When Elder Care Brings Back Sibling Tensions
FRANCINE RUSSO has an article in this week’s Time magazine. She weaves her own personal story with some interesting research -
“When my mother’s health was failing, I was the “bad” sister who lived far away and wasn’t involved. My sister helped my parents. She never asked me to do anything, and I didn’t volunteer. I was widowed, raising kids and working, but that wasn’t really why I kept to weekly calls and short, infrequent visits. I was stuck in my adolescent role as the aloof achiever, defending myself from my judgmental mother and other family craziness. As always, I deflected my sister’s digs about my not being around more — and I didn’t hear her rising desperation. It wasn’t until my mom’s funeral, watching my dad and sister cling to each other and weep, that I got a hint of their long ordeal — and how badly I’d screwed up.
My sister was so furious, she barely spoke to me during my father’s last years. Honest, I’m not a terrible person. So how did I get it so wrong?”
Eldercare and end-of-life debates often hit families after decades of negotiating nothing more serious than where to spend Thanksgiving. We can be grownups with successful careers and kids of our own, yet all the old stuff ambushes us: sibling rivalry, entrenched roles and resentments, the way our family talked or didn’t talk about important things.
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