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I Feel So Horribly Guilty! (rant)


Evelyn
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I've been upset about this for a couple of weeks and had a bit of a meltdown tonight.

 

Some background - my mom is 85, had a right-side stroke three years ago, retained her ability to speak and still has her mind. She hoped to walk again, but has neuropathy in her legs and they are numb below her knees. She gets around very well in a motorized wheelchair but is not able to care for herself. She's been in a fairly nice nursing home since her stroke. My dad died in 2003 at age 87, a year after having a stroke.

 

I've been seeing my mom approximately once a week for an hour or two visit since her stroke, except for the occasional out-of-town vacation, as I am the one of the four kids that lives closest by, about 60 miles north. My other siblings live much further away. I work fulltime, so this is really all I can do. One of my brothers has "power of health care" or whatever it's called, and keeps an eye on her nitwit doctors at the HMO. He is self employed so can drop everything if a health crisis comes up. My other brother handles her finances. These two have been at war with each other for years and since it involves money, I've been dragged into it. It's a story I won't go into here. I have a sister that lives overseas.

 

Anyhow, about two weeks ago, my brother called me at work to tell me mom was in the hospital with a possible stroke, as the nursing home staff had found her unresponsive. After my initial gasp of shock, I thought, "Am I finally free?" By the time she got to the emergency room, she was coming around. After a few hours, she was back to her old self, so the doctor thinks she had a "transient ischmic attack" (TIA), a temporary stroke that is either caused by a spasm of the blood vessels or by a clot that briefly got stuck and then moved on. Since then, she says she feels like she has no brain, says her memory is non-existant, and she's told me a story or two about recent events she says happened that I know did not happen.

 

Now understand, I love my mother dearly and we are very close. Still, even she has said from time to time, "What am I doing here? I'm useless."

 

So, since her TIA, I've been torn up by my feelings of wishing she was dead and feeling horribly guilty for feeling this way. At work in the past month, two aquaintances have had their elderly mothers die. I've seen this and thought, "That almost was me."

 

I had a crying meltdown this evening and my hubby was very sympathetic, as he helped take care of his dad during his final year of life and understands my mixed feelings, as he felt the same way at the time.

 

I helped take care of my grandmother (my mom's mom) during her final year of life after her second stroke, visiting her every evening at the nursing home, making sure she ate dinner and got tucked into bed. I was shanghai'd into doing this by a very domineering aunt who had been taking care of grandma fulltime when her husband suddenly died, so it was "you will help me with this!" My mom comes from tough stock, as grandma survived several years after her first stroke, a year after her second stroke, and a week after her third stroke. I know my mom could live for several more years.

 

My hubby also pointed out that once mom is gone, I can say "see ya, don't let the door hit you on the way out" to my warring siblings, so that's another ingredient in my mixed pot of feelings.

 

To be totally cold here, I saw a door to freedom open, then get slammed shut.

 

Gaaahh, I feel so awful!

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I don't think you should feel guilty, not only is taking care of a sick aging parent painful to watch (because you love the person), but it's emotionally draining in so many ways. I think it's very natural to feel the way you do, and nobody would fault you for it, including your mom....

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Taking care of an aging relative is a tremendous burden, even if you love them, and even when the family isn't fighting. Your feelings of hoping your mother dies soon aren't a sign that you're cruel or insensitive, they're a sign that you're overwhelmed by the situation.

 

Once she dies, if you find yourself breathing a sigh of relief, it's not from hating your mother, but rather from being released from the burden of trying to care for her (and deal with your squabbling brothers at the same time).

 

I know that I was immensely relieved to see every one of my elderly relatives die. For me it wasn't because I was taking care of them, so much as how painful it was to watch them age, get sick, and die. I was relieved for every one of them, because I knew their end-of-life suffering was finally over. They weren't hurting anymore, and I didn't have to watch them hurt anymore.

 

There are a lot of reasons why you might be wanting a way out. None of them automatically mean that you're a rotten person at all.

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Guest OnTheFence

Hi Evelyn.

 

Firstly, as others have said, it's reasonable to feel helpless and imprisoned, and that you just want to get away from the whole business.

 

My father died about a year ago, and I had only just (reluctantly) moved back in with my folks, after being divorced and not having much else of an option. He had heart trouble for over a year before that, so it wasn't a complete surprise.

