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Dealing with rejection - Carers UK Forum

Dealing with rejection

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Hello
I have been caring for my uncle for 4 years and have been the only member of the family helping up until May this year.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer in January and I supported him through the process he had a couple of spells in hospital and started treatment in May but I had to go away to work for 6 months so I pursuaded one of my sisters to help out.
In August he went back to hospital but sadly the cancer had spread and there was nothing more they could do.
I was devasted and cut my contract short to be with him.
He talked about making a will and the people and charities he wanted to benefit as well as sorting his funeral arrangements,but kept putting it off saying he would do it when he had to. In the last two weeks he's detirorated rapidly but when I asked him to let the doctor see him he refused and said he just wanted to be left alone.
I was very worried about him so I called the doctor to explain what was going on and he told me that he had seen his X-ray and report from hospital and he had weeks left at most so i really should tell him so he can sort his affairs out.
I wrestled with this info for two days and spoke to my sister who had came into the picture while I was away but who had stopped going once I got back as she is working full time and with her own family to deal with and really only did it because nobody else wanted to help him, she agreed with the doctor that he needed to know.

So I broke it to him, was awful thing to have to do but I knew he wanted to organise his own affairs whilst he still could but he thought he had months left.
He was very angry with me for going over his head to talk to the doctor but he seemed to calm down after a few hours so I left him and went home.
He called my sister and asked her to go and see him over the weekend and he told her that he doesn't trust me anymore and that he wanted her to see to his will and be the executor and to help him arrange his funeral. She wasn't wanting to get so involved and told him he was being very unfair to me and explained I had given up a well paid job to look after him and support him but she has little spare time because of work and family. He told her his mind was made up.

I went to see him the day after and while he was ok with me he told me straight he didn't want my to be the will executor and all arrangements would be taken care of by her.. Then he proceed to go on about how good she had been to him in the past few months and how he should pay her for her time.. Then as an after after thought he said oh and you been good too. I gave up everything and put my life on hold and now I feel tossed aside like a used tissue he's not got a lot and I am financially secure myself so I didn't want or need anything from him, I just wanted to be there for him. My sisters has told me he has left the bulk of his estate to me but I have told her i want it to be divided between the 3 charities he supports I don't need it. I just wish he would understand why I had to tell him.

Sorry for the long post am just feeling so rejected and I don't know what to do.
Dear Deborah

Your uncle is dying, and he knows he is dying, and he doesn't want to. That makes him angry - angry at 'life' for taking life away from him, angry at 'fate' for doing this to him, 'angry' at the world for treating him like this. Cancer is NEVER 'fair' - it kills people 'before their time'. (It killed my husband before his time)

So I would say that what your uncle is doing now is 'lashing out' because of his anger at his fate. And he's doing the very typical thing of 'shooting the messenger'....that's you.

Should you have 'gone over his head' or not? Very difficult question! Torn loyalties indeed. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer he did NOT want his mother told - not until it became absolutely necessary. So I didn't. When we DID tell her, some months later (he'd had his op, which bought him time), she said to me 'You should have told me! He could have died in the operation, and I wouldn't have been able to say goodbye because I didn't know he was having the operation!'. All I could say was 'He asked me not to tell you - he didn't want you worrying'. But she was still upset by not being told, and I can see why - but I had to respect my husband's wishes at the time.

So, torn loyalties indeed.

Personally, I think you did the right thing, but clearly your uncle was not wanting to face 'the truth' about how little time he had left.

Being told to 'put your affairs in order' is a horrible, horrible thing to do. Ideally, it should be done right at the start of the diagnosis - because then it's 'done' at a time when you don't really know how much time you've got left. BUT, it's a horrible horrible thing to do at ANY time. Even perfectly healthy people in the prime of life hate making their wills, as it makes them think about the unthinkable - ie, their dying and leaving the people they love behind....

I'm not sure what to do now. You could give him 'time' to calm down and 'forgive' you, but then time is not what he has.

I wonder if phoning a hospice bereavement line would help? My local hospice was wonderful, and I got bereavement counselling afterwards (much needed alas), but they may also advise on how best to 'handle' someone who is dying, and I expect they will tell you that your uncle's reaction to you is very typical alas.

Another thing you could do maybe is write to your uncle, saying why you did what you did, with the best intentions, how gutted you are by his impending loss, how much you valued him, and what the 'proof' of your affection for him made you do (give up your job etc etc), and that you acted in good faith - sometimes we have to do 'hard things' for those we care for. You can write that you knew how important it was to him to know his estate had gone to the right people and organisations, and that to ensure that a proper will etc had to be made. Say you only want to make your peace with him. Written words last longer than spoken ones, and he can reread them so their message comes home to him.

