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The day after my sister's husband died my mom fell down 9 steps and was hospitalized with bruises but no breaks. Already beginning dementia her memory has seriously deteriorated since the fall and she's been moved from her home of 40 years to a retirement community. In the 2 months my mom has been there my sister has only visited 2 times and she never calls. Is it unrealistic of me to expect a few visits and calls from her to my mom? My sister has 4 children from 10 to 21 and a gas station she needs to run.

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From experience I know how much there is to do after a death of a spouse I had to fight like an alley cat to get the things I had a right to like his pension -insurance etc. Have you asked your sister if she could use some help or a phone call from time to time and could your Mom call her do you even know how your sister is coping at this time she may be depressed and unable to think about reavhing out to your and her Mom do you know how the kids are coping have you reached out to her to let her know you are there for her and if she needs help herself right now? If you have reached out to her and you do not understand why she is not visiting or calling Mom you might just ask her and then let it go some things are just what they are and being resentful does not help you at all-my brothers do not call our Mom very much and she thinks they are so wonderful and I do and she treats me like she dislikes me very much and gives me a hard time when we are together and her looks to me could kill.
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P4ft11,

I imagine many of us who suggested more compassion toward your sister was that we lacked more information about prior communication and were going mainly by the fact that her husband died recently. It sounds like the two of you have had a long time strained or distant relationship or that her relationship with mom was not close like yours. That's sad. What is the broader historical context that would help explain your sister's behavior before and after her husband's death? Like was his death from a long term illness or a sudden event like a car wreck or heart attack?

I'm confused. Your sister signed your mother's will and POA for your mom? I never saw my mother's will until last year and she signed both POAs for me to have which was a much wiser choice than giving it to my step-dad.

That is strange
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When I am my most stressed, the little things become major- like responding to phone call, mailing a letter ect. Your sister maybe emotionally shut down and could have been before her husband died. Be patient, she may come around but never give up on her. What you doing is amaizing, taking care a parent who is now , the child is a process
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Take a deep breath and imagine yourself in your sister's shoes how everything would be so overwhelming which I imagine it is with evidently her husband died near the end of this past school year? I don't know how much of managing family as well as business money matters were all in her husbands hands, but she just might be taxed to the limit right now. If you don't leave her to relieve you then maybe she could use your offering some relief to her. She most likely needs her sister right now and not someone trying to direct her life like a parent.
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luvmom - thank you for your answer. Actually my sister was hard to pin down before her husband died. I had been trying to get my mom's things in order and she avoided talking with me at all costs. It took her over a year and a half to sign the will, power of attorney etc. papers and then another year afterwards to tell me she had done it (even though I had asked many times.) I guess part of me sees her avoidance of calling my mom as a continuation from before the events that changed all of our lives. I do try to keep her informed and keep in touch with her but she often makes it difficult by not responding to emails or returning calls.
I know a lot of people have said that I should be more understanding towards her but like you I can only imagine that I would want to spend more time with my mom in this situation than be farther away.
Thank you again for your kind insights.
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Thank you for your kind words Maureen. I hope that your sisters will come around also. It's hard when you realize that when your mom is gone it will just be your siblings (just my sister in my case). I'll take your advice and try not to let it get the best of me.
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I feel for you. I will never understand why this happens in families. 2 of my sisters live a 3 minute walk away and maybe come to visit mom (lives with me , alzheimers, 24 hour care) for half hour a week. They don't help with laundry, meds, food, doc appointments or anything. We used to be a close family and now totally estranged. It's hard not to become angry and resentful but i've learned to just let it be. They know what they should do but for some reason they aren't there for us. We all have our lives but our parents should be part of that. Don't let it consume you. Just be there for your mom. Hopefully your sister will come around. I know it is difficult and heartbreaking. Take care.
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Your sister is dealing with a lot of loss. I would not hold any expectations. I can't even imagine how hard it is for her -the stress of losing her husband and raisng a family and then having a mother in such need has to be overwhelming. She will come around when she can- not when you expect her to. I would only offer her support. It is going to take time for her to get herself on solid ground again. My advise is to stay close to her and keep her informed. In the mean time take good care of yourself in all ways. It sounds like you are for now you are the pillar of the family.
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I was in a similar situation with both my sisters. I got angry with them and then I realized the anger was not doing anyone any good. I just decided to let them live their lives, they know where Mom and Dad are. I do not call them and when they call I don't give them a lot of information, because if they are really concerned they will visit. In the end you will not be sorry for all you have done for your Mom. Your sister however may have many regrets.
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Hmmm can your sister tape a video with the kids to your mom? One of her kids might be handy with a videocam and go around the family with 5 minutes of "Hello, how are you, I am doing such and such lately". It would not have to be long, something they can download (her kids so to speak) and send it to you and then you can show your mom? With today's technology the world is getting smaller. I know her duties are large but maybe one of her teenagers could do it..just an idea.
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Hummm lots of different asnwers, interesting. Let me ask, was your sister a help before her husbands death? I ask because my siblings do not help regardless. I have a friend who also lost her husband and she moved her Mom right into her house and as she cared for her alz mother, it helped her to grieve and build an even stronger bond with her Mom. Stress or nor,I could NEVER not be there for my Mom . I sympathize with anyone losing a spouse, but she needs to see her mother regardless, we make the time for what we really want, as caregivers and daughters. My siblings say they are "busy." Well, ahemmm so am I, I work fulltime too but I am there for her. Your sister would set such a wonderful example to her children to keep visiting her mother, and even bring them along, we do get what we give. Only you know in your heart that you are doing the best you can, as am I, and we can sleep better knowing that. Good luck.
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Alot of times when a person has lost someone as close as a spouse, to be aournd another dear one who is going towards the end of their life, well, this may be too much to bear. Maybe the beach and a few parties is what gets her mind off her loss. Being around mom may just push it right into her face and heart. What do you think?
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Hi P. I thought "alwayslearning" answer was good. I can definitely understand where you're coming from. I am the total caregiver of my Mom, w/ two siblings who don't have a clue about what I do. They don't live close by, but I think the "phone call" thing would help immensely. They just are too wrapped up with their own lives, get busy, and frankly....just forget, because they know that I'm giving her the best of care and attention. Every now and then I feel a bit resentful about this. It's not a constant resentment, and I really love my siblings, but I just think they're clueless. I tell them things that are going on w/ Mom, and they say, "Wow. You're an angel, thank God for you." Ha. I'm not telling them to receive praise, but merely let them know the latest crisis, or even little funny anecdotes, etc. But they call once a week, if that!
One of your comments was that you don't mind what you're doing for your Mom, but that she misses your sis. I totally believe that. I don't mind what I'm doing, but I feel sad that the other two don't spend a bit more of their precious time (and all of our time is precious, let's face it) to call Mom more often, and come for visits more often than once a year.
One thing that "Helen" said is that your sister may be in a kind of denial about what's going on w/ Mom, because of her recent loss. It may be just too hard and overwhelming for her right now to face another crisis, so she escapes to picnics, and parties. It may take quite some time for her to come around, and share in the loving care that your Mom needs. In the meantime, if you let your Mom know this, and keep doing what you're doing as the caring loving daughter you are, deep down inside the resentment might surface a bit now and then, but the good you will feel will knock it down. Because, you know your sister loves your Mom, but just can't deal with things right now because she's not as strong as you. And maybe she won't ever be. Take care, and keep on doing your good job!!
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Everybody including you is busy speculating about how your sister is feeling; constructing the expectations you should have; and measuring whether she is busy enough doing important enough things or grieved enough or stressed enough to escape judgment for her behavior towards your mother. How about asking a different set of questions: "what do I need and how can I address it?" If you need to understand what's up with your sister, observe more closely and ask her, with pure loving curiosity (no implied judgment). If you need your sister to know that your mom is asking about her, tell her -- with no undertone of "and you should do something about it" -- and let her decide what to do. If she can't handle that information because she feels pressured by it, there's your answer about her, and you can reassure her that you're not adding to her pressure (if that's true!!!!). If you need to know what to say to your mom when she asks after your sister, well, try empathy without fixing: "Yes, I can hear that you miss her." If you're actually feeling resentful and not admitting it to yourself, then start with figuring out what's going on with you, and what you need. These are just examples. Clarify what you are trying to address....
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Let her know you understand how busy she is. Then ask her to think about how she will feel about herself when mom passes and she has not been there to see mom and call her once in a while. I told my sister time is running short. Second chances don't come around in these cases. I myself have to think beyond me and just give to my mom a little of my time, does not have to be huge, just to be remembered and some time shared. And to watch over her.
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Let your sister grieve and take care of your mother by visiting her by yourself.
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I wonder if losing a loved one, like your sister has, brings the reality of her losing her mother closer than she wants. Losing two loved ones may be scary for her or something she doesn't think she can handle right now. While that doesn't make it easier for you or the right way for her to handle it - there's no right way to handle death or the possibility of death anyway - that may be the best way she knows to handle it right now.
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Is it wrong for you to want your sister to help care for your ill mother? No, of course not. But, I do know if I were in your sister's shoes, I would not be coping at all. I do not know how she does it. I'm sure when your sister has come to grips with her burdens, she will contact her mother oftener (and this could be years rather than months). But for now, I suspect she is just surviving the best way she knows how.

