Today I had coffee with a girl who used to be one of my customers, and who is starting up a business as a long term care provider. She has been looking after her own mother for years, who suffers from diabetes and just last year, had both her legs amputated. I know her mom too, and in the last three years she's gone from 300 lbs down to about 115, and you can tell how sick she is. My new friend is hoping that her mom will not need dialysis, because she feels that that will just send her over the edge and she will not survive.
Other than talking business (we're going to do some networking) we also talked about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which she has as well. Since most of my triggers seem to stem from guilt, I asked her what her biggest emotional issues would be if her mom were to pass away. Looking back at my own, I thought she might struggle with the failure to keep her alive, as many caregivers do.
What surprised me was that she said she knows she's done everything she can - she does a lot of special cooking for her mom, she takes her shopping, she bathes her and makes sure she's taking her meds. She's her mom's best friend and confidante, and says her Bachelor's degree in Psychology has come in handy now that her mom is starting to feel the end is near and needs to do a lot of unloading. What she will struggle the most with, is the fact that her father has never acknowledged her commitment and sacrifice.
The relationship between her mother and father has developed into something superficial. When he gets home from working away, he wants to take his wife out to dinner and think positively. He closes himself off from anything to do with the subject of her illnesses or dying, which also closes himself off from his daughter, who has readily taken on this role.
After Dale passed away, a few friends expressed to me that my caring for him at the end was compassionate and loving, but not one person from his family ever said thank you or acknowledged what I'd done in any way. In fact, they thought I brought on his death prematurely. I have accepted that this just is what it is, and don't expect anything from them now. But my heart goes out to this woman who will always have to deal with the fact that her own father won't say the words, and even though she will eventually let it go, it would be nice to have him say I appreciate what you've been doing. Thank you.