Lean On Me
by Martha Gurvich
Caring for family during times of crisis can bring up many layers of conflict. Emotions are high, and each of us has a different way of thinking through the challenges that rise up. One of the most difficult things is to be able to remain clearheaded when we are so stressed and trying to grasp at any way to get control of what is happening. With nerves on edge, we lash out at one another when we expect someone to share our vision of what is happening, or how to manage care for someone we love. While there are so many places of conflict when our families are experiencing hard times, one of the things that is not easy to remember is to be kind to ourselves. Family crises bring up a lot of internal issues, and it is important to notice and acknowledge them, and to accept yourself and your own emotional needs.
I have worked with a good number of people navigating their loved one’s illness or diminishment. The thing that seems most important at the start of this work is to help show each individual a place of emotional respite, a safe place where they can feel loved and accepted, as they second-guess their way through uncharted territory. Each situation is different; there are no rules, no way to predict what will come next. We can’t find ease in our decision- making process or in our relationships without inner peace. When working as a family community we need to come from a centered, grounded place, understanding that everyone involved has their own personal path, and those personal paths are very different from ours. If we disagree from a centered, consciously peaceful place, we are able to see the others as the humans they are, full of grief, fear, and anxiety, as much as we are. Once we are able to turn the focus to that, it becomes easier to be loving towards one another and towards ourselves.
So how do we do that? Take a deep breath; take a break, a walk, a nap. Journal without thinking too hard, scribble your thoughts, you don’t need to reread them. Don’t be afraid to talk about your fear, your sadness, your truth. Share, and as you do, listen, validate and love your people through their turmoil. Stay present and share the human condition, honor each response to how hard it is to witness the pain of others, and work toward a tender, honest place you can stand in together, then move forward from that safe place you create. And remember, always, to call for help! You are surrounded by a community of Friends who would be more than glad to be there for you and ARCH (New York Yearly Meeting’s Aging Resources Consultation and Help) with the many trained visitors, regional coordinators, and director is an amazing resource for you when you are feeling lost or depleted.