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How do I stay sane with my family crumbling around me?

(17 Posts)
MrsMiniver Fri 20-Nov-15 13:24:56

My situation in a nutshell: Dad (88) died 3 months ago, mother (84) was crushed but is doing her best and I think coming to terms with losing him (together nearly 60 years). Brother (54) was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer (uncertain prognosis, very unlikely to be curable) earlier in the year but we didn't tell mum because of dad being so ill. We finally told her just last week and she's devastated but trying to put on a brave face.

My other unemployed, single brother lives with mum but is no help at all as he suffers from depression and I think probably has undiagnosed Asperger's. He thinks only of himself, blames her for everything and can be hostile towards her. Mum is a very negative person and tends to lash out verbally at everyone and everything but I love her very much. I'm a single mum to DD of 15, living about an hour away from mum and trying to hold my poor crumbling family together. I have some good friends but really don't like burdening people with my problems and everyone thinks I'm really strong. I am coping but I have my own life and with DD doing GCSEs next summer and needing me very much, I don't know how I can carry on being the glue that keeps everything together without unravelling myself!

hellsbellsmelons Fri 20-Nov-15 14:25:40

That is a lot to deal with.
I think you can only do what you can do.
Try not to martyr yourself.
Support your mum and brother as much as you can but you can't do it all.
I'm sorry you are going through this.
flowers and chocolate and probably a glass of wine later.

springydaffs Fri 20-Nov-15 15:01:50

Why do you have to be the glue? Genuine q.

They are adults, let them sort themselves out. Obvs you're supportive and loving but where did the idea come from its your job to glue everyone together? Genuine q.

Your area of responsibility is dd. That's it.

Seriouslyffs Fri 20-Nov-15 15:04:27

Oh love, that sounds unbearable. flowers
Very coldly, it's time to look after you and your dd, not mum and brothers.

ImperialBlether Fri 20-Nov-15 15:06:52

Springy is right. It's not your responsibility to be the person who holds everyone else together. Look after yourself and your daughter. If you have good friends, let them in - that's the sign of a good friend.

I'm sorry your brother has cancer. Does he have a supportive partner or good friends?

I'm sorry about your dad, too. That must have been hard for you all.


minifingerz Fri 20-Nov-15 15:12:04

Feel for you OP. And knew there would be someone here telling you to let your elderly bereaved mother and struggling siblings get on with it on their own, despite one of them facing a terminal illness. Mumsnet is terrifying sometimes. :-(

I can only suggest carving out specific time for R&R for yourself, being fiercely protective of your own physical health, and coming on mumsnet regularly for support and unburdening. This is what I did in the years following my own dad's death, when I was dealing with a very unhappy and emotionally fragile mum, my own poor physical and mental health, an angry and difficult teen, and another child with ASD. I'm really grateful to mn - it's seen me through some challenging times.

Sometimes life is so hard. thanks

springydaffs Fri 20-Nov-15 15:37:25

knew there would be someone here telling you to let your elderly bereaved mother and struggling siblings get on with it on their own, despite one of them facing a terminal illness.

Who is saying that? I'm certainly not. Nowhere near, actually. Do read closely what has been written.

ciele Fri 20-Nov-15 16:20:07

I concur with springy. Viewing yourself as metaphorical glue is not advisable. Be as good to yourself as possible and then you can HELP, not MEND others.

MrsMiniver Fri 20-Nov-15 16:24:56

Thanks so much for the replies and support. Springy I suppose I took on the job myself and I know that mum relies practically solely on me. Imperial, my brother has very supportive partner who has had cancer herself and he's very stoical but positive at the same time. Mini, seems like you came through your difficult patch, hope things are easier now.

RatherBeRiding Fri 20-Nov-15 16:59:18

What is it that your DM relies on you for? Is it emotional support - listening to her, encouraging her, beng on the end of a phone, or do you do a lot of practical stuff too like shopping, organising domestic stuff etc. Is there anything for which you can find another avenue of support - can your GP or local branch of Help the Aged etc suggest any local support/social/bereavement groups or something to take some of the burden off you?

Even a cleaner or having the shopping delivered.

Being there for your family and being supportive is one thing, but you can't live their lives for them and it sounds as though you are going to run yourself into the ground trying, if you're not careful. You're a single mum, have a young daughter who needs you and you don't exactly live round the corner.

Try to accept, in your own mind, that there is a limit to what you can do and give yourself permission not to be the family fixer. If you were abducted by aliens tomorrow would your DM and brothers manage? Of course they would. Would your DD? Not so much. Maybe there's your answer.

springydaffs Fri 20-Nov-15 17:01:32

Please don't take on this role, there is too much going on and it could break you. I always think that if the load is appropriate we naturally get the strength (moreorless!) but if we are taking on an inappropriate burden it can drain in record time. I genuinely don't think this is your load to bear - the load belongs to each individual in their own way, even your mum; though she will of course be very weak at the moment.

As previous, of COURSE be loving and supportive, esp with your poor mum, and of course go the extra mile at a time like this. But not to your and dd's detriment. Don't forget you are bereaved too flowers

RunRabbitRunRabbit Fri 20-Nov-15 19:19:24

Your DD is your family. Focus on the unit you create with her.

The others are adults. They can take care of themselves.

Remember that only broken things need gluing.

If something needs gluing again and again perhaps someone is smashing it again and again. Leave them to it. They break it, they glue it, you've got a new and better one with your DD anyway, don't let that weaken because you are so busy gluing their self-inflicted breakages.

MrsMiniver Fri 20-Nov-15 20:35:23

Thank you for making me see that DD is my priority. Rather I provide emotional support and some practical support (finances mainly) for my mum and have suggested getting a cleaner but she would not in a million years accept any help.

Since childhood I've always been far too tuned in to my mum's moods (she's passive-aggressive) and I think this is part of the problem. A bit of emotional distancing might help without her feeling that I'm not supporting her.

ImperialBlether Fri 20-Nov-15 20:48:48

Sorry, MrsMiniver, but if you are subsidising your mum now, you will end up paying for that cleaner. She has your brother in the house and if any cleaning needs to be done, it's his job to do it. I'd keep out of that side of things.

Maryz Fri 20-Nov-15 20:49:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RatherBeRiding Fri 20-Nov-15 20:57:38

Think of it as supporting her to help herself. I know it's a horrible time for her, and you, and all of you - but learning to rely on your own resources can be marvellously liberating.

It's such a tough time for you - don't be too hard on yourself, and please accept that you are doing all you reasonably can.

And of course you won't be any use to anyone if you crack under the strain! smile

MrsMiniver Fri 20-Nov-15 22:19:51

I'm feeling a lot more positive now. Mary that's a great idea about not allowing myself to think about them all the time - it's self-preservation after all! Rather thanks for your kindness.

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