Caring for terminally ill parent while in IB

Hey all - throwaway account here. Can I get your help on something?


  • One of my parents is terminally ill and is expected to pass away soon (oncologist has provided estimates of 3-6 months but I know these aren't accurate).
  • I am currently stuck in a chill job with good working hours. The issue is that it is a dead-end job with next to no progression so I can't hang around too long + I am on the wrong side of 30 already so it's not like I have time on my side to make a move to IB.
  • I am currently interviewing for IB positions and the thought of not being able to care adequately for my parent does concern me.
  • I can slowly see that my parent's healthcare needs are escalating. For example, can longer use the phone herself and sometimes isn't aware of where she is. Had to bring her into the hospital twice just last week.

What I have considered

  • Get relatives to help. This will not work. My other parent has health issues too. My siblings aren't exactly helpful.
  • Get temporary nursing help. My ill parent hates dealing with new people and I can understand this as a familiar face (like mine) is certainly a source of comfort.
  • Don't do IB, go to another role that can potentially allow me to develop relevant skillsets with a better work-life balance. This will allow me to transition out after my parent passes. I considered gunning for Corporate Development. Had tried for these roles and not been successful :(


  • I was wondering whether anyone here can share their experience of working long hours in IB all while being able to take care of a dying parent?
  • Any advice for someone in my position?


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Comments (62)

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Nov 25, 2020 - 12:16pm

Can't say I can imagine what position you're in because I haven't gone through it, but stay strong and keep hustling. One thing to consider is the tradeoff between going into banking right now and seeing your parent more. I know it would be a tough choice for me to waste all of my day working when I could be with a loved one but I also acknowledge the situation you're in. Maybe speak to your siblings further despite them not being too helpful. Sorry to not be as much help but goodluck regardless I wish you all the best.

Most Helpful
  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
Nov 25, 2020 - 4:30pm

Just wow.  'Give up my personal life and career to be a caretaker'.  His mother is terminally ill with months to live, maybe it's more about spending time with the person while you can.  I'm not going to call you callous, mean, selfish etc - I just hope I don't have a kid like you one day.

To the OP, my deepest sympathies.  In your situation, I would interview with the banks and after securing the offer, let them know that you will need to start later due to a terminally ill parent.  Whether or not they are personally sympathetic, it would be a PR disaster for them to withdraw an offer for the reason you provide.

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Nov 25, 2020 - 9:42pm

Just wow.  'Give up my personal life and career to be a caretaker'.  His mother is terminally ill with months to live, maybe it's more about spending time with the person while you can.  I'm not going to call you callous, mean, selfish etc - I just hope I don't have a kid like you one day.

To the OP, my deepest sympathies.  In your situation, I would interview with the banks and after securing the offer, let them know that you will need to start later due to a terminally ill parent.  Whether or not they are personally sympathetic, it would be a PR disaster for them to withdraw an offer for the reason you provide.

Thanks. I would try to see if this works though I think it would be tough. 

Nov 26, 2020 - 5:41am

Agree fully here. Remember your parents raised and made you in most scenarios, of course there are times where it's not applicable, but for the most part you owe them a modicum of care if not more despite the hurdles you may face in your career.

  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 27, 2020 - 2:32am

Well, since he has a job now I assume he could just ask his bank if he could take the time off. If they say no, please name and shame so that we can *rightfully* try and get some recompense 

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Nov 25, 2020 - 6:17pm

Give your dying parent that only has 3-6 months over to a caretaker? I could understand if your parent is just getting older and needs assistance, then sure maybe a nursing home is the best thing to do. Taking 3-6 months off to take care of a terminal parent isn't giving up on a career. And you couldn't give up your personal life to care for your dying parent? What does that mean? You pick partying and hanging out over seeing the last moments of your dying parent? 

Nov 25, 2020 - 6:35pm

You are so fucking obviously a junior in your career. Haven't done shit yet to make comments like this.

