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I Feel Targeted by Family

allackey's picture
allackey
Posts: 19
Joined: Oct 2009

My wife is under hospice care now and all of our children are grown and do not live at home.  A year ago I decided to take some time for myself during each day.  This is basically excercise in the morning.  I also am the sole provider for me and my wife.  Thus my time with her is limited to afternoons and night.  Last night I came home with groceries and was blasted by my son, then his wife, then my wife joined in.  I was told I need to be with her all the time, don't exercise and to bring my work home.  My son blasted my marriage and discredited me.  I felt disrespected in my own home.  It was quite volatile.  Please discuss this.  I'm open.  

bailee2012
Posts: 60
Joined: Jul 2012

As a caregiver also, i understand the need for some time away.  Even a trip to wander around a store can be a relief.  So long as your wife is ok during your time away, i don't understand what the problem is.  Perhaps you should tell your son and daughter in law that you arent changing your routine, so they can work out their own schedule to be with your wife during your time away. They should be willing to help anyway.  Without it coming to this.  good luck and stay strong!

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1610
Joined: Aug 2009

First, understand that your children are grieving, too, and angry that cancer is taking their mom away. That is not an excuse for verbally attacking You. They really have no idea of what you are going through as you come to terms with losing your wife. Having cared for my husband for 6 years as he battled colon cancer, I know the stresses of caring for the most important person in your life and the stress of watching them slip away. The frustration is indiscribable. We want to fix them, but we can't. You do need to have me time. If your children are worried about your wife being alone, ask them to lend a hand, drop by regularly, or suggest ways to provide 24/7 care. If she needs 24/7 care and you are unable to provide it because of work and finances, ask hospice for help. Hospice might also be able to calm some of your children's fears and anger. They are there for the entire family, not just the patient. Please continue to take care of yourself, too. You can't care for your wife if you don't. My thoughts are with you as you go through this most difficult time. Fay

Ladylacy
Posts: 457
Joined: Apr 2012

You need to take time for yourself regardless of what your family says.  If they don't like it, tell them to arrange their schedules to help when you can't be there.  Tell them to help with the finances if they think you should be there 24/7.  Have they helped at all?  As caregiver to my husband, our grown sons have done absolutely nothing to help since he was diagnosed in July 2010.  It has been all me.  I realize that they have families and jobs but still help can be offered.   

Whatever don't feel guilty and don't let them lay a guilt trip on you and tell your son and DIL that if they can't treat you with respect  to stay away.  Your wife only spoke up because of them.  Being a caregiver is hard enough without a family's comments or telling you what to do.  If you don't take care of yourself, who else will.

Deborah J Cornwall's picture
Deborah J Cornwall
Posts: 32
Joined: Feb 2013

Allackey, you have to take care of yourself in order to be able to care for her. Caregivers who don't actually shorten their own lives by as much as 10 years. Your son and his wife, and even your wife, need to understand that you are doing your best to care for both of you. You'll do her no good if you crash. It sounds as though shes's afraid and feeling the need for your company. If you can deliberately plan times for others to be there and times for yourself to be there, perhaps she'll feel more comforted. Perhaps you can talk with her about her concerns and develop a shared position on the issue, so that you can stand together on it in front of your son. It's tragic for you to feel stress from every side. I interviewed 86 caregivers and have talked with dozens more. They all echo that you MUST care for yourself in order to be an effective caregiver for someone you love. And they all echo that you must take time every day to do something that reminds you of life before cancer. Perhaps your wife also needs some daily reminder of normalcy in order to support you more.

I wish you the best as you sort this out. There's enough stress in your house; you don't need to be screaming at each other about who cares more and who's doing enough. You're a champion to have reached out, and I wish you strength, calm, and peace as you move forward in this challenging situation.

ddskorupski
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2013

Allackey, I will preface my opinion by stating that it is, in fact, just an opinion. So if I am wrong, please forgive me.

What I think is happening in your case is that your children don't realize how much care your wife needs. Children, no matter how old, don't like to think their parents can't take care of themselves. Nothing makes an adult feel like a 5 year old faster than a sick parent. They are in denial. They don't want to face her illness. They are angry and are directing that anger at you because you are healthy and she is not. But they are not really angry with you; they are angry because she is ill.

You need help. You have to take care of yourself before you can care for her. There is a reason that airlines have you put your mask on first before putting on the mask of others. How can you help your wife if you are unable to help yourself? You cannot.

I think you should sit down with your children and ask them for help. Tell them you need that break away, not just for your sanity but to take care of their mother. You have to shop; you have to work; you have to take care of yourself. Just as they do for themselves.

Your son has a wife. They should both understand how they help one another. You don't have that right now because your wife is unable to help. They need to hear you say that. They need to think about how they would cope if they didn't have one another. I bet they both work; I bet they both split household chores. If they have children of their own, they should understand. They have babysitters and nights out for a reason. They need the break. So do you.

More importantly, they need that time with their mother. If her illness is terminal, they will later regret not spending time with her. They need to be proactively involved in her care.

I think if you can get your children to see that you and your wife need their help, they will feel better. They will begin to feel like they are making a difference, instead of sitting back and watching and feeling hopeless. When you feel hopeless and useless, you tend to direct your anger and blame at others. Typically at those who are doing something. That includes how your wife feels. She feels guilty because she sees what you do. Also, as a mom myself, I hate the idea of my children seeing my helplessness. Her anger is not really with you. Neither is theirs. But think about it. Isn't it easier to criticize how someone does something than to get up and do it yourself?

Here is what we do: we have a calendar that has all of our mom's appointments. We extend an invitation out to every family member; Aunts, Uncles, brothers, sisters, friends...we ask if they would be available to drive to chemo and keep Lee company.  We also list the tasks that we need to do away from the house and ask for volunteers to come over and keep Lee company while we are out. Don't be afraid to ask for help with housekeeping too.

Although it does not seem like it, people do want to be helpful.  Understand that their emotions are out of fear and grief. But also understand that yours are as well.

Invite them over to talk with you and your wife. Explain to them how much you do and how limited you are. You are only one man caring for a full time patient, a house, a job and now them. 

I know how it feels to have a sick parent. I am willing to bet his outburst and blasting your marriage was out of guilt and fear. Guilt for not doing something or being able to control it and fear because his mommy is sick. I don't say that sarcastically. As I said above, nothing makes an adult act like a five year old faster than a sick mom.

How was he before her cancer? Is he a reasonable person? Would have have said those things to you before? If you find that his behavior would be different than it was when he blasted you, then give him the benefit of the doub.t Maybe he needs to talk about her illness with you. Elicit his help. You may both feel better for it.

Good luck and let us know how you make out.

D

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