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Delayed reaction, am I alone on this?
Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2018 9:22 AM
Joined: 7/29/2014
Posts: 217

I have been trying to mend fences with one of my siblings.(oldest sister, I'm the youngest) Yesterday she sent me an email, that her best friends Father's family had called in Hospice, and that ALL of their family had gathered to say goodbye.

My blood started boiling, as none of my siblings were ever there when my Father died, and I was alone with my Mom when she passed. It always before had made me feel really sad for my folks.

I never knew just how much resentment I was carrying, as my Mom passed in 2015. I guess I was shocked at myself, and thought I had dealt with all the crap. Silly me!

Maybe it's just me, but I thought what a callous remark. I guess she never really got what I went through doing it on my own, what all my siblings had resorted to, and only contacting me after she passed and they wanted "their part of the Trust".

Do we as the Primary Caregivers actually truly let it go???

I have tried to find a Therapist, but I live in a state where a predominate religion kind of dictates who is available.

Anyway....just curious...thanks for reading...Ann


Veterans kid
Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2018 11:56 AM
Joined: 10/17/2014
Posts: 1239

Hi Ann

No, you are not alone. 

Also had reached out to my sister ( I’m the youngest too ) It surprised me too- not hospice situation, but my sisters SIL was in hospital and then long rehab. She was telling me all about it, almost got the impression she was asking my advice without asking. 

What it did was remind me of the betrayal to dad. Her and our brother not here when dad died.

I was kind of surprised at first, then I thought...

Trying to mend and trusting are two totally different things. The relationship, however close you two once were, has forever changed.  It may become stronger and better, but I think, will always be different. 

I’m sorry you don’t have more options to choose from where you live. 

I’m sending you endless poptarts, hugs, prayers, and Twinkie’s!  


Always be VK 



Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2018 4:20 AM
Joined: 5/21/2016
Posts: 2007

Hi, Ann, One thing about these boards is that you are never alone. Ann, have you seen the movie “Hachi?” It is about a Japanese Akito dog who was so faithful to his master that even after his master’s death, this dear dog would wait at the train station every day for his master to come home. For ten years. Faithful until dear Hachi died himself of old age and then joined his beloved master. Of course this sort of enduring love story made me cry.


It reminded me of the love that we had and still have for our parents, full arc, from our childhoods and then to the very end, and no one can take away from us the precious experience that we had even though sometimes it felt like suffering or isolation or we may have been uncertain of what we were doing or feeling or why.


And so now I am getting to the point that I hope will help you in mending your bridges with your sister, and that is that she will never understand fully the depth of your commitment and actions towards your parents and it may be frustrating and hard for you to try to convey to her how it hurts you when she speaks of all the family being around as your removed relative was drawing his last breath and yet she did not bother with her own mother or father to venture near their side and left you alone at this critical time. But if you want true healing to happen then maybe you will have to describe for her some of your feelings around this.


On the other hand, I fully understand the need to protect oneself and one’s feelings around this issue of mending fences, as that is where I am right now with my siblings. It did not matter to them then, and I don’t believe that they truly have the attention span to listen to me now, and so in order to protect myself, I am listening carefully to my own feelings in finding out who I am, and am only venturing forth with volunteering what I am feeling about these matters when I feel very safe. It has only been two months for me losing my mom and so I will respect that need in myself.  


I hope this helps you, as this is a very complicated issue to sort through, and maybe isn’t even possible to sort through by talking about it. Some of it perhaps involves taking risks. I personally am not willing to take those risks right now, so how could I possibly say that it will be different in two years or ask you to take the risks I’m not willing to take for myself? I don’t know. I think only you truly know for yourself when it is the right time to take those risks, but still protect yourself at the same time if that is possible.


Ann, here is a hug to you, and love for your feelings of love towards your parents, and an extra hug to put in your pocket for times of trouble. I know for sure that you were and still are a good daughter, and that you tried with all your heart.



Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2018 6:08 AM
Joined: 7/29/2014
Posts: 217

Thanks for listening Ladies!

I did reply to my sisters email, before I had posted here.  All I said was "This is a very sore subject for me. I am glad that your friends family chose to be there as he passes." She never wrote back. so whatever....I wasn't trying to be mean, just honest...after all, we are (or were) trying to start our relationship back up.

Hell, maybe I was trying to inject some guilt in there .(guess I sound kinda bitter UGH, not a good trait)

Oh used to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Never again..which in my eyes is quite sad, but it is the "new" me and just the way I feel.