 

The thing is, we had made some progress, as far as our relationship went, but in the last two months he was alive it was unbearable, and I felt completely useless. I felt particularly bad that, on the night he died, I was trying to get drunk at a bar. I came home, saw the paramedics, and my heart just dropped.

 

I have had to deal with this incredibly overwhelming frustration that none of his Christianity, or our desire to 'make things right', could do much, in the end.

 

But, this is what death, and a life of regret, can do. I don't want to get you down, but there is a powerlessness you just have to face when it comes to death. And, there is Absolutely Nothing to be gained, by yourself or anyone you love, by beating yourself up about it, or feeling Guilty. I have come to believe that 'most' guilt is generated by completely negative and unproductive elements. We sometimes have to genuinely acknowlegde guilt and where we have been 'wrong', but this isn't one of them.

 

I do, however, find consolation that my Dad and I did find, through 'regular' (ie. non-dying) life, an elevation above what life would normally whittle people down to. We did find moments of breakthrough, and there *was* enjoyment and achievement. And I'm still trying to remind myself that there *was* love.

 

I relly hope you come to some understanding about your situation, and can hopefully remember the good things that have been in your Mum's life.

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Evelyn, we are in the same boat - my dad passed away recently, and my 92 year old mother is left to fend for herself. She also has had quite a few TIA's, leaving her a little fuzzy mentally. And she has neuropathy in her legs, and restless leg syndrome to boot.

 

I'm the closest relative, but I'm actually 4 hours away. I visit her every week or 2 and spend at least 2-3 days with her.

 

And yes, I've been having the guilty-as-hell feelings of sometimes wishing she would pass on, too. I wish it weren't so, but it is.

 

Of course I still love Mom and would do anything for her, but at the same time it would just make everyone's life so much easier if she passed on as well.

 

So you're not alone - I think everyone in this kind of situation has similar feelings. I guess the trick is to just do the best you can and not beat yourself up over it. :shrug:

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I totally understand how you feel, Evelyn. My mother is getting to that point as well. Living our own lives is hard enough, trying to live hers as well is a terrible burden.

 

And that's ok. Admitting it's a burden and we hate it doesn't make us bad people. The CARE is what is the burden, not our moms. Of course we don't want anything to happen to our moms. We wouldn't be doing this at all if we didn't love them. But yeah, trying to take care of my mother is a PITA and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

 

It makes it easier when you seperate it out in your mind. What you are really wanting to be free of is the burden of care, not the death of your mom. Unfortunately, your mother's death is the only option out, but it's really little wonder that you'de feel elation at the idea. Don't be too hard on yourself. Your mom is lucky to have you and your brothers, even if you do war amongst each other. Don't forget that.

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Don't feel guilty, hon. What you're feeling is perfectly natural.

 

And it's not all linked to having an "unwanted burden" (really, I would think that saying something like that would make someone feel MORE guilty, as it implies that they don't love their parent and just want them gone so they don't have to deal with them anymore :Hmm: ) Your mother's very old, and not in good health, and it's entirely natural to wish that she pass on before her suffering increases further. Ergo, it's also natural to feel a little disappointed when that release doesn't come.

 

I should know. Not from direct, personal experience (yet) - but my mother was the one caring for my paternal grandmother (since none of her biological children who lived within a mile of her could be bothered, the fucking vultures, and even when she had her stroke, it was her son who lived the farthest away who took her to the hospital). IT was my mother who stayed all night at the hospital with her, and the majority of her time outside of work, as well. And it was my mother who watched her slip away, until she died. She, and I, had to come to terms with the fact that my grandmother, who was 87, was better off passing on, because if she'd lived, it wouldn't have been much of a life.

 

It's a hard, uncomfortable thing to feel, that a loved one would be better off dead, but it's entirely natural as well.

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Evelyn, I echo everything that's been said above, and add that a black sense of humor helps put the guilt feelings in their proper perspective. I was lucky enough to have siblings skilled in the art of black humor. Sometimes we'd literally laugh until we cried... a very cathartic roller coaster of emotions.

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Thanks, everyone, for your replies. It really helps to know that others are in the same boat and to get others' perspective on things.

 

Ah, Pitchu, I wish my siblings had a black sense of humor. My husband does, so he is a lot of help. The only "dark humor" thing at the moment is one brother's comment about the other brother, "he's always been rebellious and lived an immoral life." (My other brother is not an xian.) Ha ha, my family doesn't know I'm now an ex-xian. I can only imagine what they'd say about me. :HaHa:

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