the past; don’t think they ever got over it. So you are right, I wouldn’t do it. I know that brings you much comfort!

There lies the dilemma; there is a fine line when one feels engulfed and obligated to a parent or parents. In turn do we sacrafice ourselves for their care? God forbid sacafice our child(ren) care in hopes that they won’t Remember or that they are Resilient? Forgiving? Understanding?

Why is it, out of seven siblings I am left to do most of the work? Sisters #7, #2, #4 are so self absorbed they don’t even acknowledge a need. Brothers #1 is struggling in his own turmoil and brother #3 moved far enough away that it is impossible to depend on him.

Did I bring it on myself? Do I need to manage my time more efficiently? Am I just having a pity party and will get over this once I have a good cry? A tantrum? Or will it cost me dearly? My son? My physical health? My mental health? Why am I struggling so? Should I seek counseling?

I am a single mom and I am on a budget. I stay afloat because of my investments and I was fortunate enough to sell my house and make a profit. Enough of a profit that I bought another house and paid cash for it and I have just enough cash left over to renovate. Yet you make fun of me? Why? I don’t boast of my blessings. I work very hard for the things I have. I am not cheap, frugal if you must label it.

So why do you make fun of me? I have no debt, which is a personal choice I wish to live by. Yet, who gave you money for your down payment on a house? Who paid your taxes because you didn’t have the money? Who bailed you out when you over spent on your credit cards and the interest rates were eating you alive? I never rubbed it in your face. This is the first time I have written or spoke of it. Why do you make fun of me? Why do you call me cheap!

I have a responsibility to my son and myself and I am disciplined enough to put ourselves on a budget! We eat well and have nice things. He has new clothes for school. We all know he has plenty of toys. Why can’t you accept that I budget for things?

Why did you send an email to me and copy in all of my siblings? The just of the email, stating Hospice offers free counseling for a year to family members who are grieving. Why did you make a point of highlighting, underscoring, and italicizing the word “free”? Do you not realize how hurtful and hateful that was? Did you not realize dad just died and your behavior was unconscionable? Did you really need to get that last jab in? I would have been relieved to have had the opportunity to speak to a counselor! But now are you kidding me, I am not going to risk the humiliation of being called names by those of you who call yourselves my sisters? Instead I call you bullies. What you did was cruel? Mean spirited and another piece of love for you fell from my heart. Since pops passed I don’t know who you guys are anymore. The things you’ve done and said have baffled me, hurt me, angered me, disgusted me and what makes it worse, you have a background in mental health, what does that say about you? Sometimes I feel like I have nowhere to turn? Isn’t that what you intended? I hope that makes you happy! I hope I get to a place where what you say and do to me, will no longer matter!

I'm going to bed!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm sorry Marty and Ron, you were both so kind to write and impart your wisdom for recovery. Unfortunately, I am still in the purging phase of recovery. I cannot hear anything or anyone. I am filled to capacity and need to purge my bubbling over thoughts and feelings. Once I purge a significant amount (I’m guessing) think recovery will come.

Ron I will start an exercise routine, school is out and my little guy will join me (I’ll teach him how to ride a bike). Marty I did in a kind and non-confrontational manner ask for help from my siblings.

I am back to taking mom to her appointments. Making the best of things, looking at the brighter side, I get to spend time with my mother, trying to do the right, compassionate and loving thing. I am blessed to have her in our life!

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Hi ONEofSEVEN. Please, there's no need to apologize for anything. We all come to this grief site for a little help with our issues. And it's not like I'm someone to impart wisdom and life's big lessons to others. I have stumbled my way forward through grief, with plenty of breakdowns and missteps along the way. I am not a counselor, but I'll share with you my thoughts about your situation.

I think you are really onto something when you write:

"I […] need to purge my bubbling over thoughts and feelings". There's a metaphor in what you've said here, of a pot boiling over. [i hope this isn't too dumb.] You are the pot, your emotions are overheated in the pot, and they are spilling out in uncontrolled ways. But what strikes me as problematic is not the spill-over. It's the flame under the pot that's causing the spill-over problem. You have huge stresses in your life. Your father died three months ago, and you've hardly had time to grieve. Caring for your mom is full time, and you've got anticipatory grief with that. You have responsibilities of a child and two dogs. You are working part time. And your siblings are also giving you plenty of stress. That flame under your pot is turned to a very high setting, and your emotions (of course) are bubbling over. Seems to me like the solution to is to turn the flame down, if there is a way to do that.

