I have been having a very hard time returning to a "normal" life.

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I was a caregiver, with my sister, for our mother who passed away in april for about 5 months. I am getting married in december, thank God mom was there when he proposed, and I keep finding myself thinking "does it really matter" on the details of the wedding because mom wont be there. And then all I think of is how life was when she was sick and I was with her. Don't get me wrong though, I was out of state for that time, fiance at home for his work most of that time, I lost my job of 8 years due to fmla running out but I would do it all again if I could. Spending the last months of her life with her was precious to me, even though she didn't recognize me most of the time. I just don't know how to go on without her some days. Will that ever get better/easier is my question. Thanks for letting me vent/whine etc.

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Time does heal. You are getting married!!!!!! Concentrate on THAT. YOU ARE PLANNING A WEDDING !!! GETTING MARRIED.

YOUR MOM WILL WATCH FROM ABOVE. You can talk to her all the time. I talk with my dad a lot. Do you ever hear her voice? A laugh? I certainly did. Not so much nowadays, but the first couple of years I really did... He had questions about his belief. He let me know he is okay and his belief has been confirmed... :)
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Its been barely 3 weeks for me , losing my father..Cared for him 24/7 for 4 years. I was wondering the same thing...I
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Too true GardenArtist. While running errands earlier I stopped by our little library to see if she would waive any charge to run the notice in our newspaper (it comes out on thursdays and yes our Librarian oversees the whole thing) and see if she might know of a location we could use. She was not there because she is at her MIL's funeral. Her husband is the newspaper photographer, not by choice as her other photographer moved 2 years ago and he used to do the job, and I have already sent him an e-mail requesting he do my wedding photos. The closest professional photographer charges $1400.00! I am pretty sure he will. We all do seem to take care of each other here.
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Sometimes we all could use a little boost, sometimes a big boost.
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Thank you for all of the wonderful suggestions. Didn't have a clue how or where to start. Now I have a few ideas!
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Carol, good thoughts as well, especially the involvement of churches. I never even thought of that!
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Coolieslday, I haven't started a support group, so I have no direct experience, but this is what I'd consider.

You'll need to have a dedicated place (or places) to meet, so consider a library, hospital conference room, someplace where the doors can be closed and you can have privacy, but someplace that also has enough tables and chairs for you to accommodate a fluctuating number of people.

You could consider someone's home, but what I've found is that it's better to have a meeting at a neutral place because you really don't know who will be coming, how many will be coming, what their background is, and it's just safer to be on neutral ground.

You might have to go outside the geographic boundaries of your town. If there's another area that's more populated, you might want to look there.

It would help if you could get a sponsor, such as a hospital, geriatric practice, rehab center, AL facility or long term care facility. Then you'd also have the drawing power of that facility as well as the families which support the residents.

After you get a facility lined up, start posting notices, or advertise in some way you think best. It might vary in a small town - maybe a poster on the bulletin board of a restaurant or grocery store. Social workers can help, as can issue specific medical practices.

I was surprised to find a bulletin board at one of our local restaurants! Laundromats also have bulletin boards.

The hospital, rehab, AL and long term care facilities may allow you to post notices on their bulletin boards too.

I would do some cautious screening when discussing the group with members, to ensure that they are in fact interested and not just trolls or undesirables looking to find a meeting for some free munchies or scout for whatever it is that undesirables scout for when they target vulnerable people.

You could ask for information on how long the person has been a caregiver, for whom they're caring, if they have hired or sibling help, what their specific concerns are.

Emphasize that all the information will be treated confidentially.

Once you've got a potential group, you could have a strategy meeting to offer others a chance to help formulate and guide the group and develop topics. I think that would allow others to feel as if they're major participants and have more "skin in the game" to help make the group work.

You'll have to decide if you want to have "professional" speakers, or discussions, with specific issues on the agenda. Or you could alternate - speaker when you can get one, member discussions on issues of concern.

If you have the time and desire, begin working on a resource list to include issues such as respite care, emergency assistance when a family caregiver is ill, agencies and social resources. Consider a social event, such as a picnic at a beach, just to provide a level of relaxation that doesn't come easily during caregiving.

Your local county's health and/or social services deparment might be able to help you with this, and even with the speakers and finding a location.

You might also want to locate a local Gilda's Club, check their website for activities, and get some ideas on how a very professional group is run.

Good luck; I'd like to know how this works out because I've been thinking of it myself but just haven't gotten other chores to the point that I feel I can devote time to it.
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Sometimes technology can be a real pain so I"m glad that you were persistent, collieslady. I'm sorry it was a struggle for you.

Don't worry about a "pity party" - as we said, you have a right to have some time to feel sorry for yourself. Then, of course, it's time to try to do something about it.

That's how a group can help. I'd suggest that you check with local churches or other "helping" organizations and ask if you can use a room for a weekly meeting.
If nothing else, maybe you can find room in a library for a small group, which this would likely be at first.

Then, get out the word. Let churches know that a group for caregivers is being started and will meet at (fill in the blank).

Ask them to put the notice in their bulletins. If you have a shopper newspaper with free classified ads (or inexpensive ones) put the notice there. Some newspapers have a listing of support groups. Put up signs in grocery stores and other public places. I believe you'll find some takers.

The paid group you're talking about likely has a counselor leading it. Caregiver groups don't always need professional leaders. You just need each other. Set some ground rules. You can even borrow from Al-Anon or other support groups, but the main thing is that everyone must respect the the approach of other caregivers, they must be allowed to speak without interruption, and everyone gets some time to talk. You'll likely have other guidelines, but keep things loose. Most caregivers don't need constraints.

I hope this works for you. Also, please keep coming back here for online support.
Take care and please let us know if you get something started.
Carol
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I actually responded to you guys 2 days ago with a very lengthy post which I was then unable to submit! System wouldn't let me! Urggg! I did see my Dr. when I got back in town. Unfortunately I am in a "tourist" town with population of less than 500 permanent residents and there are no support groups around. The closest we have found is an hour and a half away, at night. We have the "ski season" and " summer season" and a lot of the locals are unable to take more than a day or two for funerals, much less the travel time to a grief support group. Feast or famine around here. You have to make enough during the on season to carry you through the off season! Anyway, I really like what all of you had to say. I was just having my usual "pity party" that I sometimes have. Thank you all for listening. And I believe I am going to go ask another question. Maybe someone can tell me what I need to do to start a support group that's free. The other place also charges you if you aren't lucky enough to have insurance which I lost when my fmla ran out.
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All those times when you remember your mother, the times and events you shared, and how much you miss her will keep reappearing over time, especially the first year as Eyerishlass writes. You may even hear her voice, or hear the phone ring and imagine she's calling. I don't think any of these things are abnormal.

The best thing you can do is continue to cherish your memories, cut back on the goals and chores you have to do and spend more time just relaxing.

If you garden, plant a memory garden with flowers she liked.

You can still go ahead with your wedding, but it doesn't have to be a large or expensive affair with all the trimmings. The important thing is that you're connecting to someone you love and want to spend your life with. All the bows, ribbons, flowers, champagne etc. are nice if you can afford it, but if it seems extravagant under the circumstances, just cut back to a simple wedding.
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