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I need advice. So sorry this is long, but please read and tell me what u think. So my mom died when I was 25. Her twin, my aunt is still alive. Her family of 7, lived within 10 feet of my family's house. We were raised together. We were all like brothers and sisters to each other. I had 2 siblings, 1 which died at age 38, And my brother lives across the country. When my sister became ill with kidney failure, my 2 female cousins came to the hospital once over the course of 5 years of being in and out of the hospital. 10 years after she passed, my dad became ill. For 6 months I was in the hospital, with my dad, more than I was at home. Everyday I went to see him or take him to various hospitals and nursing homes. And in 6 months 1 cousin out of 7 saw him at the hospital, and once my aunt and uncle visited at a nursing home (in which they stayed 15 minutes). None of them offered to help, or even asked how he was doing. He died after a long battle.
Now, a year later my aunt found she has lung cancer. So my problem is that I find myself not caring. I have no sympathy. My cousins come over and ask me how she's doing, and they r all so worried. That's all I here them talk about. And since I still live next to her, she asks me to help her instead of her kids, 3 of which lives 10 minutes or less away. I don't feel like I should care. I have no sympathy or compassion for her or my cousins. None of them have ever cared about me or my family through the years. And to add to my bitterness, I have panic attacks and depression which they all knew, but none of them ever believed me. I feel bad, and I don't feel bad. What do u think?
Dear Dianna says...
Oh, you poor thing to have been through so much grief and trauma. I am so sorry for the loss of your mom when you were so young, and I am so sorry you took care of your sister and dad alone. I think you are burned out from caretaking and grief (anyone in your shoes would be!) You feel bad because you are a caring person, you don’t feel bad because your aunt has her own children to take care of her. It’s completely understandable. You are an adult so it’s time to create some firm boundaries. Decide what you can do and are willing to do. Let your cousins know (maybe you could be available every Monday afternoon or maybe you could pick up their groceries while getting yours) whatever it is you decide, stick to it. Don’t answer your phone or read any emails from any of them outside of this time, or whatever boundaries you want to set. In this way you are helping your aunt a reasonable amount. Rise above anything mean or petty anyone says in your family during this time and just ignore it and let it go, no one is themselves while going through this. Because you live next door and may will see them coming and going, be polite and kind but keep going into your house or whatever you are doing and refuse to get drawn into any drama. If you haven’t already, a grief support group (you can ask where to find one from any funeral home) is a wonderful way to heal while helping others, I hope you will consider going so that you will have support and people who believe you when you say you have panic attacks and depression. Keep your boundaries firm and put yourself first, you are not responsible for taking care of your aunt.
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