Hi all,

This is my first post. I’ve reached a point to where it would just be nice to hear others feel similar to the way I do... here’s a little back story:

My family has always been extremely close. We’re all best friends. My mom was diagnosed with cancer and she passed in 2017. It will be a year this October. When her illness began to decline and made it to where she could no longer work, my husband and I packed up and moved in with them. One, so we could “pay them rent” with the bills. And two, so that I could help out with taking care of her as best I could.

The care my mom required with the illness was unlike anything I could have ever prepared for. It was extreme and while it completely changed me as a person and was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, I would take care of her all over again, for every day for the rest of my life if given the chance. She was my person.

When she passed, my dad took it hard. She was only 56 and they had so much time to still share together. It’s been almost a year now and he is still grieving so very hard, which I completely understand. He relies a lot on my husband and my company. We invite him to go places with us a lot and though some days are harder than others, I feel like we have developed an okay rhythm of daily life between the 3 of us.

My issue is my own guilt. I learned from this experience that I am the “fixer” in the family, and honestly, some things I can’t fix. I can’t fix that he’s lonely because it’s not my responsibility to make anyone else happy except myself...and yet I still worry at the end of the day if I talked to my dad enough or if I’m spending too much time with him and not my husband. (Side note: hubby is the best person ever and totally supports all of this. Sometimes I wish he would get aggravated from time to time so all the decision weren’t on me!)

I guess my overall question is what do you do when you *know* what you’re supposed to do, but can’t carry it through? I *know* I’m not responsible for anyone and all I can do is be there and do my best, but what do you do to make yourself feel better when you still feel the guilt?

Thanks. ❤️

Guilt?? Dear young lady - you have nothing to feel guilty about. You have willingly, lovingly, sacrificed your time and emotions for your parents - and you know in your heart, that it's time to take care of you. You have a husband and he loves you dearly. Your Dad needs you too, but he is not to be your first concern any more. I am just a few years older than he is and I know that he will, given time, move on with his life. Distance yourself. Not just for your sake, but for his. He has become emotionally dependent on you. Does he have any hobbies - or old friends he could spend time with? Encourage it. Does he have any friends you would feel comfortable talking to and sharing with?

I am so sorry for the loss of your Mother. It's obvious you loved her dearly. God bless you and help you find the strength to let go.... and get on with living.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to dlpandjep

My Dad went on SSD at 53. Other than a garden in the Summer, Dad had no hobbies. He just sat around the house and allowed Mom to wait on him hand and foot. So I see where you are coming from.

I am not an entertainer. I do not enjoy trying to keep someone busy. I always told my Gsons, Mom Mom bakes she doesn't play. That PopPops job.

When couples make each other their whole life, grieving is hard. Which is what you parents seem to have done. I really have no idea how your going to get Dad interested in things he has never done. And really, that isn't your responsibility and don't feel guilty. Call your Office of Aging. Ask what kind of programs there maybe for Dad.

Sit down and tell Dad he needs to get involved in something. 60 is not old and he has many years ahead of him. Maybe a grief group. Churches usually have them. He could make friends there. Get a catalog from the local Jr. College and see if there are any classes he may be interested in. See if the High School has night school. If he likes animals, volunteer at a shelter. My GFs father volunteered for the red cross running blood to different hospitals. Walk someones dog. Tell him he has to do something for him. You can't do it.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to JoAnn29

Please, don't give up your freedom for him. You will only enable him. Take vacations without him. Don't feel guilty going out to dinner with other couples. Keep involved with friends and things you like to do. If you do, it will be very hard getting in touch with someone later. Dad has to do for himself. You can't be everything to or for him. That was Moms job and she is gone.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to JoAnn29

Does your Dad belong to a church? They have clubs and activities and volunteer opportunities in manageable doses. You might have to drag him along with you a few times. But you and your husband might meet some people you like too.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to SFdaughter

Mom was only 56, so young, I am sorry for your loss.

