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