Elderly parents, caregiver, and sacraments

MIL is a retired nurse. I have observed that when she is depressed she expresses it in the form of anger. FIL is the caregiver for his wife (MIL). Again, I have observed that MIL is talented at iscolating FIL to get her way.

Now, MIL has had a very bad cough for three months. She is a closet smoker and blames the cough on asthma and allergies. She refuses to see a doctor because she is a nurse and believes she knows more than doctors do. Sure maybe she knows more but her husband … Her caregiver doesn’t know … And I bet he’s scared. I would even speculate that MIL wants to die to make people feel guilty about stuff (another long story). Or she may even feel it’s her duty to die. Bottom line is she has a plan in which she is not sharing with anyone (except maybe God). Further, she doesn’t goto Mass, confession, or any sacrament (Says priest gave her dispensation five years ago).

My heart is telling me to focus on the caregiver (FIL) and call their doctor to see if a house call with a social worker/psychologist would be available. It seems with the marital short comings in their marriage the caregiver’s lost and communication is progibited. When my dad passed away, I found hospice services life saving. IDK if she needs hospice, palliative, or just oxygen (which she would refuse). However, I know FIL would be helped if someone talked this out with him; instead of blindly being obedient to his wife.

With the sacraments, IDK if I should try to get her interested in seeing a priest. Do priests make house calls?

I am low person on the Totum pole … But it drives me crazy to watch this train wreck when we could put on boundaries and safety belts. Any advice?

Where’s your husband in all this? He’s the key.


Your husband should take the lead. Priests can and do make “house calls” They care for the homebound. While Mass may have been dispensed, confession has not. I would make a call to her parish.

Be charitable with what you think her motives are and remember she is your husbands mommy. Pray pray pray for her. Divine Mercy Chaplet should be a staple in your prayer life until this is resolved.

Husband is working. He gets up at 3;30-4:00 am and works until 7:00 PM. His career is dying too. Husband is working to save career and he is working to support his mothers lavish lifestyle.

MIL has always had absolute control in the family and I observe she sends people on impossible missions when they interfere with her unspoken plans. I guess that’s why I feel so sad for FIL who is iscolated by this. I speculate I would get an impossible mission should I approach MIL directly.

MIL comes over three times a week … Come rain, shine, cold, or cough. Since she’s so sick FIL drives her now. I’m the only one who see’s past her silly impossible decoys and want to direct these people to better pasture. Sure, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make 'em drink. But you can lead the cowboy to greener pastures to get help with the horse that won’t drink.

I have never been good at burocratic systems like Medicare, or a priests time. Just brain storming so when I have those few moments with my wounded husband and FIL I can turn them to a better pasture.

You worry about your husband and his spending and stop worrying about MIL. This is your money and your family, too.

Best wishes!

I second this.(Nicely said)

Likely: She may be loathe to get a “diagnosis” that starts a flood of harangues about her smoking, and piles guilt onto what she already has.
Likely: She feels guilty and thinks she’ll just have to take her lumps instead of troubling other people for treatment
Likely: She may not be ready o be identified/labelled with a “diagnosis”, which suddenly makes very private people very public.
Likely: She may be minimizing in order to protect others from the ravages of her illness.
UNlikely: Wanting to die in order to make others feel guilty.

I also agree with Hoosier Daddy that praying for her is the best thing you can do (other than being kind), unless she or your FIL asks you for help.

[BIBLEDRB][/BIBLEDRB]We have decreased our charity to 24%.
Advice: to worry about family & husband … Pray.

I confess my prayers feel useless, which is unusual for me. I found a pamphlet in the adoration chapel “Divine Mercy for the sick and dying”. I’ve been praying it daily; including our kids with the children’s version of Divine Mercy (EWTN). I was more conspicuous about praying it in front of my husband to gently try to get him to acknowledge how I see her illness. He did acknowledge me, and gave me thanks; but kept to himself about his feelings.

Well, after squawking to my husband, my FIL, SIL, and here … I will accept that remaining silent and taking no action is the lead. I don’t view this as uplifting human dignity for the elderly; but it does follow obedience to parents. I worry my husband will follow his mothers lead in death when we become ripe. I worry my husband will miss opportunities to have peace, love, and sacramental graces by focusing on work instead of family; yet, he is dealing with the death of his team at work … Worried he may break with all this change.

Since my MIL has me as low person on the Totum pole, I realize that I am the last person she probably wants to humiliate herself to. I see her bitterness, strife, anger, and stubbornness as an obstical here and now and in heaven. I confess my prayers for her are blocked by my selfish desires to laugh at vaccuming, laundry, and to make my garden the way I want … My prayers are blocked by my annoyance of too many unwanted gifts … Desires to stop witnessing her anger from her childhood brought forward seventy years to today … Yet, I know if she does not recieve Gods graces for forgiveness, and sacramental health … If my husband is kept so busy to address his relationship with her … Itis my husband who will suffer. I don’t want my family to go down this way. Atlas, i am just a lowly turtle named Mach and she is Yertle.

How does one pray for another when there is inner conflict?

If you see less of her, I expect miraculous improvements in your prayer life.

Best wishes!

Giggly Giraffe,

There’s a category of people who work like crazy and often make good money, but they never have anything to show for it. The money just seems to evaporate, no matter how hard they work and how much they make. And if they notice a problem, their answer is always going to be to work more, work harder, make the hamster wheel turn faster and faster—spin, spin, spin.

Your husband is probably one of those. I have a set of them in my family, who are 60 something, and are just starting to understand that it’s not a workable lifelong plan.

You are your husband’s wife and you should have equal say as to spending. Your family budget needs to represent a joint agreement between the two of you as to each month’s priorities. Make a budget together at the beginning of the month every month and perhaps ask your husband to take charge of giving. If he has $X to spend on giving, he has $X. Barring a particular emergency (and emergencies should not be happening every month), that’s all he should spend. Next month, he’ll have another $X and he can spend that, and so forth. You can point out to him that it makes no sense to take money away from his household that is desperately needed for [insert desperately needed thing] in order to give his mom money so that she can buy you stuff you don’t need. That is craziness.

Also, if your husband’s career is in jeopardy, you guys need to be saving in case of loss of income, aiming for 3-6 months of income in savings.


If he is in danger of losing a substantial chunk of his income, 24% giving is too much. If you can give 24%, you can give 10% and save 14% for a rainy day. If your husband were to lose his job, who would take care of you guys? Not MIL and FIL, that’s for sure. You might add (because this might be the clincher for him) that if you have a large dip in income and no savings, you’ll have to cut MIL and FIL off entirely. If you save now, you might be able to continue helping them even through a large drop in income.

Your husband’s work load and your family’s finances are totally your business. Your MIL’s health and your FIL’s well-being are not, although if you can get your husband to be smarter about money, he won’t need to work as hard, so he’ll have more leisure to see them and talk to you and make better decisions about his parents. But he is the key to the process.

Best wishes!

This is good advice. I was going to recommend Dave Ramsey as well.
I think I would add marriage counseling too, GG, perhaps FIRST…I think that’s where the problem is…and it’s possible you are trying to evade it by focusing on your MIL, and he’s trying to evade it by being immersed in work.
It happens that way often.
I hope the best for you.

Yes. MIL isn’t writing the checks out of your account to herself and FIL–your husband is the one moving money out of your family account into his parents’.

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