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Posts Tagged ‘death’

I was at a friend’s house last week. She has cancer is awaiting a double mastectomy. Her family and friends have flocked to her side–like birds heading South and all landing at the same lake–cars lined her driveway all hours of the day and night. She is surrounded, and I’m glad for her. I know she has a network–she is respected, appreciated, and dearly loved.

But that doesn’t mean someone won’t make an ass out of themselves.

I don’t mean it in a “I would never say something that stupid” way because trust me,  I’ve been known to say a few blunders in my day/ But I watched and listened as someone said,

“If this were going to happen to anyone, then God sure did pick a strong person because you have so much faith–it’s amazing.”

I wanted to smack that person on the side of the head like they do in those V-8 commercials.

 

I know what this person meant, but faith or lack of faith has little to do with the situation. You don’t get cancer because you’re strong enough to handle it. If that’s the case, then sign me up with the punies, wusses, and scaredy-cats while I duck all the terrible life bombs that get hurled at those “strong people.” Still, my heart went out to this well-meaning person. We’ve all said less than helpful/cheerful things at just the wrong time.

 

So, I’ve compiled a “What Not to Say” List:

  • God knew you could handle it. (God ((and I don’t mean it, really)) was wrong)
  • You’re so strong. (If I’m weak does that mean I don’t have to go through this?)
  • Your baby/husband/child was so special that God took him (God gets blamed for a lot, apparently–no wonder we have issues with “Him.”
  • I could never do what you do. (I had no choice)
  • You’ll find love again. (Back off–I’m not ready to go there)
  • It’s better this way. (Is it?)
  • At least they’re out of pain. (But I’m not)
  • He/She had a good long life–it was time. (Who gets to be the judge of that?)
  • If there’s anything I can do for you, just call. (Figure out what needs doing and do it.

So What Do You Say?

  • Sometimes nothing. Just a hello, maybe a gentle smile or hug–play it by ear and see if they’ve been bombarded all day.
  • If it’s appropriate, say, ‘I’m sorry that Bill died.” Don’t be afraid of the word, “died.” Or go with a simple, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
  • Let the bring up their loved one. Some people just can’t talk about it for awhile and others find it cathartic.
  • Send a card–tell them you’re thinking of them, love them, holding them in your thoughts–something about them. If you’re close and want to be more personal, then share a good memory–something in writing they’ll be able to keep.
  • Be sensitive. If there’s something you seeor they need, or find difficult doing, then volunteer to help them out–clean gutters, help them take items to the Goodwill, ride with them on errands–every one has something that’s hard for them to do alone.
  • Be there in the weeks and months to follow–grieving is a long process–and even though they have to go on with their lives, return to work and activities doesn’t mean they’re “over  it.”

Finally, be patient. Your friend/loved one/co-worker who has experienced a death may act erratic at times. They may be testy, nervous, anxious one minute–only to be followed by teary, hot-headed or depressed the next. I heard one person describe grief as if they’re wearing their nerve endings on the inside-out. Don’t take their mood swings personal. Listen well and be their steady companion through this difficult journey.

 

And if you screw up and say something dumb, just apologize. A quick, “Hey, that didn’t come out right” will be quickly forgiven. And forgive yourself. It’s more important to try and flub, than to avoid.

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This is part two of a three part blog about the art of conversation.

If you haven’t read my first post, you might want to–click here.

The art of conversation starts with what you bring to the table.

The best conversationalists have a great sense of emotional intelligence, are easy, approachable, mix humor and poignancy, and can slide from subject to subject at a blink. It’s got a lot to do with a deep sense of confidence. There’s nothing sexier, more alluring, more satisfying than to be with someone who “sits deep in their own saddle.”

What the heck does that mean, you ask?

My middle daughter used to ride horses–and studied the art of dressage.

They call it horse ballet. It’s formal, in many ways, and when people compete at dressage, it’s very fancy–they dress in coat and tails–and a top hat. My daughter’s instructor used to tell my daughter to sit deep in the saddle (this is typically true for all types of horseback riding)–which meant literally to tilt her hips back and down, sink her heels as far down as possible, and plant herself in the saddle. I adopted this metaphor for my own life.

