This question is adapted from Meghan Leahy’s recent online chat. Join us again June 19. You can ask your questions now.

Q: I recently found out my mom may only have months left to live, barring a miracle. I have two wonderful kids, 3 and 1.75 years old, who adore my mom. My husband and I work full time, my husband is finishing a degree this December on top of work and kids, and I thought we were a bit overwhelmed even before my mom’s diagnosis, which has been very difficult for me. This morning I found out I am pregnant with our third baby on top of all this. We wanted a third child but thought we were waiting, given everything else (I am on birth control and still nursing my 1.75-year-old several times a day). I am guessing you will suggest removing everything unnecessary from our lives (already pretty good at that) and get more paid help (but how do you even pay for three kids in just day care?!). I’m not even sure what my question is, but I’m just feeling overwhelmed.

A: Meghan Leahy

Well, here's the deal.

I think you need to lie down and have a good, long cry. I think overwhelm, grief and fear are appropriate emotions for what you are facing, and I think you and I both know that no amount strategizing will take away from these big emotions. Yes, more support almost always helps, but nothing can hop over grief and fear, not when it is warranted. The only thing you can do is carry on, day-to-day, with the life you are living . . . with special care given to where and how you are spending your time.

This is not a time for accepting more work or making more offers to assist others. This is a time to ask for help. Emotionally and physically, and I promise you, if you have even five acquaintances, life has taught me over and over that people love to step up. From child care to meal prep to just listening . . . people want to help and love and support us. We just need to let it in.

So, for you to support your mom, you need support.

Call a meeting with your spouse and outline the next six months. Make your needs clear. Get your priorities in order. Be very open with your spouse about the true needs of the situation. Keep this list and reference it.

You are in a tough spot . . . so make your environment as calm and ordered as you can.

Good luck.

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