Your idea of getting regular exercise is excellent. Stress produces physical tension, and you can relieve some of that with exercise. Sure helped me.

I think you can do other things as well to bring down levels of stress. I personally had a lot of trouble navigating through all the intense emotions that came with my grief. Aside from despair, sadness, and anxiety, I had anger that was almost incendiary. I had to go to a counselor to unwind my anger. I had a good counselor, and it took about two months for me to go from high flame to medium flame under my pot. Now I'm low flame. Likewise, I believe you can reduce your stress levels by getting some good counseling.

I think anger can be a huge source of stress. It had me coming unglued, and I didn't understand it well at all. So I finally went to the American Psychological Association's website to seek their recommendations on anger and anger management. Here is the link.

http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx

It's a very well written article. I think I've read it at least a half dozen times, usually after there's been some major blowup in my life. And it gives me pause and insight each time I read it.

I do not think anger is all bad. Not at all. Anger motivates us like nothing else to do something about a problem. Anger can be constructive when properly channeled, and real problems can get solved, sometimes fast. But the destructive side of anger is obvious too, when it turns into rage. Enraged people lash out uncontrollably and sometimes hurt others verbally or physically. So it doesn't make sense to tag anger as good or bad; it can be either depending on how it fits in our lives.

Both after my father died, and after my mother died, I was intensely angry with my sister. The only way I was finally able to curb my anger and bring it under control was through forgiveness. If and when you feel that anger is a seriously disruptive force in your life, you too may want to consider forgiveness. Forgiveness worked very well for me, but it took a lot of work to overturn all of my angry thinking.

I think almost everybody who grieves vents and leaks all kinds of emotion. I gather this from reading other people's grief stories here. The overflow of emotion you mention in your post sounds pretty normal to me, though your anger is spiking pretty high. I still don't know why so much intense emotion pours out during grief. It can be very rough going, and most of us experience small and sometimes big breakdowns along the road to recovery.

Intense emotion isn't necessarily bad. In fact I greatly admire the emotionality that gets expressed in these forums. Some of the most soulful things I have ever read have been posted here. That emotional energy can be a great source of strength when well focused into action or words. But months of intense emotion can be exhausting, and most of us are looking to regain a little calm back into our lives.

I can see plainly that you are overburdened with responsibilities of caring for family. So much worry and stress! So ease your burden of worry and lessen your stress if you possibly can.

Be kind to yourself and stay healthy!

Ron B.

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Ron, I so appreciate your insights and suggestions ~ thank you for sharing them with all of us.

Dear one, I would be remiss if I did not share with you this additional resource I discovered just this morning, and I hope you'll take some time (when you HAVE some time!) to explore this person's site: Christine M. Valentin, LCSW. She offers assistance and wise counsel (over the phone, for a reasonable fee) in situations like yours.

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  • 2 months later...

I am back, but it has gotten much worse. My mom suffered a stroke and has had multiple siezures. It came out of no where! She has never been in a hospital nor been sick since I've known her (79 years). This year after pops passed in Feburary she's been in and out of hospitals 4 times!

If that wasn't enough, we now have to have 24 hour 7 day care to make sure she doesn't stroke/sieze again. she/we can't afford around the clock care so we are doing it ourselves.

There are 3 of us, myself and two other sisters....trying our best to fullfil this sometime overwhelming duty. I am pulling the grave yard shift and it is killing me....I am exhausted...beyond exhausted...there aren;t even any fumes to keep me going. i have not had more than 2 hours straight hours of sleep in anyone day for the last 5 days....my body is struggling with the new grave yard shift.....i feel so overwhelmed, depressed, sad, conflicted, angry, scared and miserable

My son who is now 9, was born with a heart condition, which required 3 open heart surgeries by the time he was 5, I have his own health issues that I have to deal with. his cardiologist is taking him off of enalapril because his white blood count has been chronically low. i want so much to be just a mother but find myself being more of a daughter.....something gotta give and i think it's gonna be me

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Dear One,

I am not an expert in these matters, but until I can consult with some of my social work colleagues, I took a quick look around the Internet, which tells me that you are not alone, and not without resources. The first question I have is whether your family met with a discharge planner or case manager before your mother was discharged from the hospital, and if not, can you still make arrangements to do that? This is much too challenging to be managing all by yourselves!

