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Family drama

augigi
Posts: 89
Joined: Dec 2009

My mum has got terminal cancer, and the Dr has said 6-12 weeks or so left. I have one sister that lives far away and one that lives next door to mum & dad. I live in another country. I just came home for a visit and heard this new prognosis. I am a nurse, and always agreed with mum that I would look after her at home and not put her into a hospital. I have been working in another country for the past couple of years, but my boss agreed that I can work from here as long as I need to so I can be home with mum as long as needed. I really feel I am needed here - mum has a lot of pain and shortness of breath and can't really cook/clean much, and dad's not much help. My little sister is next door but doesn't really offer any help. She works nights and sleeps days.

My older sister is several hours' drive away and I am sure feels left out and anxious since she's not around.

The problem is that my sisters are very jealous and feel that mum has always favored me. I did live at home until I was 30 so mum and I are quite close, also we are both nurses and have always been alike. Anyhow, the sisters are chatting behind my back and making comments to mum about me "rushing back to the country" to take over the care and basically interfering and leaving them out. Honestly this hasn't happened, I've only been here a week and by virtue of staying with mum and dad have been around to clean/take her to appointments.

I just don't know how to handle this. Mum is not interested in hearing arguments as it makes her very upset. I don't want to be worried about what I do and how it upsets the sisters. I do want to care for my mum as she has cared for me all my life and I feel it will be what she wants to stay home with us looking after her. I am lucky that my work is prepared to give me as much time off as I need. It's hard to talk to my sisters because if I approach the subject, they just deny that anything is wrong and suggest I am trying to cause trouble.

What do I do? Any ideas?

sassy1
Posts: 54
Joined: Oct 2009

I suggest that you try to bring them into the bubble as far as responsibilities. Ask them if they want to go along with you to doctor's appointments if possible and try to include them in the care of your mother. Also, as a nurse, you know what the future holds and you can also recommend that they read up on the illness as far as the care and the future outcome and maybe then they will understand. They also need to realize that your mother is ill and does not need to be bothered by petty disagreements. They do need to grow up and understand that if the disease is as progressed as the doctor says, that they should be spending quality time with your mother and the family together. I just went through the care and loss of my husband and unfortunately, I had no one to help me except for hospice and from what I understand, this organization did not do as much as they should have. I only found out after my husband passed that they should have had a nurse here with my husband 24 hours a day when he was close to the end and it should not have been left up to me to administer his narcotic medications. I still have feelings that I may have contributed to his death by giving him too much of the morphine but they advised me what to give him and that is what I did. There will always be that doubt. But as I suggest to you, get your sisters as involved as possible in the care and if not the care, just being around to visit with your mother. I'm sure that you know what the future holds in store. Hope this helps.

Shirley
Cherish The Time You have Left Together

sassy1
Posts: 54
Joined: Oct 2009

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grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1613
Joined: Aug 2009

Rivalry among sisters who have a history of jealousy is bound to be at it's peak at times like this. Involve your sisters as much as possible but do what you need to do. Is a family meeting with the dr. possible? Then everyone might understand where our mother's health is. I have trouble with drs. who offer time lines. The dr. may be right or he may not be. Yet, your sisters need to understand that time is limited. As a nurse you are the best choice to care for your mom. It won't be easy. Caregiving at this stage is very hard. Even though you have training, your emotions are going to be taxed. This is your mom. Ask your sisters for positive help like sitting with mom while you take a break, fixing meals, planning outings if those are still possible, and getting dad out of the house now and then. These are only suggestions because I am not in your shoes. In the long run though, I repeat, do what you have to do. If that upsets your sisters, deal with it as best you can. As a nurse, I'm guessing that you have had to deal with family dynamics in the past. In this situation, you may have to put your professional hat on, and just do what is best for the patient. Fay

pattynonews's picture
pattynonews
Posts: 176
Joined: Aug 2009

That is so true Fay, when it comes to taking care of your love one it is totally different I have been in the medical field for 15 years and it did not prepare me for taking care of Jack, and the sisters need to pull together, becasuse trust me, you are going to be exhausted, I did it on my own until the last two weeks till Jack's sister was able to take off of work, I did not get a break to shower or anything, And please do not let your mom see the tension between the sisters, it just upset your mom more, and cherish the time you have with your mom, I was just telling one of Jack friends the other day, I use to complain about going to the drums store , Jack would spend hours there and the money he would spend, but right now I would do anything to go to the drum store with him one more time and I would not care how much it cost me,

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

I would read that post you just wrote to your sisters , separately from your Mom if I were you. I mean it. It's honest yet caring and cuts to the quick and if you have been told you all have only a little time with your Mom then that is what is important, PERIOD. Tell your sisters that this is upsetting your Mom and who wants that for her at this stage in her life and maybe that will guilt them into leaving her out of this. Tell them that you welcome their input to help but they don't seem to be able to spend enough time with her due to their schedules etc so you are just trying to do what is right for your Mom. PERIOD.

Maybe try and think of some nice project you and your sisters, or just your sisters could do for your Mom to keep them busy - something positive like maybe putting together a special 'good times' album of pictures and items of the family vacations or just little moments you all cherish. That should keep them busy. This needs to be a close time without hastles and they have to be told that in no uncertain terms.

