I am grieving my brother's death from a couple of months ago and now caring for my mom. It's just too much ... what can I do?

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I'm just recently moved into my mother's house to care for her. My brother who was her caregiver died a couple of months ago (my best friend for 50 years). I was his sole caregiver for the 1 and 1/2 year battle with kidney cancer. I'm still trying to even begin to cope with my unending grief of losing him and trying to take care of my wheelchair bound mother. I had no choice, My other 2 brothers did not want to help ... but I know that I need to be here for her. It feels like I don't get a spare moment to myself now. I'm used to living in my house with no one kibbutzing everything, asking me to do something for her the minute I sit down to eat or rest. Plus I work full time as a teacher at a community college. It feels like I can't possibly do everything for everyone. I'm physically and emotionally drained. My mother is nitpicking everything and still remembers perfectly how to hit all my buttons. I'm afraid I'll have either a physical or emotional breakdown from all of this ... tonight it feels like I can't keep doing it ... but I must, no one else will help me in the family. Plus, even with the snarkyness of my mother, I feel an obligation to help her. I miss my own house, I miss my own time to relax, I miss my friends, I miss my old life I had 2 years ago. But I feel so selfish saying any of that. I'm only 50, but even I must have a breaking point.

Any words of wisdom out there? I have none of my own.

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I think you are wrong about one thing, tiredonlygirl. You say you had no choice. That is not true. All of you had a choice. Your brothers made one choice and you made a different one. This isn't just a quibble over words. I think it is enormously important to recognize that there are choices. You are doing a fine thing, and you chose to do it! Take credit for that. If you think that this is just something you got stuck with you are bound to feel mostly resentment over it. But like your brothers, you had a choice. You can be proud, not resentful, of the choice you made.

Having made a choice, you can modify it. You are not selfish for wanting a life of your own. You also want your mother to have good care. And you want to maintain your energy to continue in a career field you are passionate about. You are obviously intelligent and, once you recognize this is about choices you can make, you'll no doubt come up with ways to at least partically meet all these needs.

Why does your mother need a live-in caregiver? Besides being in a wheelchair, what are her impairments? She is not yet eighty. You could be looking at another 10 to 15 to even 20 more years. You cannot put off living your own life until you are 60 or 70!

I'm sure you can find ways to better balance all of your needs and desires -- not perfectly, perhaps, but better.

One way might be to bring in some outside help. Definitely someone to clean house, if you're not already doing that. Perhaps an aide to bathe your mother. Someone to stay with her on a regular basis so you can get away. Another might be to set some boundaries and insist on being treated respectfully. No nitpicking allowed. Another might be to reprogram some of those buttons your mother loves to push.

I think that in wanting to see that your mother has good care you made a very wise choice. Now you need to fine-tune it so it continues to be wise for both of you. Also keep in mind that seeing that she has good care does not necessarily mean doing all of it personally. Delegating to professionals is another choice available to you.
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Dear Tiredgirl,
You need a little perspective. First, know that when your brother's body died, it gave him the power to be closer to you, not further away. Close your eyes and call to him. See how long it takes him to answer you. He can go places and hear things that he could never do when he had a body. Let his love for you give you strength to continue the good work he did with your mother. He was your friend and loved you when he had a body; he still loves you and is still your friend. He's in your heart now.
Second, recognize that the best you can do for your mother is good enough. Give yourself permission to be human. Know that your mother appreciates the care you give her, and loves you for it. That love, and the love you feel for her, are a wealth that she will take with her when she passes. If you gave her perfect care, she would still ultimately pass. It's what bodies do. You do more good for your mother by loving her than by the care you give her, and your care does a tremendous amount of good.
So ask your brother for his support. Love your mom while you give her care. Be your own best friend. Celebrate your successes and forgive yourself for things that don't go perfectly. Be kind to you. Blessed are the caregivers, all of us. Good Luck. God Bless You.
Jonathan
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While I was taking care of my dying father, working, taking care of my family and getting prepared for the holidays I thought I would go out of my mind. My doctor put me on Ativan. It really helps and didn't make me tired, just more relaxed.
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We should have a club. I too am the only girl. Lost 2 brothers to cancer and the one left and neices/nephews have not called, sent a card or anything for over 6 years. Welll the neices/nephews (moms grandchildren) never ever did, except for my 3 grandkids. Mom moved in with us 6 years ago. 4 years before that I drove 40 miles appx 3 -4 times week (quit lucrative career) to help with my invalid step dad. My mom is a sweetheart but old. Easy, loving.....just issues - incontinence, can't see well, makes messes everywhere she goes. Laundry up the wazzooo every day. I did not take care of my health worring about hers, I now have many nodlues in my lungs, from aspriation in lungs from stress related gerd. Looking to surgery maybe. Drained of enerfy all the time. But I would not have it any other way. I do have a wonlderful husband that boosts me up and I could not do without. But PLEASE take care of your health. I didn't go to doc for 3 years. Had pnemunonia all summer and didnn't go, need sinus surgery from not tending to the pnemunoia. Caregiveing is stresssful it is harmful to your health. I'm in a mess right now because of neglecting my own needs. Have allergies and asthma, high blood pressure. My 2012 resolution is to take care of my health so I can be a better/Happier caregiver. And if I make it past this journey to have some good health left.
The part of loosing your freedom is hard. The greif is bad. My 2nd brother that died was my best friend too. I also have to deal with my mom greiving my brothers and my dad. Sometimes when I don't want to think about it she wants to dwell on it. Hugs to you both!!
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We have alot in common, age, loss of brothers (I lost 2 brothers in 4 months) and one was from kidney failure, plus my Mum became ill. Unlike you I could not move in with her, but when I read your story I felt your pain. Basically, you have to re-evaluate the situation you are in, as you will become ill either mentally or physically. How you manage your care duties and working full time is a puzzle to me. I gave up work about 2 years ago, I now do casual work now and then so that I can care for my Mother and Father and people say to me 'why can't you work full time, your parents can't be demanding that much time from you especially as they live in care homes'. But my mind won't switch off and there are still plenty of things to do for them. I was making lots of mistakes at work and strangely I found when you have a problem at work, then suddenly your bosses loses interested in you.
Please look into getting care for your Mother urgently and stop letting her manlipuate you (not easy, I know!) You are still young and have your life to live. If you don't act now, you will become ill. I did and now I am better, but when I think back I now realise I nearly died as I did not attend to my own health problems as I was so busy caring for them and grieving for my brothers. Take care and take action now. Can I also assure you that your grieving will get better, 2 years on and I can now remember my brothers with fond memories and no pain.
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