Attempting to let go of resentment towards siblings.

Started by

I've been the primary caregiver for my aging parents for over ten years. Thankfully they could afford assisted living but I have been the go to person for everything else. My siblings have never consistently helped much but i reached the worst burnout ever after my mother's last hospital stay. My Dad passed away and now my Mom is in real decline. I finally reached out to my 3 siblings and asked for more help.The 2 that live close stepped up at least for now. I asked the one who lives far away to create or get help creating a an online calendar so everyone can pitch in in some kind of organized way. It's been 10 days and she hasn't been "able" to get it really functioning and I have spent more time emailing her that it's still not working than i would have just setting it up myself. I am furious. After reading all these helpful posts I realized I am beating a dead horse here and just making myself more miserable than i already am. I wrote her an email and told her how disappointed I am that she couldn't do the one ting I asked. But after this I will no longer ask her for anything. Although I know it's really her loss but I can't help but feel like I have lost my desire to want be close with her. It's sad. I can't make her who she isn't. She even heads a senior program for her church if that isn't ironic! Some things will never make sense.


You are right. You are beating a dead horse. It just makes us more miserable when we do that. It took me several years before I "gave up" on my siblings. But, once I did, man..what a burden lifted!! It is ironic that she heads a senior program for her church. But, we can't "make" people care or be "givers". Once we realize you have, we are much better off. God bless you for all you do.
I totally agree wi teacher gear. Both my parents who are divorced have Alzheimer's. I have two siblings. Both are out of town but one is in the same state. They have not seen their parents in two years. I have asked on occasion if they would come for a weekend so I can get away and they have always said NO. My brother suggested getting my Mom a smart phone so they can Skype her. Does he really think she would know what to do? They have no clue about Alzheimer's. they call and think everything is okay after a 10 minute conversation. Now my brother is coming for Thanksgiving. He is come
Inge on Wednesday and leaving Friday. WOW, he talked about taking my Mom to a museum and/or to some gardens. Does he not know that she is in a wheelchair and on oxygen which only lasts for a couple of hours, oh she is also in diapers and can't walk or go to the bathroom by herself. Might need a diaper change. I don't think so. But when I make a recommendation he thinks I'm controlling. So when he comes he will have a rude awakening. She can't handle being out for more than 1 hour if that. I suggested he stay at her facility and just shadow her for the day to see what she does. Have lunch and dinner with her. Now my sister won't even come even if I pay the airfare. She thinks they Re both fine. I have to give up trying because it is making me crazy.
I go to a Support group and I know I am not the only one who goes through this and that helps.
So yes, once you realize you aren't going to get help and just focus on "you" and your parents I think you are better off.
It is hard but I am finally trying
I can understand your frustration and the more I read in these forums, the more grateful I am for my own "dysfunctional" family. Because, they are all dysfunctional in some way or another.

I have two brothers who live about one hour to one and half hours away from my mother. I've been the one who has done most of the work, but I live the closest and I pretty much expected it would be that way. Recently my dad passed away and the week before that I spent almost every day sitting with him in the hospital. My youngest brother (who lives the furthest) has been the most helpful and supportive. He drove here as often as he could (which was quite a bit) and spent hours sitting with me and Dad. BUT, my other brother stopped in once towards the end of the week, sat with Dad for about 30 minutes, left and then emailed that he was going to go ahead with a short vacation he had been planning!

I'll admit that was really upset. I couldn't believe he would leave when Dad might die at any time. Strangely enough, my brother got back and came to see Dad again on the Wednesday he died! None of us were there when Dad actually died, but it was pretty close.

Since then, and now that some of our emotions have settled down (less stress), I've come to realize that each of us handled this differently. The brother who wasn't there had his own issues with our dad and I know there was/is a lot of turmoil for him. The younger brother almost drove me nuts with his seeming need to cling to Dad, but he has calmed down and I think all three of us are much closer now, mostly because we were able to NOT say some of the things we were thinking at the time when we were most stressed out.

One thing I've noticed about myself is when I'm in a situation with a take-charge kind of person, I tend to let them go for it. Is there any possibility that you happen to be the one who dives in and takes over? I give you a lot of credit for that, but it can actually be a bit daunting for the people you expect help from.

Also, no matter how old you are, there are always going to be some kind of sibling rivalries. I could feel myself getting defensive when my youngest brother was spending so much time leaning into "my" dad and talking quietly to him. On some level I felt insecure, just like when we were kids. Maybe Dad would think this was his favorite. Maybe he wouldn't realize how much time I'd spent with him quietly!

