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Well are there any ladies in the Southeast Michigan area that are on these boards? Just curious. We may be able to meet and talk and come up with a plan of action for this exact dilemma. :)
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(((((((cat))))) wonderful post
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I have read this thread completely to date. I appreciate all that each poster has contributed. It's late here and I am ready to go to bed, but I will come back and post. I may need to revisit some of the posts made here, as they touched my heart and I want to respond. Sending ALL of you love and God's blessings. It's a hard road taking care of parents or a spouse. No one who doesn't do it understands what the day to day stress is to the caregiver. Both of my parents are gone now, but I had them in my care over the past 8 years or so. I'm trying to find my path now. I will eventually, but I understand it is a process. I am so blessed that my husband has a retirement. On the other hand, I can tell you that we have been through a lot financially with the care of my parents and having built a home for them on our property.

While all of our situations are different, we are all suffering in the wake of care taking. We judge ourselves so harshly and we can't understand why it isn't over. What are we waiting for? Why can't we just get over it and move on?

I guess it takes time. I am the oldest of 4 children. My youngest brother was a help to me, financially, with my parents. Bless his soul he always helped in spite of the economy and the pressure he was under. Our mom passed on her birthday, Dec. 18th, 2008. She was 81 years old that day. My dad passed this past Sept 24th at age 90.

I've been in a funk for the past few months. I miss my dad and I keep asking myself if I did enough for him. I talked to my youngest brother yesterday and explained how down I felt. He was so kind to remind me that he could have never done what I did. He went on to tell me how my parents lives would have been so different if my husband and I had not taken them on. He makes me feel loved in a way that my parents didn't always give me. I thank God for his love and friendship. He has been there for me and for our parents. I wish all of you could have that one special sibling in your life who hears your heart and feels your pain.

Sending love and white light to each of you special people. Cattails
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All those expenses you mention would be covered by hospice. You need a generous doctor to make a determination that anyone of your Mom's problems could end her life sooner rather than later. Then the supplies are covered as well as providing some emotional and respite support for you, just not the living expenses. Food and shelter must come from the family's wallet. Best to you. I wish you will investigate this. All the crap I went through and had I known that hospice was right for us, heavens, we'd be much less miserable right now, as well as my Mom would have had more peaceful times at the end of her life.
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One thing I find difficult, is how alone I feel. I'm trying not to be frightened by that, and I'm gradually getting there, doing each task needed to aim to support self - it feels extra hard, because s when I have been caregiver, for my brother and also for my elders - I felt as I was part of their lives, as my focus was on each of THEIR next steps. Suddenly when I'm scared, no one is watching my next step - other folks are helpful, but they usually offer one time ideas, when I want and have to, find a work and/or study plan - one thing that is helping is Al Anon, which I've attended for years, and their focus that supports us in taking time to value ourselves, and even in reviewing our own lives, has been helpful to me remembering that I brought talents and insights and I learned skills, so if I know what they are, I can choose to explore new ways to use them. I'd like to manage and teach now, wish me luck - hard to follow through with search.
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In my opinion, this entire discussion needs to be bronzed. The material is so rich and diverse, yet unitified in the impact of caregiving. Somebody wrote "the pain of caregiving." I think we have the title of a much-needed book: "The Pain and Personal Costs of Caregiving." Now, who is going to write it?
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Sooozi.... A year and a half ago I finally had enough with some of my own clutter going on and I had enough. My mother used to call our house a shit-hole and it wasn't, but the basement became a disaster of borderline hoarding courtesy my husband. My husband was also raised by a mother who went junking all the time and she made her house look great, but my husband brought that into ours and it wasn't me and it wasn't "us". Our house for 20 years was neat garbage with a basement piled high.

On the year I started that journey, I could no longer go down the basement to even do laundry. My husband had to do it. I hated that more than you can possibly imagine. So I did a Google search for organizers in my area. The woman I really liked was also a Christian and we hit if off, but I soon discovered she was too far and so she recommended someone in the area of me. And Karen (my organizer) became a key part in my emotional healing. She was/is an angel sent by God to me. I believe that to this day.

She is between $40-$50 per hour, but they can run more or less depending. I've seen some go as high as $75 per hour. She would not deal with hoarders. There is a whole other psychology behind that. I was ready to get rid of things and clean out, but I just needed the help. I was too overwhelmed and just paralyzed. She even does simple jobs like just organizing an office or develop a organizational system if need be.

