After Extreme Caregiving: A Year Later


After Extreme Caregiving: A Year Later

hourglass-620397_640I miss my SIL. In the year plus since she passed, my life has been constant activity, and really I didn't have time to grieve. Avoidance! My home had a slab leak and we had four full months of construction, while I was in school full time. And living in a construction zone and taking three philosophy classes which were heavy and existential in nature didn't help!

This summer I was off of school, so finally had free time to process. I am once again so grateful for this place. You all carried me when I was down, allowed me to vent without judgement and with kind words. During my last months with SIL my only moments of thinking were with you all and this blog. Otherwise it was go, go, go as caregivers do.

It is difficult to re-read my blogs, they were an emotional outpouring of those last months and very raw. In your kind words, I was able to pick up and keep going after leaving my feelings and frustrations on here. I don't think I could have done it without this place.

I think once a caregiver, always a caregiver. I think that it is part of our DNA. I have taken in my little cousin (she's around the age of my kids). She's on SSI but I am not a caregiver per se. She's physically fine, she has a diagnosis of essentially having the mind of a child 7 to 13 at the age of 28. We are finding out now it was emotional limitations. As she is more secure, she is growing by leaps and bounds!!! This has helped so much in the process of healing our household in our grieving process of my SIL. Whereas my SIL was a genius (literally in school, tested in the genius range), emotionally she could not be reached. As I put this into words, I am now coming to these realizations. Where my SIL refused to change, this kid is accepting as they come! SIL was ill, but her cirrhosis was the one thing she did have a part in and the illness that took her.

I only found out SIL was a full alcoholic about four months before she passed. I knew she had cirrhosis, but in her medical records is was NASH disease,  non-alcohol related. It wasn't until her last ICU stint I was corrected by a nurse -- it wasn't NASH. She'd been hospitalized 10 years previous for pancreatitis due to alcoholism. When she moved in, after she was diagnosed, she started drinking again. I didn't find that out until later. This was hard -- because of the lying. Now I know perhaps she was afraid she would not have been cared for, but that took awhile for me because that didn't matter to me. I would have done exactly as I had. And she embraced her illnesses, she was 'sick' 20 years before she was actually sick. The past year I have processed it and letting go of it. We wanted her and loved her, she just didn't love herself.

I've had to forgive myself, I couldn't save her. Trying to let go of the last few months and remember her as she was. This Is proving difficult. With my other family members who passed, I had a lifetime of memories. I only got to know my SIL really well after she was ill. I'm trying to hold onto the lessons she taught. You can't hold on to being sick unless you are sick, and if you do get sick, not to make it your identity. Don't wait for anything, live each and every moment as it comes. Nobody knows how long you will be here.

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Wow, HSG. Your insight, \"We wanted her and loved her, she just didn’t love herself\" is just awesome. It's so helpful to know this, isn't it? It's the answer to all the why's: Why didn't she... Why couldn't she... Why wouldn't she...\r\n\r\nAnd, I would definitely say that you are a family caregiver to your cousin. You care for her, advocate for her, show her better, love her unconditionally. It's also what you did for your sister-in-law.\r\n\r\nThanks so much for your update. Reminds me of the power of blogging and the importance of on-going support. And, know it's been a true honor for us to have you here.