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The C-word - Carers UK Forum

The C-word

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
This is my first Christmas in my formal caring role.

Is it normal to feel this guilty and inadequate?

I feel guilty because Dad will be on his own for a lot of Christmas Day. I'll see him for a few hours in the morning and take him up the local crem to visit the memorial we have for my late brother, and my other brother will see him later in the day, but that's it.

I won't be able to cook a Christmas Dinner because I'm working till midnight on Christmas Eve and then start work at 4pm on Christmas Day and work till 2am.

I won't get to see much of my partner either - probably just tea and toast and a few presents in the morning before racing off to do the rounds before work.

I know this is the reality of life for people working in the Emergency Services - it's not like it's a surprise, I've been there 15yrs and have worked Christmas Day previously - but this is the first one since my dad's dementia diagnosis and the first one since my grandmother moved into a care home.

I feel awful. My partner's disappointed because he'll barely see me at all, my mum likewise, my dad is gutted cos he won't get his turkey (previously if I was working my mum would have sent my brother up to my dad's with a plate, but she's decided not to cook this year) and my beautiful nana is stuck in the funny farm (although the staff and other residents are lovely) because removing her for the day would unsettle her too much.

I just feel like crawling under my duvet and telling the whole world to eff off and call me when January rolls around.
PS: I know I shouldn't call it a "funny farm" but given the amount of time we spend laughing at all the hilarious stuff that goes on there, I could hardly call it anything else :mrgreen:
This is an awful lot of weight on you and I feel your guilt, but surely there are ways to help without you doing more (which you can't). Someone suggested on another thread that there are possibilities of buying a one-plate turkey dinner, and then surely your mother and brother could prepare that and take it over? I don't know anything about it myself. Year after year I had to prepare a whole turkey with all the trimmings even though my elder brothers were not capable of eating much of it and I hated being obliged to do something useless, but it's true, they do want to have it. The year my brother, who has just died, was in hospital on Christmas Day he was quite happy except for the 'postage-stamp-sized' bit of turkey he was given, and he was convinced that the nurses were 'knocking back turkey thighs' round the corner. Despite the fact that I had done the turkey at home and took him in turkey sandwiches.
Here's a Daily Mail article I just googled:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/artic ... think.html

Obviously your main problem is coming to terms with not being able to do everything, but the Christmas dinner problem does hit home (not that I want one myself). Can't advise re your other family, but they are in a better position to understand it and shouldn't be laying the guilt on you.
Yes, Pope-Pourri, lots of carers will be feeling the same on Christmas Day - the Guilt Monster considers 25th December to be a day like any other !

But why not have an 'alternative' Christmas Day ? It's not written in stone that it has to be the 25th December - could just as well be any other day :) And if your Mum doesn't want to cook this year - how about you all going out for a festive meal at some point ?

Because of the dementia it's quite likely that Dad won't even realise that next Sunday is Christmas Day. I wouldn't worry about Nana as she will probably have the best day of you all - my Mum's care home pulled out all the stops at Christmas !
Morning. You are an amazing person, believe me!
Will your dad actually realise it actually Christmas day on the 25th? You could make it another day this year. An Xmas dinner of sorts on a day you have more time, and open pressies. Your grandmother will be fine, as you now. Your partner will come to terms with it and your mum. Especially if you make another day special.
You are not inadequate, far from it.
My hubby and myself both worked Christmas day from time to time, because of the nature of our work. I do understand how you feel, but the day comes and goes regardless and all is ok in the end. I'm telling myself this too, because I feel very pulled and the duvet calls me! Milestones.
Arrange with your partner a ' date' for a lovely meal out, where it's just you 2, no talk of work, dementia and all of the other difficult things in life. Something to look forward to.
((( Hugs))). You will get through, honest!
DUMP THE GUILT! Your dad is being selfish. He shouldn't be "gutted that he isn't getting his Christmas dinner" he should be proud that his daughter is working so hard in the emergency services when everyone else is at home with loved ones. He's lucky to have a daughter, luckier that you are not working in Australia, lucky you live nearby so he sees you regularly, despite a busy job and a partner. He's especially lucky to have a daughter who can cook a Christmas dinner and even luckier that IF she is not on duty, will take one round to him.
As someone who has had relatives in need of emergency services and hospitals at Christmas time, I'd like to take this opportunity of saying a very big "Thank You" for all the work you do for us.
What does dad do for himself? Does he go to a day centre, belong to any clubs, organisations etc.? Most have some sort of Christmas Dinner or party.
Well, first off, I echo BB. Knowing that A&E etc are still 'there on duty' for any emergencies is hugely comforting. Life and death don't stop for Xmas day, and I know that from grim personal experience, so I definitely echo BB's vote of thanks to those who keep the emergency 'lifesupport' systems going round the clock. Thank you!

Second, though, two thoughts.

One is to echo some of the posts above about preparing an 'instant' Xmas dinner for those who want it, either by buying it in prepacked or, if time is still possible, in pre-cooking in the next couple of days, so that it's all 'ready to go'. In fact, my MIL, (sadly now in a dementia home), used to hate Xmas day itself being a REALLY heavy 'work day' (she never went 'off duty' for her family until the Christmas pud was served!), used to pre-cook her turkey every year, slice it up in to slices, pour gravy over it and freeze the lot! Then microwave it hot for Xmas dinner!

I suspect quite a few folk do similar, but don't tell anyone!

My other thought is this. If you are working on Christmas Day, why not have a 'second' Christmas day that is truly your own and your family's, sometime over the holiday period. An ideal day you know would be Jan 6th - Epiphany. From what I understand, that is the date the Russian Orthodox Church, still working on the old calendar, celebrates Xmas Day itself. So you would be 'keeping company' with other Christians, if that is important to you. Even if not, Epiphany is Twelth Night, and has long, long been celebrated in Europe and the UK, so it is a truly festive occasion.

There is one other signal advantage of celebrating a 'late Xmas' - cost! Because the price of all the leftover festive food really plummets just after Xmas and New Year, so you can really slash the cost of it all, and that has to be good!
Hi Pope pourri
I too am grateful you and your colleagues work on Christmas day. Big thanks and hugs to you all.

What I did pick up from your post is that there are others in your caring circle who perhaps could better support you, if you share your feelings with them . What are Mum, brother and partner actually doing all day? You mentioned what they are not doing, but sounds like they could perhaps do more ...?
Ok the Guilt is part and parcel of caring but imho can be lessened if you organise care rather than try to do it all yourself
Best wishes
Am I missing something here? You mention your mum, but she doesn't seem to be with your dad? Are they divorced, or what? (I can't think of any other explanation off hand!). And why does your mum pick this year, of all years, to decide not to cook - the very Christmas when you have to go on duty at 4 pm!

I'm sensing, forgive me if I'm completely wrong, a feeling of 'Oh, let's just sit back and let PP do everything, all the cooking, all the running around, all the visiting and carrying in of food etc etc ...oh, and yes, let her put in a day's work in an evening shift as well, looking after emergency cases in hospital! But what the hell, we don't care, do we, I'm sure she'll cope, because hey, that's a lot more convenient for US!'

Sorry if I'm being unfairly unkind, but there it is. I just don't see why everything is resting on YOUR overworked shoulder!

One of the grim truths in life, and it applies to all those who 'cope' (as in 'shoulder on') is that other people take one look at them and think 'Oh, they'll do it all!'. Because you CAN do it all (WITH HUGE EFFORT AND AT CONSIDERABLE COST TO YOURSELF!) does NOT NOT NOT mean you actually SHOULD do it! I'm afraid it's a case of The Little Red Hen - left to do absolutely everything until she finally puts her foot down....

So please, don't be the little red hen - and if you have to be, then do if for those who actually NEED a LRH - and right now I'm thinking of the emergency cases who turn up while you're on duty. (And by that, I mean REAL emergencies, not a bunch of drunks etc etc!)
Part two (!)(sorry, I was going on a bit!)

Why not instead of taking the role of LRH, take the role of General Wellington (or whatever!). Ie, your role is to organise what needs to be done, prioritising things (and chucking out a few 'nice to haves' that only benefit others!), and then assigning duties and tasks etc. You become Christmas Campaign Manager, not the Little Miss OK-I'll-just-do-everything!

Also, just wanted to say, now that your dad has been diagnosed with dementia, I'm afraid you're going to have to face one of the most frustrating aspects of the disease - which tends to be a total and absolute focus on themselves, and not anyone else. Their minds just stop seeing other people as anyone with any function other than to look after them.

It's very sad, but there it is. It took me a good long while to realise - and even longer to accept! - that when my MIL stopped making herself a cup of tea, but expected me to do it (etc etc), it really wasn't because she was going 'slump' all over me, and treating me as the LRH, but simply bcause her brain was forgetting how to do it. So she never, ever thought of me, only 'herself'....and I suspect that is what is happening now with your dad. HE's upset you won't be spending XMas day with him, etc, because 'YOU' as a person with needs and rights and expectations etc, have ceased to exist. You are only 'there' to look after him.

It isn't deliberate, it probably isn't even conscious (as 'consciousness' is fading with the disease now), but they do inctreasingly 'take us for granted'. It can really bug one at the beginning, but it does eventually mean we can become 'immune' to their expectations. And we can defnintely become 'immune' to the guilt (well, fairly immune!)