You do realize that you are a dime a dozen regardless of how special  you think you are... I hope you realize that your employer will not hesitate to fire your ass should there be an economic reason to do so or performance reason. You're replaceable... point blank period. If you watch football, you'll know Aaron Rodgers almost got the boot this off season after packers drafted a QB. Aaron fucking rodgers. You are not the Aaron Rodgers of fucking anything.

So before you go on to say you'd value your career over family and everything, unless you have some twisted parents... your comments come off so naive. wasn't gonna comment but I feel like you needed to hear this shit.

Nov 26, 2020 - 7:04am

"I love my parents but I could never give up my career and personal life to act as a caretaker." If I were your father and I knew this is how you think I would enroll in a physics PhD, invent a time machine, go back in time and jack you off in a crusty sock somewhere.

Superior returns guaranteed
  • 8
Nov 25, 2020 - 1:56pm

I don't think you'll regret taking time off to take care of your mother. It's not like you're stepping away from much in the grand scheme of things  

There's a very good chance you'd regret the opposite though. 

  • 4
Nov 25, 2020 - 9:45pm


I don't think you'll regret taking time off to take care of your mother. It's not like you're stepping away from much in the grand scheme of things  

There's a very good chance you'd regret the opposite though. 

Hey @m_1, thanks. I agree with you just that it's tough being stuck in a dead end job. You see others around you progressing while you stay stagnant. So I wanted to move into a role that gives better upward mobility. 

Nov 25, 2020 - 10:34pm

Definitely - but why does it have to be a job in IB? You could learn a new skill or launch a side hustle and try to turn that into a business.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Nov 25, 2020 - 6:26pm

You say you're on the wrong side of 30, why do you want to work in IB?  Personally, I would stay in the current job or get another chill one while taking care of a terminal parent. Afterwards, you can still make moves if you want, although not sure why you'd want to be in IB unless you're going to be lateraling in as a SVP/MD or something. 

Nov 25, 2020 - 9:46pm

You say you're on the wrong side of 30, why do you want to work in IB?  Personally, I would stay in the current job or get another chill one while taking care of a terminal parent. Afterwards, you can still make moves if you want, although not sure why you'd want to be in IB unless you're going to be lateraling in as a SVP/MD or something. 

Want to move into IB for better career mobility. I am in a role so niche that if I were to lose my job, I would have to restart in a completely different field. And nope I wouldn't be moving in at the senior level. It would be a junior one.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Nov 26, 2020 - 12:15am

A junior role in IB means work is your life, so not great for your current circumstances. Career mobility into what field ultimately? I would try to go straight into industry or land an investing role, IB its just not worth it especially once you're older. Not ideal for having a personal life or raising a family. 

Nov 27, 2020 - 3:47pm

This is staggeringly stupid strategy.

You want to pursue a ridiculously competitive career track, where you most likely have to stage a major coup to secure a seat, so that you can then have the career mobility to switch to another line of work that is most likely far easier to get into with or without an investment banking background?

It's ridiculously hard to get into investment banking if you're >30 years old and are not coming out of a pretty good MBA program.

If you think you have what it takes to expend that effort and get lucky (let the sum of these = X) along the way, you're better off spending X toward your actual career goal destination, and you'll have a bunch left over.

It's like saying you want to climb Mt. Everest so that you have some mountaineering experience and solid cardio for your true goal of trekking Kilimanjaro.

For a mid-level professional, having investment banking experience is good for overall career marketability, but if you're not already there, it's a waste of time as a means to a different end.  Banking is good to get into PE (for 22 year olds) or to become the CFO of a company that you've banked for 25 years (for a 55 year old), otherwise I wouldn't recommend pursuing banking as a means to an end, unless that end is a career in investment banking.