When she came out, we went through the basement, talked for a while, but there were some other factors that were also being worked in the plan. I have my parents house and I was also planning on using that for my now non-profit and so I said that when my parents were gone, we'd deal with that next. Little did I know.

My particular organizer touched everything. There were times it got worse before it got better and she would constantly ask me how I was doing. There were definite times I did not like and was overwhelmed and she knew it. We talked through the whole thing, laughed and at times I couldn't let go or I didn't want her to get rid of it and she would put it aside to deal with later. I mean every scrap piece of paper and dustball she asked me about. She was my treasure. We revisited things ore than twice I can tell you that.

They are not cheap, but I have to tell you..... they are priceless in the end. For me, Karen had something I did not. She was a missing piece to my emotional state and she handled it perfectly. I cannot tell how much I spent because we incorporated so many other things in between just my basement.

But I will say because of her, she helped me through a lot of emotions even though she's not a counselor. Her peaceful spirit was perfect. If you can do it I highly recommend the assistance. It was a real emotional healing for me I could have never done on my own.

Because of her, we uncovered an issue that we had for 20 years with water, but we were able to see the problem more clearly because we cleared it out. From there I took the clean out even further and we ended up converting our basement to an incredible media room that we could now house all our media and make it a total second story of our house so to speak.

What I loved that was even more emotional for me but funny as hell was the fact that my mother who once called our house a shit-hole and now deceased, was probably turning in her grave because now our basement was featured as a front page homestyle section story. It was priceless revenge from a spiteful narcissistic mother who made my life miserable. Now it isn't and I'm LOVING IT!

It took me 20 years of living in bondage (emotional) and 18 months of cleanup to come out the other side feeling freedom. It can be done.
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Well I'm sorry praying that you are in that position. It was a different story for me. A lot of times you can sell a house as is. We had that with a house in Florida. There were things to bring it up to code, but we could sell it at as is in order to get out from under it and miraculously we came out about even or just above on it.

I lost my job a week before my mother died. I had a lot on my plate financially, estate, my own house, unemployment and so forth. I've dealt with a lot of emotions in a very short time frame and I'm not ashamed to say its okay to take care of you. I can't help everyone like I'd love to because I realize the pain of caregiving. I've seen the cost, I get it, but unfortunately I cannot do what my heart desires.

All I can encourage you is to do the best you can, but even through all these financial things, do not feel guilty for taking care of your loved one. That's the angle I'm coming from. My prayers and heart goes with you.
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Praying15, no, I don't think my suggestions are the least bit ridiculous, and I'm not married nor will I have anyone to support me but myself. If you have no money, God knows you probably qualify for some kind of financial aid for schooling - I sure don't and probably never will! I've been working since I was a teenager. I would not plan to sit around and wait to be taken to the poorhouse or get out there and see what's there for you after you get through your grief.
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Mitzipinki could you say more about your professional organizer? How did you find such a person? What does that type of person typically cost? What is the scope of their role.

In re-reading your post, it struck me that it might pay huge dividends getting someone like that to help organize all the documents, paperwork, estate contents, etc, etc. I feel like I've completed 2/3 of it, only to find a seemingly bottomless pit!

Any suggestions you can provide regarding such a resource would be much appreciated! Thanks again...
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Hi Everyone,

Once again, you all are making me feel a bit more normal as I flounder around. I really appreciate hearing everyone's stories and where you are on your paths.

Cbhillman, could you say more about what you went back to school for? I've just turned 60, have been away from a formal employment role for over two years now and I'm obsolete! So, I'm curious since we are similar in age what field might be studied at this time with real hope for employment.

As for the estate, yes getting the house ready is ridiculously tedious and I'm not sure at all that anything will come of it, except I am hoping it will eventually sell. Then my brother and sister will expect everything to be split three ways and all the tedious details, countless phone calls, paperwork, conversations, follow ups will go unnoticed. I'm trying to keep track, but have I mentioned...

I tried to cancel EZ pass for mom's car. Called them. Needed a PIN. Requested a PIN and then waited on the phone for-EVER! Someone told me to send in the gizmo, wrapped in aluminum foil and request cancellation. So, off I went, spent my morning on the phone doing that, then wrapping in foil, writing the letter, making copies... and headed off to the post office to mail the thing.

Two weeks later I got a letter from EZ Pass saying I should enclose the gizmo with this new letter and return both for cancellation. Well I no longer have the thing! I mailed it as I was told to do.

What do I do? I thought about it over night ... and low and behold, the next day I get a bulky envelope from EZ Pass. I thought perhaps they were intelligent enough to return the one I sent to them, nicely wrapped in aluminum foil.