I'm not saying your frustrations aren't valid, but if you think you want to have a relationship with your siblings in the future then maybe there's a better way of communicating. If you are good at putting together an online calendar it might seem relatively simple to you, maybe it's not that way for your sister. Maybe she feels excluded emotionally and resents you giving orders? Is there another way of approaching her that is more positive and something that will make YOU feel better.
I was very disappointed in my brother when my dad died and my mom had to go into assisted living. I used to go every day to see her, he went whenever he felt like it, which was not much. My mom passed away in July, and I do not regret a single thing I did for her. My brother would say to me he didn't know how I used to go every day, I couldn't understand how he couldn't go. But life goes on, and I have not forgotten that my brother didn't help out, but he is the only family I have left so I have let it go. Like Sgramacy said, focus on you and your parents, you won't regret it!!!
thisgirl, I recently sent an email to my SIL! She has been my"bane" since my marriage 30+ yrs. Thank God I only had one. It was sure a cleansing feeling to have it over with!!! A weight was lifted off my shoulders, and no I will never have any contact w/her again. When there are people in your life that can do NOTHING except to benefit themselves, ...stay away! They don't change ever, just make your life miserable........if you let them.It took a long time before I got my voice, in her case that is. I didn't want to upset my husband or my in-laws! Boy was that a mistake! They bad mouthed me at every oppurtunity, especially when I was not there to defend myself! I found as I got older, that this was to much. There were 7 kids in my family, so I have no problem making myself heard when nessesary! But we were taught respect, this SIL was NOT! So here is a HUG for you,...Cuz I know how some of what your feeling. GodBless and Good Luck!
I just gave up on any expectations of my sibs stepping up and helping. I ask for what I need from them and sometimes it happens but most of the time it does not. Just cannot waste my time feeling angry and bitter about their lives vs. my life. Had to laugh about the vacation comment from Their Daughter regarding going on vacation. I have not had a "vacation" in over 10 years but my sibs make sure to go on their twice yearly vacations no matter what is going on with my Mother. I think if I was planning a funeral and it overlapped their vacation plans the funeral would be the one being changed. Oh well. Who said caregiving was for wimps?
Hang in there - you are not alone - there are plenty of us going through the same thing. HUGS
Dear thisgirlistired and others above who have useless siblings,
I'm so sorry that your siblings are like that. Family dynamics with each individual sibling is always different with Mom and Dad. I am the youngest of three kids and I was/is the primary CG of Mom and Dad. Dad passed just this past May and Mom is now in hospice, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all the stress, pain, depression has gone away. It hasn't and in many ways its worse cause I want Mom at home for me to take care of her. But I am blessed with such loving and helpful brother and sister who help me out in every way possible. They are honest, loving, compassionate and helpful. But there were arguments and disagreements nonetheless. Since I am the youngest, for some reason I am the most loving and compassionate toward Mom and Dad than they could ever be. They always told me that they could not do what I am doing, and even though they helped in tons of ways, they all told me that I have the toughest of the jobs, and they are right. We all allocated the different jobs before everything "hit the fan" with Mom and Dad. We all have different abilities. Strength comes in many different forms. Unfortunately, the actual hands on caregiving is to me, is the toughest job in the world and it takes a very special type of person/character to do it. I could only do it with the Lord's enabling. Most people cannot do it, and its really not their fault....well, sometimes it is when some siblings cannot even visit, or help out even a little bit, or go on vacations when Mom could be dying. There are so many things your siblings could do---like do what you ask of them--like that calendar thing. And the brother who thinks that he can take Mom out on excursions just shows how out of the loop he is on Mom's physical condition. If he came and visited Mom in a timely and loving manner, he would know that what he wants to do with Mom is impossible. I too had to "educate" my sister and brother on many things cause if you don't spend 24/7 with them at the very least for one or two days, they won't have a clue of how to care for Mom and Dad. That must of drove you into a rage, it would me.
I agree with those above who said to just write them off. If they won't help on their own initiative, they won't suddenly change their tune and run to help Mom or you out. Asking and asking won't help. They're not deaf and blind, dumb maybe, and they know you need help, I guess they just don't care. But if you keep expecting them to change and help out, it puts extra stress and pressure on you cause you'll constantly be expecting and waiting for them to come to your aid--which obviously hasn't happened. Telling them one time should be enough for them to step up to the plate. Telling them over and over is like talking to a brick wall. Take the advice above, let them go, the burden of you waiting and waiting and expecting them to come to your aid will lessen the burden on you and will help you out in organizing things yourself instead of imagining/hoping that they will take on some of the responsibility. God bless you. The Lord see's what you're doing, how you are feeling, and He will help you---just humbly ask Him for help. He see's what your siblings are doing. You will be blessed mightily now and in the end--you will see that.
I took care of my mom for several years. Because of my mental disability, I needed help from my bro and sis. They got mad. Took mom from her BF, her apt. and have banned me from talking to or seeing her. All I needed was help and they wouldn't do it. I told them they had to make other arrangements because I couldn't do it on my own anymore. I'm repaid with no contact of her. And what's worse, my mom can't see or talk to me. We were best friends. So, I did do for my mom for over six years then they stepped in and said forget me.
you all are AWESOME!!!! as hard as this is I have had to do this EVERY day towards my one & only bro cause I know this is the right thing to do. My emotions however wants to hold on to offense but this only makes me more miserable so keep forgiving & letting go so YOU are free you have enough to focus on GOD bless you all
Thanks for all the great and wise comments! I feel on the road to letting go of my one sibling's in particular behavior and lack of help. I think I took of the last vestiges of rose colored glasses I had on about her. And painful as it was to see her in a new light, I now feel relieved that I understand the degree to which she is really a narcissist and always had been. Our relationship was great as long a I was her handmaiden. I am going to relieve myself of that duty and focus on the care of my Mom who needs the help.... Thanks again!

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support