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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5838
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I'm facing a difficult situation and have no one else to

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I'm facing a difficult situation and have no one else to turn to as its a totally time based decision (and my personal problem is deadlines and making the "right" choice for those in my family who love to do 20/20 hindsight).
Apologies for badly written in haste document I have an appointment today with a serviceperson coming over at any minute and trying to get this out before he takes up my next few hours!
Here is immediate problem. Mother is over 80 (trying to hide details as much as I can as I see everyone can read my writing here)---and suffers from Anxiety (I think its excessive worry but that is another conversation---and you can see I tend to interrupt my thoughts) She is on Xanax very low dosage .25 I think once per day. She, lately, due to a huge unavoidable deadline in her and my lives, has been very upset to let me leave her at home alone---not yet Agoraphobia, but I fear things that happen can effect her and make her condition worsen to do that. No, she goes shopping and to doctors (i.e. Audiologist appt next week) all ok. But....
I'm writing to you today on a personal (for me) crisis that I have not told her. And again by not telling her I will suffer the wrath of entire family for years and I have barely a few hours to make the right decision.. hoping you can help her and me both!
A long term 50 plus year neighbor has died. He was in hospital but that is because he falls when he walks and his ex-wife has been in contact with me about watching the house etc... Problem is that due to the drastic deadline (which I spent weeks getting just a few more precious days to do this thing) I have to leave the house tomorrow, all day). I stay on the cell phone every minute! While I"m gone asking her how she is making jokes telling her what i'm doing, I talk to people and say---say hi to my mom! she's listening.. I try to make light of it to make her happier.
But... I was just phoned by the ex wife to say that he passed away last night.
First crisis is that If we do not write a condolance card signed by "both" of us and drop it in his mailbox for her to pick up today this evening when she usually comes by--- that is a very bad response as she told me to specifically relay the information to my mother that he passed peacefully, etc all the details she cannot take right now.....
If I don't tell her today--tomorrow I have to , must be , out of house all day 7 am to 9 pm far away. I don't want to leave her alone after telling her such bad news. A friend died in a state two states away last year and she went to pieces as she was very upset she could not have gone to his funeral at least or service or visit them too far away.
The family is all over the country... no close relatives nearby they moved away for various reasons, so no one to stay with her when I go at last minute.....
If I hold off saying this to her, she will be devastated I think that I was lying to her (a very very major thing with her all my life is that I do this, make a decision on my own and lie to her about it!) SO I'm very concerned about this being another flash point for future years and years of arguments about my just not telling her right now so she can provide a timely condolence card.
Oh why not tell her when I get back? She has recently retired and gone into a very strict pattern (not like when she worked) of sleeping and waking hours-----saying she never could do this her entire working life! SO she is asleep by 8 and does not want any "excitement" or major discussions after 5 pm! So again my rush to find an answer for this critical question of what do I do... before 5 PM today! (and of course I have my previously scheduled serviceperson as she gets cold and heater not working right (yes I know common for everything to pile up; all at once.... I can't bother my brother about asking his advice...he is a F/T MD with a busy practice and telling him this what I just said to you would cause him to close his practice and fly here in 3 hours just to stay with her for the "one" Thursday I will be out (I am also going to be out of house Monday and Wednesday next week for same "Deadline" but that is it----a major months long project that bothered her every day will be all over...
Just I don't know who to ask how to handle this, how to keep her from knowing until I get back home Thursday (oh he is "important" there will be a phone call from the local senior center to tell everyone tomorrow or next day? I don't know how quickly they make funeral arrangements) what those arrangements are and she might get or hear the phone answering machine when I'm not home and therefore blow up in anger and despair for a while when I'm not there for her! Newspaper I'm smart enough not to give her Thursday, local newspaper, I'll lie again and say it "didn't come" but of course she is intelligent and will call them to deliver it to her during the day Thursday! SO I'm fried if the obituary appears then!
Hello and thank you for requesting my help with this situation.
From what you have said in your post, it sounds like you have tried to balance all of the possible options in dealing with this situation with your mother. However, no matter what choice you make, it seems that in some way, your mother is going to be upset by the news. In that case, it is often best to pick the one choice that gives you the best chance of keeping the resulting upset to a minimum.
When dealing with anyone who suffers from anxiety and concerns as your mother does, it is almost always best to give them the truth. As you mentioned, if your mother finds out about the situation after you have gone or even when you get back, it will only test her ability to trust you. So by telling her now, you allow her to continue to trust you and she can hear the news at a time that you are there to help her with it.
If you do decide to tell her now, try to set up as much support as possible for when you are away. See if there is someone who can call her or even stop by to check on her. There are senior services in most cities and it seems from what you said she may be already involved. So if you contact them and explain your situation, you may be able to find someone who can help. Also, don't be fearful of contacting your mother's psychiatrist. She might not be happy about it, but it is her job to help patients no matter when it is needed. It is also better to have the psychiatrist upset rather than your mother experiencing anxiety. You could also contact the pharmacy to see if a few more pills or an increase in dosage is allowed until the situation is dealt with. The pharmacy can also contact the psychiatrist for you if you want to try that option.
Most of all, keep in mind that no matter what, your mother will be fine. Even if she gets very upset, the chance that she would break down emotionally is very slim. Anxiety is disturbing because of it's symptoms, but rarely does it go beyond that. And she is obviously well cared for by you and you have tried to make this the best situation you can for her. She does have support and she is in treatment. Let the others in her life support you for now so you can do what you need to.
I hope this has helped you,
May I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or above? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer. Thank you so much!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you, ***** ***** Thank you.