Nope! The packet included an EZ pass gizmo that, according to the enclosed letter is the NEW technology, since their records indicated that my mom had the OLD technology. It's a WHOLE NEW EZPASS!! Wow. So, come to think of it, now I have something to include with the letter and request cancellation AGAIN!

This is just one little, little example of how I spend my days. I can NOT complain. It is not bad weather, I'm not digging ditches, not straining my muscles or my brain. I'm warm and dry and just going about my business... in stunned silence.

Oh, not so silent. Thank you all for listening to me vent. Phew... I feel much better now. ;-) Thank you for listening ...
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I was struck by the comment from "Praying15" about financial duress. That must be tough. My sisters were mostly caregivers in absentia but not caregiver commenters in absentia! They did, however, come through after our mother died; they obviously felt guilty so they each gave me their third of my parents' estate. My parents were hardly wealthy but I have enough to live on as long as I am careful!
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I was Mother's 24/7 caregiver from 2003 through 2008. The economy tanked during this time and applying for jobs was totally different - almost entirely online. I was 59 in January 2009 and could not find a job! (I had done all sorts of things but my last inception, as it were, in the work world, was as a legal secretary.) I went back to school and should be through this summer. Then we shall see. . .
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What about those of us who have been devastated financially by this care? The suggestions to volunteer and go back to school are just nonsense. Or made by people who have a spouse working and making good money. The entire time burden of settling the estate, fixing up the house to sell (if I get as much for it as it costs to bring it up to code it will be a miracle), etc. will be mine. If I can get through this and keep my own house it will be another miracle. Now it's my turn? For what, the poorhouse?????
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I think what I notice the most is the what now syndrome? After caregiving is all done, the after death paperwork is filed, checks written, personal stuff emotionally dispersed, now what? Get to know yourself again. Learn to let go of the guilt. Unfortunately the life cycle is birth and death. None of us have choices either way. Without getting into my own beliefs which I'm secure in, I know right now I'm looking at my own morality and there are times its a bit unnerving. We are human.

I think we also look at the fact of we feel selfish. Are we really? Think about it. You gave up whatever portion of your life to help those you love. I did. I even did it for a narcissistic mother because I knew that regardless of how much I hated her behavior and her treatment of me, I loved her still as a human being and I would never allow another human being to suffer.

Realize for yourself now that you are done with your task of providing, it is your turn. It is time to turn back to what are your likes and dislikes. What do you want YOUR routine to be. You may not be like any other person in the after caregiving life, but that is okay that it is YOUR choice.

Also make sure you work through the guilt. You have nothing to feel guilty for. You were in an intense situation for a needed length of time. So what you complained and so what you were exhausted. Do you know others who could do the task you did? I know in my life there are people who could not. I did it! Me. I dealt with all the crap. I dealt with the nastiness and running around and I made it through and I did it to the best of my ability. Remember that!

