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My husband and I own a mountain home 2-hours away. We have no children and no other family to spend Thanksgiving with. We are planning on spending Thanksgiving at our mountain home. With my mother's ALZ, stage 6, I feel so guilty for leaving her. She does not remember my visits from one day to the next. Most days she does not know who I am and asks me where Trish is. I'm not sure who she thinks I am. I know she trusts me and believes that I am someone who loves and takes care of her needs. I take her treats when I visit and on good days we go out for lunch. I disconnected her flip phone when she moved into the AL facility (9/19/19). She hasn't mentioned her phone. I know that the facility will call me if something happens: a fall, sickness, etc. I keep telling myself that it's okay for me to go and enjoy myself and that Mom will not remember if I'm with her or not. Still, I'm so sad and torn over leaving her. I live 2 miles from her facility. I am all that she has to visit her. I hate this disease! Some days I feel as if this disease is destroying both of us. Thank you for any advice on how I can move past this horrible guilt and live my life.

I would find a way to celebrate Thanksgiving with her before you leave, a turkey sandwich and stuffing, a piece of pumpkin pie or whatever she enjoys from the Thanksgiving dinner menu.

Make it about being thankful that she is able to have 1 more meal with you, enjoy it, then head out for a fun Thanksgiving with your husband.

I wouldn't call her, I wouldn't think about her, I wouldn't worry about her. She will be okay and the facility will call you in an emergency.

Enjoy this mini holiday with your husband and know that she is being well cared for and would understand that you are having some honey time, if she was able.

When we feel guilty it is counterproductive and it is a waste of energy. When we are well balanced and do the best we can for our loved one we have no cause to feel guilty for taking care of our family and ourselves. I think that a lot of feelings attributed to guilt are more of a loss emotion than actual guilt. It is sad to lose our parents one brain cell at a time and we don't want to hurt them, intentionally or unintentionally and because they do things that resemble themselves when they weren't sick we don't know what they are really experiencing or feeling and that makes it difficult for us.

Mindfully stop yourself when you start feeling guilty. Whatever that looks like for you, remind yourself that you have done the best you can and she is safe and well cared for and she would have told you when she was healthy to go have fun being solo with your honey for the weekend or whatever gets you to stop beating yourself up with false guilt.

I know that some think that you have to feel guilty all the time or be labelled as a narcissist or psychopath, not true, very damaging thinking. Feeling bad or guilty is an appropriate response to doing something wrong, those same feelings are nothing but bondage when you are not doing anything wrong. Appropriate emotional responses do not make anything but a well balanced stable human and we should encourage one another to look at what we are really feeling and not feel guilty about wanting a break from someone else's problems or challenges.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with mom and a fabulously fun Thanksgiving holiday with your husband.
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AbbyRose Nov 4, 2019
Boy, you really hit home when you compared feelings of guilt to 'bondage'. That's exactly what it is. I do everything for my mother. I see that she has whatever she needs to make her as comfortable as possible. She is my best friend, and it's killing me that we no longer are able to do what we used to. Guilt and stress are pure evil! It literally sucks the life out of me. Thank you for your kind encouragement. I will go and enjoy a short getaway with my husband.
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What are you doing 'wrong', exactly, that's causing you such 'horrible guilt'? Your mother has a disease which makes it impossible for her to even realize it's Thanksgiving, never mind that you were even there to visit her! Go have your little holiday in peace and allow yourself to do so without suffering needlessly. Go visit her before you leave and after you return and I guarantee you, she won't be admonishing you for anything. It's the self-recrimination that has to stop......it serves no useful purpose.

Enjoy yourself........you're allowed to.
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AbbyRose Nov 4, 2019
Thank you so much for your encouragement. I really don't know what I'm doing wrong. Nothing. I can't tell you why I feel the way that I do. But, you are right, my mother doesn't realize that it's a holiday. She doesn't even know Monday from Friday. When I visit her, she asks what day is it? I do want to let my guilt go. It truly is a ball and chain that I carry with me daily. Thank you for taking time to help me through this. This is a horrible disease that sucks the life out of the caregiver. I am going, and I hope to have a great time at my mountain retreat.
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Guilt is for when you murder someone. Guilt is for when you steal from folks. Guilt means that you INTENTIONALLY and with malice a thought, chose to do something evil to someone.
You need to change you semantics about this. Change the way you speak to yourself about it all. You need to change it because after you give yourself your daily "beating myself up" talk, you end it with "Why am I DOING this to myself. What's the MATTER with me".
As long as you continue to stir this stew of self recriminations it will simmer on the heat.
How about "I am a human being, and I have limitations".
How about "The thing about Saints is, as much as we love them, they end shot full of arrows and spending eternity trying to answer everyone's prayers".
How about "I deserve this, and so does the rest of the family, so I am going to do it and I am going to love it, and sure, I will have a few moments in which I feel bad, as well".
We can tell you all of this. And that is what we will do if you post it here. But you know, my guess is that you really are a decent person. I don't know a whole lot of psychopaths and narcissists who are sitting about tormenting themselves. You can do this for yourself.
Stay mindful. Stay in this moment of this day. Don't go back to all the pain. Don't go forward to the pain you imagine (it will be here soon enough, hee hee).
Please, hon. Do go. Please have fun. You know, there isn't a WORD, not a single word I wrote above, that you don't already know.
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BlackHole Nov 7, 2019
Well said, Alva! 💗 A true and timely message for all of us, as we slide into another holiday season.
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My guess? It’s not the Thanksgiving plans that are bothering you, so much as the sadness of your mom going through this disease. And you have every right to feel sad and mourn the ‘mental death’ of your mom. Holiday or no, you’ll still be sad. That’s okay.

