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I'm an only child and the unplanned sole caregiver for my mom and stepfather. After a self-destructive period of burnout (I didn't know how to take a respite break), I can't deal with it. I want to help—at the very least I want to see my parents—but I seem to be unable to go there. It's so overwhelming and I am now crippled with guilt.

Caregiving has made my life so miserable and stressful everyday I pray for Armageddon. then comes the feelings of guilt for feeling this way because I love my mum more than life itself..which is contributing to the awful stress knowing one day she will die and I will never again see her and I will miss her terribly. If you choose to go back to caregiving, remember they are much older and worse off than before. You are going to feel miserable and guilty no matter what you decide to do. I advise people to stay away from caregiving if at all possible because it is a living nightmare which there is no escape. 
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Reply to cetude
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Sunset, baby steps and support from the people who are now leading your mother's care. Especially your mother. Stepfather optional, at least for now, I'd say.

It is a benefit to your mother to have contact with you. Therefore, the people responsible for her welfare should welcome your interest in re-establishing your relationship, and they should be ready to help you. Little things first, maybe ones that "wave" at your mother without needing a response from her that might prove too much for you to handle. Send her a pretty post card. Call and say simply that you're checking in. That kind of thing. Try not to get ahead of yourself.

But whatever - ask for help, don't take on too much at once.

If you didn't love your mother, you wouldn't care a hoot about all this, you know. We're all only pedalling as fast as we can. Hugs to you.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Caregiving is sooo stressful! Not all of us are equipped to be hands on care givers. I know from experience "the guilt feeling" but it doesn't help you or your parents. Concentrate on what you CAN do to help. Start with a phone call to them. Find out what community support is available in their community and go from there.
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Reply to sue888
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sunset, guilt is hard to work on because we can feel that we don’t deserve relief from it! If you’re not doing any counseling, I hope you’ll call the number on the back of your insurance card for EAP and make an appointment! I’m an only child too, and made that call a looong time ago - it’s been a world of help, to have someone whose only purpose is to listen and support me. Friends are good too but don’t quite cut it (and I have more to say than the average person can put up with :) You will get there! But be patient with yourself. Good luck. 💐
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Reply to Zdarov
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Start with phone calls. Daily phone calls. Ask what you can do to help - like going to the store to get groceries. Offer to do the laundry.
There are so many things that need to be done outside the house too - like mowing the lawn.
Only one sister ever offered to pick up groceries that I was unable to order online.
No one offered to do anything else to help me. I was a 24/7 caregiver for 3 years and no one offered to lift a finger.
Offer to lift a finger.
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Reply to RayLinStephens
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I have no answer. I cared for hubby after stroke and dementia from that until he died. Now my mother is in early stages of dementia and my brother is pressuring me that I’m not doing enough. I still feel burnt out from before and I haven’t had a chance to live life. My youngest will leave home in a couple of years so I’m not happy about my brothers point of view. I know Mum will require more care from me as she progresses but until that time come I plan on trying to recover.
As to start to care more for your Morger, make sure to arrange for time off. Take care of your health.
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Reply to Karen51
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I'm sure your mother wouldn't want you to be going through this with it being so difficult on you. I am a sole caregiver as well and when I hit the burn out point I just pull right back until I've had a good, long break, long enough that I can take on one visit, then another with sometime between. Baby steps. Be good to yourself first.
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Reply to anonymous820660
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It seems that deep down, you might be afraid that your caregiving will become all consuming again. You need to prove to yourself that it won't. When you are ready, you can do that by seeking out all services that your parents are eligible for and begin the process of putting those in place. Next, you can see what services they can afford, and put them in place. Some of these things are Lifeline, automated medication dispensers, light housekeeping services, safety features like grab bars installed, bed rails, meals on wheels, home health aides, elderly programs, senior transportation, and fuel assistance, church programs for the elderly and adult day care. Likely, you aren't the only one feeling stressed. One of your parents might be doing the lion's share and they might be burnt out too. These programs being initiated will alleviate the pressure they are feeling too! Then, see what is left that needs doing and pick one or two things to call your own. Some of it can be fun. My mom (a perfectionist) could no longer care for her feet due to poor eyesight. My daughter loves a good pedicure, and luckily mom didn't have any condition preventing a good footsoak. So, a grandma/granddaughter pedicure date became a tradition that they enjoyed for four years. Think in terms of your own well-being and try to turn it into a win-win whenever possible. Give yourself time each week to assess where you are with how your caregiving is affecting the rest of your life and goals. Last, don't be afraid to speak up to hospital/rehab social workers and doctors about your parents limited support system. They need to know that you are the only. Rest up.
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Reply to lynina2
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Caregiving sometimes can be very traumatic, I think you should respect yourself If you feel you need time to recover emotionally. Sometimes we live terrifying or overwhelming experiencies while being caregivers. It´s not an easy job. Some times people even need therapy to manage stress and terror. Let your emotions rest. Focus on happines or a change.
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Reply to Paula44
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I have had rellies who I could not visit because of distance. I have made a real habit of sending cards at least weekly – postcards and the no message ‘thinking of you’ type cards. I live in the country, and a lot of local fairs and markets have people selling hand made cards. My friend Maureen will make them to order for me. It was a lot more personal (and cheaper) than Hallmark. I keep a stock of them ready all the time. I have found that they make a huge difference. They are ‘special’ when they arrive in the post, they get displayed, every staff member who comes in reads them aloud and makes a few comments. I found a book of cut-out cards on an old-fashioned children theme that was particularly successful. You can then build up to a quick phone call about ‘how did you like the card about ….’.

This could be an easy way for you to re-approach the situation. Because a visit is feeling quite overwhelming for you, it gives you a way to build up contact at an easy level that you can feel good about. Don’t underestimate how much it will matter to them or to you.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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