For me, it means to recenter myself, be present, own my own worth and where I am in life so I won’t get “bounced off” at every little bump in the road. 

Side note: Personal confidence has nothing to do with cockiness. Cockiness is a cheap knock-off. Confidence is elegant, generous, patient, and aware. A confident person can’t be easily threatened so they’re not coming from a fear based position. So giving a compliment is genuine, and letting someone else shine is a pleasure and doesn’t take away from their own worth. If you are privileged to be in a conversation with someone like that, then you leave feeling better about yourself–and you don’t even know why.

What’s this got to do with caregiving?

Everything.

When any of us feel our own worth, we attract goodness, and people treat us better because we exude grace and respect–for ourselves and others. My mother had this–she felt her own sense of worth that Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s couldn’t take from her.

How do you become a good conversationalist?

  • Take some slow, deep breaths before you enter a room or situation
  • Envision who you will be talking to
  • See the two of you at ease–engaged in a natural conversation
  • If it’s an important conversation, plan out 2-3 points–no more
  • Really listen. Pay attention to what they repeat, to their body language, to the way their face changes at certain thoughts
  • Don’t play psychologist–no one likes to be analyzed
  • If it’s a casual conversation–a dinner, get together with friends, then relax and be yourself. Don’t worry about every little word. Let others talk, but a little over-talking-interrupting is normal when things really get rolling. Forget how you look or trying to sound deep or witty and just trust your natural instincts.
  • Don’t play the “one up” game–that’s when they tell  story about being st or hurt–and then you “one up” them by telling a story about something worse that happened to you
  • Ask open ended questions–ones that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no”

But what about those difficult conversations–the one you need to have with your loved one?

Caregivers and family members have to eventually ask their loved ones some tough questions:

  • I think it’s time for us to plan for the time when you’ll no longer drive. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t still live at home or enjoy your same activities, but can we talk about some alternative transportation?
  • How do you feel about a living will? Do you know what that is? If not, I can explain it to you.
  • Have you thought about what you’ll do if you can’t continue to live in your own home? Have you made plans?
  • You remember we went to the doctor’s last week, and the doctor said you have Alzheimer’s. Have you thought about that? Do you have questions? I’d like to talk about how best to help care for you…
  • How do you feel about hospice? When the time comes, would you rather stay at home and have hospice here–or at a hospital?
  • Have you thought about your memorial service? I know it’s uncomfortable, but I’d like your thoughts–how you’d like to be remembered.

These are difficult conversations, and perhaps the most difficult part is just getting started. Think about what scares you the most. Are you afraid they’ll get mad? Shut down? Refuse to ever talk about it again? That you’ll hurt their feelings?

All that might be true, but some conversations need to take place regardless of how someone will take it.

You have to risk the fight, the pouting, the temper tantrum, the silent treatment that may come. If they get mad, let them. A few days later, ask again. Keep asking. Just act oblivious to the fact that they get upset. Contrary to popular belief, you will not die from being uncomfortable.

In the end, it’s better to deal with the few minutes, hours, days of hurt than to have to make decisions for someone else–and then feel guilt and resentment and forever wonder if you did the right thing.

This might help kick-start a difficult conversation:

I’ve actually done this–if you know you have an uncomfortable/difficult conversation coming up–do a dry run. The next time you get in your car, talk out loud and practice your conversation.

Say it all verbatim–exactly as you would if they were in the car with you. You can even add in their part–play out different scenarios–one where they argue with you, whine, cry, pitch a fit…and one where they listen to you, hesitate, but don’t completely discount what you’re trying to say.

Do this dry run several times until you get used to your own words. You need to hear yourself say it. You need the practice–and it really helps!

Get used to talking–about everything. It’s okay to have differing views. It doesn’t mean you can’t love each other–even democrats and republicans have been known to get along–under the same roof.

The art of conversation can benefit your life in so many ways.

Nothing feels better than to leave someone’s house or restaurant after having a good talk–laughter, tears, banter, stories, memories…this is what binds us to those we love.