I know that life happens, and it was my choice to put my life on hold to help out with my folks.  I will never have any regrets about that..ever. My folks worked too darn* hard to not let them have their say in the way they went out of this world.  I always thought it was the least that I could do.

Trying to find myself again has been a long road, and I guess I just experienced a huge rut!

I do not take risks anymore, well I guess that is a lie, as I was trying to rekindle the relationship with my sister again. I don't venture from my home much, but I am going further than I was at this time last year.

As far as being the "baby" of the family, it always amazed me when dealing with it all that people were taken aback saying "well, usually it is the eldest sibling that takes care of the parents." Like it was some unwritten ritual that only the eldest is competent enough for the task at hand. Funny thing that....

Being single, and no kids and after losing my "sense of purpose" when Mom passed, I did opt for 2 very lovely Labs...guess I needed some unconditional love, as I was in a wicked downward spiral, so there is that...I do occasionally still have a panic attack..which is soooo bizarre as I had always been able to compartmentalize situations before the world of  Caregiving, became my world. Still can't figure out this panic attack thingie... (big eye roll).

Anyway...guess I am rambling, I tend to do that now....oh boy...

Thanks again!!! Ann

Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2018 10:07 AM
Joined: 1/17/2016
Posts: 934

Ann, the memories of caring for our LO and the difficult situations will stay in our minds forever.  Some will soften, some will seem less crazy and others perhaps amplified as time goes on.  It sounds like your sister has no clue what you went through and perhaps is lacking in empathy.  Did you really need to know about her best friend..nope.  The way I see it is that perhaps she was possibly trying to mend fences with you and picked a topic that she thought you could relate to.

It sounds like you were trying to be honest with her in your email.  It is a sore subject and you have every right to mention that.  There was no malice or blame laying, but perhaps she didn't want to respond emotionally and therefore didn't write back promptly.  I know if I want to think things over, I will take time to send that text back, answer that email or even make that phone call when I am ready.

All that being said, if you really want to have a relationship with your sister (and of course that is up to you), you may have do things differently.  Perhaps actually call her and say that sort of hurt my feelings, my emotions are still raw, but how's the weather....etc.

I was the baby of the family too and now that my brother, father and mother (in that order) are gone, I am trying to make new connections.  I am not a risk taker either and that has served me well over the years, but now it holds me back in some situations.  I too am trying to work through my *stuff* and I try to cut myself some slack since it's only been 3 months since mom's passing, but I feel like so many things should have been done yesterday.  I'm only 53 and as the baby I still feel too young to be the only living person in my immediate family.

I do have a husband, a college boy and high school girl, but in this dynamic I am the grown up who has to make the important decisions, etc.  I am not always fond of this role :--).  So, back to your healing, the dogs are great.  I have 2 cats and would love a dog, but I know the work it will entail and so I hold back.  Good for you for finding animals to help heal.

I never thought of myself as a caregiver until I looked from the outside in and reflected on what I did with my mom and how I have done things with my family over the years.  Caregiving is a stressful job, but it is rewarding too.  Okay, I will say that you were in no way rambling.  Your post is honest and sincere and writing is a good way to heal.  I think a lot of us come here for that.  As for the counseling, it takes forever to find a good one, but I would keep trying.  Can you find one out of state?  I heard that some people can Skype their sessions.  Just an idea.  I have a counselor that I have seen on and off for 20 years.  She's a good listener, but not the best problem solver.  For problem solving I sometimes have to take another route.  Anyway, good luck and let us know how things are going.


Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2018 12:26 PM
Joined: 5/21/2016
Posts: 2007

Hi, Ann, Yes, I get it about it being a sore subject. I wish your sister would understand this too and that she would be more sensitive to the fact that perhaps you have strong feelings about this and that this might dredge up feelings that are very uncomfortable for both of you. Me, I don’t know how to start a relationship back up with my siblings, maybe we never had a really strong relationship, more just parents-in-common. I have learned to notice how I feel when the phone rings and it is one of them, and to only pick up the receiver if I feel like it. Previously all the phone calls were for one of my parents, so now, if the phone call is for me, I try to imagine how that will make me feel after the phone call, and I even cut the phone call short if I feel that it does not please me in some way, or add to my feeling of well being at all. That might be another way of looking at it, that we had parents-in-common, and we sprang from these people somehow, and we share some genetics, but perhaps they are not my family of choice.


