The Guilt Trip

Life and Happiness

I’m sitting here (Tuesday, January 6th, 2015) watching the snow fly ever so softly out my window and feeling guilty. Guilty because my mother just called and asked me to come to her hospital bed to be with her. I refused. We want her to come home today and, if she does, it’ll mean more traveling in the snow to go get her, get her groceries and set up at her house. It’ll mean hours of stress and I had planned on not having any stress this morning. I planned on writing this blog. I planned on just doing for myself for a few hours.

Forgetting for a few hours.

And then she called.

She won’t eat. And she won’t go to the bathroom because she won’t eat. So they won’t let her come home. And I can’t make her eat. Or go to the bathroom. And I’m tired myself and, frankly, not eating so well. And she wanted me to come and be her aide. But there are aides there in the hospital. They are paid to help. They are trained to help.

But she wanted me.

I should have gone.

I have to draw the line somewhere. I’ve been there every day for the last eight days. On New Years Eve we spent 5 and a half hours by her side. I need to take care of myself too. And I don’t have a team of paid professionals at my beck and call.

But I feel guilty.

I should be there. I should go to her. Risk life and limb to be with her. Sacrifice my own health to be there. Sit with her every waking minute–even when there is no conversation to be had–just to BE THERE. I can’t do a damn thing to help, but I could be there.

But I said no.

And now there is a tremendous amount of guilt.

My husband went. He was at work and within a few minutes drive to her so he’ll go. But it isn’t his responsibility. It’s mine. As the daughter. It rests on me. Solely me.

I should be there.

But I can’t make myself do it anymore. I’m tired. Mentally and physically exhausted. I simply can’t. do. it. It’s too hard. I’m not ready for this responsibility. I’m not prepared to be the “care giver.” I’m not ready.

A friend said “The airline stewardess says to put your oxygen mask on first. You are doing a lot for mom and now you need to take care of yourself. She needs to take care of what she can.”

She’s right.

But the guilt remains.


8 thoughts on “The Guilt Trip

  1. Oh Sue – i hear you and empathise – sharing something similar with my Dad. Guilt is often a heavier burden to bear than the actual demands on you – in the short term at least. Your own physical and mental wellbeing must be a priority – just as your friend said “put your owm oxygen mask on first” – and thats true, for if you don’t look after you, then when you REALLY need to give there will be nothing there. You bare your soul with such honesty here, I feel sure that your morher, in a less infirm state, would not want you to be burdened with guilt. Remember that you are a good and strong woman – and to stay that way sometimes YOU must come first while others wait abd others do the “doing”. God Bless you Sue.

    1. David, Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m finding so many others lifting me up during this difficult time and that is one of the reasons I wrote this piece. It was hard, but I knew so many others would relate. Thank you.

      1. Hi Sue – I too find that the blogging community can be very supportive. When you write as eloquently and honestly as you do, it touches people. You make it easy for us to relate, and maybe express things that are troubling us. I really hope that you come to terms with this pernicious shadow of guilt.

  2. I agree with Dpnoble. It is definitely a burdoning decision, especially when it comes to ones own immediate family. But I believe it is very important to take care of yourself as you are exherting so much of your time and energy into fulfulling the needs of your loved ones. There are really two thoughts that come to mind when I think of your situation. The irony of parenting and the sickening of my own grandfather.

    In regards to the Irony of Parenting, I find it interesting that our parents spend the first 18 (or so) years of our lives with us, raising us, feeding us, caring for us, loving us, teaching us, and doing everything for us. Because at the last handful of years of their lives, they are typically spent in our care. The care of their children. We now spend our energy and time loving them, caring for them, and doing many things for them that they may longer be able to preform on their own. The situation kind of flips on itself. Just food for thought.

    I understand greatly this same guilt that you feel. Before I left to come serve as a missionary for two years, my mother asked me if I would pay one final visit to my grandfather who was recuperating from a recent stroke he had. He could barely move, he had a tracheotomy in place and was wired up to a good many machines. But I never went…and it still haunts me today. I return home from my two year mission in about a week. Praise be to God that he has not yet passed away. But the guilt is still there…that I didn’t take the time out to go and see him before I left to the other side of the country for two years.

    From the past two years experience I have had as a missionary, I can easily say that Jesus Christ is the greatest way to relieve all feelings of guilt. Of course, it is not without effort on our part, but the reliefe and peace does come. And it is through the Son of God.

    This video has helped me gain a great appreciation for my Savior and what He has done for me. I hope it provides a sense of peace and as well that you can feel of the individual love that He has for you 🙂 The video is called “Because of Him”.

    ~ Elder Chatterton

    1. What a lovely video. And so true. He lives.

      Guilt is such an ugly, useless thing if we’ve not hurt someone. We heap it on ourselves more than any other person – including usually those we hurt – would ever do. Or at least I do. I am finding so many others reaching out to me at this time and that is why I wrote this… why I opened up the wound that it created because… I needed to know I wasn’t alone. Thanks for reaching back to me.

  3. Guilt, I’m afraid, comes whether you fear you’re doing too little or too much. It was there before my parents moved in: What if one falls and the other can’t reach the phone, what if they get in a car accident, what if one of the creepy neighbor kids slimes his way inside? And now, after my parents moved in: What have I done to my poor husband, what if my 20-year career withers entirely, what if I’m failing at caregiving altogether? No good answers here.
    Only solace I can offer is this: A day can change my mood, a week can change everything. So try not to let your mind run too far ahead (another near-impossibility).
    If you are thinking of combining households, however, plan ahead…and that will make an already-tough transition easier for all involved.

    1. Everything you’ve said is so true. Today I told my Mom that I knew God was in control because if I hadn’t quit my job several months ago I wouldn’t be able to be helping in this way right now. She smiled and I could see the appreciation for God’s blessings in her eyes. I haven’t seen her smile in several days. It felt so good. When my dad was able to go relax for a bit and watch his favorite T.V. show because he knew she was peacefully resting… that felt good too. Today was a good day. Tomorrow starts over. You’re right: don’t let the mind run too far ahead. It really does help to think about only NOW. Thank you.

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