Remember you have done an incredible job. Now its your turn. Get the rest you need. Find the mental rejuvenation. Spend time with your family if necessary or even distance yourself if you have to. Recovery for you is now the most important. God bless each of you for what you have helped do for those who could not.
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I don't know how helpful this would be, as I'm not where you are, not caring for mom full time though I'm with her daily and do run myself ragged for her sake. Anyway, I'm always trying to look ahead to when I'll be without mom to worry about. And now I'm faced with having to go back to school for a short period to become a certified nurse's aide (have been a medical transcriber for 36 years but will soon be out of a job thanks to India and the EMR/EPIC system being implemented in the hospitals. They just won't be needing clerical folks like me as much but Lord knows I still need to work to pay my mortgage). My local community college has many courses seniors can audit. I personally can't wait till I turn 60 so I can have that to look forward to. I would recommend going to your public library, senior center or rec center and pick up any and all newspapers/newsletters you see. There might be much information in those about what's available. If I were totally alone, I would seek out activities like that, classes, church groups, etc. Sit and daydream, make a little schedule to keep yourself occupied. I'd probably volunteer, and I see my city has a pretty good volunteer program. I never minded going alone to check things out for myself and have not found it hard to strike up conversations with people. Seems like most folks are helpful and friendly.
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Sooozi: I completely understand how you feel. I lost my mom Jan 1st and she was 95. I just finished the last of the "estate" stuff , if you want to call it that. Mom lived with me for 32 yrs, I was her sole provider. She always wanted to make sure I got "more" than my sis, who never lifted a finger. Thankfully she put everything in writing. The last 3 months of mom's life I had to place her in a nursing home. Hardest thing I ever had to do, but I see it was best. They took such good care of mom, and I was able to get my mental health back. The caregiving and lack of help was starting to seriously affect me, but being so involved with mom, I didn't notice until it was almost too late. Thankfully everything feel into place. Big sis, all of a sudden started seeing mom at least twice a week (woo-hoo). At her funeral she was telling people she never missed a day of talking to mom in her life....BIG LIE. Anyway, I guess I'm venting. I just sent her "check" out to her today. Plus a copy of mom's will. She 's not going to like what she sees. I have to laugh though. Mom would always say to me, "Oh boy, is she going to be mad!", I would tell my mom not to worry, she wouldn't have to deal with her, I will. Then we would laugh. It's stresses me though because I'm not the type that likes to argue. I want to settle things right away, no hard feelings, etc. Big sis is completely the opposite. I think she loves to cause dissention and loves the drama. So I'm going to try to be what my mom wanted: for me to be strong. Anyway, thanks for listening....now back to my point: I have gone back to the nursing home several times since mom's death. One resident was so sweet to mom. She would sit with her at all mealtimes, and they would sit and watch the fish. Neither one of them was a "social butterfly". Both reserved and quite. The talked to each other though, and despite the dementia, both learned a little about the other. Margie lost her husband early, and never had any children. She is 90. I never saw anyone visit with her. Guess she has a niece and nephew out of state. She always commented on how much my mom & I loved each other, and how good it was that I came to see mom every day. Well, now I go to see her. Thankfully the nursing home is not far from my house. I've brought her some of mom's clothes, and she is so happy and appreciative. She has soft hands like my mom. Her eyes light up when she sees me. Poor thing, she just can't remember my name :-)....which is fine with me. It's helping me get through this though, knowing I'm bringing some happiness to her. I want to look into the bereavement group out here. Hospice has sent me a letter which gave me the information. At first I didn't think I need it, but now that I've come back to this site (been a few weeks), I see how much better I feel when I "talk" to people who are going through the same things. Thanks to all of you for being here.
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Invizanon: Thank you for your posts. These discussions are leading me where I need to go. I should have provided a bit more information about myself, lest you think I am terribly ungrateful for my level of education. I worked from the time I was 12 years old for anything that I wanted/needed beyond the basic food and shelter, otherwise I had nothing. I put myself through school and it took ten years to do it since I had zero support. I dealt with violence in the family all my life, and my brother was severly affected by it - his entire life from the time he was 12 was blighted by the experiences. My parent's highest plan for me was that I would get married and possibly work in an office. Instead I took myself off as soon as I legally could (else I was threatened with being taken to court as an incorrigible child - check the law history - it was done then. Some incorrigible child, straight A High School student, working 50 hours per week at a $1/hr job to save for college.) So the anger is multi-layered, and weighed down by the waste of my brother's sad life and early death, as well as my parent's behavior toward another brother who was essentially abandoned when he was 16. He should have been able to be supported so that he could have finished high school and then go on to college. He didn't have a chance. There is a lot to mourn and a lot to think through to get my head straight. I used to think Living Well is the Best Revenge, but then I forged this guilt chain and what have I got to be guilty about? Darn that Catholic Guilt thing.
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SusanJMT: You GO Girl! God Bless You, and one day you will have your life back. I am about your age, too, and have a lifetime of anger and resentment I am processing. Oh Boy. xoxo
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Apologies for all the misspellings, typos, and homonyms. I was impassioned while pounding out my last post.
