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My 73 year old mother died suddenly of an asthma attack 2 months ago. She'd been stricken with prednisone-dependent asthma for more than a decade, so while her death was a shock, she had not been in great health for a long time. The day she died my new husband (married only 4 months, dating about 2 years) and I flew up to be with my 72yo father at their home out of state. We all spent a month together grieving and my husband was very supportive, emotionally available and helpful. Since then, we brought my father back to stay with us "as long as he needs". The tricky thing is this: my husband and I moved into my parents' old home last August because they were no longer able to manage it and to help facilitate their move out of state, thus cementing their retirement years. (They'd only been living in their retirement home for a few months when my mom passed away. ) My husband and I took over the mortgage and have been trying desperately to get settled-in, redecorate, take care of deferred maintenance and make the place some semblance of "home" for us. Complicating that, my parents came to stay with us for the holidays last year and ended up staying 6 months due to Covid. My husband and I have barely had 3 months to ourselves in this house over the last year. In retrospect I was glad to have all that time with my now-passed mother but even then tensions between my father and husband (then fiance) were growing. My mom was always the emotional cement of our little family and I just feel like we're crumbling now...


I am an only child (35 yo) and there's no one else in the family to help us right now, especially during Covid. I'm terrified to leave my father alone at his home out of state, or even to ask him to leave. Though he is capable of taking care of himself more or less, I'm worried about his mental health-- he suffers from depression and alcohol addiction, which have been an issue long before my mother passed away.


The trouble and tension has been mounting over the last several weeks with my father trying to keep busy by "helping us" with projects around the house. He is not in great physical shape and almost always moans and complains about the pain he's in doing these various projects-- he doesn't seem to enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done, he only lives for the praise he'll receive from completing the task. A little like someone acting hurt when another doesn't notice their new haircut, my dad will do some little repair and then act devastated that no one has noticed.
I know that my dad is going through a horrific grieving period right now and I'm trying to be as sympathetic as possible. But my husband and I are also under incredible (Covid-related) stress. We are both out-of-work restaurant professionals and have been stuck at home living on savings and unemployment during the shutdown.
My husband is incredibly frustrated with his own personal situation (he is an acclaimed chef who was in the process of opening a restaurant when the shut down happened), and being stuck at home for 7 months with little to occupy us professionally is just crushing. He is SO irritable around my father and ANYTHING my dad tries to do is met with disdain and near disgust from my husband.


I'm just so stressed I feel like I'm being torn limb from limb... sometimes I worry our new marriage was a mistake, I worry that the strain of caring for my father (either at a distance or in person) will be too much for me, and I'm heartbroken at the loss of my mom.


Not sure what I'm asking here exactly... just hoping for some inkling of a silver lining. My mom was always the positive, tough, get-it-done personality and she was always able to mediate between my difficult father. Now I'm just in survival mode, barely making from one day to the next...

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Newlywed AND elder caregiver at the same time. That does not sound like an easy combination.

I am sorry to hear about your Mother. Her passing will be a huge adjustment to your family. Have you considered some counselling support for this big life change? It may help clarify what your priorities are & how to proceed.

My SIL was dedicated to her Father thoughout his time of illness. It looked so admirable to be so supportive. Yet being so emotially connected to him, this kept her husband on the outer. Sadly they have now separted.

Multi-gen living works for some couples but not for others. Living nearby but not under one roof may be an option?
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Your father at 72 has at least two more decades of life to go, and that will be on a downhill trajectory. I gather that none of this was discussed with your new husband prior to marriage?
Your are a grown woman now, starting your own nuclear family. You have a choice to be made now between your new husband and future family, and being instead a 24/7 caretaker to your elders the rest of your life.
This honestly has nothing to do with "getting along". Your husband should not be expected to live with your elders, his elders, or any elders for the next several decades. The move you made into a home of the elder complicates things.
Your choice can be made by you alone. I wish you good luck, because you are deciding for the remainder of your quality years.
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I know this is a hard time for you but please don’t make any decisions regarding your father relocating to be closer to you and your husband at this time. Your husband per your writing has been patient and cooperative so far in dealing with your parents (and now dad only). Your husband’s opinion counts.

Do you think your father feels that because you now live in what used to be his home that he needs to return there? What is your fathers living situation now?

I would leave dad where he is and have him evaluate his present situation including housing and financial resources if any. If he has assets encourage he seek out AL. But don’t move him into your home.

Who knows but dad may adapt well in a few months even with his spouse passing. It’s too soon for anyone to make decisions that may effect you for years & making a decision you’ll regret later.
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Shane1124's advice is something that is said often by professionals - don't make any huge decisions soon after a loved one's death. That being said, since you are an only child, having your dad far enough away that you need to fly to see him, doesn't sound like a situation you would be comfortable with in the short run and if things didn't turn out well for your dad, you'd feel horribly guilty for not showing more compassion.

