Follow
Share

My dad died in 2021 after a long illness and I had to take care of my mother who hurt her back the day after the funeral. Four months later my husband was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He had a brain bleed after coming home and I got a preview of his final months. Now I’m just responsible for driving him everywhere, meds, calls, house-everything. He’s better but I’m resentful, depressed, etc. Our lives are home and doctor. I don’t think I can handle what’s coming as I can’t take this now. Thoughts of a funeral freak me out cause his mom hates me. I’d rather be dead.

Condolences. Definitely look into hospice as a support/respite system. If either of you is a veteran, look into VA's home health options which could cover the cost of a home health provider and possibly transportation.

There should be a social worker at your doctor's or cancer center providing that help. If they're not helping, according to YellowPages.com, there are 5 highly-rated hospice providers and 7 highly-rated top cancer support orgs in Montgomery.

If your husband is lucid, why not ask him what he'd like for his funeral? Reminisce and make plans. A few suggestions to reduce your stress/anxiety:

~ Take the scenic route to and from the doctor. If possible, find a place to park
to enjoy the scenery or people watch.
~ Watch some aerial landscape vids, relaxation vids, or walking tours on
YouTube.
~ Nourish yourself and stay hydrated. Hospice or a cancer support organization
should be able to help with that.
~ Lean into your belief system. Spirituality is an overlooked aspect of mental
and medical care.
~ Laugh. Corny jokes, comedies, the stupidities faced in managing health
(that often requires a warped sense of humor...)
~ Journal. Write out your thoughts instead of bottling them up and fearing for
a blow-up. Even if you don't read what you've written, counselors say the
act of writing in itself is a release.

When you have support to deal with the doctor visits and home care, hopefully you'll feel some of the weight lifted and be in a better frame of mind to tackle making peace with mother-in-law.

Best wishes to you and hubby.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to ravensdottir
Report
HelenaH Jan 13, 2022
Thank you for taking the time to answer and offer suggestions. I’m going to start implementing them today.
(4)
Report
I find it odd that you say it 'hasn't gotten bad yet.' Honey, it's been bad for a while, and you've just been a rockstar at dealing with it. I have been a full-time caregiver for my mom for about three months now and I wondered the same thing, how I could possibly be so burnt out when it hasn't been that long. In reality, my mom has been going downhill for more than a year, and it was so gradual and I was dealing so well with it that I just didn't notice that much. You have been going through what I like to think of as the Chinese Water Torture caregiving process. Little by little, day by day, things pile up and get steadily worse and worse until it reaches a point where you can't take it anymore, it's just been so gradual that it was hard to even notice at first. I'm so sorry that you're going through this, and unfortunately there are no easy answers. If it's at all possible, I would try to get some hospice/respite care in the home so you can escape for a while and at least take a deep breath. If it isn't, is a care home an option? I'm considering a memory care facility for my mom now, and it is the most gut-wrenching thing I've ever had to even think about, so if it isn't an option for you I totally get it. The one thing I can say is that you shouldn't give a d*** about your mother-in-law, and if she hates you but loves her son then she can step in and help. Although in my experience family members are quick with advice/criticism but slow to actually step up and put their money where their mouth is. But trust me, you are dealing with this better than you think you are, it is an immeasurable burden to place on anyone's shoulders and it is, in my opinion, the most unfair part of loving another human being. Stay strong and know that the community behind you is bigger than you can imagine. Sometimes it isn't much, but just knowing you aren't alone in this horrible boat can help. God bless.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Rosewater
Report

You have found the perfect place to help you out with everything you are dealing with. The people on this forum are kind, knowledgeable and they have been where you are. Take advantage of the info you have already received!
What a terrible year you have had. I'm so sorry you have been facing so much in such a limited time frame. You haven't had a chance to grieve for your father properly and I might suggest you start there. Take a few hours, or a day, or a couple days (even tho you may feel you can't spare the time right now.) Give yourself permission to finally let loose and cry for your loss, talk to friends about how much you miss him and how hard it's been. Share a story with someone that knew him. Visit his grave, if possible, and leave a note, flowers, a pretty pebble or simply some tears. When your dad passed away you never had time to properly deal with it because so many other fires started up that needed to be put out! I suspect taking this step will help you re-group in your mind and have a bit of strength to deal with the future fires.
Your husband, like you, is frightened and probably physically weakened by his disease and treatments. Try to find a time each day to talk together about subjects NOT RELATED to his health, doctors, next steps, etc. Those things need to be addressed, of course, but creating a bit of normalcy in the mayhem is important too. Play a game together (maybe with some friends), watch a favorite movie, reminisce about a vacation, pretend you won the lottery and spend your winnings, (one of my favorites).
At the same time realize that YOU are just as important as anyone else. So be as vigilant about self care as you are with husband and mother care. Get fresh air daily, even if it's just going in the back yard and screaming! By the way, that's very therapeutic! If you are one that values private time alone go get it! A walk anywhere. Go sit in the local library and read. Go to the movies. Get a haircut or manicure. Go to a book reading at a local bookstore, visit a museum. Any activity that will allow you to get out of your head for a bit is good.
If you are more likely to enjoy company ask a friend to plan an adventure to do together! It takes the pressure away from having yet another thing to plan.
It's hard to picture making these things happen, even if you realize their importance. Last year when my dad was dying of Alzheimers and my mom was just not coping at all, everything fell on me. I single-handedly took care of doctor appointments for both of them, hiring caregivers, arranging hospice care, keeping siblings up to date, trying not to be angry that siblings were allowing all this to fall on me, financial arrangements...all the stuff you are doing. When people said I needed to care for myself I wondered where those magical extra hours could come from. But when I really looked closely, I found I spent a lot of time overwhelmed and paralyzed each day, avoiding my responsibilities by staring at the TV or playing games on my computer. There were hours I wasted when I just could not face doing another task. Those were the hours I stole back for myself. If I fired up a game on my phone, I immediately went for a short walk! Look for small blocks of time in your own days that can be devoted to you!

