by Stacy Ekstrand

Dear coach,

My mom had Alzheimer’s, and I was her main caregiver for 11 years and she died last February. I am feeling guilty that we had to put her in a nursing home and the things that happened to her there were sometime awful. Now, I feel so lost without her and don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t feel like I have a purpose in Life anymore. I don’t get motivated very easily to do anything. I know I should go back to work but don’t really want the hassle of that either. I don’t feel close to my husband anymore, I love him but I don’t think I am in love with him anymore. Sometimes I just don’t want to be near him or anybody else. I am so scared I am going to get Alzheimer’s, I push people away. I know this is wrong too. I also want grandchildren real bad and my son cant seem to find anyone but that’s another story. Can you help me maybe get some perspective on all this? Thanks



Dear Betty,

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Losing a parent is always a challenge no matter what kind of relationship one has with them. When a parent has Alzheimer's many times you begin to feel the loss much earlier before they die and it doesn't change the pain you may feel when they actually do die.

Thanks for Being her caretaker for 11years, that is quite a job with lots of responsibilities. Thanks for being the type of daughter that would be concerned about the "awful things" you said they did to her there. I assert that if you had known about them at the time you would have done what you could to prevent it. Also, thanks for knowing your limits as a caretaker, sometimes a nursing home is necessary for them to get their needs met and for us to maintain our wellbeing so we can continue to attend to them.

In order for one to move on and be free from past constraints, guilt, etc., one needs to be complete about what occurred. One way to do that is to complete a three letter series. This is an exercise designed to support one in cleaning up the past. It may be useful to complete the three letter series regarding your mother as well as the nursing home.

The first letter is a sad, angry letter that gives one the opportunity to fully express all anger and sadness. The second letter is an "I'm sorry, I'm responsible for ..." letter. This is your opportunity to clean up your side of the street regarding what you are responsible for. The third letter is an acknowledgement letter, designed to acknowledge the person for who they had been in your life and what you have learned from knowing them in all of their greatness and all of their humanity. The three letter series is never meant to be sent so if you choose to do them regarding the nursing home, please do not send the letters.

A therapist may be of benefit to you at this time to assist you in processing feelings, address any depression you may be having (frequently noted by a loss of pleasure in activities) or anxiety you may have regarding getting Alzheimer's yourself. A coach could assist you in identifying your purpose, developing project areas to step into a new life sans being a caretaker, that you can enjoy (without having to wait on grandkids coming about). My suggestion would be to look further into these options to obtain full support for yourself as you face this
crossroad in your life.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your concern. I hope that you find value for yourself in the feedback.



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* Stacy Ekstrand, L.C.S.W., C.P.C.
    *Stacy is a licensed psychotherapist and is a Certified Professional Coach. As an Ontological Coach, she works with people to obtain an extraordinary life by their design. Some examples of her clients include; a seven time Emmy award winner who is working to put a television show on the air, a computer business owner looking to increase his capacity to be in an extraordinary relationship, an HR Administrator at a major corporation wanting to develop his coaching skills, a female business owner wanting to produce a book, an insurance salesman wanting to save his marriage and increase his business/income, an art teacher wanting to enjoy her job more often.
Stacy also assists in training other people who are interested in becoming a coach.

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© Melt Magazine 2004