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Coping with emotions as my dad is nearing the end of his life

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  • #384093
    Michelle
    Participant

    I had a mixed relationship with my father. I spent years not talking to him because of soem very bad aspects of our relationship.

    I am an only child, and he is my only parent.

    I am watching him near the end of his life from terminal illness I have an array of  good and bad  emotion.  It all feels hard to make sense of.

    How to cope and recognize good and bad emotions.

    I had my reasons for distancing from him or being the way I was with him, but now I am also dealing with guilt.

    Where do I go from here?

     

    #384106
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    You shared that there were “some very bad aspects” to the relationship between your father and you. My thoughts in regard to that and the rest of your original post: very bad aspects of the way a father treats his daughter do not get undone when the father is dying, or is dead.

    The love of a daughter for her father goes into hiding when he mistreats her, but it does not disappear. She hates him and loves him and she feels guilty for hating him.. because she still loves him underneath the hate.

    You asked: “How to cope and recognize good and bad emotions.. Where do I go from here”?

    Would you like to share about the nature of your good (love perhaps) and bad (anger guilt perhaps) emotions?

    anita

    #384206
    Michelle
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thank you as always.

    I think that you are right about love and hate for me.

    My feeligns have changed since I wrote this post. I spent a few days very sad, and feeling guilty for declining so many invatations over the last couple of years. I wished for his treatment to work so that I could have a month or more to make up for lost time.

    I went from feeling burdened by having to go to see him so often, to wanting to go everyday even though it has prevented me from getting things done that I need to do in my own life as he is not that close and it is a long trip.

    I find that the last few days I have forgotten the bad things and only thing of the good.

    But at the same time a voice deep down chimes in and reminds me that bad things happened also. When I feel really sad I franticaly try to remind myself of all of the bad things I have forgotten.

    It’s exausting and overwhelming to feel both of these at the same time still.

    Today I feel complacent, and I feel bad for him because he is in pain.

    I’m not in denial of my situation, but today I feel like i’m in denial anyway which is why I have relief from my sadness. Maybe i’m just tired of being sad for now.

     

    #384216
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    You are welcome. You described feeling guilty, burdened by having to go to see him so often, then wanting to go everyday, forgetting “the bad things and only think of the good“, then reminding yourself “that bad things happened also“, feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, then today- complacent, tired of being sad.

    a voice deep down chimes in and reminds me that bad things happened also. When I feel really sad I frantically try to remind myself of all of the bad things I have forgotten“-

    – this voice deep down wants to protect you from your father once again, doesn’t it? Just as it tried to protect you before, saying something like: if you relax in his presence, if you allow yourself to love him again, he will hurt you once again, just like he did before!

    I think that (1) the anger/ hate is about your need to protect yourself from him, and (2) the desire to see him everyday, and the sadness- is what’s left over from the love you had for him as a little girl, before he caused or allowed for bad things to happen to you.

    Am I understanding correctly?

    anita

     

    #384492
    Michelle
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I don’t think my dad let bad happens to me always, so there is always some love for him. He was a good dad in a lot of ways he was my only parent so he had to play the role of the mom too, and he did his best at times.

    Later in life he would send me articles that made him think of me, he bought me things that he thought I needed, he would call to check in on me, and he honestly did a lot for me. He would drop everything to come and save me, like when I landed at an airport feeling sick.

    Then there were bad parts of the relationship too, so it’s clashing.

    When he got diagnosed with cancer 11 years ago he started being easier to be around, so I would say it is the opposite of your second point. The bad things were for the first couple of decades of my life.
    So I think I mourn the little things he always did for me throughout my life and the last years mostly.

    I still feel angry too. So it’s confusing.

    Today I feel sad, angry, and I feel bad for him but then also guilty.

    I feel bad for him because it’s not easy to watch him this way. The last time I was there he asked me to help him as in to make him feel better, but i couldn’t so i just played his favorite music. I brought him a digital frame so that he could look at pictures of familiar faces and happy memories, but it didn’t make him happy. Instead, when a photo came on of him on top of a mountain he told me how he wished he could go there again. So I felt bad for him and the whole gift just became depressing.

    However, for the last three days, I felt more ok, almost happy, and normal at times. I started my normal routines again, but then I started feeling bad for not feeling bad until I finally felt bad again.

    So there is 1. anger that makes me almost relieved
    2. sadness
    3. guilt although when I think of #1 I don’t know why I should feel guilty.

    Not sure what I am asking for from this ramble was but it felt good to write it down.

    #384503
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    Not sure what I am asking for from this ramble was but it felt good to write it down“- then please do write it down any time you want to (if you don’t want to receive input, say so and I will respect it).

    It is very difficult to watch a person you knew your whole life die. You never knew a world where your father was not part of. A world without him will be a new reality for you. There is sadness in losing the world as you know it.

    About he guilt.. children and adult-children often feel guilty about their parents. There is nothing a young child wants more than to make his/her parents happy, particularly the parent who is most often there. When the child sees her parent unhappy, she thinks: it’s something I’ve done, or: there is something I was supposed to do,  but didn’t.