Right now my sister is carrying the larger burden of my father's care. My husband and I have had many, many burdens over the past ten years and our shoulders are breaking under the load. I feel guilty (I am the oldest and usually carry the largest share of the load - I did when Mother was ill), but right now, I can't. Maybe this is the time for you to carry the heavier load - that being said, it is not up to you to "pave" the situation between your mother and your sister. Could your mother call your sister? As my husband says "the road goes both ways". There's never an easy answer, is there? All the best ....
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ur sister sounds like she has her hands full . kids still living at home and school and gas station to run . i imagin she s prob still greifing after losin her husband .
she knows she has a mom and needs to go see her . when u do talk to her the next time , just tel her mom misses u so much and ask about u all the time and leave it as it is ,
i have alot of siblings and they live too far away . i dont say anything to them cuz they know where dad is . thier loss not mine .....
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I'm not looking for her to relieve me - I'm fine with what I'm doing. My mom misses her and asks about her all the time. Her children actually are not in need of care - one is in college (away) the other two are in high school and driving and it's only the 10 year old that is at home after school. Otherwise she comes and goes as needed and is just minutes from my mom when she is at her station. Even a phone call would be welcome but she always says she's busy.
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Can you tell your sister that you'll come and sit with the kids sometime to free her up to go visit your mother? Maybe you can swap duties every once in awhile and help each other out, thereby giving each other a break from what you'all are dealing with individually.
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I guess I don't see visiting or calling your mother an extra mile when she's been able to do other things such as go to the beach, picnics and parties etc.
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Ask yourself if in her situation you would also want to be asked to go "another mile". The fact that your sister hasn't fallen apart under these circumstances is amazing. The fact that she has managed to visit at all amazes me.
Is your current burden as heavy as her's is?
There is such a thing as situational dementia. This is a temporary dementia and subsides after the trauma is over.
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