DEAR ABBY: I brought my 68-year-old immigrant father to live with me permanently with the intention of caring for him. He was completely dependent. Halfway through the year, I got angry, told him to move back and vowed to myself I would never ever care for him again. It wasn't that he did anything wrong; I don't know why I got so angry.
He wound up living alone, being helped by his friends. I visited him, but I became disconnected. I knew he was suffering, but I couldn't bring myself to bring him back to live with me. I was extraordinarily cruel, and it hurt him deeply. I let his green card lapse. He passed away two years later.
Since then, I have been overwhelmed with guilt. As a son, I should have cared for my father. I am depressed over my actions. I am a horrible son. I have been crying and asking for forgiveness. Please tell me how I can move forward. -- GUILT-RIDDEN IN THE WEST
DEAR GUILT-RIDDEN: Performing the role of caregiver is an enormous undertaking. While it can be rewarding, it can also be exhausting, unrelenting and stressful. Caregivers have been known to lose their tempers because of the pressure, but because you had bitten off more than you could chew, your reaction was extreme.
If you are religious, talk about this with your clergyperson. If you aren't, please consider scheduling some appointments with a licensed mental health professional who can help you more fully understand what happened between you and your father and help you cope with your guilt. And in the future -- once you are able -- consider atoning by volunteering for a charity that serves the elderly.