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LeavesNoTrace's avatar

How can I protect my terminally ill mom from my rageaholic father?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (2532 points ) December 19th, 2012 from iPhone

My mother is dying of stage IV cancer at the age of 55. For 24 years of my life she has been my best friend and favorite person in the world. I am beyond devastated and don’t know what I’ll do without her but determined to help her have emotional and physical comfort in her final days.

She’s married to my father and they have always had a tumultuous relationship. I’ve never gotten along with my father either due to his constant emotional and sometimes physical abuse when I was younger.

My father is generally disliked by most people. He is a very unhappy and negative person that others try to avoid. Just his name in conversation is enough to make a lot of people cringe.

He has a borderline personality and rage disorder with narcissistic tendencies and is never remorseful for how much he hurts his family with his hateful behavior. He refuses to believe that he has a problem and insists everyone else does no matter how many oppose his behavior. This man has no shame and cannot be reasoned with.

He has been nothing but callous and spiteful to my mother since she started her losing battle with cancer. He doesn’t provide her with any care or compassion and constantly berates and bullies her despite her vulnerability.

Last night, after one of his legedary episodes I told him that he needs to stop this behavior once and for all and that I would have zero tolerance from now on. He can either be nice to mom or stay out of our way so she can have comfort and peace. He screamed and screamed in my face then my mom’s at the top of his lungs until he was red and sweaty that he’s leaving us forever and I just said ‘good’ and it was better for us anyway. He hurled a sling of profanity at me and acted so outrageously I feared he would be violent since he has hit in the past. I ended up calling some family friends to come to the house and civilly intervene but he was unresponsive to reason and continued to insist that HE’s the real victim and my (dying) mother and I are the real bad guys.

I have never been more desperate in my life. After my Mom passes, I fully intend to cut ties with him like I have wanted to since I was a little girl. I have the support of my Mom’s friends (he has none) and my older brother (his step son who he also loathes for no reason).

What can I do to protect my Mom from this toxic rageaholic as she tries to die with dignity? I’ve been praying for an answer or for strength to be strong for her but I’m so desperate. We live in NY. Is there any legal recourse to restrain him?

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34 Answers

jca's avatar

Next time he acts up, call the cops and they’ll remove him. You can always get an Order of Protection through the courts. I am very sorry you have to deal with this crap at this very trying and emotional time.

rooeytoo's avatar

There are legal aid type places that should be able to tell you exactly what your rights are. Look in your phone book for legal aid or simply pick out a lawyer and call there and tell them your situation. They would be able to tell you where to call.

Shippy's avatar

I’m very sorry this is happening to you. Losing your mom, and on top of this having a rageful father to put up with. My heart goes out to you. I can only make suggestions. Make sure you have phone numbers and support of people who will physically remove your father should he act out of line. Also contact local authorities ( I am not in your country so not sure who) but include the Police and Welfare. They will be able to advise you further.

Possibly your father is not dealing with this well either and is using anger as his defense. That may help to understand him. But you are quite right, you do not have to have him around if he disturbs your mother or you in this way. If you can hold a meeting with people who understand your predicament, and ask them for their support in anyway they can offer. I know you probably feel as though your world is tumbling down, but take it day by day, gaining support and not predicting too much. I send you a virtual hug from a person who cares. If it gets too much you can always post again on Fluther, we will try our best to help you.

Bellatrix's avatar

I too would say call the police. Will your mum support you asking for a restraining order? You don’t have to wait until he is violent again, you can call the police now and ask for their advice. You can also check out domestic violence support groups in your local area. They will also be able to tell you your rights but may be a very useful support mechanism for you.

I am very sorry you are going through this. You certainly do not have to put up with this violence and it can’t be good for your mum to be living with this. You are a brave young woman.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I am sorry all three of you are going through this.
Are drugs or alcohol involved? .Is there any way you can make a recording of his behavior? You will need proof if this goes to court.
If you call the police in NY and say you are afraid of violence, they must act. There is no such thing as a do-over. Someone is going to be hauled off to jail. So be darn sure that is what you want. Also make sure you have ample proof of his wild behavior.
Do you and your mother have the resources to support yourselves?

YARNLADY's avatar

Are you living in the home? I see your previous questions dealt with roommate problems, so if you aren’t living at home, you won’t have much control over this issue.

You could talk to her medical provider about moving her into a hospice, since she is terminal, for her protection.

