“When will I see you again?” my Grandma Gladys would often ask as I was getting ready to leave. Instead of giving her a time and date I would answer with, “Well you know I’m awfully busy at college.” Part of that answer came out of frustration that my current visit didn’t seem to count. The other part was sheer ego. I wanted her to know that I was important and had a life. I rarely felt good after a visit that ended like that.
Was I doing enough? Could I have visited her more? I loved my grandma dearly, but had a lot of guilt about not doing “enough” for her. It’s hard to say what is enough and feeling of guilt only fuel your uncertainty. The third letter in my S.A.N.E. Method™—N is for Not Guilty. “Not Enough” thinking is guilt trying to get the best of you. Here are a few things I do when I’m feeling guilty:
1. Put yourself in a rational state of mind. (You may have to do math problems to move your brain from an emotional to a logical place. Try it. It works!)
2. In that logical state, write down all that you do for your loved one. (Make no judgments as you write.)
3. Stay in that unemotional place and look at your list.
4. Ask yourself, “Could I do more? What would I do? How would it affect my life?”
5. If it makes sense to do more, add in the time. If it doesn’t, look at your list again, but this time with a sense of gratitude for the time and energy you give.
Guilt will be a constant companion on our journeys as a caregiver, but you’re in control, even though you may not always feel that way; I get it. Sometimes doing less is better for both you and your loved one.
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