  • 7
Nov 26, 2020 - 12:42am

Having read the responses here, I feel no guilt posting while inebriated on many forums. I gave up a big job when my mom got sick to help her before she died. It cost me a lot in terms of career progression, and I probably have a drinking problem today because of those decisions. Would I have felt worse if I didn't quit my job to move home and help my mom? Probably. Did I ultimately have a lot of problems getting back to where I was before leaving the industry? Yes, I did. Was it worth it? I think it was. I became a very rich man regardless, but I definitely had (and certainly still have) some mental issues as a result. I almost certainly would have had those issues either way since I would always have worried about the path not taken. If I hadn't helped my mom, I would have felt like shit forever. The people who say they wouldn't care are the exact sort of people you should never listen to. They're objectively selfish and if you're asking this question, you're only toying with the idea of selfishness. 

As it is, you already don't have that great of a job. You're on the 'wrong side of 30' and you're debating this point. I think you know the answer to this question and you're just looking for validation. If you didn't care about being there for your mom in her last few months of life, you would not have asked this question. Since you asked, you probably already know the answer you seek.

Best of luck with your choice. It's not easy, and a lot of the pricks here will never understand.

Nov 26, 2020 - 2:33am

First, good for you for helping your family out - you will never regret this, a job is a job but this time is literally fading. 

Second, actually land the offer before a decision is made. 

Third, if you get the offer tell them the situation and ask if you can defer. This will show the true colors of the people hiring you. If the answer is no, is this the type of people you'd want to build a career around anyway. 

I'm not so sure these things are so binary. Best of luck in these challenging times. 

Nov 26, 2020 - 4:27am

I lost a parent last year. Jobs will come and go. You are disposable. Your future self will thank you for the time you do spend with your parent. Do as much as you can afford (time, money). Any employer worth working for will understand. No job is more important than those last days with your parent.

Nov 26, 2020 - 8:38am

A close friend of mine wanted to launch a startup for 3 years. Finally gets to do it - a week before raising money, he gets told his mother (he's very close with) had a few months left to live.

The guy dedicated almost all of this time on the startup - that did extremely well - and barely saw his mother the last months of her life. He's struggled with depression & suicide now for about a year, and still doesn't forgive himself, despite being worth millions.

To OP, you will never get those final moments back. Interview for jobs and defer the start date if you must, but you'll deeply regret not seeing your parents.

  • 4
  • VP in IB-M&A
Nov 26, 2020 - 6:53pm

I'll call BS on this. Your friend suffers from depression & suicide because of he didn't take of his dying mom? What exactly was he supposed to do? Give up a once-of-a-lifetime opportunity - I'm sure his mom would be more than thrilled with that. I feel like this is one of those weird Hollywood movies that has no basis in real life. 

Nov 26, 2020 - 10:18am

Hey man, terribly sorry to hear you are in this position. The only advice I have to offer is that you probably shouldnt be asking advice for this type of situation here. Most of the users are college students in their early 20s. I feel like this is the type of stuff you need to ask to someone much older with more wisdom than dickheads like us.

Hang in there buddy

Nov 26, 2020 - 11:02am

I was in a similar situation as early in my career (like two years out of college) my dad suffered a stroke while I was an analyst in a REPE.  While I was no way under the impression dad would die imminently (he lived for 8 years afterwards), my work performance suffered while I was the sole/primary caregiver.  I used to take the subway to my dad's place and drop off lunch and hang out a little while then rush back to the office.  I would bring him dinner, buy like a big korean bbq plate lunch so he can eat it multiple meals.  I would hang out on the weekend.  I was nearly fired.  My dad moved in with my sister and after that my work performance improved dramatically.  "Odog808, we didn't know about you, if you would make it here.  But you totally improved and you are now our top analyst."  Newsflash, my dad moved back to Hawaii to live with sister. 

Couple takeaways:

- I was still ultimately let go during the GFC recession, so I was just a cog.

- sometimes if you think about "the buck stops with you" or the "shit rolls downhill but doesn't go further than you" or "if I don't do this, who will?" Then you really don't have a choice, you have to take care of your family. 

