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How can I get my brother who has cancer to let us in. 
Started by idontknow
22 Dec 2012, 12:02 AM

He is not well,  we try to see him.  He keeps pushing us away.  One day Mom will not be her,  It pains her every day,  someday he will not be here.  How can I help them connect. Cry
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Reply by NatR
22 Dec 2012, 1:18 AM

Dear idontknow,

thank you for reaching out with your question.

i am sure you will get a few responses.
i don't have all the answers but i certainly can feel your pain as you try to keep your family talking.

all you can do right now is encourage.  If your brother is not wanting to connect, please dont give up

it sounds like you are the bridge between your mom and your brother.
everyone reacts in different ways to situations like this.  I encourage you to continue and keep communication as open as you can.

it is painful to admit how serious things are, your brother may feel he is protecting his mom by staying away.

Hang in there and don't give up! I know you will have others respond to you.
we are hear to listen and do what we can to encourage.
you are not alone.
sending my best wishes,
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Reply by Brayden
22 Dec 2012, 4:14 AM

Dear idontknow
It is good that you found us and now you can feel free to ask your questions and tell your story to this caring community in confidence. You are in a difficult and painful situation and as NatR said, maybe you can only encourage at this point. Many men take more time to open up and share their feelings. If you continue to gently love him and not push too hard, he may come around as he gains trust in you. Admittedly this will take patience on both you and your mothers part. Be a very focused listener so you can ask the deeper questions as you hear the openers.
Please keep posting here as others too will be very supportive of you. Peace
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Reply by eKIM
22 Dec 2012, 5:06 PM

Hey, "idontknow".  I suppose, honestly, not having been in your situation, idontknow either. One great thing about Virtual Hospice, however, is that, even if we don’t know the answer, the people here tend to be compassionate listeners.  And sometimes, just getting things off your chest is a valuable exercise.

Often a male will withdraw out of perhaps an unspoken love.  A love that says, “I can deal with this” I don’t want to upset, or bother the ones that I love.  Being a male, I can identify with that trait.  We want to be the “protector/provider”.  We don’t want to be a burden on others.  So much for my “take” on pop-psychology.  That’s not a professional opinion, only a “gut feeling”.

From a practical point of view, I have found that asking, “What can I do to help you?” rarely works in these circumstances, because the answer often is “Nothing, really.  I’m ok.  I’m fine.” 

Just showing up with something that you know he would enjoy is often a good tactic. 

Also, rather than asking, simply stating a fact such as, “I’ll be over this afternoon to bake that dessert that you like.  We can chat and catch up.  I don’t have anything on the go and I’d love to come over.  I’ll see you about two o’clock.” 

It is much more difficult to say “No” to a statement.  If you ask if you can come over, it is much easier to say “no” outright, or put you off. 

Even, if initially he is unwilling to talk about his situation, a lively, upbeat conversation can be welcome as it will take his mind off of his situation.  This might allow a more gentle transition into more serious matters when he feels that the time is right.

I don’t know if this helps, but I hope it does.  Keep us updated, “idontknow”.  The anonymity here is great, it allows you to speak freely.

Do you all live geographically close to each other?

-       eKim

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Reply by idontknow
22 Dec 2012, 6:17 PM

Hello eKim,    I value your response.   This is the first time I have joined a discussion board.  I think this will be helpful for me.   Yes,   there are many factors in my relationship with my brother that interfer with communication.  I send him a light short email daily just to keep in touch andhe never responds.  He lives 20 minutes away,   and he has a mental health problem and is an alcoholic and prefers his bottle to family. I don't judge him (anymore).  I just wish he would call Mom (90) at least once and just say hello.  His absence is killing Mom. I have to realize it is out of my hands, and will always be in my heart. 

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Reply by eKIM
22 Dec 2012, 6:43 PM

I think I can see “where you’re coming from”, dear.  “Dear” is much nicer sounding that “idontknow”.  My wife and I lived “down east” for many years – everyone there calls each other “dear” – I found their expressions quaint, and sweet.  My wife is doing her Christmas baking and I’m spending some time in front of the computer.

Well, you and I have one thing in common, I have a sister with drug and mental health problems.  Family relations can be so complicated.  Furthermore, no two people respond the same.  The best you can hope for is some “moral support”.  Virtual Hospice is good for that.

You are wonderful for continuing to reach out to your brother by email and/or other means.  Two things:

  • Giving forth love is always a good thing to do.  Love is all that matters, in the end.  And the beauty of love is, that even when it is not received well, or not returned, love itself is never diminished.  Love is that powerful.  Your acts of loving-kindness will help you keep your equilibrium.

  • We should never take it personally when our love is not returned.  The truth is that people can love us only as much as they are able.  There is something that causes them to hold back, and it is entirely of their own volition.  It has nothing to do with our worthiness of love.  We should never feel diminished by this response, or lack of response.  We are all loveable, regardless of the inability of some to see and express this fact.

Being the absolute best daughter that you can for your Mom will be of great comfort to her.  She is suffering partly due to the truth of the axiom, “To have a child is to forever have your heart outside of your body.

As far as your brother goes, even if things do not work out the way you wish, being the “best sister that you can be” regardless of his response, or lack of response, will leave you with no regrets in the future.

I wish you all the best.

-       eKim 

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Reply by idontknow
22 Dec 2012, 7:36 PM

Hi,   I am relishing all the support and words of wisdom on this page.   

My family is from the maritimes and yes,   "Dear" is an east coast term
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Reply by eKIM
22 Dec 2012, 9:32 PM

In that case, with your indulgence, I shall refer to you as "dear" from now on.  All of us are dear, I believe.  - eKim
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Reply by ShiningStar
22 Dec 2012, 9:40 PM

Hi Idon'tknow!

First of all, welcome to virtual hospice, reaching out is a good start and I know that the members of this community are amazing and caring people that will be there for you.

I am sorry that you are going through this. Especially that you are in between your brother and mom. 
I have  worked with people dealing with addictions and what I have seen is that  they tend to distance themselves because they don't want others to feel sorry for them. They know they are in a bad situation and people helping them just makes them feel even more helpless. If we add to that the fact that your brother is now sick with cancer (I don't know which kind) and maybe he even blames himself for it, it can be even harder to accept any help.

I agree with what eKim told you about continuing to love your brother without taking it personally if he doesn't give back to you. 
It's good to remember that whatever you do for him, you mom or any other human being will always be with you. You will have peace of mind and your heart will grow bigger if you keep on loving. 

It can be sad to see the people we love make the wrong choices or become bitter but in the end is their own choice and the only thing we can control is what we do. And who knows maybe in time you brother will change and reach out as well. 

I am sending you my warmest wishes and lots of love from my heart.

And just one question:

Does your mom live with you?


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Reply by idontknow
22 Dec 2012, 9:59 PM

Thank you all for the reaching out and wise words.     This is a great community.    

Yes,  My mom and I live together.   I moved in just over a year ago. My dad starting needing help  (my Mom too).   We were able to keep him at home to pass from this world on Feb 24.   That is what he wanted and it was a good thing to do,  we were lucky to be able to to this,  of course with the help of Hospice.  Mom and I just celebrated his first" not here" birthday on the 18th.    Now to get through this Christmas season.

Mom,  had planned to get away for Christmas so  las April I helped her plan a trip.

In a few days we head to Maui,    It has been a lovely distraction,  making all the plans.

I feel very lucky.

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