Here is just a sampling of the information I found ~ Click on the underlined titles to follow the links:

Next Step in Care – For FamilyCaregivers: Leaving the Hospital and Going Where?

"Sometimes itis not so easy. Your father is still recovering from his stroke and needs speech therapy and help relearning towalk. He may want to be at home, but youare not sure whether you can take time off from your job to be with him all day. What kind of help will he need? And for how long? You need information and advice from the discharge planner or case manager assigned to your family member's care. You should find out who this person is as soon as possible, arrange a time to meet, and ask for resources for making this important decision. Remember that your family member and you as the family caregiver have both rights and responsibilities." Read on here: http://www.nextstepi...Going_Where.pdf


Life After Stroke, for Family Caregivers

Family members can help their loved one by providing encouragement, celebrating improvements and letting the survivor do as much as possible independently. Caregivers and other family and friends can reassure stroke survivors that they are wanted, needed and important to them.

Providing care for a loved one after stroke can be an extremely rewarding experience. At the same time, it can be stressful and frustrating when you are suddenly thrust into the position of caregiver without warning. The information here will help you take care of not only the stroke survivor in your life, but yourself.

Practical Information
Tips from other stroke family caregivers and valuable information to help ease the day-to-day stresses of caring for a loved one with stroke.

Being a Communication Partner
Caring for a stroke survivor with aphasia can pose unique challenges. Learning more to become an effective communication partner can help make things easierfor you both.

Caregiver Personal Stories
Read stories of other stroke family caregivers who've shared their experiences with us.

To request an information packet about stroke, visit our stroke information request.


National Stroke Association's Careliving Guide

Caring for Yourself and a Stroke Survivor

A stroke in the family can cause many shifts, whether it is relationship dynamics,finances, home modifications or role changes. As a spouse, sibling, child, grandchild or friend, you may be charged with providing daily assistance and support, plus planning and facilitating your loved one's care. Because stroke is sudden and unexpected there is often little or no time to prepare. Caregiving is a difficult job that takes a physical, mental and emotional toll. NationalStroke Association developed the CarelivingGuide to assist you and your family members throughout the caregiving process.

The guidewill help you:

  • Prioritize tasks and develop a plan for the stroke survivor's care.
  • Keep organized with resources, tools, templates and suggestions.
  • Adapt to changing roles and relationships after stroke.
  • Prevent recurrent stroke.

Stroke Caregivers Handbook (pdf) -

This book is dedicated to the many caregivers to stroke survivors – more than 500 of them –who have contributed, during the past 5 years, to an Internet support group known as the Stroke Caregivers Support Group. This group formed on July 5, 1996, started with less than a dozen caregivers, who banded together to support and nourish one another through this challenging and often hurtful world of stroke. Since the inception of this group, hundreds more stroke caregivers have found us. Some have left and some have stayed, but nearly everyone who has joined us has found other people who understand, care, and help cope by sharing experiences and giving a shoulder to cry on. We are caregivers to parents, spouses and friends. Our ages range from the 20s to the 80s. We are men and women, faced with a situation almost no one else can understand without walking in our shoes. After five years, our group decided to share our knowledge and experiences with others who cannot join us online. Hence,the creation of this book. It is currentlya work in progress, as material can be continually added to it, in order to provide useful, practical advice to caregivers dealing with stroke. Whether new to this plight or an "old-timer"– we hope our tips and ideas will help anyone facing this situation. The Stroke Caregivers Support Group can be found on the Internet by going to http://www.strokesafe.org.

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To continue my response of yesterday ~

Having consulted with one of my social work colleagues at Hospice of the Valley, I have some additional thoughts and suggestions I'd like to share with you.