- my employer knew about my personal life issues/responsibility but it's quickly forgotten and only work performance mattered.

Fast forward 8 years later to the days before my dad died (2014).  These are memories are seared into my memory, probably as long as I have my marbles.  I'll mention the last moments. 

- I had a mandatory MBA event (needed to graduate) the weekend before the week my dad died.  I stayed the full day on Saturday with the MBA folks and got excused to miss the Sunday activities due to family health crisis.  MBA gave their full support to me (Go Bears!).  That Saturday night I slipped away from the raucous MBA activities and drove to my dad's assisted living community to see him.  I arrived somewhere around 1am.  What I experienced I will remember forever. 

My dad who was suffering from the late stages of dementia and pneumonia/ COPD was on morphine to calm his body and breathing.  Being on morphine also means you're going to die soon.  Most of the time dad was sleeping but he would wake up time to time, but not really be there mentally.  

When I arrived at 1am, surely some beer on my breath, surely feeling kind of guilty that I spent the whole day at this mandatory MBA event but finally relieved that I'm back with dad, dad rewarded me.  I walked into the darkened room and dad was completely awake and mentally all there.  He couldn't speak but could move his mouth, nod his head and smile, and look at me. I told him everything I needed and wanted to say.  That I loved him so much.  That I'd miss him.  That I'm so grateful for everything.  That everyone will be fine.  He was nodding his head, smiling, whispering I love you too.  This is the moment of clarity folks often get soon before they die.  I just so happen to stumble into that moment and I will remember this.  Dad stayed alive until I think Thursday but never did wake up from sleep.  

I'm also writing this so I can copy and paste email this to the email accounts I set up for my two little kids.  I sometimes do that with my WSO advice (why not pass on my wisdom while in the moment). 

You have to balance things.  Can't not work.  Can't delay graduation because of a missed event.   But you need balance.   Now 6 years later, I can't remember what I was working on that was on my mind.  I do remember those last moments, days, weeks, months with dad.  He was my last parent alive and it was an end of an era. I knew time was short and fortunately for me made the best of it.  No amount of money, and certainly no money from a job (that won't let me be there for my loved one) for a few months would be worth it in the grand scheme of things. 

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
  • 27
  • VP in IB-M&A
Nov 26, 2020 - 6:58pm

I'm glad that you were there to make the best of your time with your dad. However, I've also seen cases of getting fired from less-than-understanding banks (including my own). Some recent examples include, VP 1 didn't want to miss birth of his child, Senior Associate had a medical issue, Analyst 2 was dealing with a dying parent. All 3 of them were let go. The last I've heard, all 3 eventually found other opportunities, but I just wanted to add some caution out there for others reading this thread. 

Nov 26, 2020 - 9:06pm

Is this... the norm in investment banking? Getting fired for not wanting to miss the birth of a child, dealing with a dying parent? I know you said other banks could be more understanding, but is this very common in the banking industry? I'm just a prospect so just trying to get a better understanding.

  • Senior VP in HF - Other
Nov 27, 2020 - 2:06am

And you/others still work there. Jesus. That toxic culture exists because junior/mid level people allow it to. I honestly feel sorry for you and everyone at your bank. 

Its not even adding caution - its a perverse dynamic where seeing the birth of your child results in being let go, same for dying parent and/or medical issues. 

This is far from normal, even for banking. Thinking its normal is not normal. 

Nov 26, 2020 - 1:34pm

Sorry to hear of your situation, and hope you and family are holding up ok. What would I do? Personally, family first when there is a known life-changing event et al. Jobs come and go, and you would probably forget all about it in the years ahead (greener pastures and so on). Not the same for family, memories last a lifetime - cliche, but true. Depends ultimately on you and what you want out of life, what matters most, the work-life compromise, and most valued investment in the long run. IB is not going anywhere anytime soon, and sure there will be plenty opportunities in the future. Markets have been quite volatile with covid, brexit and rising unemployment etc - so bonuses (and the risk-reward tradeoff) is less attractive than before, and plenty firms actively downsizing etc. Will probably be this way for another 12 months or so, so dont think there's a rush in this regard. Best of luck in whatever you decide.