I think its lovely you are going to come and stay with your Mom, she needs quiet and people who love her around her - showing that in deeds and words, not a fight everytime she turns around.

I know it won't be easy but it isn't about you right now or your sisters, it should be all about making your Mother feel comfortable and loved. They need to know that.

I hope they see reason and your time together now will be looked back upon as a time when the family worked together instead of apart.

All the best and many blessings to you and yours. Hugs, Bluerose

augigi
Posts: 89
Joined: Dec 2009

Thanks all. Guess it's just sad to me that we can't all be supportive to each other at such a terrible time. Maybe griping about me helps my sisters keep their mind off the even more awful reality of losing mum?

Anyhow. I think you're all right- I'll just have to suck it up and do what I think is right and avoid conflicts or deal with it later.

Thanks for the input all, I appreciate it.

pattynonews's picture
pattynonews
Posts: 176
Joined: Aug 2009

One thing I learned when Jack was DX everyone called and said im here for you but when it come down to reality there are few that are actually there, And fighting about everything just stresses the pateint out , Just do the best you can if your sister want to be difficulty , dont feed in to it,You are there for your mom, Just do the best you can and tell your mom everday that you love her, what I would not do to not tell Jack one more time that I love him and have him hold me, Hey Fay Im doing good, I have my emotional meltdowns now Jack's dad is decline a little so they want me to be his full time caretaker, I will have my hands full with him I can see it, I do miss Jack so much, I love the book THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD thank you again

terato's picture
terato
Posts: 384
Joined: Apr 2002

There is a great film starring Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCprio, and Robert DeNiro about two sisters struggling over the responsibility of caring for a dying father and a senile aunt. Keaton is the unmarried sister who lives and cares for them, until she herself is diagnosed with leukemia and Streep is the divorced mom of DiCaprio who wants no part of the situation, until she discovers that her happiness and that of her rebellious son can only come from the giving of herself. DiNiro is great as the doctor and also directs the film.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116999/plotsummary

Love and Courage!

Rick

geotina's picture
geotina
Posts: 2059
Joined: Oct 2009

My comment may be different than others. I am a caregiver. My husband has Stage IV colorectal cancer. He is responding well to treatment so far. Anyway, your sisters need to grow up and quit causing drama. Sit down with them, away from Mom, and lay it out on the table. If they want to be the primary caregiver, then you will gladly hand them the job, if not, then they need to shut up. It is always the ones with excuses, i.e. I live to far, I'm tired, I work, I have kids, blah, blah, blah that complain when someone else steps up to the plate. You have given up your life to care for your mom and that is about one of the most wonderful things I have heard in a long time. If they want to contribute their time, fine, give them a job, i.e. grocery shopping, making sure the refrigerator is full of meals mom likes, etc. but if all they contribute is drama, then someone needs to tell them to just shut up. Sorry if that sounds harsh but you are the one doing the work. Being a nurse you know what is coming and the last thing you need is drama queens. Thats my two cents worth. I am sorry about your mom, what you are doing stepping in and doing the job is so wonderful so don't sell yourself short. Take Care - Tina

ruthelizabeth
Posts: 146
Joined: May 2009

I hope things work out for you and that the sisters can get the picture and make your mother's time good and quiet and loving.

I am dealing with my husband's children. The two younger ones (22 and 28) ... I find it difficult to talk about them. They are totally self-centered and cold. The fronts can be charming and sweet, but they have no real feeling for him. As long as he's able to be useful and possibly pay more bills, the youngest will be sweet and adorable, but the day that he can't drive her to work (which may be coming fairly soon), I doubt that he'll see much of her. Her older sister became enraged over Christmas. He couldn't eat the apple crisp she made because his throat was too sore. She went into a screaming rage. He said, this might be my last Christmas and you're spoiling it and she went right on screaming. She never apologized. She does know how sick he is; she told me she expected him to die; he's old.

I have done all I know how to improve things because Don loves his children so much. Nothing I've said or done has helped. The burden of seeing him so sick added to the horror of how they treat him is very heavy.

Stay as strong as you can for your mother. If it's possible to make peace among the family, do try. Don't be surprised if you can't. Don't be surprised if your sisters criticize you and try to undermine your mother's affection for you. Don't be surprised if your sisters mourn your mother dramatically and emotionally and become the chief figures at the funeral. Remember that your mother will be well cared for and that you are caring for her out of love.

geotina's picture
geotina
Posts: 2059
Joined: Oct 2009

You are so right about the funeral thing, those that do the least to help but the most complaining act like they won't know what they will do with their time tomorrow now that mom is gone. They try to run the "show" (show is a bad word but could not come up with a bettEr one on the spot) but disappear when it is time to pay the funeral director. They try to portray themselves as saints.....so sad really

Folks24
Posts: 104
Joined: Feb 2007

I was the caregiver to my folks prior to their passing. You are 200% right Goetina!
Everyone can come up with some kind of excuse for ducking out. I hope they can stand looking at themselves in the mirror - cause I don't think it will be a pretty picture!

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