SuperMouse's avatar

Is there a home hospice agency in your area? You could contact them to see if your mom qualifies for hospice care. Maybe with someone in the home regularly providing comfort to you mother, your father might modulate his behavior. If he doesn’t, there is no doubt the hospice provider will contact the authorities. There are also adult abuse hotlines that you might contact for assistance.

My heart goes out to you and your mom. I am sorry that you are both going through this.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
KNOWITALL's avatar

I would get her out of there immediately. Whether it’s friends, family, hospice, or whatever it takes.

My mom was diagnosed Stage 4 last year, and is clear this year (Thank God!), but for awhile there it was really touch and go physically and keeping spirits up was difficult when you look like a skeleton, and believe it or not a patient’s mental state has a lot to do with the will to live and recovery.

I’m sending you positive vibes, and if you ever want to talk, message me.

burntbonez's avatar

I don’t know the best way to do this. I would just like to suggest another option. Instead of calling the police, you could buy your way out. Negotiate with your dad and ask him what it would take to have him live somewhere else while your mom is sick. The idea is to just give him what he needs to go away. Maybe even offer to rent him an apartment.

You can go the route with police, but that will take a while and it will involve a lot of angst and possibly some danger. Paying him to leave could be less dangerous, although more costly. Still, think about what relatively calm time with your mom at the end will mean, compared to fighting with your dad until the end.

The less adversarial, the better. Perhaps you can persuade him simply by telling him what you want, and asking what it would take to get it. If he is that narcissistic, he’s always thinking about what is in it for him. This way, you give him a specific gain he could have. Could be more effective than trying to chase him away.

gailcalled's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace :Where in NY? In one of the cities? Can her doctors help you both?

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@gailcalled. I came home for the holidays to this mess. I will be working remotely until further notice.

JLeslie's avatar

Does your mom want you to do anything?

Will your dad go to family counseling on the premise you want to get along with him better? As much as I think your father is behaving horribly, I think it escalates the situation if it is him against everyone else, he probably feels desperate and unloved. He’s right in a way, everyone wants to get away from him. And, don’t get me wrong, I realize it is mostly because of him, his actions, he has done it to himself. But, the way out to some peace is to understand where his rage comes from. Unless you are determined to cut ties. It isn’t your responsibility it is his, he needs to want to fix it. Maybe he will go to the therapy on the premise of dealing with losing his wife. He is probably freaked out about that also.

It also is not your responsibility to be in the middle of their marriage unless your mom wants the help. It is her choice to be with and stay married to him. I understand she is dying, and if you believe her life is in imminent danger you should call the cops. But the cops won’t do anything I don’t think if your dad is just screaming too loud. If he is drunk and disorderly, in some states they might arrest him to cool off.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Does your Mom have any financial asets, such as disability benefits, an IRA or other retirement savings arrangement, or cash/investments in her own name?

If yes, she might be happier in an assisted living facility. Such places are pricey—depending on where you live, they cost $5,000 – $8,000 per month—and health insurance covers $0. But, if your mother has some resources, it might be priceless for her to get away from your father and spend the rest of her life in peace.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I am really sorry you are going through this at this time.

I am wondering why your mom has not left your dad when she was healthy. It sounds like you got the protection “gene”, that your father lacks.

First and foremost your father needs help. Next you need to ask your mother if this is the way she wants to end life, and let her know that she is worth more than that and her life has also been worth more than that, and she deserves to have this time in peace. I do believe that just because you may feel that, maybe she does not, if she did, she would of left a long time ago. Maybe she feels she deserves it.

I also agree that the next time your father becomes irate you need to call the police, and keep doing it until he gets the point he needs help. The situation doesn’t sound fair for any of you. If you live on your own you should ask your mom if she will come stay with you. I hope the situation can be resolved before it’s too late…if you are the one that your mother chose to speak for her under circumstances when she cannot then it’s up to you to make the best decision. If you are not I would also talk to your mother to let her know that you would like to make decisions for her when she is unable because it seems you are of sound mind and body and your father is obviously not. I really hope this works out. I’m so sorry. :(

gailcalled's avatar

Did anyone mention your obtaining asap a Durable Power of Attorney and Medical Directives for your mom? If and when it might be necessary, this gives you the power to accede to her medical wishes as well as guidelines for her doctors.

It also prevents your dad from doing something irrational regarding your mom’s treatment and financial issues.