Nov 26, 2020 - 9:40pm

I've been there.  I'd recommend you take advantage of your chill job and spend as much time as you can caring for your parent for the next 3-6 months.  You'll carry these final memories with you for the rest of your life and delaying your career goals by 3-6 months is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  

  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 27, 2020 - 2:29am

I kind of had a similar experience, though on a lesser scale and I'm younger. Back when i was interviewing for my summer analyst gig I had a superday the day after my grandpa's scheduled funeral. He died around a week before that. Which i missed because i was at school. Instead of going home and to his funeral, i stayed at school to grind and prep for my superday. I regret that to this day and reflecting on all this on thanksgiving makes me feel like such a selfish bastard for doing that back then. We were so close and i wasnt there the day of his death or his funeral. I've learned my lesson and take family over work any day. Wishing the best to you and your loved ones.

Nov 27, 2020 - 5:06am

Marieke? What are you doing on WSO, get back to caring for your dad, he needs you ffs!

...and the Truth shall set you free
Nov 27, 2020 - 11:36am

You say you are on the wrong side of 30 so let's say 33, 34?

If you are 33 you have 30+ years left in your career. 6 months/30 years is less than 2%. For what it's worth you are probably going to find better IB opportunities 6 months from now, depending on how the vaccine rollout works.

My point is you are giving up very little in the grand scheme of things, but to your mom being there for her in her final moments means the world to her. I've been admitted to the hospital a few times for some stuff (obviously not as severe as a terminal illness) and no matter how nice the nurses are, there's really nothing like having a close family member near by.

If you found out your mom was going to be incapacitated (say a C4 quadriplegic) but could still live for another 15 years or so, there are serious questions to ask about whether hiring a nurse would actually provide your mom with greater care and the independence that some elderly want. But this situation is not comparable at all. Like not at all. 

Be there for your parent and when the inevitable happens, recruit for IB.


  • 2
Nov 27, 2020 - 8:13pm

If you think your parent needs you to care for them you choose that over ib and don't think twice. This is a no brainer, IB is a job, the other is family. That being said if you're trying to lateral into IB I don't see the harm in networking or interviewing so long as it doesn't affect your ability to take care of your parent. You are under no obligation  to tell a prospective employer about your parents and you can always decline an offer.

Source: work in IB, have a terminally ill parent but primary caretaker is my other parent. But having worked for a while I'll say no job is worth close relationships if it ever comes down to a choice. Your employer will not care about you, it's purely an arms length transaction that is temporary. 

Nov 28, 2020 - 7:44am

I'm surfing about different topics. "The most important thing in your life is your own peoples" Adolf Hitler. Never sell yourself out for a corporation, you are merely a vehicle to enrich, while they couldn't give one shit about you. go to your parents, find different ways to make money 

Dec 1, 2020 - 3:10pm

Awesome, someone brought Hitler out. 

Instagram: @dickthesellsider | Substack:

Dec 1, 2020 - 3:12pm

So sorry to hear that. Should spend as much time with your family as you can. IB demands 200% dedication (dunno where the extra 100% is gonna come from). Even if you do get an offer, you just cannot focus on the job as well as you would like to. So why bother? 

Just my take. 

Instagram: @dickthesellsider | Substack:

Dec 1, 2020 - 3:41pm

I feel for you. is there any way of WFH while staying with her ? I imagine interviews are zoom calls too?

but whatever you chose, dont buy in to the dogma of ib or bust, and don't believe that this is your only chance of getting in to ib or even 'making it'. you will have plenty of opportunities at your age. 

  • 1
Dec 2, 2020 - 4:06pm

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  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
Dec 2, 2020 - 5:34pm

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Dec 3, 2020 - 5:40pm

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"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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