My next blog post will focus on the hardest of all conversations–communicating with our loved ones when they have Alzheimer’s or dementia or Lewy Body, or a brain injury, or having that last conversation with those we love in their final hours.

I’m Carol O’Dell, author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir, available on Amazon. I hope you’ll join in the conversation.

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Yes, caregiving disrupts your life.

Yes, caregiving dumps stress on your life by the bucket load.

Yes, caregiving will test every physical, emotional and moral fiber you have–and it hunts for frays and weak spots.

But I’d still do it again. (I wince to even think about it!)

And I know what I’m talking about–I cared for my mother who had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s–and she lived with my family and me for the last almost two years of her life. I cared for her for about 15 years before that–everything from going to see her once or twice a week, to a combination of hired care, community care, overnight stays, and her coming to my house. We tried to keep her in her own home, her own church and neighborhood for as long as possible.

So, my point is, I’m no wuss, and when I say I’d care give again, it’s not because I have so romanticized version of family life stuck in my head.

Caregiving changed me–in good ways.

I’m more patient. When I’m with someone now, and I know they need me, I just let go of all the other crap of life.

I’ve learned to be present. I don’t know if I did this so well when my mom was alive, and maybe this happened because at times, I wasn’t present at all with my mom. I wanted to be anywhere but there. Some days, I would have gnawed my own foot off to get free. And here I am, tell you, I’m glad I did it.

I’ve learned to take every, every, every opportunity that comes my way. I’m like that old TV show, My Favorite Martin–my antennas go up whenever a great thing comes my way. I can’t NOT try something new, dance when music plays, make a fool of myself if the occasion calls for it.

I’ve learned that the only regrets at the end of life are not all the things you screwed up. it’s all the chances you didn’t take. Since this caregiving revelation, I’ve eaten squirrel, kissed a snake, held a giant stingray in my arms, skinny dipped on more than one occasion, taken two a.m. bike rides and made out on a pier under the moonlight (with hubby, FYI). I simply can’t let life pass me  by. Death did that to me. It singed me and I have to live and love big and hard. I refuse to mewl about my unlivedlife when I can do something about it…now.

I’ve started speaking  my mind. I’m tired of being a coward and taking S**T. I don’t have to blast people, but if you bully me, corner me, or shame me…get ready cause I am too old and I’ve gone through too much to not stand up for myself.

I’ve learned to be easier on myself. I’ve given up worrying about housekeeping–a nap is infinitely more important. A swim on a perfect day is by far, a better use of my time.

I’ve learned not to sweat so much about money and jobs. In the end, these things matter so, so little. I’m still learning this one, but I’m grasping onto this bigger thing: if I do what I love, what I’m gifted at, what I’m passionate about…people value me and pay me pretty darn good for it. And I can’t seem to stomach the idea of paying my dues and feeling like I have to suffer.

I’ve learned that I really do like to do good work. I want to do something, some small thing that matters. i want to write and speak and encourage others. I want to somehow contribute to the good of the world.

And finally, I’m learning to let go of grudges, hurts, and resentments. They really do fade in time. Things I was so heated about 20 years ago don’t faze me now. People I despised and feared are now toothless old lions, and we’re all in the Savannah together just trying to find a little shade and water. it’s not so big, scary and important as I once thought it was.

Now it’s your turn. How has caregiving already changed you?

I’m Carol O’Dell, and I hope you’ll check out my book, Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir, available at Amazon

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Every day, a child’s mother, father, grandmother, grandfather or sibling dies.

Experiencing death while still a child is common, but that in no way makes it less difficult.

There are ways to help a child deal with grief.

When a child loses a loved one to death, that loss can have a profound effect that can even last a lifetime.

Emotional, psychological and physical trauma can occur and effect how a child views the world.

If grief is talked about and a child is given the proper coping tools, is surrounded by love and support, then the negative impact can be lessened.

But too often, adults are at a loss. They’re grieving themselves, and they don’t know what to say or do to comfort a child.

They don’t know how to tell a child that someone they love has died.

They don’t know how much to share with them–they either tell too much or too little.

Adults can simply “freeze” and stop communicating, and the child is left to grapple with their sorrow alone.