The disease that is slowly taking your mother cannot and must not take you with her! Wouldn’t your mother want you to enjoy your life and holiday? If she knew the guilt you are feeling... would it upset her knowing she is the reason for it? Anyone who loves you would feel terrible if they made you feel bad, even if it wasn’t on purpose. Don’t let your mother be that source of hurt. Hope that makes s sense :).
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AbbyRose Nov 4, 2019
You are absolutely right. Mom would not want me to feel the way that I do. I have forgotten the person she used to be. I am so focused on who she is today. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I am going, and I am going to do my best to enjoy a little break.
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It’s ok for you to go. When my mom was in SNF, we went to visit our son in North Carolina every Thanksgiving. I told my mom we were going. When we got back, she had no idea I’d been gone. Most importantly, let the staff know you’re going and how to reach you. You and she will be fine. Make one call a day to check on how she’s doing. And have a good time. Sounds like a wonderful break for you!
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AbbyRose Nov 4, 2019
I'm also in NC. Thank you for your kind encouragement. I know in my heart that all will be okay with her, but it's just so hard and I feel so guilty. This disease is so horrible for the sufferer and the caregiver. Thank you again for your reply.
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You are entitled to your life and to spend some quality time with your husband. At her stage, it is just another day, nothing more.

Guilt is a self imposed emotion that just keeps one stuck in a place that they should not be or embrace. It serves no purpose whatsoever, it has become one of the buzz words of the 21st Century. Turn it around, you have done what is best for her, she is safe, she has people at her beckon call.

It is part of the circle of life, unfortunately, we are all living too long, my mother is 94, she is still here, but then again she isn't. I feel no guilt, she has lived her life on her own terms, and I must do the same.

Enjoy your trip, you and your husband have earned it.
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AbbyRose Nov 4, 2019
Thank you for your kind encouragement! You are right, Mom's days run into each other. She doesn't know Monday from Friday, and she asks me with each visit what day it is. My mom will be 85 next March, and she wouldn't want me to feel the way I do. I know that I need to let it go, but it's just so hard. We have always been so close. There are worse things in this world than death, and having a loved one suffer from ALZ is one of them. It is truly a horrid disease. Thank you again.
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Oh please, you need this get away. Mom will have no idea you are even gone. Her days are just running into each other at this time. She is safe and cared for. You won't be able to enjoy the weekend if you feel guilty. The AL will have a nice dinner for the residents. Maybe before you leave and u can have it with her.

If the guilt is because Mom is being left behind, please know it would not be any vacation with her there. At her stage, taking her out of what is familiar will not be good. If the AL is fairly new, she needs a while to adjust. You would need to toilet her, dress and bathe her, etc. What kind of "get away" is that. You and DH need time alone. He is your priority this weekend. ENJOY IT!
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"Some days I feel as if this disease is destroying both of us."

You are over identifying with her disease and are making your happiness dependent upon her's. Please don't let it destroy both of you. If you find this hard to separate, then you may find a therapist helpful to make this important transition.
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AbbyRose Nov 7, 2019
Oh my goodness, NoTryDoYoda! I don't know how I couldn't see this! Yes, I do feel much better and I am happier when Mom is happy and having a good day. I've never thought that I was dependent upon her happiness, but I am. Thank you for showing me this in black and white. I will try to enjoy my holiday. I know she will be fine. Thank you.
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You’ve received wonderful advice that I can’t add to. I will say that I went crazy without a break, 24/7 365. I am so glad that you don’t have that situation. Let’s be honest, even without that situation it’s tough.

I just wanted to echo what others have said, GO! Enjoy yourself. Take pictures. Build happy memories. Spending so many years caring for my mom, I foolishly cheated myself and husband out of time that we needed for ourselves. Please don’t be as stupid as I was because you can’t get that time back.
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BlackHole Nov 7, 2019
👍🏼
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I have been exactly where you are. I know the guilt. But I'm happy to report that I recently took a 6 day road trip with 3 gal pals to New Mexico and it didn't phase mom whatsoever. She was safe, a good pal stopped in and visited her, and all was just fine. I will join the chorus. Go!
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