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Wedding Woes

It's OK to not reach out for the time being.

Dear Prudence,

Two years ago, my father had a massive stroke that transformed him from a strong and opinionated person to someone struggling profoundly. Last year, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and was dead within three months. My father was in no shape to be able to care for her, so that job fell to me while my younger brother helped look after Dad. It’s been just over a year since her death, but I find dealing with my dad increasingly difficult. I was recently offered a new job and moved several hours away, although I made sure my dad is being well taken care of. He’s getting much better physically, and my brother still lives nearby.

Our only contact nowadays is when I call or visit. He never initiates contact, but as soon as I call, he starts crying and descends into self-pity. I have to spend hours psyching myself up before I call, and it’s like talking to a stranger. I dread every Sunday, but at the same time, my dad’s siblings act like I have abandoned him. I used to attend a support group for grieving relatives but haven’t found a new one yet since I moved. I hate that we’ve lost our closeness and feel like I’ve lost both parents. I’m also sick of feeling like my grief doesn’t matter as much as my dad’s; my brother’s not very talkative so I can’t get much from him. What can I do till I find a new group or counseling to reduce my stress and anxiety over this?

—Conflicted Father’s Girl

Re: It's OK to not reach out for the time being.

  • I’m curious what arrangements LW made for Dad’s care and if that can be altered to include counseling. She could also bring his siblings in on things; LW is not the only one responsible for his care, and if they’re nearby and concerned they can get invested. 
  • kvrunskvruns member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    "my dad’s siblings act like I have abandoned him"

    This was the line that jumped out at me as I'm curious if LW wasn't a female if the same would hold true. If she was still in town and the brother had moved away would relatives act the same? My hunch is no even though the brother has been the main caregiver for the father during this time but the LW is a bad person for moving away.
  • I think I'd wonder how old Dad's siblings are though.

    When MIL was dealing with her mom her mom, GMIL would start to tell her version of the truth which coupled with dementia was just not based in fact at all. 

    And I'll also echo that there's a very strong family sentiment that OFTEN the burden to care for parents falls on the women.   Hell, even when my own grandmother was aging my father and his brothers often went to my mom (the daughter in-law).

    LW is not a bad person in any of this but I can understand her feelings of guilt. 
  • kerbohlkerbohl member
    Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer
    I've had this conversation with my dad about where he would want to go if he needed to live with one of his kids, and he is adamant about being with one of his daughters because he feels if he stays with one of my brothers, the burden of care would fall on their wives.  Still very prevalent in society that the women have to care for aging parents, and I think it sucks for both men and women.  If this is the case with LW, it sucks for her that she's getting this unnecessary guilt for doing nothing wrong, and it sucks for her brother because he's probably getting the line of "too bad all your dad has is you and not your sister".

    Sometimes, people can't physically be there for their aging parents.  LW has done her part to make sure he would be okay before she left, and her dad has the brother in case he needs more help.  She shouldn't have to feel guilty.
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