For your words of advice...they are what I needed to hear. Yes I guess I must tell her "now" while I'm here... and have her write the condolence card on time, while I'm here, and here to deliver it (she is slightly disabled so climbing the outdoor stairs to deliver it personally to neighbor's mailbox is not for her)

I will have to deal with the problem that she might not let me go tomorrow to the set up appointment.... Will tell her "after" the service person comes hopefully before 5 pm as don't want her upset and trying to talk to them about a potentially huge economic outlay as others have already told us!

Its just everything hitting at once (yes I'll be rating your answer way above 3), just wanted to get this out before the person comes so sorry for bad grammar... If you have anything else to add I'd appreciate it before I send the rating and close this out.....

Will consider calling her Psychiatrist only if her reaction continues too long or threatens to disturb her sleep pattern tonight....before I got to go away tomorrow.

Just a last minute thought....maybe I should hint I have something bad to tell her....and ask her if she wants it "now" or when I get back? What do you think (she is a full professional person who just retired from a major area where she has had 22,000 clients below her and a hundred or so top people working with her at any one you see going from that to sitting at home running around house is frightening her as nothing to do syndrome has set in....

I understand your hesitancy to tell her now, but introducing it as something bad you need to tell her then telling her to make a choice about whether to hear it now or later may only increase her anxiety. It is natural to want to avoid her reaction, but being upfront about it and as calm as you can when you do tell her will help a lot. The more reassuring you can be, the better off she will be. And keep in mind, her reaction is not your responsibility. You may feel that it is, but you can only control so much. And you are doing the best job you can with a difficult situation.
TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you very much for the positive rating and bonus! I appreciate it.
My best to you and your family,
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Kate:

P.S. I just told her (we had a frightfully busy day---service person was great but told us news we didn't want to hear and may have done good or bad won't know until a few hours into late night if we freeze or not!) So after all that and my deadlines were cut even shorter than before, we survived the telling of the news.... She wishes I had NOT told her until Friday, but there was no way she could have known in advance to inform me that prior to my telling her the news of his passing, and my having to leave all day tomorrow...

Thanks for your advice, I would not have had the simple courage to proceed without the clear voice of reasonable thinking you provided me in my hour of need. Thank you for being on "Just answer"!

I (for both of us) appreciate your good wishes and send mine to you and your loved ones as well.

Bye for now.

Thanks for letting me know and for your kind words. They are very appreciated!
Given all you had to consider with this situation, you did the right thing with your mother. She may not have wanted to know until Friday, but you had to balance what you knew with the possible outcomes of waiting or telling her now.
I am sorry to hear the news was not good from the service person. No one wants to hear that kind of bad news. I hope it works out for you.
Take care!