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Invisanon: You are speaking for me, and more eloquently than I can. My story is very similar to your except that I am 62 years old, gave up my job, and didn't finish my Masters degree three years ago. There is anger that rumbles in the depths, that is not the sound of my own breathing. Anger at myself for being such a patsy, for being manipulated thousands of times. There is a gulf of behavior, reality, whatever, between myself and the women who bore the baby boomers. They lived in part on thier wiles, while I lived completely on my proven technical capabilities. Dealing with that generation in their incapacity is crazy-making since it is non-stop manipulation. I have given up a lot, a professional career and a professional salary, pulled funds out of my home equity, savings, and credit cards. More to be done to wind up this period of my life and go back to work (hopefully) for several more years to at least pull even with the negative cash flow debt. This while trying to bridge the gap in my Mother's Assisted Living bills. Does Washington, DC have any idea what we go through to avoid having our elders become Medicare dependant? I cannot claim any of Mom's expenses on my taxes because my contribution falls short of the 50% rule. 50% of $80,000 is a LOT of money, and the expenses must go through a filter that would reduce them to allowable expenses. Does anybody have an idea what it takes to support someone who is completely incontinent? Disposable underwear, additional absorbent liners, Chux pads, waterproof overpads for the bed at $80 a pop, waterproof mattress covers, replacement clothing that doesn't survive the routine bleach treatments, five hot-washes a day for Mom and all the laundry detergent, and not one piece of clothing left in my closet that isn't bleach-stained. On and on. I am feeling the anger, and not because the family has no freaking idea of what it took, but because the country has no freaking idea of what it takes. Its the anger that slows us down and it takes a while before we even understand that it is there and then that it is justifiable anger. So trot it out here and let's here it.
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Oh, I forgot to say that yes, I am still recovering from stress, but I have resumed a fairly normal life! I work in design and am finishing my college degree, since I did not do that as a young person. I visit my Mother a few times a week, although Hospice tells me I should cut back my visits. I have a husband and adult kids. I need to lose about 30 pounds, but I have a good life. I am still a caregiver, as I am my Mother's only visitor and support. My siblings suck. Talk about narcissists. I'm surrounded by them, but God is my Refuge.
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To me caregiving is, multi-dimensionally, a weird experience. You have your own reality, then you align with a person who perhaps you have known all your life, and they are not able to function for whatever reason, so you start to "live their life for them." That's what I call it because often as a caregiver you give up your own "normal life."
The answer to your question also depends upon your original relationship with the person you are caring for, whether they have dementia or physical aging problems, and how long you live in the prison of being a caregiver.
I have been caring for my Mother for 5 years, 1 1/2 in my home. I placed her back in a care home because I was a nervous wresk, had not slept in over a year, and developed stress-related symptoms on top of my already compromised immune system. I thought I was too young to give up everything for this person who was not ever very interested in me from the beginning and because I really thought I was too young to die. But you never know. I think it is pretty bad, however, when you ask God to please let you die tonight, but then worry about who will take over when the siblings are way too selfish and incapable. So the cycle repeats until you MAKE A DECISION. If you want to resume your life, you will. Humans are the most adaptable animals on the planet. We can reason, we can take control, we have free will.
Make a plan, follow your dreams and imagination. Have a good rest of your life:) xo
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No offense ladies, but this is for those folks who are done with caregiving. I know I can appreciate those who are at different stages at their levels of caring like moving their loved ones into assisted living and going through retirement while still trying to figure out what to do, but this really is a question that started this thread for what to do after all of the emotional struggle and life is consumed by caregiving tasks.
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My husband and I have started to look seriously at what we want to do in retirement, and what it will take to do it. We have looked at what he will get with social security, what I will get with social security (we have our Medicare gap health care needs taken care of thanks to a previous "retirement" from a long term job Doug had), and what I should get from the income from my IRA. We have not taken into account what we think we should get from the sale of his mother's or my mother's house, because that money may be used up in their care. But taking all into consideration, if we find a cheap place to live, we should be able to do the traveling that I so want to do. I have so many places on my bucket list, and now we have finally looked at what should be coming in in retirement, and we have seen that we can do it. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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I am going to go back and read every one of these posts carefully. I transitioned my Mother into Assisted Living ++++ in the Fall, and am now busy correcting problems in her house prior to sale, plus manging the creative financing that keeps her bills paid until I get her sold. I gave up a career position of 26 years with one company in the IT area, and can eventually go back in a number of capacities (system aministration, technical documentation, release management, software support, oh the possibilities). I also have my brother's estate to settle as he became ill and died while I was taking care of Mom. I had some time for things to sink in, like processing my Father's death which occured six years ago but was too busy to even think during that time of anything but work or caregiving. There are many diverse threads to pick up again, and I am a little overwhelmed by that, but moving ahead slowly. Goal setting is helping, but it takes hours to do something you might think is a ten minute telephone call, and everybody wants a copy of the deed, the POA, the Irrevocable Trust, all of the relevent receipts, and I have three people's lives-full of documents, beside my own and my families to wade through. No wonder, I have approach avoidence.
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My sons and my puppy (2.5 yr old white rescue dog) are my joys in life.