    The last time I was there he asked me to help him as in to make him feel better, but I couldn’t.. I brought him a digital frame..  but it didn’t make him happy“-  you wanted to make him happy.

    I started feeling bad for not feeling bad until I finally felt bad again”- try to be okay with your feelings changing back and forth, from feeling good to feeling badly (sad, angry, guilty, whatever comes up) and feeling good again, etc. Don’t let the changes in your feelings alarm you, instead: accept and expect these changes.

    However, for the last three days, I felt more ok, almost happy, and normal at times. I started my normal routines again“-

    About adjusting to a major change in life, such as losing a parent/ losing the world as you knew it, the sameness of a daily routine is stabilizing.

    anita

    #384546
    Michelle
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I do enjoy your responses. Even if they rephrase what I say it still gives me insight and it feels like someone is listening. I appreciate that you respond. When you do give me little slivers of wisdom or advice I do appreciate that too. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my thread.

    Today they told me that my dad is too much of a choking risk so they will stop feeding him even the puree. I asked if that would be permanent they said they didn’t know. I asked how he would get proper nutrition only from an IV. They said they would have a plan.

    Then they called me back and they are going to stop feeding him for now because his GI tract has slowed from all of the medications and chemo so i feel bad. I think they plan to feed him again, but I was told the doctor would call me. She never did. Also because of his GI issue, it is unclear if they will continue the chemo as planned tomorrow.

    I also feel like i’m having selfish thoughts. My dad is dying I have accepted that.  There should be an easy transition of assets for me as an only child. My dad has always said he wants me to have everything. He said the same to everyone in my family. He has been sick for 11 1/2 years but i found out he never wrote a will or a trust or did anything to prepare for this.

    I feel selfish because i’m mad that he didn’t. I have a lawyer but he will not speak to him unless my dad comes out of the hospital. The hospital tells me everyday that he will come out soon but it has been six week almost and I am starting to think that he might never come out. Every day is new bad news.

    His mental health is detorating as he stays in that room. I might never get a will done. I already have my other legal problem I touched upon here and I don’t understand why he would leave me with this extra stress of having to go through courts when he has talked to me about dying so much. Especially over the last couple of years.

    I feel selfish for thinking about it.

    I also still feel bad for him.

    I will see him tomorrow.

     

    #384548
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    I will read your recent  post and reply when I am back to the computer in about 12 hours from now.

    anita

    #384590
    Michelle
    Participant

    They called me this morning and they are going to stop treatment which I knew was coming when they stopped feeding him.

    They are going to move him to hospice. I hired a case manager.

    I called a couple of cemeteries.

    I don’t feel anything at all today.

    #384593
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    Regarding your previous post: you are welcome and thank you for your kind words.

    I already have my other legal problem I touched upon here and I don’t understand why he would leave me with this extra stress of having to go through courts when he has talked to me about dying so much“- it’s possible that it made him too anxious to arrange the legal stuff for after his death, so he kept postponing it. I know that I keep postponing paper work and anything that makes me anxious, for years, by this point.

    They called me this morning and they are going to stop treatment which I knew was coming when they stopped feeding him. They are going to move him to hospice. I hired a case manager. I called a couple of cemeteries. I don’t feel anything at all today“- he is dying. It makes me think of the ending of each and every one of us. It is his time… I don’t know when my time will be, but it will come, and I will be dying too. It is an idea, an image, an understanding to get used to.

    Please post again anytime. For the following days, if and whenever I see your name on the list of topics I will answer you first.

    anita

    #384612
    Michelle
    Participant

    Anita,

    Perhaps he did postpone his papers until now.  It is a scary topic, but I am young and I have made sure that people know what I want when I die.  For me, it is hard to comprehend that he would not. It is strange that he talked to me about his impending death so many times since he was diagnosed 11 1/2 years ago but never made any will. Not even when he prepared me for his death when he underwent a risky procedure.

    When he entered the hospital this time I guess he knew he was dying deep down. He was a much different man at the beginning of last month. He was suddenly weaker and suddenly seemed old overnight but he was lucid, he was an avid bike rider, he talked too much. He thought he went in for an infection, but even then he couldn’t stop talking about his will. He even left me voice mails that he needed a lawyer right away. He told me his younger brother was working on it and I believed it. My uncle though apparently just carried a computer printout around in his briefcase and never even had my dad sign it. Assuming a computer printout is even good enough. He did customize it with my dad but left it unsigned.  I spoke with my uncle today who has been there almost every day. Today he talked to me about the will. He told me that he took it upon himself to make the inference that my dad would come out so he didn’t have to and my dad was just being dramatic. He apologized to me but I feel angry.

    This is the same uncle who is now guilting me because i have decided that my dad should go to hospice because keeping him at home as his body fails more each day feels inhumane. Every day I am called with new news of some new health failure or finding. It never seems to stop.  How much can a homecare person know or do? The apartment is messy, dark, and depressing with my dad’s stuff everywhere.   I want to send him to one of the best cancer hospice facilities in the country with experienced staff and doctors. All they do is help people with terminal cancer die. Keeping my dad at home will not prevent his death.

    My uncle is guilting me telling me that my dad wished to stay alive when he entered the hospital last month. My dad was different last month. How come that wish of him is valid, but the wish to have my uncle finish his will was not?

