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I have just discovered that my father's directives regarding his illness were not followed by my mother or my brother, who acted as his doctor. I do not know how to handle this because my father suffered so much for so long. I was left with the cards and papers that are often present at the end of someone's funeral. I started organizing them today after almost a year since the funeral and stumbled upon the full version of my father's POA. I had only seen part of it during his almost year long illness. This was legal and signed, my mother and brother had copies, but they did not follow it. Dad asked to be allowed to die peacefully if everything had been done for him and he was not going to ever recover any quality of life. Every doctor except my brother kept telling us he was suffering and would not recover from his two strokes even though he was mentally alert. He could not live without the vent and went through attempt after attempt when people tried to wean him from the vent but he could only last for 3 days at the most before crashing again. He actually grabbed my shirt once and told me to tell the rest of my family that he wanted nothing else done. My brother and adult nephew told me he did not mean it. In the end, Dad's case worker at the hospital my brother worked at came to me and said no one else would make a decision, my brother was about to be called before an ethics board, and my mother needed to meet with her. My mother told her she was too busy. Ironically, this all took place on the day my father told me I had to make the others, much older and rarely present, let him die. He told me I was strong and tough enough to do so. The caseworker and I found him another placement and he died within three weeks. I have been haunted by all of this. My siblings were so ugly to me throughout the time Dad was ill because the health staff at the 9 facilities he was at saw me daily and told me the truth. I tried to tell my family the truth and they didn't want to hear it. My brother has always been my hero but he has admitted to me that he shouldn't have been so involved with Dad's care. Each facility told him so and he created problems. My father died holding my hand with none of the rest of my large family present. I did what he wanted, but I am battered and heartbroken that he was allowed to suffer. How do I ever handle what happened to him? I appear to be a gentle, quiet special education teacher, but like most teachers I have learned to deal with tough and heartbreaking situations. My siblings and I are far apart in age and location. We really don't know one another. They partied throughout my father's illness in hotel rooms while my mother continued with her interests. My husband, teenage son, and I looked after my father. How do you handle information like this? I can't change my father's suffering nor do I want to be hostile toward anyone. I am too tired and sad.

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Thank you for responding. I am not going to confront anyone. There is no reason to do so. My older brother must have had some very serious needs to save Dad. I think we all fall from our "hero" status, but I respect him for being honest with me and himself. He probably needs my love more than ever now. My mother had been injured four years ago with a Traumatic Brain Injury. She and Dad were still together, but he was her caregiver. I am her main caregiver now. She has recovered to a certain extent but does not always make good decisions. She refused to believe Dad was dying. His POA was in use some of the time,but several doctors very firmly told everyone he was mentally capable of making his own decisions. I have just been reaching a point of peace, and today's event shattered that to a certain extent. I was with Dad for the painful stuff and learned to take care of him physically. His constant suffering and courage broke my heart, and now I know he never wanted his illness to drag on like it did. I will have to focus on his promise to meet me at the Gates of Heaven and let the rest go. It is what is best for everyone, and it is what Dad would have wanted me to do. Your kindness has meant a great deal. Rebecca
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What an especially traumatic event your father's death was for you. And now you are sorting through papers, perhaps expecting to feel some closure, and the old wounds are opened again. I am very sorry.

I thought medical POA only kicked in when the patient himself could not make informed decisions. It sounds like your father was alert and could tell you his wishes. Why was POA a factor? Or is that why your brother was in trouble and you were able to move your father? The whole situation sounds like major unnecessary stress on all parties concerned.

It is good that your brother has admitted that he should not have been so involved. I imagine that once he could look at it more objectively he, too, is sorry about the additional days of suffering for your father.

Seeing the instructions that your father left should reassure you that you did the right thing. It is sad that they couldn't have been honored sooner, but that was beyond your power. Feel at peace with what you did.

If you do not want to be hostile toward anyone, do not be hostile toward anyone. That is under your control.

You are not close in age, in distance, or in relationship with your siblings. I don't see any reason to change that. It is OK now to choose a new hero. I am going to assume that their motives were not selfish, just, in your view (and mine) misguided. Were your parents estranged before his stroke, or was your mother in denial? It is hard to understand her behavior but I don't the whole picture (and perhaps you don't either.)

Your father's death would have been very painful for you no matter what the circumstances. Thinking of his additional suffering added pain for you. Cherish his memory. His suffering is over. Let your pain go, too.

If you are considering handling this information by discussing it with your family, I suggest that you give yourself plenty of time -- a month, perhaps -- to absorb it and process it yourself first.

Hugs to you.
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