I feel bad, but I feel like I need some space when I'm visiting my very sick father
July 24, 2009 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Is it okay if I don't stay with my grandmother when I go visit my sick father?

My father is fighting leukemia and I will be traveling cross-country to visit him for 2 weeks in mid-August. This is the third such visit I’ll have been on since his diagnosis is April, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him in what is an important stage in his treatment (he will be undergoing a bone marrow transplant in another city in early September).

Due to the size of his house, it is not possible that I stay with my dad and his wife during my visit. My brother will also be in town during my visit. The last two times I have been out, I have stayed for the majority of the time at my 85-year old grandmother’s house, and it has been extremely stressful. She is very critical and picky and well, just old. I love my grandmother dearly, but the stress of trying to put up with her expectations during what is an incredibly difficult time is overwhelming. My focus during my visit is to spend as much time as possible with my father, and during the rest of the time I really just want to be able to relax and recover and process what’s going on. In her environment, this is not possible – she is very structured and on a rigid schedule and doesn’t like when I don’t want to have breakfast at 7am or dinner at 6pm or just want to zone out for a bit.

I know this who experience is very, very hard on her as well, and I want to be supportive of her, but I also want to take care of myself. Is it super bitchy of me to not stay with her when I go visit? My fiancé is coming out for the second week of my visit, and in the past when he has joined me we have stayed at a friend’s house (at my grandmother’s suggestion) because she doesn’t have extra space in her home (I sleep in a single bed when I’m there). I feel like I would be more relaxed and would be able to deal with her (and everything else) better if I don’t stay with her, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Said friend is always more than happy to have me stay, and creates a very calm, relaxed, open environment and allows me just to be me. It is definitely my intent to spend time with my grandmother and offer assistance with driving her places and helping her in any way that I can, I just don’t want to stay in her house. Any advice on how I can approach this or how I can change my thinking about it if I am being super bitchy?
posted by DuckGirl to Human Relations (9 answers total)
Of course it's ok. I'm not sure, from your post, if your grandmother would be anything other than relieved, to be honest - if she likes a really structured environment and has trouble dealing with changes to her schedule, it may be much easier for her, too.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:23 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would simply approach it from the angle of, "Hey, dear grandmother, I'm stressed out and awake/asleep at weird hours and don't want to disturb you. We'd both be more comfortable if I stayed elsewhere." She might fuss, but repeat this in a gentle way as many times as possible. Then offer to meet her for lunch from time to time, or whatever suit your mutual schedule so she's not completely left out.

Sorry to hear about your dad.
posted by December at 8:23 AM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]

I hereby give you permission to not stay with your Grandma. Stay with your friend. It will be okay.
posted by Neofelis at 8:23 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

It is totally fine not to stay with your grandmother. You have to take care of yourself as well as taking care of your family. I'd advise just telling her that you're going to be staying with your friend but that you look forward to visiting with her (your grandmother) while you're in town. No other explanation necessary.

That being said, if you feel the need to give a reason for not staying with your grandmother, I'd just say that you didn't want her to go to any trouble to host you, and repeat that you look forward to visiting her while you're there.

All the best to you and your family during this tough time.
posted by cider at 8:24 AM on July 24, 2009

Get a hotel thats closer to your sick father's home/hospital than your grandma's. That way you're doing it because its "more convenient".

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:25 AM on July 24, 2009

I had restless_nomad's reaction: your grandma might be relieved. In any case, people are right--it's totally OK for you to stay with your friend. cider has it right.
posted by not that girl at 8:26 AM on July 24, 2009

Yes, it's ok. No, it's not super bitchy. It's you taking care of yourself so that you can get enough sleep and be rested when you face what must be an incredibly difficult time.

"Thank you so much for the offer to stay with you, Grandma, but I've already made other arrangements." If she objects, change the subject to how much you'd like to have lunch with her or some other specific plan you'd like to make with her.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:27 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's okay to stay with your friend. Perhaps you can broach it along the lines of your friend wanting you to visit her while it town, and you'd like to do it, as you don't get the chance to see her very often (if this is indeed true). The offer to get together for lunch, visits, etc.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:27 AM on July 24, 2009

"Grandma, I'm staying at a friend's while I'm in town because it's much closer to the hospital [or whereever your dad is], so it's just more convenient. But I'll still be available to drive you places or run errands for you."

Staying somewhere else isn't bad or selfish at all if it's what you need to be in the right mental place to support your dad as much as you can. Best of luck to him.
posted by palomar at 9:30 AM on July 24, 2009

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