They can also insist that the child be happy and move on–because it makes them feel less guilty. They try to live life through their child–but children also have their ups and downs when it comes to grief. They can’t be puppets that we demand to be “okay,” because we need them to be.

Many people expect and demand that children are expected to go on with their lives.

They want them to hurry and go back to school. They don’t want them to get behind. How sad. Something as profound as a parent, sibling, or grandparent dying is so much more significant than an A in algebra.

Just days or even hours after a grandparent dies, many children are expected to return to school, sports and activities. Adults someone need the child to be busy so that they can deal with “adult” matters of business and details, but the child has his own grieving process to go through.

Children have so many issues to deal with–growing up, adolescence, fitting in, weight issues, pressure to smoke or smoke pot, divorce, family issues, academic and social issues–and it starts at a very young age.

When are they supposed to feel safe and free to open up and talk?

When can they express how much their miss their grandad?

How Do You Tell a Child That a Loved One Has Died?

Keep it simple. Use “died”, not “He is sleeping.”

Allow your child to express raw feelings freely or ask questions.

Answer questions honestly and simply. Do not go into detail, unless asked.

If the death was due to a violent crime, explain that they are safe now, nd you will do all you can to make sure they stay safe. 

Offer a comfort object–blanket, doll, teddy bear. Even if they’re “older,” something cuddly can reduce anxiety.

If the body is suitable for viewing, allow the child to see your deceased loved one, if requested. Prepare the child for what he or she will see.

Tell your child what will be happening in the next few days.

Give your child choices in what to do. Some children want to go to school the day of the death–it’s comforting and feels “normal.” Give them a choice. Whenever they return, inform the school of the death before your child returns.This makes their teachers and classmates more sensitive. Most schools have a school counselor that can also assist and be made aware of the situation.

Reassure your child that he or she will be cared for and explain the plan.

Children sometimes open up easier if they’re doing something with their hands–playing cars or helping bake cookies–it can take awhile for them to feel safe–and they feel less on the spot if they don’t have to look at you but can pretend to be “busy” with their hands.

 Don’t Know How to Talk To Your Child: Here’s some Easy Conversation Starters: 

 I’m sorry your grandmother/papa/mom/dad/sister died.

 What was your dad/mom/brother like?

Tell me about your__________. 

What was his favorite food/book/thing you did together?

 What do you miss the most? What is the hardest time of day for you?

I cannot know how you feel, but I remember how I felt when my __________ died.

 Whenever you want to talk about it, I’m here.

I’m thinking about you especially today because I’m aware that today is your mother’s birthday (anniversary of the death, your birthday, etc). 

If you don’t want to talk, we can still spend time together.

 

WORDS THAT CAN HURT:

I know just how you feel. I know just how you feel…my dog died last year. Lick your wounds and move on. You’ll get over it. It will be okay. Don’t think about it. You are better off without him. Don’t cry. It’s your fault. God took him so he wouldn’t be in pain. Tears won’t bring her back. Be strong. Forget about it. You are the man/woman of the house now. You should feel ….(proud, relieved, happy, sad, etc.)

Children May Express Grief Differently Tnan Adults:

Their emotions may experience highs and lows. They may laugh inappropriately–even at the memorial service. Don’t think this is because they don’t care. It’s difficult for a child to figure out how to handle their emotions. They may avoid sleep–or a teen may sleep all the time. They may zone out and not seem to hear anyone talking to them.

Become clingy and panic if you’re not home on time or don’t pick them up on time. Act rough or violent toward a sibling or friend. Defiantly disobey.

Teens may become daredevils–drive fast, extreme sports, breaking and entering–anything to feel “alive”

They may even try to “test” your love.

When Do You Seek Professional Help?

When the symptoms (lack of sleep, depression, agression) continue for weeks or months and grow in intensity.

When they can no longer function in school or around other people

When they isolate themselves for too long

When they become dangerous to themselves or others

They fixate on death, experiment on animals, or are exhibiting cruel behavoir

What do you do if you suspect your child or teen is not handling grief well?

Talk to the school counselor, your pediatrician, or clergy

Get a recommendation for a therapist who has helped children through grief.

