If you are caregiving and dealing with family acrimony, you're not alone. Many of us go through it. Pass the antacid.
I still get a sour stomach thinking of the familial stress I felt when I was a caregiver. There were family members my mother flat out didn't want to see or to have any control over her care — but she hadn't done all the necessary planning to make that happen. It was a nail-biter for me to be her caregiver until the time she could get the right legal documents in place. I prayed every night that no one would go against her wishes and petition the court to be her guardian.
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Once the legal documents were in place, I could breathe a little easier. But it was hard being her “gatekeeper.” I'd do anything to protect my mom, but this required me to stand up to others and keep them from asking her for money when she was out of work and terminally ill and showing up and upsetting her when she should have been resting. It made family and friends angry at me and, for my part, I resented having to manage those relationships in addition to intense medical and financial caregiving. So, yes, I was angry, too.
At the end of her life, the hospice house staff was a blessing. They instituted a “10-minute only” rule for visitors who showed up at the facility. I didn't want to keep anyone away entirely because I didn't feel morally or ethically right denying visitation and the opportunity to make peace with a person who was dying. But I also wanted to honor my mom's wishes. The 10-minute rule was a gift and helped me, the caregiver, avoid a fight I didn't want to have and honestly didn't have in me.
Conflict in caregiving is common. In the first story of this two-part series I discussed care recipients’ conflicts; this article delves into the conflicts caregivers encounter.