A frustrated-looking woman is curled up on an armchair scrolling through her phone. She looks annoyed and angry seeing images of happy people on the beach, hanging out together, and going horseback riding.

How to Handle Resentment Toward Family Members

Is there a member of your immediate or extended family who you feel doesn’t do their part in helping care for your loved one?

Do you harbor resentment toward this family member for not pitching in more often?

Caregivers often feel resentful of other family members who do not step up to help care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Many times, these family members do not even offer to help, which only causes more resentment.

Feeling resentful can be normal

I remember feeling this way with members of my extended family. They didn’t step up to help as often as I thought they should, if at all, and some of them never even offered to help in the first place.

I remember feeling resentful that they could all just continue on with their normal lives as if nothing was wrong, when my immediate family and I were clearly struggling to care for my mom. They would talk about things they had done together or I would see pictures they had posted on social media and I would think to myself, “Must be nice!”

But feeling resentful is also draining

As time went on, I realized that all that pent-up resentment was doing me no good. Resentment is such a negative emotion and it can drain you of all your energy. I realized that I only had a few options as to how to handle my resentment. I could confront these family members and tell them exactly how I felt. I could reach out to them and ask for help. Or I could simply let it go.

Confrontation is almost never my first choice because it can cause more harm than good. It also requires a lot of energy to confront someone, which is definitely not worth it if you don’t get the desired result. Asking for help is really hard for me, too. I tend to suffer in silence until someone offers to help and even then, I tend to refuse their help.

How to let go of resentment

Letting go of resentment may be even harder than confrontation or asking for help. It takes a strong person to let go of resentment. But it can be one of the best things you do for yourself and your loved one. You can’t give your loved one the attention they need if you are constantly thinking about what your other family members do or don’t do.

All of that bottled-up anger and resentment is toxic. It will consume all of your energy and it’s just not worth it.

If you are harboring resentment toward your family members, here’s what you can do. Take them aside and let them know how much you are struggling. Even if you think it should be perfectly clear to them, tell them anyway. They might not realize how much you are struggling.

Ask family members for help at specific times and in specific ways. A lot of people really want to help, but they just aren’t sure how. If you ask them for help, make it clear how they can help, and they still don’t step up, then you have to let it go. It’s up to you if you want to continue having a relationship with these family members, but the resentment has got to go. It’s not serving you.

At the end of the day, if you can lay your head down and know you did your part, then that’s all that really matters. Everyone else is going to have to live with the consequences of their own actions, but you will sleep soundly knowing you have done all you can do.

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