Don’t settle for just a prescription. Talking and expressing their emotions is crucial to the healing process.

Don’t go just one or two times and think your child is “better.” Follow through and be consistent.

The Best Advice?

Be patient. Expect some some highs and lows. Share your own grief journey. Listen. Reassure. Be there. Provide help if or when it’s needed. Let them know it’s okay not to be able to handle this all by yourself–we all need each other. 

 

In the United States, approximately 4.8 million children under 18

are grieving the death loss of a parent.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother, available in hardback or on Kindle

www.caroldodell.com

Helpful sites:

www.opentohopefoundation.com

www.beyondindigo.com/children

www.griefnet.org

www.childrensgriefnet.org

www.kidsaid.com

I’m Carol O’Dell, author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir, available on Amazon. I hope you’ll visit my blog again.

www.mothering-mother.com

 

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The first month after your loved one dies is perhaps one of the scariest,

most dreaded times in a person’s life.

Losing a spouse, a parent, a child is devastating. But somehow, you will get through.

I know you don’t think you will.

But there’s this little thing called breathing. Your body does it whether you want it to or not.

Your heart can be breaking, your gut wrenched, and you can feel as if you will truly lose your mind–and your body will continue to take its next breath. There will be times when you don’t want to breathe. You don’t want to live–the pain is so intense. Just let your body get your through for now.

It’s a divine design–to keep our heart and lungs on automatic.

I’m sure I would have either forgotten or opted not to breathe, not to allow my heart to pump if I had any say in the matter. But this sheer involuntary response is the only way to go on during those early days of grief.

Death comes in many forms–by way of an accident, or after a long agonizing illness–it’s never easy.

Even when you’ve been caregiving for years and you know your loved one is no longer suffering, almost everyone has a difficult time letting go.

Why? Why is it so difficult to watch death take those we love–even after pain and suffering, and even old age?

I believe because there’s something in us that deeply believes in the eternal.

Our brains do not compute that life is simply cut off. I’m not basing this on any particular religion or theology–I’m basing this on biology–we cannot comprehend that someone we know and love was here yesterday–and is not here today. Those who look at this purely scientific would say that it’s mere habit–but something in me feels that it’s more.

Why, after practicing a lifetime of faith, and believing with all our hearts that we will see our loved one again–is it still so hard to stand next to their lifeless, breathless body and kiss them goodbye?

The same reason a toddler cries for his/her mother. We don’t like separation.

And those early days of separation are very, very difficult.

What’s it like? That first month?

Experiencing a death of someone we love–at any age, and for any reason, usually means that we go into shock. Not only have I experienced the death of several loved ones, like you, I have many family and friends who have also experience grief and loss.

By looking at these first few days and weeks, we can begin to see a pattern–in ourselves and others. It’s less scary to know that we’re not alone, and that our bizarre thoughts and actions are something others experience as well.

What is shock?

It’s our body’s response to trauma or pain.

Physically, speaking, shock is when the body isn’t getting enough oxygen. It can occur after an injury when the body shuts down (the blood stays close to the heart to preserve life at its core level–or it can occur after a severe emotional trauma.

WebMD desribes shock as this:

  1. A sudden physical or biochemical disturbance that results in inadequate blood flow and oxygenation of an animal’s vital organs.
  2. A state of profound mental and physical depression consequent to severe physical injury or to emotional disturbance.

If you’ve ever experienced shock (yourself or by witnessing it in another person), one of its prime characteristics is that you’re probably not reacting to pain (physically or emotionally) as you would expect.

Car accident victims can walk around with a head wound or internal injury–and only after minutes or even hours does the body “compute” the damage and begin to react. This may give the person time to rescue a child or get out of a fire.

Emotional trauma shock can present with similar symptoms–the person may talk or act rather normal, even when you would expect them to cry or scream or fall apart. They might eventually do all those things–but it may be weeks or months later. The mind has the ability to stay “in shock” much longer than the body–and it will usually only allow the person to really feel and experience the deepest levels of grief when it’s safe.

The movie, Reign Over Me is a great example of emotional shock.