Tell us more about dad. How old is he? Does he have any medical issues? Does he still work?
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to gladimhere
Cici733 Sep 5, 2018
Thank you. My dad is 59. He doesn’t work, and hasn’t for about 20 years. He is very much against starting anything new, and he’s sort of decided he’s now and old man and life is over. I wish he were the type that was open to different clubs, social gatherings, etc, but my parents were always the type that didn’t have many friends. Casual hello’s to the neighbors, but that’s about it. They spent all their time together and now I feel like he has nothing to keep him busy during the day and waits anxiously for us to get home from work. And when we do, I hate that we’re not as equally excited to see him. We’re tired. I’m 26 and my husband 31, so needless to say this isn’t how I envisioned my life at this age. I wish my dad would get a PT job or something like that. Not only for the gain of seeing other people that aren’t us, but also so that he could feel more purpose. I’ve tried explaining this and hinting that it could be fun, but he is very prideful towards the idea of starting up again at almost 60.
Wow, you're 26 , so sorry for the loss of your mom, I am 51 caring for 91 year old mom with dementia . She watched my ķids after dad passed, we moved in with her when she asked us too. Now my kids watch her. Would your dad like a dog or cat? Maybe a companion would help him feel useful.
If you are looking to start a family, that would be a good reason for him to be more independent or maybe he would help you. (Not trying to be pushy, it's your life, lol)
Grief support may help too,he may be depressed. Good luck, and get away by yourselves! Remember YOU are still grieving, you need time for healing and for your relationship with hubby. Take a vacation.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to hairgirlie

your Dad is way too young to be acting this old. I am 62 and I am taking care of my 91 year old mother. This is the way he was long before your mother passed away. He is grieving. Try to find a grief share group at a church that he could go to and find others going through the same experience.
he is depending on you to make his life have purpose and while you can help, you cant be everything to him.
practical tips:
get a puzzle and start working on it with him so he can continue working on it when you are gone.
if you think he would like a pet, get him a dog or cat for some company.
take a walk around the block with him after dinner. The fresh air and exercise will do you both good.
invite some other people over for popcorn and some games.
see if he will let you read a little from the Bible to him each day. The book of Psalms in the Bible is full of comforting words. That’s where I got the idea for my screen name: joy in the Lord from the book of Nehemiah which says,”the joy of the Lord is your strength”. That’s my secret of how I do it. I find my strength to do what I do from God. That’s where your dad will find his purpose in life and that is as it should be.
take time for yourself. A lot of people know the part in the Bible about loving our neighbor, but sometimes we caregivers forget the verse in it’s context. We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We must love ourselves and take care of us first, so we will be able to care for others.
you should love and treasure your dad, but he is way too young to need a caretaker, that may be a need in the future, but not now. You will help him more to find purpose in life that is bigger than his four walls.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to JoyintheLord

He is too young for senior center activities. What about a job volunteering somewhere? What interests does he have? You may have to go with him until he feels welcome. Try to help him find something that will make him feel useful and needed.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to gladimhere

Does your Dad still work? Does he belong to a church or other group? Does he have friends or people he shares hobbies with whom you could encourage to invite him out? If he continues to be dependent on you this will affect his functioning so much. Has he ever gone to a bereavement support group? If you can help him get more involved with others it will lighten things for you.

Can he afford to return to living separately? Is he in good physical health? Maybe start by taking a vacation with your husband. If necessary, arrange for him to stay with another family member for a while. I am dealing with a somewhat similar situation (the family member is much older and with a level of neediness that has become pathological) and I know how important it is to find ways to preserve yourself from guilt.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to minstrel

So much weight on your young shoulders. You are not alone. I’m 55, my husband is 67 and my 80 year old mother lives with us. She has cancer and limited time.
Have you talked to your dad about this situation? In his depression he may not even noticed what all this is doing to you as well. After all, you lost your mother just as he’s lost a wife.
Sometimes a little reminder that the world outside is still there. Asking important adult questions may be helpful. It’s information that you absolutely need and it may make him realize he needs to move forward. If he gets upset and won’t discuss it (right now- you can come back another time) he will at least see that he needs to pay attention.
Is his doctor aware of his depression? Ask to see the doctor with him. He may need some meds to help him through the next few months.
Ask him about plans for the next year. What does he want? Tell him that at 26, you and your husband are just at the beginning of a marriage and want to have a goal as a couple. He is welcome to share it, but he’s too young for you to make decisions for him and he needs to participate in his future.
Questions like these may upset him, but it may be the only way to bring him back to focus. You’re going to feel guilty no matter what anyone says to you (you shouldn’t, but it’s hard when you’re the caregiver). Try to lessen the guilt by giving back responsibility to your dad.
Be well.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Joansdaughter

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