Best of luck to you. I truly hope you can find some sanity among all the craziness you now face.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to swanalaka
Report

A successful, loving marriage includes the reality that one spouse will become ill and likely die first. Counseling with a mental health professional and/or religious representative can rebuild the strength for your responsibility, which includes dismissing a mother-in-law without confrontation. Do you feel resentment for providing care for your husband, or is it actually fear of his decline and death? Enlist a trusted friend or relative to give you a break, or hire a sitter. Speak with his medical team to get a clear understanding of his condition and what to expect. Make his final arrangements while he can make his wishes known to avoid MIL interference. Brain cancer usually has a rapid decline and he is likely dealing with his own depression and fear of dying. You don't want to live with the guilt of turning away from your husband when he needs you the most. It can seem overwhelming, but you can do it.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to SouthernSun
Report

I'm so sorry for your situation. I'm sure you are feeling overwhelmed. I can relate. In the last 6 years I have buried a husband, lost a friend to cancer who I'd known since I was 6 years old and lost my nephew due to complications after surgery. Then we had to put my mom in a home as she has dementia. My brother was diagnosed with Parkinsons and some family members are not speaking to one another. It just seems to go on and on. When my mother has bad days I just remind myself that I'm doing the best I can and that maybe tomorrow will be a better day. I pray to God for strength. I hope you have talked to your doctor about how you're feeling. Perhaps you need something for depression/anxiety. Try and arrange for someone to stay eith your husband even if it's just an hour or two so you can get a break. You must take care if yourself for your sake and your husband's. As for the funeral and your MIL, just make sure your husband's wishes are followed and distance yourself as much as possible from his mother. Afterwards you don't have to have anything to do with her. I will pray for you and your husband. Hang in there and take it one hour at a time. I also pray the Serenity prayer as it comforts me.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Impossible
Report

I'm so sorry for your situation Helena. I just wanted to mention something. In December of 2013, my cousin (who was 40 at the time) was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer (stage 4) as well. He's STILL alive today and has stopped taking chemo treatments years ago. He has 4 young children and is a good dad to them every day, believe it or not, cooking for them & playing with them too. Don't count your husband out quite yet, okay?

You need to look into therapy for YOURSELF now. Anti-depressants may help you get to feeling a bit better, and talk therapy can give you some coping mechanisms to help you deal with all that's on your plate. You need to take care of you, too, and remember that your life is just as important as his. Yes, he's the patient but you could wind up sick too if you're not careful. Taking 'me time' is vital for you!

You may want to extend an olive branch out to your mother-in-law to see if you can repair the broken relationship now. You both love her son, who's hurting, so now is no time for 'hatred' or hard feelings between you. You can band TOGETHER to offer support to one another now. She may gain a whole new respect for you if you hold out that olive branch, and let bygones be bygones, you know?

Please make an appointment with your PCP to address your depression and to talk about therapy.

Wishing you the best of luck with all you're facing right now.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to lealonnie1
Report

You are overloaded and being a caregiver can be incredibly difficult. A lot of folks would feel the same way in your situation. One caregiving job after another so there’s no break. Rest as much as you can and keep obligations to a minimum. Your sanity is more important than a lot of duties around the house. If all you feel like doing is taking a nap, then do it. Chances are your sleep is awful so take advantage of getting whenever else you can.

I live 1600 miles from my brother. In late 2020 he began to have severe memory and decision making problems. At first I thought it was early onset dementia but an MRI revealed a massive brain tumor. His 23 year old daughter took him to doctor appointments, the ER and hospitals. She and I both have POA—me first, her second so she was able to do a lot locally. He was diagnosed with a glioblastoma but his doctors didn’t tell me that, probably since I’m not a spouse. All they talked about was treatment of radiation and chemo.