BUT, his 'anger' may be keeping him going you know! It's keeping him 'engaged with the world', with the here and now, and the time may not yet have arrived where he can 'look beyond' this material world, and prepare imself to 'let go'. He may you, know, never reach that 'look beyond' place.

Remember the words of the poet - 'Do not go gently into that goodnight - rage, rage against the dying of the light'....

Your uncle may be following that path - and his rage at the dying of his light is using you as its vessel.

But PLEASE don't be too upset - it isn't 'you' he's angry with. It's what is killing him, before his time, that he is angry with.
Oh I am so sorry you and the family have reached this hard time.
I do understand your anxiety and the heavy responsibility you had and the repercussions.
Pity the medics didn't make this clear to him...but perhaps they did and he didn't fully take it on board. None of us like facing our own mortality.
As for the executor(s)..... it will be whoever is named in the will, if anyone is. I don't know if he has seen a solicitor recently to change anything in it.
But you know what? Perhaps you can put those particular worries to one side for the moment, Concentrate on the primary objective of ensuring he is as comfy as possible at this stage. Not an easy task but perhaps essential to enable you to face the future.
I hope he gets the essential end of life care.
And about the money and the charities.....whoever inherits can make such decisions when the time comes, with the knowledge of what he wanted.
Thinking of you.
DR
Thank you so much to you both for your kind words and advice. He hasn't fallen out with me your right he's angry with the diseaseand have spoken to my sister since posting and she has told him that she can't do this alone and he has to let me help, she got someone to come and arrange his funeral with him
And she has a solicitor coming to draw up his will tomorrow, she said he just wants everything in order before he goes then he will relax and take the help from the palliative care team and hopefully slip away peacefully. Am leaving him until has done that to see him again. I think he will be at peace with himself then.
He's 80 and had the most amazingly full life, he was in the merchant navy all his life and has been to pretty much every country in the world and has so many wonderful stories am going to spend as much time with him recording his stories and make a book for my children and grandchildren so this wonderful live and memories can be cherished in our family history. My grandson has autism and goes to a wonderful place for respite and I think am going to get my uncles flat renovated and give it to the charity so that families with autistic children can take a holiday at the seaside, it's a lovely place he would be happy if his pride and joy brought pleasure to families with a child with special needs.
Deborah, that's a very heartening post! I think you're right - once he has 'put his affairs in order' he will be more at peace. And if you are supporting your sister as well, that is good too.

I think it's a wonderful idea about your flat and the support charity! How lovely to 'put something back in'. My only thought is whether you actually want to GIVE the property - rather than just 'donate the use free', because that way you control it a little more, 'just in case' the charity maybe comes under new management, and changes direction and so on. Sometimes gifts to charities are not used in the way that the donors envisaged....(!)
Smiling .....you too sound nearer peace. Pleased he has lived such an interesting life and that you are doing something so positive :)
DR
He is still very raw and angry with me, my sister has conirmed all his affairs are in order. I wrote a letter as suggested and gave it to my sister but she said he read it and put it away, she is trying her Best But as soon as she talks about me he just shuts the conversation down. I told him in the letter I didn't want anything just to help and be there for him and all I wish now is that he has the rest of his days in peace and not in bitterness towards me.
My sister is deeply upset she is in such an awkward position but I told her to just do as he asks and to give him some comfort in his final weeks. I don't see what else I can do it say or do.
I agree with Jenny. I once worked at the Besulieu National Motor Museum. Donations seemed to be sold regularly.
The donation is the last thing on my mind, but thank you for the advice. What ever I decide I will use the advice given and not just sign it over.
I just want my uncle to be angry with the disease and not me.
Deborah, I think you've done all you can now. It's up to your uncle to make his peace with you, which he may yet still do, but clearly harbouring his anger at you is something he wants to do. Maybe it even makes him able to 'not think' about the fact he's dying. Maybe he feels 'safer' being angry at you, than at the cancer, as he doesn't want to think about the cancer, or confront what it is doing to him.

Dying is a very strange time of life.....the two weeks I spent with my dying husband (also cancer) were the 'strangest' in my life.....it sounds an odd thing to say, but it is like no other experience at all (obviously!) and completely unchartered territory. In a way, your uncle is 'learning how to die'....and he's never done it before, and will never do it again.

If you can be 'on standby' for if he relents, and lets you back in, that would be good, but do be prepared that he may die with the anger outstanding. But that will be his choice and in a way, if there was ever a time to respect his choice it would be now, when he is dying.

Wishing you as well as can be at a difficult and distressing time - Jenny