Do You Feel You Must Explain?

scrabble-15546_640Last night during our Story-Telling Sunday, Michelle Seitzer shared an interesting insight about caring for her daughter, who has cerebral palsy. Michelle finds herself explaining to everyone, including strangers, about her daughter’s disorder.

I found that really interesting. I wonder if we feel we must explain what makes us different.

So, I’m curious: Do you explain your caree’s disability or disease to others? Do you find yourself explaining in certain situations or to everyone? Can you tell when you’re explaining to educate and when you’re explaining out of nerves? Please share your experiences in our comments section, below.

Avatar of Denise

About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

8 thoughts on “Do You Feel You Must Explain?

  1. Avatar of PegiPegi

    I only offer explanations when someone needs to know. On the other hand, my husband always tells the story of how he came to be a paraplegic. It’s almost like he “brags” about the rare disease of syringomyelia. Very few people including medical professionals have even heard of it. Must be his way of making lemonade. Every time he’s in the hospital he’s asking me to bring printouts from Mayo with pictures of syrinxes!

  2. Avatar of PegiPegi

    BTW, a pet peeve of mine: after informing a medical professional that he is paraplegic, they often ask “can he stand!”. What????

  3. Avatar of JaneJane

    I definitely do this. I think sometimes I explain to educate since Nicole’s illness is rare and most people have never heard of it. I also do because of nerves and I feel uncomfortable because of judgments of others. I feel that I have to explain why I do so much for my daughter even though she is a young adult now.


  4. Gail Kroll

    I often explain my therapy and therapist issues. I feel inferior to others since I feel my two sisters – a judge and lawyer – don’t care for Mom in a care giver role and feel if Mom needs help? They will pay for someone else to do it then to her. I however feel like Mom always cared for me and I shall always care for her.

    • Avatar of CathyCathy

      I wish that I had a magic wand I could wave and take away any feelings you have of being inferior. We all have our own special things we are good at – caring for your mother is huge. And you are doing a wonderful job, Gail.

  5. Avatar of CathyCathy

    Good question. Last year I took my aunt for a epidural steroid injection in her back. I always go in with her to see doctor’s and labs, etc. but because of the nature of the procedure they wanted to take her alone. I so wanted to say that she couldn’t provide information to the doctor. But I didn’t want to embarrass her and there was no way to get their attention without my aunt knowing about it. So I sat and fretted. Five minutes passed and they came and got me because my aunt couldn’t provide answers to their questions. I don’t know what I will do if something like this happens again. I would love suggestions.

    • Avatar of DeniseDenise Post author

      Hi Cathy–Can you explain your aunt’s diagnosis when you schedule the procedure?

      Some family caregivers create small cards they hand out which explains additional attention a caree may need (like your aunt needs you to accompany her). You could give a card at the time you check in which explains that you must accompany your aunt.

      I would also add that you can simply say, “I need to be with my aunt to answer your questions.” It’s upfront and factual and actually saves your aunt from the embarrassment of not being able to answer questions.


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