AlvaDeer's advice is wonderful too, as is Beatty's. While looking out for your Dad's best interest, carefully consider your relationship with your husband and the impact it will have on your lives.

At 72, he may have a few decades left and it doesn't sound practical that you should spend that long with him under your roof, especially during the tense situation Covid has caused for you and your husband.

My suggestion would be to try to find him an apartment or an assisted living facility that is close enough for you to visit regularly without taking too much time away from your husband.

My sympathies to you over the loss of your mom, as well as the loss of your incomes. Take care of yourself. Try to not feel guilty about whatever decision you make. Do you have a friend that can listen and be your sounding board or just be there for you and support you in your decision?

Take care of yourself!
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I'm sorry about the passing of your mom. It's a huge loss for you to process and it will take time.

I'm wondering if you are worrying about your dad more than you need to, or should, because of the sudden loss of your mom and just feeling overwhelmed with grief? It would be understandable, I'm just trying to help you find some clarity.

You said your dad can pretty much take care of himself. He's only 72. Where does he want to be? There should be a plan in place for when he is leaving and going back to his own home. An end date would probably help your husband to have more patience with your dad.

When you and your husband took over the mortgage of your parents old home did they transfer the home to you? Do you legally own the home? I'm wondering if there is a clear distinction as to who's house it is now, and if that is coming into play here with your father staying with you and your husband?
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Thank God 2 months is not long. I may do this, tell Dad after Christmas some decisions will need to be made. He cannot live with you indefinitely. You just got married and you need to make a life with your husband. Dad will need to decide where he wants to live. In his new home or find someplace nearby because living with u is not an option.

If he chooses to live near you be ready to set Boundries. What you are willing and not willing to do. What resources in your County he can take advantage of. I am 71 and my DH is almost 74. We still live in a 4 bedroom house and he does the upkeep. So 72 is not too old to be on your own. He has to learn to be alone. Find things to keep him busy or he is going to rely on you for his social life. He needs to understand that he is part of your life but your DH "is" your life. Do not disable him by doing too much for him. He can't cook, not to old to learn. He can take a class.
You want to enjoy Dad not resent him.

Now husband. Ask if he can hang in there a little longer. That you understand how he feels but you want to wait until after Christmas.

My in-laws moved to Fla at the ages of 68. FiL was recovering from lung cancer surgery and chemo, MIL was recovering from surgery from a bad valve. She moved 16hrs away from us, 8 andv12 hrs away from other 2 sons. MIL had surgery after she first got there. FILs cancer came back and he died at 71. We all were there for the funeral but she did not go home with any of us, TG. She lived there another 20 yrs. She kept pretty active, had widowed friends and played cards with a group of women. She tried to get my DH to move down there but he didn't want to. What I am saying is Dad will be OK. And if not, that is not your fault.
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72 is still quite young. He should not be living with you indefinately. Talk to your husband and get him to agree to let him stay through the end of the year but your father must learn to live on his own. I understand he is grieving but most people do not move in with others when they lose someone. They need to stand on their own two feet. His 'issues' are his problem, not yours. Talk to your father now and tell him that come January he needs to return to his own home and figure out what he wants to do. It is not fair to your husband to have your Dad live with you for a prolonged period.
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I can't fully express how helpful all these responses have been. I don't have any other peers in a similar situation so it has been difficult to get good advice.

I too have read that it's important not to make any big decisions in the first year after the death of a parent/ loved one. My mind has been racing with "what should I do??" and now I'm starting to think I really must take this one day at a time, while also looking to the next 3 months (much beyond that is hard to visualize).

I also agree that if we could just hold out with cohabitation for another few weeks, maybe till the New Year, that we will be capable of making some better decisions. It seems like my dad isn't too keen on staying with us indefinitely and luckily he is fairly self sufficient. Maybe I can look into hiring some help locally to him, even if it's just with house cleaning duties. We can see how he fairs for a few months into the new year on his own and reassess the situation in the springtime. He is a very sociable and gregarious guy by nature, and although he hasn't developed a network local to him yet, I hope he might begin to reach out to a community there.

You're all right that I shouldn't think I need to baby him or take him under my wing right now... ESPECIALLY since that day *might* come eventually. I have felt guilty at the idea of "leaving him alone" but you folks are right that he has to go through his own grieving journey on his own.

I so appreciate these warm well wishes and practical advice. I was truly feeling on the edge of a complete and yet meltdown but as for today, I'm doing ok. Thank you again.
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