General Question

longgone's avatar

Should I go on this trip or not?

Asked by longgone (13909points) December 1st, 2017

I have a ticket for a flight to the US on Monday. I’m supposed to stay there three weeks, celebrating Christmas with my husband and his family.

Two days ago, I learned that my dad had a nervous breakdown. He’ll be in a clinic for the next 2–4 weeks, but we’d be able to visit him daily.

I feel bad leaving the country at this time. He’s doing a bit better, but I feel like I should be home just in case. Things were bad…he was paranoid and very confused. He also seems to be moderately to severely depressed.

He has his wife and my two younger sisters, (whom I don’t want to burden either). Should I just stay home, though that’s sure to disappoint my husband? Maybe you jellies can help me organize my thoughts.

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29 Answers

Love_my_doggie's avatar

This is a difficult and painful decision, especially for someone who’s so recently married. I know you and your husband want to be together for your first holidays as Mr. and Mrs.

All I can tell you is what I would likely do, not what you should or shouldn’t do.

I’d send my husband alone, to be with his own family, and I’d stay behind to help and support my father.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I will echo what @Love_my_doggie stated. This is a very difficult decision.

I, too, can only tell you what I would do. I would go and be with my husband and his family and call my family in Europe often. Realistically, it’s the doctors and nurses who are going to be the most help for your father right now. You can give moral support, but you can do that once you return after the holidays.

On the other hand, your father might really appreciate visits from you.

This is indeed a very difficult choice.

canidmajor's avatar

Can you split the time? Maybe join your husband after a couple of weeks and spend the intervening time with your father? I don’t know if that’s feasible for you, but you could still be with your husband for christmas, but spend more time with your Dad.
I am so sorry you are going through this, I hope your father is better soon.

chyna's avatar

Very difficult decision. Have you asked your husband what he thinks?
I would be really afraid that if something happened to my dad and I wasn’t there, I couldn’t get over that.
And on the other hand, it’s your first Christmas as husband and wife.
Glad I could help. ~

flameboi's avatar

Stay with your dad. Your husband will understand. If he doesn’t, well, you married the wrong person.

janbb's avatar

Welcome to married life and having two families! ~

This is a difficult choice and I don’t envy you having to decide. You have been the strong support of family members for a long time so on one hand, I can see you deciding that this is the time to make your and your husband’s lives a priority. On the other, you really care about your Dad. What kind of support does he get from his current wife?

If it were me and possible, I think I’d be inclined to split the time; perhaps staying in Germany for a week or so to see your father stabilized and then following your husband to his parents’ home. I’m sure they want to spend time with both of you if possible.

Another way to look at it is that since he is now in the clinic, he is likely to be stabilized and cared for. He may need you more after the time in the clinic so perhaps some time to yourself now is ok.

This is a decision that it’s important for you and (I keep wanting to say his name) your husband to talk out together. Perhaps you both could postpone the travel a week or two and go closer to Christmas; maybe even still for the three weeks?

zenvelo's avatar

I will also chime in with split the time if you can. If I were in that situation, I would stay with my parent until the 22nd or 23rd, then be with my spouse and family until the 26th or 27th..

elbanditoroso's avatar

I think you continue with the trip. As someone else said, this time period is when the hospital people do their jobs. If you stay home, you’ll sit around and do nothing.

CWOTUS's avatar

Speaking as an older man with adult children, I can tell you what I would want for you if you were my child: Go on with your plans, enjoy your trip, and think of me and call once in awhile. If you call, that’d be nice – but mind the time differences! (I’m not giving advice; I’m saying the advice that I would give to my own kids if they asked me.) Then when you get back home again let’s get together and see how you can help me to move on – if you even can.

Obviously, I’m not your father (which I know for certain only because I have not had a nervous breakdown, and because all of my family is already in the USA), and I can’t know for sure what he would say. But I know that if I were being cared for, and if there were some kind of treatment that I needed to undergo (especially in an institutional setting), then I’d prefer not to have family visitors at that time, and just get it over with and back home again.

