Parents involvement in their children's illnesses

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Parents involvement in their children's illnesses

When I was informed of my son's illness, I rushed to his side and wanted to look after him and care for him. I was very upset when he turned around and complained that I could not just barge in and take over. He is 40, married with 4 children. Of course I melted in the background instantly and looked after the children instead. Now he has asked me to go back home with my husband as he wants to spend some time with his wife and kids alone. He called me today to say that he is in hospital with fluid in his lungs and there maybe other complications in his lungs even after they drained 3.5 ltrs of fluid from the surrounding area. I am not sleeping very much especially when I know that he is unwell. He and his family have now moved in to his in law's place. I wanted so much to be part of the caring team, not so much for him but caring for the children who are all at school - 2 in primary and one in high school and the oldest in an apprenticeship. I hope and pray that I will be asked to go back to look after him some times in the future. I am not sure if it is too late for him to undergo chemotherapy, but if he does, I hope that he will ask me to go and help look after him. It has been one week since we parted company. How long should I hold on for? Will I be considered an interfering mother if I just turn up on their doorstep? I am sick with worry and my biggest worry is that he will die alone. What should I do?
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Re: Parents involvement in their children's illnesses

Hello Elvibee, I'm so sorry you find yourself on this board. We're a little older than your family. My husband was 51, I was 48 and our children were 16,17 and 19 when my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer last year. We moved interstate 18 years ago, and my parents have both died. My husband had an incurable cancer and it was really important to us to spend as much time as we could together. His family were welcome to visit anytime, but after the initial visit at diagnosis, we asked them to stay independently. We just needed to do what we needed to do. It was an extremely sad, exhausting stressful time. We had to make the most of everyday in the way we saw fit. He recently died after 13 months. It's wonderful that you're available to care for the family. Sit back, let your son know you're there to do anything he wants and wait for him, his wife and the children, to call on you. That won't alleviate your stress in any way, but in this case, I believe, your son has the ultimate say. I loved the fact my in laws understood we needed time to ourselves, and despite travelling hundreds of kilometres when they came to visit, accepted the fact we needed our space. From the perspective of your daughter in law... this is terrible for her and it is understandable that she has chosen to seek support from her parents. Although my parents have died, I enjoyed a visit from my brother earlier this year. This drew comment because it was at a time when my husband had asked his family not to come. My husband explained my brother was there to support me and he could do this in a way my mother in law couldn't. Please, I hope I'm not sounding too harsh. In my case, I would have been really upset if my in laws - or other family or friends for that matter - arrived at the house uninvited, particularly if we had asked them not to. We needed out time together. I wish you, your son and his family all the very best.
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Re: Parents involvement in their children's illnesses

Hi Elvibee I am grappling with this issue at the moment from the other side. My husband aged 43 has stage 4 secondary liver cancer. We have been together for over 26 years - that is 10 years longer living together as a couple than he lived at home in his youth for. It is an incredibly difficult and painful journey for a family, particularly for our children. While they are now both in their late teens/young adults they have always had a very close bond with their father. It is very hard to find that balance between giving the extended family the time that they would like without it impacting on the time our family would normally spend together. As the carer I find it difficult to deal with people who treat us as sick person and nursemaid instead of husband and wife. If you can try to imagine this was you and your partner, how would you feel as a wife? As hard as it is your husband is a grown man, I know that my husband does not want his mother carrying out any personal care for him because he would find that very awkward. You say you are concerned he will die alone, but he has a wife and children who haven't abandoned him. As a mother you must have been incredibly proud to raise a man who went out into the world and made a life of his own. In going to the in-laws I believe that your husband has recognised that his wife needs people to support her while she is caring for him. Tell your son that you are worried and ask what you can do for his family, believe me you very quickly learn to take up the offers of help when its available. Cancer is a very personal journey and everyone deals with it in a different way, respect your sons decisions and he will continue to share with you. Most of all remember that your son now has a wife and family of his own, as the caring person you obviously are you will have instilled that in your son - his children will be one of his greatest priorities at the moment. Give them time to find the balance that they need and I'm sure they will welcome your involvement when the time is right for them. I wish your family all the best.
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Re: Parents involvement in their children's illnesses

Dear Tropical, Thank you for sharing your story with me and for all the advice you have given me. I am so sorry for your loss. Your comments were very helpful because you see things from the opposite side of the coin, which is exactly what I needed to hear. I have always maintained the belief that a mother never stops being a mother, but hearing your side of the story it has made me realise that we bring our children up to be independent. He also has his own family to think of. I stay in touch with them by phone and text messages regularly as we live East and he lives West of the continent. I have tried to be busy here with friends to stop thinking about my son and I am blessed with a great group of friends and family who support me. My son will not take chemo or radiation. He has his good days and bad days. Again, thanks very much for your reply.
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Re: Parents involvement in their children's illnesses

Cancer Sucks, Thank you for your reply to my letter. And thank you for pointing out the number of years spent away from parents' home. My son has of course spent more years with his own family than he has at our home as a child. After reading your letter, it has become very clear to me that he has his family in mind when he did what he did. I realise that now and I am very grateful that you pointed that out to me. I was feeling very guilty that he did not ask me to look after him. I thought that I had let him down in some way and that he did not want me there. I quite understand that now and I will give them as much time as necessary. Thanks again. Elvibee.
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