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Hi everyone,

I recently joined; this seems like a great community, and I'm very thankful to have found it! Seems like we're all in the same, or very similar, boat.

My question is how to deal with the guilt and anger? I have a lovely, wonderful FIL. He has Stage 4 cancer and is living with us, and I'm glad he's here instead of a care facility. He needs to be here, and he deserves the best care we can give him - and it's just my husband and I, no siblings are helping. But we've been caring for him in various capacities for YEARS. Long story that I won't go into now. We rarely go on vacation, never plan anything, etc. However, a major milestone anniversary is coming up for my husband and I, and we planned a lovely trip. And then had to cancel the whole thing after Dad's newest diagnosis.

Now, I know that it's terribly selfish to be angry about that, but I AM angry, and then I also feel terribly guilty for being angry. Ugh. I swear, I'm not a selfish person by nature. So why do I feel like this? I mean, I'm not the one dying of cancer, so I should just focus on Dad, right? What is WRONG with me??

Thanks for listening to the whining.

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Quote: "Release the guilt... You have done nothing wrong."

Thank you. ::hugs::
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Of course anger and guilt just happen in this crazy caregiving life. You have every right to be angry at the situation. It sounds like you and your husband do this caregiving job much like my husband and I do. It is difficult always doing things separate, but we do lots together at home. You will get a chance to go on that trip, and it will be much more enjoyable when you are not worried about Dad at home. Release the guilt... You have done nothing wrong.
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Y'all are awesome! Thank you!!
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There is NOTHING wrong with you. You can be angry. You are not alone. I admire you and all you do x sending you hugs and a pat on the back. I adore the fact you are doing all you are and hope and wish for you that you can get away at least a day or two to refresh your soul. And hubby too x
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Dear WhirledTravel,

Your father-in-law is lucky to have you and your husband. I find it hard being the good one, the responsible one, the dutiful one in the family. Like the others have said its only natural to have moments of anger and guilt.

There is a lot of sacrifice involved and its not easy. There is a feeling of being trapped in the day to day care. Of course, we love that person and want to help them but sometimes the daily challenges can overwhelm.

As Jeanne said, do what you feel is right. And if you need a break, take the break.

Always know you are entitled to your feelings. Lots of great information and support here.
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Oh and yes, we'll take a trip at some point. I was just REALLY looking forward to this one. Ah, well. The flip side is that Dad is truly thankful that we're helping him, and he's so incredibly sweet about everything. I think I just needed to have my "poor me" moment! But at the end of the day, I know it will be alright, and I'll have no regrets about Dad.  I love him very much, and I'm way closer to him than my own Dad.  So, it's worth it, you know?
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Hi Jeanne, thanks. We do have people who can come in at night to give us a break; we can't afford it every night, though. My husband and I are trying to do little things to give each other a break; I stay with Dad while my husband goes to the gym and swims, or he'll stay with Dad and let me go have coffee for an hour. I actually feel fortunate that my husband and I are able to be a team like that; I know that some others on this forum aren't so lucky!

As for hospice, he apparently doesn't qualify yet, because he's trying immunotherapy. But yes, the minute he qualifies, I'll be calling hospice!
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I cared for my husband with dementia at home for 10 years. Do you think I was never angry in that decade? I don't know if that is even possible or healthy. But anger plus guilt? That's a heavy load. Let the guilt help you decide how to handle similar situations in the future.

It helped me a lot to recognize the source of the anger. I was almost never angry at my husband (even though I sometimes directed it at him.) I was angry at the disease, angry that it struck our household, angry at fate or destiny or random acts of the universe. When I directed my anger at my husband I did feel guilty. None of this was his fault. So I apologized. "Sweetie, I am so sorry I yelled at you. I know this problem is not your fault at all. I'm really angry at the disease, not at you. It wasn't right to yell at you and I am sorry." That helped me dispel the guilt, and it helped reassure him.

Respite is absolutely critical for caregivers. You do need to get away regularly. But I can also understand not wanting to leave him if he is in end stage. Hospice offered me a respite period (5 days, I think). I turned it down. Respite was very needed during his long illness, but I wanted to be with him at the end.

If that is how you feel about staying with your FIL at this time, plan your respite and defer it. You had this lovely trip planned. Save the plans, and take the trip later. Just because it isn't on the exact date you married doesn't make it less of a celebration.

You had to miss a play you wanted to see? When the caregiving is done, buy a season ticket and see all the plays!

It would be better if you could have some respite as you go along, but I can understand that might not be relaxing for you with FIL in end stage. Do what feels right.

Is FIL on hospice care? That can be very helpful in helping you understand what is going on.
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Hi MidKid, thanks for your reply. I appreciate your perspective! And yes, this is the beginning of EOL care. He might have 6 months, or he might have a year or more, we just don't know. He was looking pretty bad there for a couple of weeks. He's rallied a bit, but in the meantime, we would have lost a lot of money if we didn't simply cancel the trip, since it was near final payment.

The trip was a cruise, so it's not something we could cancel last minute, and my husband was worried that Dad would pass away while we were gone, and also, yeah, kind of hard to enjoy a trip like that, knowing Dad was at home, dying. I couldn't do that, nor could my husband. When we booked the trip, we knew Dad was frail and not in great health, but it was before the cancer diagnosis.
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You're angry because you're HUMAN. I can't count the times we had plans and had to last minute cancel b/c of somebody's else's drama.

It's OK to feel what you feel. IS there someone you trust to come take care of FIL while you get away? I know with 5 kids, we never went anywhere, ever. It took a toll on our marriage, now we're empty nesters, we don't know what to do.

WHY did you have to cancel? Is he now entering EOL care and you have to be there b/c you care for him and no one else can, or b/c he doesn't want you to go, or b/c you don't feel like you can leave him?

One thing I learned: when making plans for those rare nights out or a special trip..PLAN that there will be an emergency that will halt it all. Can you still go, for at least part of the time--or is it a "all inclusive" thing.

You are NOT selfish to be angry about missing your trip, It's not selfish to want to have some fun. It's NORMAL.

Try to see if you can work out some alternate plans for FIL. He knows you love him---that's what matters. There must be some kind of interim help you can hire--or other family members.

Good Luck---and take a deep breath!!
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