If you haven’t had enough advice by now, and if you’ve discounted the idea of just asking your father what he would like you to do – not that you have to do what he says, but it would be considerate to ask, at least (and he might very well give you the advice that I’ve given… as “not advice”) – then you can just do the old-fashioned thing and make up two lists for “Go” and “Stay”, and weigh the options.

Again, as that older father to adult children, I have worked for much of my life to put them into a position where they can make choices, live their own lives and do their own things. It pleases me greatly when they also think of me… but it pleases me most of all that they seem to enjoy their lives, with me or without.

funkdaddy's avatar

Honestly I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer except to do what you feel deep down is right. Letting anything other than your own compass make the decision will create stress. You have a good heart, trust it.

The little I can add would be that in my experience, “being there” physically with someone going through a major low point in their lives is mostly overrated. We don’t always want to be seen when we’re not in control or feel exposed. I think I did more damage sometimes by being there, even if I didn’t feel like I was requiring anything or judging, they still knew I was there, witnessing. Emails and text messages can be handled when the recipient is ready, your physical presence requires acknowledgement right now, even if you don’t mean it to.

Your past experience with your father may be a guide to how he feels in these situations, I have no idea what that entails for you, but I’d encourage you to honor it here.

I’m sorry.

Jeruba's avatar

Here are some possible discriminating questions:

Which choice are you more likely to regret? Or, better, which are you less likely to regret?

If you can’t avoid hurting someone, how are you going to weigh their distress? And yours?

And to whom do you owe your first allegiance? What did you say in your wedding vows?

Only you can answer these questions.

It seems to me that all options pass the reversibility test: If you do it now, can you undo it? If you don’t do it now, can you still do it later?

Of course, you get to spend Christmas in only one place per year, generally speaking; but assuming that no one is about to pass away, you’ll have another chance next year.

I also notice that your father has a wife and two other daughters. Your husband presumably has only one wife.

Jeruba's avatar

I must add one, which I hope you will receive as a question only—exploring all reasonable possibilities—and not as an accusation or insinuation: namely, is there any part of you that would like to be excused from making the trip?

You don’t have to answer that out loud.

JLeslie's avatar

I think maybe a lot depends on your dad, and how he typically responds to this sort of thing. I know my mom would tell me to go, don’t miss the opportunity (I’m assuming you don’t get the opportunity to travel to the states often). Especially, if she isn’t alone, because other relatives around. My dad I’d have a harder time, but even he I think would want me to go if my mom was with him.

I know a friend of mine would be horrified that I would leave at a time like that if I were her kid, or horrified anyone would ever do such a thing. She is overly clingy in general though with her kids and family in general.

I’m assuming your parents are somewhere in the middle with expectations during emergencies like this, and so that’s what makes it difficult to decide. Can you ask the other relatives and see what they think?

Only you can decide. Do what you won’t have regrets about. Generally, I think not being there for family is more likely to cause the deepest regrets, but it really depends on the situation. Only you know the details of your family and how you will feel.

I’m assuming you have been visiting the hospital since he was admitted?

Can you change your mind in the middle? Is it very costly to change the ticket last minute if you don’t go and decide you wish you were there, or if you do go, and want to fly home early?

Personally, I wouldn’t worry about disappointing your husband too much, because I don’t think this is a situation where he should be putting that type of pressure on you, he should support what you decide to do. I think it’s fine if he offers his opinion and helps you decide, but he shouldn’t be the biggest factor in this decision I don’t think. I understand that even if he is supportive he might still be disappointed. It’s complicated.

I know I wouldn’t worry for a second about cancelling on my husband if I did decide to stay if he is going home to Mexico to visit his family. He’s with his family in his country. Still, in this situation the way I understand it, I’d go on the trip most likely.

Can you postpone the entire trip for January? Do you and your husband have that flexibility?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’m a “elderly” man with kids your age. I’d want you to go – especially if I have a wife and other kids in the area. I don’t need another person sitting around my room wringing their hands trying to make conversation.
A good parent is only as happy as their least happy child. The best gift you could give me is to be happy in your young marriage. The second best gift is a grandchild.
Go and enjoy! Facetime, or Skype or Videochat with me every so often.