They and my friends continuously remind me NOT to jump back into giving all of myself away again so fast... so I am taking my time. I am sure that I will begin giving again soon, but for now... I'm learning how to enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation, although it doesn't come naturally to me.

My sons and my puppy are my light hearted hobby. For all kinds of good reasons, I can not and should not get too helpful with them, because it's just not healthy for them.

48margee, I hope you can enjoy your girls. Sometimes I look forward to my boys having girlfriends so we can enjoy girl time together. For now it's football and guy things that I share with my grown boys.
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@Soozi, I am working on a non-profit for my area. I am giving women an emotional hand-up. It has been something that has been in the works for a long time, and now that mom and dad are gone and I don't have to live for them anymore, I am discovering "ME" for the first time in my life.

I think that's part of all of this. When we have such intense lifestyles with caregiving and its all done, its like "then what?" We have to relearn our lives again. We have to rebuild our endurance and our health. That's hard to do because we have done EVERYTHING for them.

Well for me the non-profit and some other things are keeping me hopping, so to be honest, I've gone from one fire to the next LOL. I don't mind, but right now I'm on a learning curve and a bit frustrated. I'm just finding the energy level to be the biggest frustration. I need to keep up on my iron levels, but just no energy to go clean things up, or go do this or that. The thought of all that's involved just sends me to retreat mode. I'm tired of doing, but yet I press on. But that's where God worked again. I have the most amazing professional organizer in my life that I know is an angel in disguise. She has been my total relief through all of this and I couldn't have asked for any better. The incredible thing is she's 58 and she runs circles around me! She's my motivation! LOL

What I also failed to mention that shortly after mom's death I was starting a remodel within our home and then I had to handle their house and getting things ready for a renter that I was putting in my parent's home to help out a friend. Then I was working on uncluttering/unhoarding (mild version) of my home while dealing with their home. I'm on burnout with dealing with all the "stuff", still am and I still have more to do. Determination is a key factor for me. I realized that God has brought me through so much as a survivor, that I can also add this to my history. As painful as certain things are emotionally, God always brings me to a better place. He always reminds me He is there, and provides the ray of sunshine and hope I need at just the right time. It's been a lot emotionally for me, but there is.... F.R.E.E.D.O.M. and I'm realizing that people feel guilty enjoying the life given to them. Don't feel guilty. Its worse when you have a mother that berates you and had emotional control, but that makes my freedom even easier to go after. I don't answer to her anymore!!!!

@48margee first I'm so sorry for your loss. I can't fathom that type of void. Let me ask you something..... what brings joy in your life as your hobby? What always brings a smile to your face when you retreated to it. Maybe start there?? What state do you live in?
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Lost my husband of 40 years after a 21 month battle with GBM-4 Brain Cancer. Miss him so much, my life was always a devoted stay at home wife and Mom to 3 daughters. Now what? I have no clue!
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Hi mitzipinki, I love your story. I think one of the things I'm most struggling with is the 'relief'. We all feel the grief, but I also feel huge relief and I get the sense you feel it too.

My mom passed away a few months ago and while I loved her more than anyone, I am blessed that I was able to care for her and put my entire life aside for her... she was also somewhat narcissistic. That's what made her grandkids think she was so cool. She had traveled the world and lived life large. During the last year of her life she treated me like her personal valet. I did all kinds of things for her and she would thank everyone else. I was amazed, but felt in my heart it was what I wanted to do for my mom. My whole family told me she treated me like her door mat.

It's OK, because throughout my 60 years there were times when she did listen to me and encourage me and when I had nothing else in the whole world, she was there. I remember a mother's day when as a single mom, I took my boys to McDonalds and mom and I got plastic flowers from McDonalds. I still have those flowers that we got that day we spent together (no dads around in sight).

I also love your reference to doctoral students who work super hard and find a gap at the end after they finish the big degree. I have thought of going back to school, but that is PRECISELY what I am concerned about... what happens at the end of that? Is it the same... gap?

And that gap, so what of it? Sometimes I like to spend the day alone. I worked so hard during my whole life (working to provide for my children and then for my mom) and now, there is that gap. I know that I must fill it, with things to do, people to see, places to go, giving back to the world, being a contribution... but the big thing you said is that it takes time. I am taking time right now and being alone, resting A LOT and taking care of ourselves is OK.

I listen to people who tell me to take good care of myself. Every time someone says that to me, I go out and do something specifically for me. It's good to be pushed. I got a massage the other day. Wow! Yesterday I shoveled snow and had such a good time in the beautiful fluffy stuff with my doggie and because of it I lost a pound on the scale this morning. Yaaa!

Anyway, thank you for sharing your story. I could really relate to so much that you shared and I loved hearing from you today. I hope you do something good/nice for yourself. You deserve it because you did something nice for me today.
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