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Death And A Threatening Sibling

by Benjamin

It's been over a year since my 80+ mother died (following my father by 5 years). I'm 60 years old and have become socially withdrawn and unmotivated.

I loved both of my parents, particularly my mother, but haven't shed a tear for her yet. This is due (I think) largely to the fact that in the years preceding her death, my brother (who shared a home with her) tried to engineer a Medicaid fraud scheme to ensure a large inheritance, even if it would put my mother into a poverty-level nursing home. I refused to go along with the fraud, and became an outcast not only to my siblings but to my mother, who believed the horrible things said about me.

My mother was constantly reminded that she could take her own life to ensure that she would leave an inheritance...and the pills which could accomplish the deed were always left in her reach (unlike her other medications). She was essentially bound to a chair, and couldn't even travel across a room to grab the "exit" pills any other way.

I made it clear that I wanted my mother to move in with me, even if it meant that more of her money would go towards medical bills. I announced that I would visit my mother, and I'm sure my siblings assumed that I would discuss moving her.

Days later, she was dead. Her caregiver (not a family member) found her covered with vomit in the morning (overdose?) but still alive. She struggled throughout the day, then passed away.

It was made very clear to me that if I was to travel to my mother's home, my life would be in jeopardy from the sibling who shared my mother's home. He hated me, because he felt that I had threatened his financial plans and...perhaps...forced him to accelerate my mother's departure. I don't know. And I'll never know.

So I didn't take part in any funeral service for my mother. Didn't help clean her home, or sort family items. Another sibling who did go to my mother's home told me repeatedly that I'd have been killed if I had come out to help. Which of course, affects my feelings not only about my mother's death, but both of my siblings.

And so I haven't cried. I think of my mother all the time, and not at all (trust me, it's possible). I've cut myself off from almost all feelings. I have severe trust issues, and have no optimism about the future.

The spaghetti-like maze of emotions and recriminations have got me stymied. I don't know who to hate, who to forgive, how to move on, or how (or even why) to heal. Frankly, I'm now so dead inside that I wouldn't even try except for my own wife and daughter, whom I love very much.

I'm afraid that at this point I don't have a good "healing" PS to add to all of this. I'm exploring anger issues (having just ordered Dr. DeFoore's book) and "going through the motions" of normal life hoping that I can "fake it till I feel it."

But the "stages of grief" might as well be brick walls. I'm not going over, under, around, or through them.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Benjamin, and thanks for telling your story here. Your situation is indeed complex, and I can certainly see why your grieving process has been difficult if not impossible for you.

The experiences of withdrawal and lack of motivation are totally understandable under the circumstances. The shock and anger you must feel toward your siblings has interfered with the natural experience of sorrow, love and tenderness you would ordinarily experience regarding your mother's death.

I'm glad you ordered the book, and I hope it helps you to process your emotions. I suggest that you attempt to separate your anger toward your siblings from your sorrow regarding your parents' deaths. I know that may be difficult, but it is essential if healing is going to occur. You simply cannot process all of those emotions simultaneously, which is why you feel "stymied."

You may find these journaling processes to be helpful as a part of your sorting out and healing. Try to write specifically about your anger first, and try to go as deep into it as you can, without mixing other emotions in if possible. Then, if and when you feel you have expressed that fully, you may be able to take some of the steps described on the page about grieving.

Make up your mind that you're going to get through this Benjamin, and you will. It may take a while, but you do not need to be handicapped by these unexpressed emotions for the rest of your life.

I wish you all the best in your healing journey.

Dr. DeFoore

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