I need to vent and I find this forum most helpful. My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 gallbladder cancer in 2016 at age 56. We have always been an extremely close family (mom and I even worked together for 7 years) and when this happened and she grew increasingly ill, she lost her job and I quit shortly after because of how they treated us. My husband and I decided we were paying rent to a landlord anyway and my parents had extra space, so to help with their bills and care taking we moved in (husband’s idea, he is the person I wish I could be.) We took great care of her but she unfortunately passed a little over a year ago. The caregiving was very demanding and hospice even told us they were surprised that we were able and willing to do what we did individually and as a family too. My mom had a lot of extremely open wounds towards the end that were not able to heal and to put it shortly it was very hard and damaged me a lot with only being 25, along with having to go through the regular grieving that loss brings.

Dad took it extremely hard which I can’t imagine that pain so while I can’t say I understand, I do empathize. He sort of fell to me to support him emotionally which I genuinely like to do for other people. For the past few months I’ve changed as a person and I’m ready to start my life back up with my husband. We want our own home, kids, things that I never thought I’d have to lust over because of the guilt that the thought of leaving my dad behind brings. My dad thinks that we should have kids in his house so he can help and then when the house gets overcrowded we can all move to a bigger one that we buy and then he can pay us rent. I feel that this is all very unfair to my husband but at the same time it kills me to think that someone going through such pain could just be left behind. For the past year I’ve tried getting him involved with new hobbies, dropping hints that part time work would be good for him, etc, all to no avail. I know in my gut he is not my responsibility but when I see him upset every night and he confides in me, how do you bring up “hey, I know you’re going through a lot and are super depressed, but we’re moving out, you’re not coming with us, and you’ll also be short $600/month too.” Everyone preaches to me that we need our own life as husband and wife and it drives me crazy that I know it too, but I can’t figure out how to start acting on it. I’ve vaguely mentioned it and he gets very sad and unintentionally guilt trips me. I’d love to hear other’s thoughts on this but please be gentle. Thank you for your time.

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I agree, your Dad is not old and should be getting his life together. He was lucky he was not alone after Moms death and had you to help with her care but he has to move on. You need to sit down with him and tell him this. Say you were glad u were able to be there for Mom and him but its time for you to have a home of your own and start a family. If he feels the house will be too much, then sell it. Move to an apt or independent living. A 55 and up apt or community will give him new people and activities.
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Reply to JoAnn29
jacobsonbob Nov 17, 2018
I recall seeing something to the effect that "55 and up" communities are generally populated by people 75 and up. I'm 66 and have no desire to live in one; I like to see and interact with the whole variety of age groups. I suspect that that Cici's father (assuming he is in his late 50s or early 60s) would feel as if he is one step away from a nursing home, with neighbors who are much older than he is. Maybe he would be better off living in a situation essentially populated by the "general public".
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Although my parents were older, I was in a similar situation. My parents lived in a MIL apartment, my husband and I in the larger part of the house. We pretty much lived separate lives, stopping by to say Hi every once in a while, things like that.

It was so good to be close when my father developed cancer. I was able to be there to help for the end of his life. And then I was able to help Mom learn some of the ropes of being on her own (paying bills, balancing checkbook). However, Mom had never been particularly social. Her life was pretty much centered around my Dad. And when he died she started coming over to our place multiple times a day, usually for teeny reasons but I think pretty much for social interaction.

I really sympathized and understood she was lonely. However I am a huge introvert, plus I have to deal with chronic migraines. And knowing that she could show up at any time, even though she was very sweet about it, was really stressful to me.

Two things made the difference. The first was seeing a therapist where I could work out separating my needs and desires, and my Mom's needs. It helped with the guilt. The second, and this is the unfortunate one, was that my mother developed dementia and it really became too much for me once she was no longer able to drive or shop or go to book club, etc. She now is in assisted living. She'd rather be here, but my mental and physical health just couldn't handle it.

Since your father is so much younger, it seems like now is the time for you to find your own way. If there is any way you can see a therapist about this, I highly recommend it.
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Reply to chdottir

It sounds like Dad is delaying mourning for your mom and has his life and your future all tied up in a neat little package of his own creation. As long as he is a big part of your life and all it’s details, he doesn’t have to mourn for your mom.

If you tell him you are ready and needing to resume your own life, on your own and in your own home, you will give him permission to mourn. It won’t be easy. It will be one of the most difficult things you’ve ever done. But Dad needs this dose of reality. He’s part of your family, and reassure him of this, but he needs to establish his own life post-Mom. You can be there for him, but you do not need to constantly be there WITH him. He does not need to have you live in his home with him. He’s s grown man and can live on his own. If you live with him, he will have no opportunity to make a new life and perhaps,some time down road, even find someone. He will need support but not supervision. Good luck. Come back and keep us updated.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
Isthisrealyreal Nov 15, 2018
I had to laugh, a grown man and can live on his own. My dad has not lived one day of his life alone and is scared senseless of the idea.

I moved out at 16 and can not fathom needing a crew to live with. Not all males are men in this department.
Hi Cici,

Your situation reminded me of a video of a talk MSW Wendy Lustbader gave back in the 90's, called "Prescription for Caregivers: Take Care of You" (I couldn't find it on YouTube, only a DVD available for purchase on her website).

