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Some caregivers are taking care of relatives who have or are being abusive to them. Some caregivers are dealing with abuse from siblings and other relatives while being a caregiver. The theme of forgiveness is something that many are dealing with for a variety of reasons. Thus, I think we should discuss it so that we can support and help each other for this is often a complex and painfully difficult reality to come to terms with.

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Cmagnum im going to try and memorize what you wrote about having a " seasoned heart from having a forgiving soul". Versus a"hardened heart "from a "bitter soul". That's a great way to look at life Thank you. Golden23. Thanks for responding. I don't need to forgive her. I think she thinks I need to be forgiven by / from her. She and I were very close growing up. Saw each other every holiday. Most weekends. I'm 7 years older , and neither one of us have a sister , so I guess I had that role a little bit. We are God Mothers to each other s kids and we're in each other's weddings. She lives 10 houses away. Her son killed himself. I was there 10 minutes later. She is in grief. She wants me to be the same as I always have been. Loving and supportive. I ll always love her. I have explained that it's not that I don't care , but sometimes, I'm not cabable because of my life as it is now. She doesn't really get it. I've told her it's really hard to live with a mother with dementia. Some one on this site wrote to me that her grief is overwhelming. But the death is over. What I'm going through is current. She or he said that she and I have both have pain , and that we can basically work it out. I believe we will because we do love each other. I just can't because I don't have it in me anymore be the same person to her or even to me because of the daily responsibilities of care giving. So yes long winded sorry, but I agree I with you. For my own sanity , I have to maintain boundaries.
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Midkid58,

I hear your broken heart and no you are not alone. I wish that the path was easier, but it is not. I'm glad that you are working with a therapist and hope the meds help. This is not, like you say, something that you can easily sake off.

Here's a book that might be helpful. The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Dan B. Allender, Larry Crabb It also has a separate workbook to help you apply it. 

The main points of forgiveness for me is that 1. It does not erase the memory or resolve their guilt. 2. It does not require them asking for my forgiveness. 3. Forgiving them helps me primarily, not them. 4. What I did with my anger that I wrote a letter about and burned up was symbolically and verbally put the person in God's hands to deal with by burning the letter and throwing the ashes to the wind. 5. Forgiveness is an act of the will not of the emotions. 6. To hold old to unforgiveness is like drinking poison which only hurts you and empowers them to keep hurting you, but does nothing to them.

Given the depth of your pain, I would not try to forgive all three at one time, unless you can. I would pick one of them and see if you can make some small steps toward forgiving that one person before you move to the next. The main thing is to keep moving in the right direction.

I hope this helps you in your journey. My prayers go with you.
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Forgiveness is very hard---harder even more still when the person who hurt you is dead and there was no "closure". I was abused by an older brother, quite severely for many years. I never spoke of it, as no one would have believed me ( so I thought) and I was terrified as he constantly reminded me he could kill me if he chose.

Now, flash fwd 50 years. All the nightmares and trauma are still there. This abuse has been in my mind for 50+ years. Brother died 4 years ago and the "trauma" became fresh and horrible. I am in serious therapy and on meds to deal with flashbacks and overwhelming fear. Getting better, but at some point, I HAVE to forgive this person. I don't know how I can, or will.

Also, he abused others...part of my guilt is thinking "IF I had acted differently, would they have been safe?" So I am working on forgiving him, myself, my mother, who knew something was "up" but never asked nor cared. She now knows and thinks I am being overly dramatic. I have to forgive her too.

I know I'm not the only person who is working through great pain to get "well". Some things, you can shake off and say "I can forgive this person for this and such" and it truly isn't hard. What I am facing now....well, I honestly don't know if I will be able to forgive.