Adam Sandlerplays a man who lost his wife and children during 9/11. He spends years in “shock,” and the exploration of how this man deals with grief in an unconventional way–and the arguments that the social and mental health community make to try to “fix” him, is interesting.

Every person’s journey with grief and loss is different. Honor yours.

Trust your gut, your shock will get you through.

During the first month you might: (no two people are the same)

  • Be able to plan an elaborate funeral or memorial service
  • Hold yourself together–be courteous, thoughtful and polite
  • Look healthy and strong
  • Go back to work days or weeks after your loved one passes
  • Feel euphoric–an urgency to get on with life
  • Plan a trip, go shopping, or other ordinary things
  • Go off with friends and do things you haven’t been able to do in a long time

But…if you observe grief and shock a little closer, you’ll notice things aren’t quite what they appear on the surface.

You might also:

  • Feel high strung, nervous, agitated
  • Can’t pay attention, get bored or antsy with people
  • Suffer from insomnia
  • Have a panic or anxiety attack when you’re out in public
  • Zone out and not remember where you are
  • Feel guilty and think you caused your loved one to die (by taking them to the hospital, or not taking them, or a myriad of other decisions you had to make)
  • Forget things–your keys locked in the car, your wallet at the gas station
  • Avoid falling apart or crying because you may feel like once you start, you won’t be able to stop
  • Have nightmares, even scary dreams of your loved one coming back alive–but not alive
  • Become obsessed with something–putting your affairs in order, doing something your loved one nagged you about but you put off–but now you’re doing it to excess
  • Do something, anything to feel alive–gamble, go to Vegas, visit online chat rooms, shop too much, eat too much
  • You may start to snap at people–or cling–can’t let yourself be alone
  • Your emotional pendulum keeps swinging wider and wider

Practical Things You Typically Do The First Month:

  • File for and receive the death certificate (that’s tough)
  • Contact your life insurance
  • Decide when or if to go back to work
  • Comfort others around you–children, friends, even when you don’t feel like it
  • Cancel credit cards and put your house or car in your name only
  • Pay the bills associated with your loved one’s passing–funeral expenses, etc.
  • Decide to buy or sell certain items
  • Figure out how to pay the bills or deal with repairs–whatever your spouse/loved one did that you now must do
  • Catch up with your lfe–if your loved one was ill, there may be many things that need your attention now
  • Write thank you notes and figure out how to handle your relationships with this new change

Emotionally You’ll Have To:

  • Make calls and let businesses know your loved one has passed
  • Talk to many family and friends–and some of them will be awkward and say the “wrong” thing
  • Walk back in your house, your bedroom, drive his car–feel his/her presence and be faced with your loss
  • Sleep in the bed he’s/she’s no longer in
  • Deal with clothes, cars and other personal items–even if you don’t start sorting and deciding what you keep, they are with you–in your house and your life
  • Allow your brain and heart to assimilate that your loved one’s not here for you to call–to talk to
  • Wake up and think he’s/she’s still there
  • Feel alone and lost even when you’re busy
  • Figure out who you are now and what to do with your time and energy
  • Think about that “first” that is to come–first birthday without him, holiday without her–and make a plan
  • Literally survive the best you can

For most people, the first month is a blur.

At times, you’re in bone crushing grief alternting with an odd euphoric gotta-get-out feeling.

You can bite someone’s head off or not even care if the shoes on your feet were on fire.

There’s a lot to do, and that list of wrapping things up and starting anew at least keeps your keep moving. The good news is: you probably won’t remember most of this.

Shock does a whammy on the brain. You may feel like you’ve put your skin on inside out–and your nerve endings are exploding–but later, there will be many things you can’t recall.

Your body is protecting you. Let it. J

As crazy, lost, alone, scattered, numb, and frantic as you feel in those first months, know that as hard as it is to believe, it won’t last forever.

Just breathe.

Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother, available on Kindle

www.caroldodell.com

Carol is a family advisor at www.Caring.com

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Have you really put your foot in your mouth lately?
Were you cruel, sarcastic, bitter–or snarky?
Do you feel like you deeply hurt someone you love?
Sometimes, caregivers snap.
They’re tired, stressed, sleep-deprived, and fed up.
And unfortunately, their loved one–
their care receiver can be in the direct line of fire.
It happens.
But what’s worse is the guilt and regret you carry around with you–
and for some, even after their loved one passes, they just keep
beating themselves up.
Caregivers are notoriously hard on themselves.
I know, I was my own worst judge.
Remember, caregiving isn’t easy.
It’s relentless, and you can’t get it all “right.”
If you lost your cool on one day, you get a fresh start the next.
Jack Canfield recommends in his book, The Success Principles,
 to have a “redo” each night.
Think of something you wish you had said or done differently.
Then “redo” it in your mind. Say the right thing–do the right thing.
Then let it go and go to sleep.
By “practicing” the right thing, even saying it out loud, you’ll be
more likely to make a better choice the next time.
Get in the habit of saying, “I’m sorry.”
Say it immediately and follow it with a hug.
We all screw up, and the more stress out we are,
the more we blow our tops.

How to Stop Saying Mean Things:

  • Get to where you stop in mid-thought/mid-sentence
  • and choose a different direction.
  • If you’re yelling–stop. If you’re being sarcastic–stop.
  • Just stop talking. Quit. Don’t even finish what you’re saying.
  • Wear a rubber band and each time you start to say a mean thing, snap the hell out of yourself!
  • Make yourself call and apologize for any nasty remark–
  • Call the bank teller, call the pharmacist–make yourself ‘fess up. The uncomfortableness of having to own up will keep you from doing it again.
  • Go on a word fast. If you’re really having ugly thoughts, then stop talking for a day.
  • Sometimes we just spew venom into the atmosphere, and Lord knows, the world has enough cruelty already. Shut down. put on music or your ipod–drown out those negative thoughts.
  • Have one person you can vent to and call them.
  • Set a timer and give yourself 5 minutes to rant, and then tell your friend to make you shut up–even it if means hanging up on yourself.
  • Go old-fashioned and wash your mouth out with soap. That may sound strange for one grown person to tell another grown person, but if you’re talking like a mean little kid, then treat yourself like one. I guarantee you, you’ll not want to have to do that more than once.
  • If you’ve been on a roll lately (one despicable thought/word/action after another, then it’s time to backtrack and find the root cause.
  • Has your stress levels increased dramatically lately?
  • Are you doing something you really don’t want to do? Resent doing?
  • Who are you mad at? What’s the underlying hurt?
  • Do you feel taken for granted? Are you scared? Scared death is gaining ground?

Occasional “losing it” is okay–stop trying to be nice all the time.
It’s okay to mouth off every once in awhile. If you give yourself a break on the little things or the occasional slip-ups, then maybe you’ll circumvent the Mount Vesuvius moments when you’re exploding hot lava all over those you love–and those who don’t even know it’s coming!
Once you ask forgiveness–from yourself or someone else–accept it.
***If you’re really mad or hurt, then say it and don’t apologize.
But choose your words wisely and then stand behind them.

Saying you’re sorry and meaning it (and trying not to repeat that exact offense) is enough.
No more beating yourself up.
Did you know that this can be a form of attention-getting?
An actual kind of ego-stroking? Wierd, I know, but ask yourself why are you holding onto this?
Don’t chew on regret like an old dog with a dirty, nasty worn-out bone.
And last, laugh at yourself!

Sometimes, what you say or do in hurt, frustration or spite can be diffused by simply laughing!
Nothing takes the sting out of our faux pas better than realizing that everybody has a dark side–
a Dr. Jekyll we try to keep from bludgeoning those we love.
Say you’re sorry, mean it, and move on. 
(I’m repeating myself on purpose)
Have you ever been around someone who apologizes over and over? It’s annoying!
And for those of us whose moms or dads or spouses have died, know that the last thing our loved ones would want is for us to keep beating ourselves up for something that happend so long ago.
The best way to honor our relationships is by remembering the good and letting go of the rest.

author of Mothering Mother

available on Amazon and in most bookstores.

Carol is a family advisor at www.Caring.com.

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