In this video Wendy shares a story about a woman she was working with who had recently lost her mother, and was frustrated because her father called every night just as she and her husband were getting into bed. This was starting to really wear her down, because instead of having her time for conversation and intimacy with her husband, she was instead having to talk to her father, reminiscing about her mom. She was starting to HATE the sound of her father's voice and dread that time of day.

Daughter wound up turning to a professional, Wendy, who encouraged daughter to be open and honest with her father, even though it would be really difficult. The daughter was worried about hurting his feelings, as she understood he was grieving, but she needed this time for herself and her marriage. When it came time for her to have the conversation with her father, she told him that the time he calls was cutting into her intimate time with her husband. Her father said, "I'm such a dope!" He said that time of evening was an important, intimate time of day for him and her mother, and so he was calling his daughter at that time because it's when he was missing his wife the most. The daughter acknowledged to dad that his marriage with her mom taught her what it was to have a strong marriage. He understood how important that time of day was, and said he would call at a better time. They even came up with the creative idea that the daughter would record herself talking about her mother and fond memories, and he could listen to it at bedtime when he was missing his wife.

The daughter realized that it just took her being honest and opening the doorway to communication in order for them both to start moving forward--because he was so deep in his grief, he wasn't able to think about how this was affecting her until she pointed it out to him.

I think this might be a good example for you, because it shows how the daughter could gently and kindly be honest and open that door to communication. We tend to assume (it's a habit, we don't mean to) that others know how we feel--but they don't, and we have to be the ones to tell them if there is going to be any change. The daughter and her father also were able to understand the underlying reasons for what he was doing and come up with a solution that set some boundaries for how they would be able to move forward with their relationship after the loss of the mother.

Others have made some really good suggestions here, which I won't echo. It might be helpful for you to write down your thoughts and feelings, as well as suggestions of what needs to change and how. Have your notes handy- it's ok to say, "Dad, I want to talk to you about something, but it's difficult for me, so I wrote some things down." This will help with nervousness, and also help keep things on track. He might get defensive-but staying calm and having some possible solutions to suggest will help keep the conversation moving forward.

I'm so sorry for how long this is! Please update us and let us know how you're doing!
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Reply to richamj

I am very sorry for the loss of your mom.
I think you should get a family counselor to help you and dad work through your grief and come up with a calendar for moving forward.
Dad probably needs to move as well but work through that with him and the therapist.
If he refuses to go with you then you still go. It will help you process your grief and be strong to do what you need to do without feeling like you are deserting him. It’s time for you to start your own life.
Good luck.
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Reply to 97yroldmom

Sounds like he's substituted you emotionally speaking for his wife. He needs a therapist or pastor to talk with about his grief and an anti depressant. You may need a therapist to help you get un-stuck from him.
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Reply to cmagnum

I agree with other people that the thing to do is concentrate first on helping your Dad move forward. Look on it that *he* is the person who is ready to leave his kids behind and rebuild his life, his social network.

It is awful that you lost your mother so young. Awful for him too. But if there is a silver lining he can look to, it's that he is young enough to need a worthwhile future and to build one he can appreciate for itself.

Friends, colleagues, a part-time job, volunteer groups, shared interests - looking at him not as your Dad but as an adult man who has lost his wife and is starting again, where do you think you might help him pick up old connections or make new ones?
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Reply to Countrymouse

56 is not old. He has until 65 to retire which is 9 years from now. He is still working I would hope?

Yes, you and your husband need your own life. Go looking for a house to buy, buy it and move in.

Your father is a grown man. Stop letting him unintentionally or intentionally guilt trip you. You are not a little girl anymore. Don't let him treat you like a little girl.

I would hope that your husband is ready to move out? I would not start a family as long as you continue to live in your dad's house.
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Reply to cmagnum

CMagnum - I second this supportive encouragement. In addition to your dad getting a therapist, I'd encourage a group therapy if available - and GET YOURSELF in therapy - or a few counseling sessions.

As someone here said "guilt is your higher self" - really? Your 'higher self' is the part of you writing here asking for support. Guilt is like cement in terms of making healthy decisions.

I often read the good intentions here of people offering what they feel you could or should do in moving your dad, getting him re-focused/involved, you moving on with your life w/your husband. The key here though is how you deal with your feelings and working through the GUILT and difficult feelings that keep YOU stuck. Often making healthy decisions FOR ALL CONCERNED doesn't feel 'right' emotionally (or psychologically) - in the moment. It is TOUGH LOVE and it takes you 're-arranging' your head - and heart - to know that you need to make some decisions that may not feel good or right in the moment. In fact, it is stomach turning "no, no no." One day you will look back and KNOW - in your heart and soul - that you made the right decision. To support your dad to have his life back - to live it out as best he can w/support from various avenues, and you too.

Keep writing. Get it out. Get a professional listener to reflect your feelings so you can work through them. Otherwise, you, your husband, and your Dad may stay stuck in this unhealthy dynamic - that is adversely affecting everyone. It is not easy to change or make decisions to change. It is hard and requires focused blinders on - looking straight ahead, like a horse in a race. They cannot see the distractions due to the blinders keeping the 'noise' out of the sidelines. Get on your horse and win this race. I don't mean to sound flippant. Just giving an analogy. Look forward. Know the noise and voices are there - and keep going. Cry, feel, meditate, exercise, talk it through.Gena
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Reply to TouchMatters

Your dad is young enough to start a social network, e.g. church support groups, friends that would like to get together to play cards say, etc. Your marriage is of paramount importance and you do need time with your husband.
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Reply to Llamalover47

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