First, it's clear how completely overwhelmed and exhausted you are, and it is imperative that you find some sort of respite for yourself as soon as possible. Getting yourself into a state of total exhaustion will do nothing to help your mother, and staying there will only put you at further risk for burnout and a breakdown of your own immune system, thereby making you more susceptible to all kinds of physical and emotional illness. So I urge you to make this a top priority for yourself.

How to begin? As I mentioned to another member in a recent post, you need some expert information from an eldercare specialist who can guide you in assessing and meeting your mother's needs for safety and wellbeing, as well as your own needs for support and respite from your duties as her primary caregiver. So the first step might be to consult with a Geriatric Social Worker, a specialist who can offer experienced support and advice on how to deal with your mother's situation, help you to feel less helpless and alone, and assist you in exploring whatever services are available to you that you might not know about already. You can find a geriatric social worker by contacting your Local Agency On Aging (AAA), or you can ask your family physician, hospital, senior center, social service agency or religious community to suggest a geriatric social worker they have worked with in the past.

Your concerns about your mother's safety and the risk of her having another stroke are valid and certainly understandable. Nowadays there are many resources available to assist you in that regard. The CareGiver Partnership, for example, offers homecare products that help maintain dignity (Daily Living, including products addressing daily living, bathroom safety, bedside assistance, cushioning, monitoring and safety, housekeeping, supports and restraints).

In addition to the resources I've listed in my earlier post, I'd like to offer these:

Caring for a Person after a Stroke - Strokes can occur in different parts of the brain which will result in different physical, emotional, and/or cognitive (mental) deficits. Caregivers will face different challenges based upon that person's specific set of needs for comfort and safety. Challenges to be addressed: Mobility, Swallowing, Activities of Daily Living, Communication.

Caregiving Café - To provide, in one website, a directory of useful links, contacts, resources and information about all aspects of caregiving in order to more efficiently and effectively provide care to loved ones or to oneself when care is needed; to inform and to educate caregivers about rules, regulations and care; to "meet" other caregivers in order to gain support, friendship, motivation and ways to cope as well as to exchange ideas; and To provide caregivers with a comfortable and inviting place where they can "take a coffee break" from their duties, remembering that everyone needs time and space to recharge.

Caring for the Elderly - Online resource listings for the elderly, their children and caregivers, compiled by Jane Gross of the New York Times.

SeniorsList – Find Senior Services (e.g., Area Agency on Aging; home care; adult day care; assisted living facility) in your community (search by zip code).

Benefits Checkup - A free service of the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a nonprofit service and advocacy organization in Washington, DC. Many adults over 55 need help paying for prescription drugs, health care, utilities, and other basic needs. There are over 2,000 federal, state and private benefits programs available to help. But many people don't know these programs exist or how they can apply. BenefitsCheckUp asks a series of questions to help identify benefits that could save you money and cover the costs of everyday expenses. After answering the questions, you will get a report created just for you that describes the programs you may get help from. You can apply for many of the programs online or you can print an application form. Types of expenses you may get help with include medications, food, utilities, legal, health care, housing, in-home services, taxes, transportation, and employment training.

Caregiver Relief Fund - The Caregiver Relief Fund is a social venture committed to caring for caregivers. It provides resources, assistance and a voice to over 50 million Americans who are currently caregivers to the chronically ill, aged and disabled.

Medicaid – Find Medicaid information by state.

Medicare – What Medicare covers.

Gail Sheehey, Advocate for Caregivers

AARP's Caregiving Resource Center

Adult Day Care: Your Questions Answered

Assisted Living Directories - See Grief Healing's Caregiving Links page

CaringRoad.com An Online Community of Family Caregivers - The CaringRoad Support Network will help you meet other family caregivers who understand and empathize with how difficult it is to sustain this important role. You can base your search on the illness that you are dealing with, your relationship to the person that you are caring for or your geographical location. Based on the information you provide, this unique database will generate a list of other family caregivers in similar situations.

Finally, while I can offer you all sorts of resources I've managed to find on the Internet, the question arises: Where will you find the time or the energy to follow all these links and investigate which resources would be of greatest use to you and your mother? That is where a geriatric social worker can be of such enormous help to you, my dear. That person will be able to sift through all of this information and help you find what best fits your individual circumstances. I hope you will think of this as a gift you can give to yourself, and one you need and so richly deserve. ♥

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