My heart is not hard, it is broken.
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Erin you need to maintain your boundaries, Can you forgive her for trying to lean on you?
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I think that it is a mistaken goal to try and write down everyone whom we need to forgive and why like a writing assignment. Some, I have been able to write down, but for me as these people and events come to mind, I then deal with forgiveness. Making a written record is just too much for me although I have written a letter to one individual who did me much harm, burned it in a trash can and threw the ashes to the wind.
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Another part of self preservation sometimes involves forgiving people very often to free ourselves from hardness of heart that comes from a bitter soul vs having a seasoned heart that comes from a forgiving soul. I'm still dealing with this myself.

Some family members look to other family members to be their 1 800 mental health when they need but don't want to go see a mental health professional themselves who can be an objective third party and supportive without other issues of or with family members.
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What about when other family members are upset because we the care givers aren't involved enough ( their opionion). And could be true in their issues.my cousins son killed himself 18 months ago.  She thinks I'm distant. I'm self preserving.  I can only deal with so much.       I'm not 1 800 call mental health.  I try though.   
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I have found I have to forgive regularly too. Sometimes I realise I haven't forgiven someone for something, so do it when I can. It is a work in progress.
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Dear cdnreader, it might help to write down what you feel. Even to write a letter to your Dad, just to get some of those thoughts out of you. When you get them down on paper, sometimes it's easier to let go. Also if you can find a good counselor it might help - hospice has free ones if he did have hospice.
This experience is like none other - being so close to death, doing our best to save the life of a loved one for as long as possible and all the emotions that it involves, both before and after. And all the family dynamics that go on- very difficult sometimes.

I don't know why some who could help, just won't. Don't know the reasons in your case, but even if they are forgivable, things might be different from here on. In my case one of those was also abusive, selfish and greedy throughout the whole ordeal - only interested in money and things and treated me and our Dad terribly. Even before he died, I decided that for my own mental health no contact is the best thing. Never thought I could do that but it has to be.
Getting over the anger is difficult. Sometimes there are very old feelings related to that. Again, maybe writing, maybe some counseling - someone neutral that you trust and can just talk to. I find this forum very helpful too. Many here share your feelings and are behind you. I wish you the best.
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JessieBelle,

Thanks!
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cmag, forgiveness is something I've had to do every day. When the person we care for is so self centered, it takes everything from you and gives nothing back. I have to admit my ability to forgive is wearing thin after almost 8 years.

Now, cmag, I know you're dealing with forgiveness issues. I have a lot of time to listen, so let us know what you're going through.
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Thank you cmagnum. I appreciate your advice and your faith in the future. I have tried writing out my feelings and doing some role play with my counselor. It is a process. Thank you for starting this thread.
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Grief work is a journey that takes time but doesn't always go in a straight line of steps. Be kind to yourself. You will adjust to the new normal in due time.
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Hi cmagnum,

Thank you for your kind reply. I appreciate your compassion and understanding. I think that is the hardest part for me getting my emotions out. Thank you for your kind suggestions. I know I need to do more grief work. I sometimes wonder if and when I will accept my new reality. And if I will be able to forgive myself for not doing enough to save my dad.
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Hi cdnreader,

I am sorry to hear of your father's death and that your siblings did not help more. Your emotions sound like a mixture of anger and grief. Anger is part of the grief process, but you are also angry with your siblings which is understandable. Another part of the grief process is the "what ifs" in which we blame ourselves by asking "what if" I had done ____, would they have lived longer or saying "if only" I had done ___ they would have lived longer. Truth is that they may or may not have. I'm not sure it is so much about forgiving yourself as much as it is accepting that you did what you could but none of us can control the results in the end. I would suggest getting your emotions written out and find someone you can talk with face to face about this like a pastor, a grief support group or a therapist so that you can know that you are not alone in all of this. You sound like a very loving daughter. Please take care of yourself and be nice to yourself.
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Thank you for this post cmagnum. Since my father passed away 9 months ago, it is something I have been thinking about. I am so angry with my siblings for not helping more. And I am angry at myself as well. My dad gave me stony looks for three years after his stroke. I tried every day to do what I thought was right, but in the end, he still passed. People say I have to forgive myself and those around me because nothing will bring my dad back. It is a struggle. I can't get my mind around how to do this.
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