Contact the Brain Tumor Network!! They were far more helpful than the doctors. I couldn’t have gotten through this without them. They provide free support for people with brain tumors, the families and caregivers. They consist of navigators who are neuro oncology nurses and social workers who have similar experiences. They can send for medical records and refer patients to get second opinions and advise on experimental treatments. My brother was already at a leading neurological hospital, but instead the nurse was able to look at his medical records to get an idea of the extent of the tumor, the genetic makeup and get an idea of his prognosis. She was incredibly sympathetic and supportive— sometimes I just cried. She gave me truthful information, how bad it was and helped me make the incredibly difficult decision to put him in hospice. Quality over quantity has always been my goal and she completely agreed with me. The new experimental treatments would be of no value for him. The social worker called the hospices I was interested in and gave me feedback so I could select one. him. My navigator comments on his diminishing symptoms as I give her progress reports. Through the Medicare website I found an excellent nursing facility and the best hospice around. Every month she checks in to see how things are going. What doctor would ever do that? Knowing someone else in my corner really helped my morale. Caregiving can be extremely lonely so support is very important.

Start your husband’s pre-planning now. Do you have Power of Attorney for finances and health so you, not his mother, have the final say on his treatment when he no longer can. Is the car in your name? Avoid the title mess. Some states have TOD-transferable on death- to the person named on the title. Is there stuff he’d like others to have? What are his final wishes? Does he have a will—not just a verbal “I’m leaving it all to you.” Does he want a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order? Completing the DNR was really hard for me and my niece. There was a finality to it. Ask what he wants for his funeral. Get it all in writing and made official, either with an elder law attorney or whatever the state requires to make it legal. This way he has set it up and his mother doesn’t have grounds to do what she wants.

At the funeral, have supportive friends around, literally, if you can. If they don’t know already, let them in on what could happen. Let the funeral director know about her so they can deal with situations if need be. Get as much help as possible. You’ll get through this. Some people here have cared for someone they never got along with. Whatever the circumstances, don’t take on his mother.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to katepaints
Report

Wow, you have a LOT going on! Sorry for your dad's passing. I take it your mom is back on her feet?

So sorry about your husband! Can you get some help ASAP? What can you pay someone to do? Clean your house? That's a pretty easy one. Meal prep? Stay with hubby for a few hours so you can catch a break? Please do it. You're burnt out and need help. Have any friends or family offered to help? If so, take them up on it. I've seen things set up on websites for bringing meals, etc.

I'm assuming a terminal brain cancer diagnosis comes with a rather short life expectancy? I don't know, just guessing. And no matter what they estimate, it can be much shorter or longer. Is the cancer being aggressively treated with something like chemo (guessing since you're taking him to the doc a lot)?

Hopefully you have all his legal affairs in order. Living will, POA, etc.

Depending on a lot of variables, your husband might want to switch to palliative or hospice care. Switching the focus to quality of life (and pain management) vs taking heroic measures to extend life even if the quality is pretty horrible.

Don't freak out about his mom. So what if she hates you? I assume you've been dealing with this for quite some time. Just think - his funeral will be the last time you EVER have to see her. Keep that in mind and just politely ignore her. Don't let her get to you.

I think you might benefit from trying a therapist to get some support for this tough situation. Your stress level must be off the charts.

Good luck.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to againx100
Report
HelenaH Jan 13, 2022
Thank you so much for your kind reply. Regarding his prognosis, he was given 12-18 months in September 2021. He has completed radiation and chemo. The doctors hope it may give him an additional 4 months. My mother is slowly making progress. I worry she will not be able to live without him. They married when she was 18 and had a wonderful 57 year marriage. I’ve been able to step back a bit from being her caregiver to concentrate on husband. But she still calls me crying and it is hard because to this day no one has asked how I’m dealing with Dad’s death and if I’m ok.
(2)
Report
I'm so sorry for what you are facing. I have been up against my DH's nearly dying 4 times...and it didn't get easier each time. He doesn't take care of himself and I know I will outlive him by many years, unless he begins seriously doing something better for himself.

I hope you get some counseling and help to prepare you for what lies ahead. Perhaps starting an antidepressant and getting some counseling to prepare you.

As far as his mother. Ugh. Same problem here. My MIL hates me so much it's almost laughable. If he predeceases her, and that is a definite possibility, I will assign one of my burly Sons In Law to keep her away from me. Like, literally, pick her up and put her somewhere far away from me. If she had been a loving and caring mother I would welcome her support, but that ship has sailed.

I can't 'guess' how this would go, but she's so incredibly selfish, I could actually see her not attending any kind of funeral for him. Sad that in the midst of our own grief we have to deal with toxic people.

Prayers for you and hubby.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Midkid58
Report
HelenaH Jan 13, 2022
Thank you for the advice and kind words. I found comfort in knowing others have had similar experiences. It’s nice to not feel alone. My dear MIL “accidentally” sent me an audio recording of her in conversation with my SIL in which he described her dislike of me in detail. She then denied it, blamed it on SIL, then turned it into criticism of me and the funeral my Mother chose for my Dad. Thankfully my husband has things in place to protect me from her.
(5)
Report
See 2 more replies
HelenaH: You are an amazing individual. I believe that you are already enduring the "bad" part currently, even though you state otherwise. I also believe that you would benefit from a counselor. Do not end your life. Seek help from a medical professional immediately for those type of thoughts. Please come back to the forum often.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Llamalover47
Report

See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter