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Posted by: GregS ( )
Date: December 05, 2018 01:19PM

My wife is seeing an LDS therapist to deal with some issues that I think are exacerbated, if not actually caused, by the church...nuther conversation.

I overheard part of last night's phone session...hard to miss when my wife walks into the room I had retreated to to give her privacy with the speakerphone on.

I think she's a good therapist for the most part, and most of what she's told my wife is consistent with what I've been telling her since we married.

However, there was one bit of advice from the therapist that made me sit up and take notice. It was concerning my wife's youngest brother, and sense of guilt and responsibility she feels for his current situation.

He has had a series of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), multiple drug addictions, a stint in prison, and several years of being homeless over the past 30 years. He's now 50.

It wasn't until the last head injury a couple years ago in California that his mental capacity had diminished to the point where my wife was able get him in a facility where he would have 24-hr care and supervision, and away from drugs. My MIL was living in AZ at the time, so my wife also arranged to have the brother moved to be close to their mother.

(Efforts were made to help him before, but he was cognitive enough to fool the evaluators and to stay on the street where he could continue his drug habit.)

My wife did all of this from out of state and with several extended trips to CA/AZ to make sure everything was being done as promised by a string of bureaucracies that were unconcerned about the brother falling through the cracks...nuther conversation.

Another brother recently retired and moved to the east coast, and my MIL thought is was a good time for her to move there, as well. She thought that she could just have the TBI son move in with her, to which everybody yelled, "NO! You can barely take care of yourself."

Once again, my wife moved heaven and earth to find a new facility near Mom's new home, and to make the brother's move as smooth as possible.

Despite my wife's best efforts, there was month's delay before the brother could move into his new facility, and the old facility had already washed their hands of him once his care was signed off to the new state. In the meantime, the TBI brother is staying with his Mom, and the other brother (who is now retired) is stopping by everyday to check in on them both.

The TBI brother's health has taken a visible downward turn in the last couple weeks, and my wife is deathly afraid that something will happen to him and that she would be blamed if she doesn't drive 12+ hours away, and take several days off of work, to fix everything...again. She has already directed her mother and the other brother to bring the TBI brother to get checked out by a doctor. She is constantly reminding them that they can't just accept the brother's claims that he feels fine because, with his head injuries, he really doesn't know whether he is well, and can't remember having been in pain minutes after the pain subsides.

As both I and the therapist have told her, it is because of my wife that her brother is off drugs, is safely off the streets where he was regularly robbed and beaten up, and is enjoying the highest quality of life that he has enjoyed in decades. He is less than a week from moving into his new facility because of her. She is THE MOST BLAMELESS person in this entire drama.

And then the therapist said something that I kinda get, but it really doesn't sit well with me. "It doesn't matter if your brother dies because he will finally have his body back in its most perfect state. Though he has a better quality of life now than he did before, it is still horrible and death may not be the worst thing because then he can return to Heavenly Father."

Apparently it was the right thing to say to my wife since it calmed her down considerably; but it felt rather cold to me and very dismissive of my wife's efforts to get her brother the care he needs now, while he is still alive.

I'm still trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings on this.

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Posted by: Devoted Exmo ( )
Date: December 05, 2018 01:55PM

That certainly would have been the wrong thing to say to you, but it might have been the right thing to say to your wife. It's in the language she's familiar with and probably helps not only to comfort her, but to take away some of the blame she feels.

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Posted by: kathleen ( )
Date: December 05, 2018 03:41PM

Many times, a woman has a more tender heart for her brother that for any other person--which can include her DH, sons, Dad, etc.

I don't know why that is. I know it's the case with me, and it sounds like that may be the case with your wife. It's not that we (women like us) love that brother more, but our hearts *hurt* more deeply when something hurts him.

I hate that "It's ok if he dies" nonsense. Easy for that therapist to say--not her brother. But, like Devoted Exmo said, it might have been the right thing to say to your wife.

Greg, she's one of those rare people who is truly "her brother's keeper." She has my vote for Queen of The World.

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Posted by: cl2notloggedin ( )
Date: December 05, 2018 03:49PM

One had a stroke at birth, then was hit by a truck on his bike at age 5, let alone drinking paint thinner at 18 months, and other accidents. He is just accident prone. He is 53 now.

My other brother is 65. He had a brain hemorrhage when he was 42 while in college at UofU majoring in Russian. He was in the Army in West Berlin doing translation in his 20s.

They both struggle, but are both living alone and doing well, although both of them look forward to death as they see themselves as being able to see our parents again. If there is a heaven, I think their lives will be easier. My other brother (53) said if he gets diabetes type 2 like 3 of us have, he said he won't take the shots. They have a pretty good quality of life, but I KNOW they would be happier. I do tend to believe in an afterlife and both of them just want to go home to be with our parents.

I think what she told your wife is what she needed to hear. It can give her some peace, AND she has gone above and beyond to take care of her brother. There are not many people out there who would go to the lengths she has.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: December 05, 2018 05:20PM

Objectively, it was an asshat thing to say, but it sounds like it had the effect of having your wife be accepting of whatever outcome occurs.

A friend of mine went to great efforts to take care of her elderly and medically fragile mother. Finally she retired and had the desire to move to a new location to start a new phase of her life. She turned over day-to-day responsibility for her mom to her heretofore uninvolved brother, who stepped up admirably. I think your wife needs to realize that it's not all on her. It's likely that her brother who is closer to the situation will manage just fine -- perhaps not quite up to her standard, but well enough.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: December 05, 2018 05:26PM

I was reminded of that song, "He ain't heavy, he's my brother."

Nice lyrics, but the truth is--he was heavy.

Yes. Complicated.

There is a point where the caregiver is suffering equal to or more than the person being cared for. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. Add to that a feeling of deep responsibility to compound it all and it is "heavy." If the therapist found a away to relieve that for your wife I would accept it.


I do not see what the therapist said as dismissive of your wife's efforts. I think she is pushing for your wife to have some peace by feeling free to balance the load if unable to lighten it.

I watched a movie the other night wherein a woman gives up her once chance at the love of her life to care for a an extremely mentally disabled brother. The trade off was not fair. I know it's only a movie, but I also know it happens. Though it can be, sacrifice is not always a noble thing.

Your wife is a wonderful person as are you for caring so much.

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Posted by: You Too? ( )
Date: December 05, 2018 05:51PM

In Mormonese the shrink was saying "let go, it's driving you crazy.

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Posted by: MCR ( )
Date: December 05, 2018 06:32PM

I think the view that life is valuable only if someone else thinks it is, is the therapist's problem and the wife's problem.


The wife is moving heaven and earth to care for the brother because she's afraid of being criticized, being to blame. Her life's got value only if some imaginary person thinks she's good enough. No wonder she needs a therapist.

The therapist's devaluing the life of the brother the wife's fighting to save makes me doubt the wisdom of the therapist. The brother, compromised as he is, may not want to die, even if everyone else thinks their lives would be less complicated if he did. The thought that death is better than life may calm the wife down, but I'd guess that's temporary. A firmer belief in the benefit of death over the benefit of life is the essence of depression.

I've had to attend a number of funerals--of Christians. I'm astounded at the number of living people, again Christians, who can't wait to die. They're wasting their lives wishing for their own deaths. I don't recall Jesus' message being "it's better to die." Everyone's deaths comes soon enough, why not have a religion that finds value in living, rather than pitying people for being alive, and wishing for their deaths?

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Posted by: Anon 3 ( )
Date: December 06, 2018 02:47AM

Your wife needs alanon.
Her brother is absolute mirrored to my dead brother. That she can get him into an institution of any kind is a miracle and testament. She should be instructing others on what she did and technically did twice.
Was my brother happier when he died? He died from diseases from the street. He had severe issues stemming from many head injuries from his motorcycle accidents, following in my stead.

The one thing that separated us is that I sought mental health aid. He did not. He selfmedicated. I did not. Hes dead. Im not.

She is willing to go to a therapist. He was cognitive enough to fool the evaluators.

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Posted by: GregS ( )
Date: December 07, 2018 08:17AM

Thank you all for your responses. They have covered the gamut of my own, often conflicting, thoughts; and have put words to nebulous feelings that I had but could not define.

Thank you for providing perspective.

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