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How do I deal with my brother who is bad mouthing me?


Question: My dad lived with my husband and me for six years, with me being the only caregiver. He had dementia. I had no help from my family the whole time, except for maybe three times for part of a day. My dad just passed away a week and a half ago and my brother now all of a sudden is slandering me, running me down in a very small community. He even got up in their church saying we were mean to my dad, although he was never there. Apparently my dad told him this. Da also said the doctors threw him on the table and kicked him and cut him. People believe him! Talk about hard! How do I handle this? My sisters are saying I need to "keep the peace." What does that mean?

Dr. Amy: I think your sister may mean that it would not be a good idea to fight fire with fire, and that the best course of action is to try to calm things down. I agree. If I were in your situation, I’d calmly explain that dad had dementia and was sometimes confused. Don’t overdo it defending yourself. Just simply state that you provided loving care and that because dad had dementia, he sometimes would say things out of confusion. You might also note that he also accused the doctors of throwing him on the table and cutting him. And leave it at that.

But with your brother, I encourage you to see if this rift can be healed. Can you sit down and talk to him? Or ask your brother’s pastor to have a meeting with you two together? You might explain that you know that dad said these things and you want to reassure him that you provided good, loving care —and that dad sometimes said things out of his confusion that were not true.

It’s very sad that your brother is doing this. Caregiving is demanding enough as it is. You don’t need someone bad mouthing you for your efforts. You need someone to wrap their arms around you and help you grieve your loss. I encourage you to join a support group or talk to your pastor if you are a member of a faith community—or both.

I send you strength.

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