    If my dad did become truly lucid and if he told me he wanted to die in his apartment then I would do it, but he is not.

    I hired a caseworker to help with his care and his after-life arrangements because it is too sad and stressful for me when I just want to spend the last days with him. That uncle has a pushy wife who is trying to do the job of the woman I hired to handle this even though i asked her to stop.

    They are tag-teaming me to make me question my decisions even though I have a background in science and medicine and they have none. They think he’ll take a pill, or have an IV and beat hospice. I try to explain to him that is not a realistic reality. They are making me feel like i’m purposely sending my dad to an early death painting a picture of a place that will starve him and not help him at all but just drug him to speed up his death.

    I am going through so many emotions right now and they are making it worse.

    There is only one visitor allowed per day at the hospital because of IOVID.  i got an exception for two today because my uncle was supposed to sit with me to find out what my dad wanted in his death since we don’t know. He didn’t bring it up, but instead is pushing for him and my aunt to go tomorrow to insert themselves into my meeting with the doctor no doubt to question and belittle my decisions to make me feel guilty and like i am murdering my father.

    I don’t want them there and i want them to leave me alone. I asked them to leave me alone but they do not.

    I know that my dad is my uncles older brother and he has known my dad longer than me. I know that he wants him to live and is denial, but i want him to just give me space. I was almost happy that they changed it to one visitor for while but he stole my days and now somehow has managed to bend the rules to be there at every moment so that i can never just be with my dad alone.

    Today I am angry again.

    #384622
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    It reads to me that you are doing right by your father by looking for the best hospice facility in the country and hiring a caseworker to help with his care. On the other hand, your uncle is doing wrong by you, and by proposing that your father stays in your apartment instead of in a good hospice is the wrong suggestion for your father’s well-being in his last days.

    * I wonder about your uncle attitude toward you before the most recent. I also wonder: if your uncle is so concerned with his brother going to a hospice, why doesn’t he offer for his brother to stay in his home?

    I understand your frustration regarding your father not having arranged for a will for you, it is something he should have done, especially given he’s been diagnosed 11.5 years ago. Was your father responsible in other ways: paying his bills on time, insuring his house, preparing for his retirement, things like that, or did he have the tendency to postpone or neglect such things?

    anita

    #384764
    Michelle
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    My dad was responsible so I can’t believe he did not do this. Like I said he talked to me about his death so many times over the last few years. He was very successful, smart, and finically responsible. He was a good investor and planner.  Maybe he did make one and he doesn’t know? But I feel he was lucid when he first went in. He said he didn’t have one, so I don’t know. I will have to go through the piles of papers in the house.  A cousin mentioned that he had a lawyer but no one knows who he is.

    We ended up not moving my dad to a hospice facility.  The hospital offered to do palliative care there since they felt that he did not have much time left. My uncle felt better with him staying in the hospital in the sense that he would get extra care, so it was a good middle ground. Also he has is so weak now   that I felt moving him might shorten whatever time he has left. If feels like he is completely mentally gone now with very little lucidity and I don’t even know if he would appreciate being someplace else as he doesn’t even know where he is.

    At least there he knows the staff, he has his regular cancer doctor and he has gotten to know the staff for over 40 days. Maybe sometimes he remembers some of them.

    His veins can’t take fluids anymore because it is going to the wrong places. I supposed he will die of dehydration in a few days because they took out the IV today and because he can’t swallow or digest he has no food or water.

    Today I am sad. I haven’t sleep for two days and I haven’t eaten very much.

    I haven’t been able to think of the bad parts of our relationship only the good and taking care of him now. I am surprised by this because I feel that if this was a  5 or 6 years ago I would only think of bad. I mourn that I can’t have a last conversation with my father because he become delusional before I ever got to have one. I can’t ask him any last questions.  It’s hard seeing him this way. He only seems to have miserable paranoid delusions. I wonder why he can’t have pleasant ones. I have to treat him like a toddler.

    I have given up on the will and I will have to figure out what to do. It is just so much extra stress on me on top of having to witness his death. Nonetheless, I have accepted that I will not get one.

    #384772
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    He was very successful, smart, and finically responsible. He was a good investor and planner… He only seems to have miserable paranoid delusions. I wonder why he can’t have pleasant ones“-

    – like I suggested before, it’s possible that the reason he did not prepare a will is because he was too anxious to think at length, or in  detail, about a time when he will no longer be alive. So he kept postponing the task. It could be that he thought something like: if I prepare this will, I will definitely die. An irrational thought, born out of fear. It’s possible that he was financially responsible in regard to financial tasks that did  not involve him confronting his death in detail.

    I wish he prepared a will, for your sake, so that life would be easier for you!

    You’ve done right by him, having him stay in the hospital with the staff he is familiar with. And now, do right by yourself and make today and every day better for yourself. The most important place that matters and that needs your care- is the distance between your ears: that’s where you experience life. Make  it a peaceful place. There is a saying for the dead: rest in peace. It’s a good idea for the living too: to rest in peace in between one’s ears.

    anita

    #384961
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, Michelle???

    anita

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