YARNLADY's avatar

I suggest you go with your husband. There are many other ways to provide comfort for your father. Make use of skype, psone, and other relatives.

ragingloli's avatar

Stay home, do not take the risk.

Soubresaut's avatar

I’m sorry you’re going through this, @longgone. Hugs.

If it were me, another thing I’d consider is how I’d be if I went on the trip. I’d probably be worried about my dad, and have a hard time putting those worries consistently aside for three weeks. Even if I chose to go, I’d be mentally in two places at once. But, of course, that may just me. (And if I were part of the family you were visiting, I’d want you to be able to enjoy the visit. I wouldn’t want it to feel like something that’s pulling you away from a place you need to be.)

I like the idea several jellies suggested above about splitting the time, if that’s possible. Your father only just got admitted. If it were me, I’d find it helpful to be able to have some time to see how he’s doing in the clinic and offer him some support in the beginning. (And if it were my dad, he’d appreciate the support. I just wanted to put that out there since others have shared the opposite.) Then maybe you’d feel more comfortable when you went to catch up with your husband and his family (closer to Christmas and for a shorter time). You wouldn’t be away as long from your dad as long, you’d have been able to give your dad support, and you can have some measure of peace of mind in knowing how he’s doing.

JLeslie's avatar

@ragingloli What risk do you mean? He isn’t dying. Or, do you mean risking the regret?

CWOTUS's avatar


All this time here, and you still don’t get @ragingloli‘s humor, @JLeslie? It’s a sarcastic commentary on “the risk of going to the USA”, period. It has nothing to do with family or medical issues at all. And it’s actually sort of funny, so kudos to @ragingloli for that.

Judy15's avatar

Would it be at all possible to reschedule the trip so you can have a chance to visit your dad?
I can understand it must be a big dilemma to have. Perhaps you could speak to your dad on the phone, and see if he would like you to visit him?
If you explain the situation to him, and asks how he feels about it, things might become clearer in your mind or at least you might feel better whatever you decide to do.
It really has to be your decision. I find that in most cases, what our gut instinct is telling us is right.
I wish your dad a speedy recovery and that he feels better very very soon xxx

RocketGuy's avatar

I would have your family go as scheduled, and you go a week or two later. That way you get to be with your dad at the most critical time. During that time you can assess whether you can leave for your trip. 3 weeks with the in-laws is kind of long anyway, if you ask me.

longgone's avatar

Update: I’m in America. My dad’s had some tests, and he seems to be fine physically. The doctors are thinking he’s just been dealing with way too much stress.

Thanks, all. Your different viewpoints helped me find my own, and I appreciate all the kind thoughts. There’s no way to know whether I made the right decision, but I hope I did.

PS: I asked the airline whether they’d let me fly at a later date, but they said it would need to be a life-threatening situation for them to agree.

chyna's avatar

@longgone Thank you for the update. For what it’s worth, I think you made the right decision. Enjoy yourself!

canidmajor's avatar

Have a lovely holiday, @longgone! And I hope that some rest and gentle treatment will make your dad better soonest.

janbb's avatar

Have a great visit @longgone! Hi to your husband!

LuckyGuy's avatar

@longgone Great! There is so much to see! Enjoy!
Swing by if you’re in the neighborhood! I’ll lend you a snow shovel if you don’t have your own. :-)

longgone's avatar

Another update: I think, in hindsight, it really was the right decision. I got plenty of chances to help out after I came back, and my dad enjoyed hearing tales of life in America. It’s so easy to forget that one’s family is happier knowing you’re happy.

@chyna Thanks!

@canidmajor Thanks, he’s much better.

@janbb I did ;)

@LuckyGuy I would have needed a sand shovel. Got any of those?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@longgone You wrote “It’s so easy to forget that one’s family is happier knowing you’re happy.”

Yep! Remember… Parents are only as happy as their least happy child.

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