I made the choice just like you did, to take the lead on care for both my parents. I just didn’t quite expect the level of isolation I experienced. I had to live with the isolation because in my case my siblings made it perfectly clear to me that they would have been totally ok with anything I decided was appropriate: caregivers coming into the house, a day program work plan, assisted living, memory care, nursing home, respite care at the zoo, whatever. As long as they could wash their hands of any worry or concern, they were totally okay with it. And I realize that was a blessing in a way too, that they didn’t want to be obsessively involved, because I read some of the passages when there is great pain when the involvement is in a different way, or too overbearing or not good enough in one way or another. So at least I didn’t have any of those worries because there was virtually nothing, a phone call here and there and visits very rarely.


It sounds brutal and possibly is an exaggeration of how they actually felt, but the feeling I got from them was like they just didn’t care to have any concern about either parent on their radar really, and that it was an annoyance and a burden to even hear any information I sent to them about my parents. One sibling described it as when the phone rang from me, as that the sibling would get a sinking feeling in his stomach, because it was always bad news. So maybe in their heart of hearts they truly just never did care and didn’t want to care. Maybe the visits were just from a sense of obligation. The phone calls were from them so the phone calls were when it was good for them and they were feeling strong.


So how could I force them to care? I couldn’t. No matter how I try to describe my experience, they will never understand the feeling of seeing these people who were their parents too, and who gave them also so much too, and who were previously so all-powerful in our lives, now needing so much and really being more like children in the way they were acting, and needing everything that children need, the reassurance, the comforting, the soft words, the singing, the physical tenderness, the loving care.  It’s really hard to describe that reality and I know that the people here understand it because you are struggling with it every day, but people who don’t even try to understand will never understand or even have their consciousness raised about what it feels like to live with the knowledge that there will only be decline day after day, that it will only get worse and worse for these persons you love dearly and that at the other end of it is death, and it is inevitable and that will be it, with only memories on the other side.


If their consciousness could be raised, then they possibly would feel guilty. Or possibly they would feel remorse at the relationship they deprived themselves of by acting as they did. Or they might feel guilt at what they did not do that they could have done that would possibly have made things better for their parent or their loving sibling who took on all of the personal daily care. Or they might feel angry because these feelings might be arising now after their parents have died and so they feel helpless that they cannot do anything anymore for their living parents, but now have to revere them after they have died, and this reverence has to take a different form.


But I will never know all this, because in order to protect myself, I probably will never initiate this conversation, because I don’t feel anymore like receiving their feelings of guilt, because for me it is too late, and the relationship has changed forever, and it will never be the same, because through this experience I saw how they were, and what their true colors were, and how discounting they were of my experience and how easy it was for them to say thanks for the update and then move on with whatever lovely plans they had in their own separate lives.


The closest I can describe it is that the page has turned, your parents are gone and you have already done so much for them, in fact, you have done more than many do for their parents. So now it is already too late for your sibling, and they can never be on that side of the page with you anymore, not even if they try to understand with all the yearning of their soul, they still can not truly understand the experience of it, the daily every day-ness of it, the suffering of it, the long hours of it, the dullness of it, the joy of it and the good parts of it too. Because it is such an experience, and it is not something that can be conveyed in words, and it not even something necessarily where one even wants to turn that page back that has been turned carefully and with much suffering and much time and many tears and laughter, in order for health to be able to cope and to move along and be able to function in today’s page, which may have written some words like: forgiveness, sympathy, bonding, joy, love, adventure?


Oh, as far as your two lovely labs, well, dogs are a gift. They give unconditional love and what would we do without them? Also, I’m really sorry you are experiencing panic attacks. That’s terrible. Are the panic attacks around a particular episode, or a fear of being around people, or is there a trigger you can identify? The closest thing I have had that I can relate to your panic attacks is something I went to the doctor to get checked about, and that was that I was having this sensation of falling, like falling through space, but I couldn’t catch myself, but thankfully this would happen when I was getting into bed, so I would grab onto the covers of the bed and find some sort of center and strength to stop the twirling and swirling and just find calm. The doctor chalked it all up to that my blood pressure has raised up, and I’m on a plan now not only to lose the too many pounds I gained through the stress of caregiving, but with the pounds lost my blood pressure will likely resolve. So working on that. So, I would say, perhaps take it seriously and talk with a doctor about the panic attacks, because maybe there is some medical basis to it, and rule that out first.

His Daughter
Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2018 4:26 PM
Joined: 6/25/2014
Posts: 2270

  Morning Ann, 

   I don't think there is anything harder for a primary caregiver than witnessing first hand the total abandonment of our LO at the end of their life, by our siblings. For both of us, our siblings reduced something that was very precious to us personally, to how much they could stuff in their own wallets.   How can we ever forget this act of callous cruelty?  How can we ever forgive their behavior?  

