Being a caregiver for an elderly parent can seem to be a thankless job. The amount of time and effort required can be demanding of even the most energetic person. Consider all the schedules of a “normal” person’s life, with the addition of caring for an elderly parent’s with all their needs. It can be quite a challenge.
Having a support structure of friends and family is an immense help. Along with guidance from health care professionals and medical services like home health care. But it’s all worth it when you lay down after a long day, knowing you did your best and all is good.
But what do you do, when after all your best efforts, you get criticized or accused by someone you love and respect? A family member or friend who says hurtful things about you and the job you’re doing. The accuser may even be the parent your caring for. After all you’ve done, the selfless effort you’ve made, and now you have this painful problem to carry about.
Caregiving with forgiveness can help.
If you’re in this predicament my heart goes out to you. Life doesn’t have to be fair. These transgressions can feel like an attack. And in some ways they are. But living with these attacks is unhealthy. Your stress level increases, the strain on personal relationships increases and your spiritual comfort and happiness escapes out the window.
Forgiveness is the answer.
Caregiving with forgiveness is easy to say, but can be harder to realize. If we become emotionally hurt, we have a tendency to carry that hurt with us everywhere we go. It can become a “bad taste” that effects how we think, what we say, how we react to problems and our overall view of life in general. The ugly words that hurt us becomes like bag of anger we carry.
Sometimes, our anger is justified. The words spoken against us are untrue. Our pain is the result of some other person’s problem. We have been wronged.
But sometimes our pain and anger is of our own doing. We’ve made a mistake we regret, and we’re angry with ourselves.
In either case we must choose to forgive. But the truth is, forgiving is hard to do. Sometimes it feels good to hang onto your just hurt. But that is short lived, and the pain always returns.
So how do we forgive? Will we ever forget? How do we move-on?
These are complicated questions to answer. But allow me to offer some simple suggestions.
If you caused the hurt:
- Ask the other person to explain what they experienced. Let them talk. Even if they misunderstood you at the time of the offense, don’t defend your actions. Your object is to fully understand what the other person felt and experienced. Ask questions only if you need to clarify, but don’t try to explain. Yet.
- Once the person is completely finished, repeat back to them what you heard them say. They may now need to clarify certain points. This will insure you understand the problem and the other person realizes you that you do.
- Now is the time for you to speak. Don’t try to defend your actions. It’s best to be somewhat vulnerable here. Explain and reveal your good intentions. Open your heart to the other. The most important words you can speak: “You are very important to me and I never intended to hurt you. Will you please forgive me?”
If you’re angry with yourself:
- Forgiving yourself can be more difficult. But choosing not to deal with the problem can keep you living in the past, when what you really want is to move on.
- “Forgiving yourself can be much harder than forgiving someone else. When you’re carrying around a sense of blame for something that has happened in the past, this bundle of negativity burrowing deep into yourself can cause a never-ending, pervasive sense of unhappiness. Forgiving yourself is an important act of moving forward and releasing yourself from the past. It’s also a way of protecting your health and general well-being.”
WikiHow – How to Forgive Yourself (9 steps)
Caregiving with forgiveness helps you to be happy with your life. If you are having problems with forgiveness you should seek help. Trapped in a bad situation is unhealthy. Talk to a close friend or a trained counselor. Maybe your pastor at church. Someone outside the situation may see things you haven’t considered. You may even locate a support group within your community.
Restoring your health and happiness is worth the time and effort.
Consider reading “Helping Aging Parents”
This article updated for clarity and content on10/29/2019