This means finding a lawyer immediately for assistance on all fronts.

tranquilsea's avatar

I think @JLeslie is right in that if your mom wants to do something then there are a lot of avenues she could pursue or you could help her pursue. But if she doesn’t then you are very limited in what you can do. This is a very tough situation and I know how much this must pain you. No one should have to go through what your mom is.

If your mom is resistant to getting help then all you can do is be there for her in any way you can. It may help your mom for you to try to de-escalate the situation with your dad (for her sake) with the knowledge that you are cutting him off once she dies.

My heart aches for you. I hope you can find some resolution.

bucko's avatar

How is spending $5–8k a month and inconveniencing a sick woman a good idea? That’s almost as bad as the family counseling idea.

What she needs is a fish bigger than her dad to diffuse the situation.

JLeslie's avatar

@bucko The family counseling is to help for both the short and long term. Primarily it is to get the dad into counseling of some sort. The mom doesn’t even have to go. But, since I see the OP is at a distance, really the counseling should be just for the father, whatever is appropriate, anger, addiction, whatever, if the dad wants to save his relationships with people.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Hi Everyone,

Just to update you on this situation, my mother died suddenly on New Year’s Day. She collapsed at home after having a few better days post chemo and radiation. It was very fast and they think it was a blood clot in the lung caused by the radiation. I’m absolutely devastated to say the least. Worst of all, my father continues to act like a dirtbag.

Within minutes of my mom’s ‘official’ death (they basically took her body to the hospital to declare her dead even though she really died at home) he was already talking money and life insurance and what he’s getting (I don’t expect to get much or anything because he’s very greedy) just showing no compassion. He put on some crocodile tears for the nurses but it was pretty bogus and everyone could tell he doesn’t give a sh*t our mother is dead. When I left the house that night to go back to my place several hours away he was in waaaaaayyy too good of a mood.

He’s insisting on waiting three weeks to have her memorial despite it being super inconvenient for several important family members. Why? No reason. Just because he’s a weirdo and needs to be in control of everything and everyone despite being hugely incompetent. This whole situation is making me sick. On top of losing my mom at a young age (she was 55 and I’m 24) I have to deal with not having at least one good parent left in my life. Basically I’m an orphan. I just want my Mom back… She always knew what to do.

JLeslie's avatar

So sorry to hear this. I am not sure if you take any comfort in your mom not having to suffer a long drawn out dying process? No matter what, even if you do take comfort in that, it does not lesson your feelings of loss and mourning of course. Do you have someone you can speak to? SO or friend who will be very supportive during this time? If I were going to give any advice, not sure if you are asking for any, I would just let your dad do basically whatever he sees fit with the funeral and services. I think you should give your opinion, but not get into a struggle with him. I don’t know if this will make you feel better, but it is not unusual for a spouse to keep all the life insurance money for themselves. I do know families that give a little money also to the children. Maybe your mother had some accounts where you were named as beneficiary? 401k or a CD or something like that. Those accounts are outside of any will that might have been drawn up. Sometimes children have legal rights to some property under state laws and some of the estate, but it deoends somewhat on whether your dad’s name was on the deeds and accounts as having rights to survivorship. Those laws usually protect women more than men, because men usually have their name on everything, unless they are doing something tricky because of taxes or credit.

wilma's avatar

I am so sorry @LeavesNoTrace . Try to keep the good memories of your mom and not let your father tarnish them with his behavior.
In the state where I live, if there is no will, and there are children, the surviving spouse does not necessarily get all of the benefits from their spouses death. The children also are entitled to some.
If you get no monetary inheritance then I hope that you will try to get some of your mother’s personal things. If you don’t then I’m afraid that you may regret it later.
Again I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. We are here for you.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@JLeslie His horrible attitude makes him keeping her assets sting more than it would if he were a good husband/father and had actually shown love and compassion to her during their marriage and her final days. The way I see it is as someone being rewarded for bad behavior. He was an unrepentant abuser and has alienated most of the people from his life. He has no friends, and most of the family wants nothing to do with him. He’s a pretty bad guy all around and failed as a husband and a father.

To address the question by @LuckyGuy earlier, there are no drugs or alcohol involved. He is a teetotaler and never did any drugs except Cialis to fuel his pornography charged masturbation sessions in the family computer room while my mom slowly wasted away and died in the other room. vomits Repulsive “human being”.

tranquilsea's avatar

I’m sorry for your loss. I hope that, as time passes, you can put some serious distance between you and your father.