   My response is we can't.  We won't forget what happened. (unless we get Alzheimer's)  And we won't forgive their actions unless we abandon our own personal moral character and values. (why would you ever trade good moral character and values for disgusting ones?)  

  So there real question is, how do you let go of your anger and not let it eat you up inside? 

 At least for me, whenever I felt wronged in life, I waited.............and eventually (this was always YEARS after the fact)  I went to that person and told them what I thought of them and their actions.   And in every single case, given enough time and distance, the person apologized.  IT SHOCKED ME!  But in all cases, the apology was real and heartfelt.  Honestly, these people knew in their heart of hearts they had done something horrid.  They just didn't know I'd eventually call them on it.  Will I call my siblings out for this?  Only if they ever contact me.  I found my way to "call them on it" in my book. And boy I didn't mince words. (And for me, that's all I needed)  And while they haven't read my book, I know my writing will be passed down through the generations.  My feelings and thoughts stand in black and white, and I'm darn* proud of them.  I will never apologize for having a good strong moral character or values, or for how I feel about my siblings actions. 

And in many ways Ann, this is what's wrong with our culture.  We've gotten so into that PC crap, we don't see that we are failing to develop moral character and values, by expressing, expecting, and demanding better behavior.  We make excuses for people, we coddle peoples selfish behavior instead of calling them out on it.  Or we just let it slide.  But think about where that gets us as a society.  Think about the kind of children we are raising. There will be a heavy price to pay in the long run.  

 So Ann, I know you aren't stewing about this on a day to day basis.  But when the subject is raised, of course it will bring back the betrayal you felt and experienced.  That's to be expected.  

If you honestly want to reconnect with this sister, I believe that eventually a face to face conversation is in order.  Tell her how you felt, and how you found her absence for both your mother and father's death disrespectful.  IF your sister has enough distance when this conversation happens, and is in reality a decent person, she'll know she has nothing to be proud of.  At the right time, I think she would be able to listen to you, and offer a sincere apology.   It won't make you forget, and it won't make you forgive her actions. (that ship has sailed)  But at the very least, you will feel that you have been heard and had the opportunity to express your feelings.  But until that happens, it doesn't surprise me that this email from your sister caused anger to rear it's ugly head.  Your parents deserved better than the absence they received from your siblings.  And so did you.  


Posted: Monday, August 20, 2018 6:28 AM
Joined: 7/29/2014
Posts: 217

Thanks again Ladies, you all have given me your insight and I really appreciate it. Lots to ponder.

It gives me pause to think of all the time I spent on the phone with her, and all the emails sent back and forth, "did she really ever actually listen?" As far as a face to face, I don't see that happening anytime soon. Then I think...why be in touch at all when I really don't ever want to see her again...hmmm odd. Maybe it is just a veil attempt to hold on to some sort of "family". Which in all actuality meant exactly squat, when push came to shove.

She has been encouraging me to sell my house for two years now and move up into her neck of the woods. Whereas I had been discouraging her to keep sending me "new houses on the market". I'm not going anywhere anytime soon, this is my home and I value my privacy now more than ever. (another sign, she is NOT listening)

Those pesky panic attacks...I will try and make this short.  I experienced my first one the night after I received from fedex a notice of intent from my other sister to sue me. I had just spent the entire last 12 months dealing with my Mom's Trust. I thought I had done well, everyone had gotten what she wanted. I I can grieve at my own pace. I thought my heart was going to explode, that I was having a heart attack.  Took me 20 minutes to get it to stop. Scared the hell out of me.

Thanks goodness for google! I figured out what it was, and now I can recognize the signs of when one is going to start, and try not to put myself in any situation that I can't quickly get out of. It's quite interesting, it's like a small electrical charge feeling starts in my chest. I always thought I was a strong person, but this just goes to show you, that sometimes you have no control over what your body is doing.

  Ah.. this is where my Labs come in...such intuitive creatures, now in the night they actually lick me until I wake up. I was told or heard somewhere that when nightmares happen it's your brains way of trying to purge the ugly out.  Fact or Fiction..I dunno.

His are so right..unless I get Alz, I'm not going to forget.  I have always known that our life experiences make up who we are, and the decisions we make either make us better or worse. Ha..sounds like I'm a walking cliche (another eye roll)

So for now I am just going to concentrate on me.  I really miss painting, but havn't the concentration level or felt the inspiration, even though I did purchase new paints and brushes.  Guess it will come back in time.

Again, thank you all so very much with your candid advice (I love blunt more than anything, hate sugar coating).  I smell the coffee is a good smell....

Thanks Ann