I also hope that your father eventually realizes why he’s alienated you and that he works hard to repair your relationship. It may be a pipe dream but it’s not impossible.

JLeslie's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace I completely understand that his abuse makes it feel unjust. There are ways your mother could have protected some of the money to go to you, but I guess with the abuse she might have felt powerless. A lot of times spouses trust when they die the other spouse will give to the children without putting anything in writing. I think it somewhat depends on the wealth of the couple. If they don’t have much money then they are less likely to give some to adult children I would assume, as they need the money themseves. Some people feel an obligation to leave inheritance for their children, others don’t feel that obligation at all. Did you ever discuss it with your mom? What her wishes were regarding her material things and money? Did she make you aware of any accounts that might have you as a beneficiary?

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace I’m really sorry for your loss.

Bellatrix's avatar

I am so sorry you have lost your mother but I am glad she is out of pain and now at peace @LeavesNoTrace. I can imagine how frustrating the situation is with your father but try to not let it get in the way of you grieving for your mother. If he ends up with her assets and possessions I can see how that would rankle at you, but perhaps that’s a small price to pay for the freedom you now have to remove him from your life. Focus on your mum and the positives of having her in your life. I hope you can now find some peace in your own life without the stress of dealing with your father.

YARNLADY's avatar

I am so sorry for your loss.

You do not have to wait for anyone to arrange a Memorial Service for your mom, you can do it yourself. Contact a few relatives for help. My thoughts are with you.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

I’m truly sad to read your update. I send my sympathies for the loss of your mother, and it’s distressing to learn that your father’s bad behavior continues. It sounds as if he’s jealous of your mother—people are grieving for her, so he can’t be in the spotlight. He reminds me of a child who misbehaves when nobody’s doting on and fawning all over him.

burntbonez's avatar

I am also sorry for your loss.

With respect to the estate, do you know if there was a will, or if she died intestate? If there was no will, everything goes to her husband. However, if there was a will, you are entitled to anything that might be left to you in it.

I suspect there was no will, or the will left everything to him, except anything he chooses to pass on to her kids. In that case, it sounds from your description that he probably won’t choose to give you anything. He would be in his rights to do that, although it obviously shows a lack of respect.

Shippy's avatar

I’m sorry for your loss, I hope things improve for you in some way. Hugs.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Thanks for the condolences, all. My mother verbally indicated to me (and my father) that she wanted all the kids to be ‘taken care of’ in some way but I don’t think she got a chance to put it in writing before she passed. I guess I can hope for the best but with him you never know. He has told me that I am entitled to several personal items of hers that have deep sentimental value for me so at least that’s something…

This is so devastating for me on several levels. My mother was the reason I had a family and she kept us all together for better or worse. Without her, I feel orphaned.

JLeslie's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace the death of a parent can be devastating. I haven’t been through it, but some of my friends had a very difficult when especially a “favorite” parent died. Difficult varied from severe depression to extreme anxiety, extreme weight loss, major sleep disturbances. If you feel overwhelmed maybe seek out a counselor for a few sessions, or look for a self help type book that might help you move through the stages of grief. Hopefully, this accute stage for you won’t last long. What your father said about giving you some personal items sounds optimistic.

Do you have a strong relationship with your siblings? they probably are feeling some of the same emotions.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace I lost my father very close to losing my husband. On a grieving level I sort of know what you are going through. I would state that my husbands mother was probably equivalent to your father in the nasty department.

How you move on from this is up to you and its on a totally personal level.

I think about my husbands mother often, however I cannot bare to be in the same room as her for long.

She wreaked havoc between herself and her son, and me and her and she tried to do so between him and I but our bond was too great and could not be cut by her sharp edged attacks.

I do not let what she did to us own me. That to me is forgiveness in the highest level, I don’t have to like her, or what she did, but I also don’t need her to push on and move forward with my life.

She may have taken monetarily what wasn’t hers, but she will never take memories of my husband and I those are our memories.

This is how I honor my husband everyday how I know he would want, and that is by not grieving the life of his mother, but by God’s grace, living each day grieving the most wonderful and cherished memories I have of him and I.

The missing feeling will never go away, you will however one day be able to have a few moments where it will not take over your day. Just take it easy and go at your own pace, don’t let anyone tell you any different, not even your father. big hug xx

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