A Cheat Sheet: You Make a Support Group Member Cry


A Cheat Sheet: You Make a Support Group Member Cry

(Editor’s Note: Recently, we began a new series called “Cheat Sheets.” We’ll share easy-to-remember tips to help you through caregiving’s most hair-raising and patience-testing moments.)

meetingYou had a great day. You arrived everywhere on time, you had just what you needed when you needed it, you had fun, you even had a few minutes to read a book. The day was so great that you actually have time to attend the monthly support group at your library.

And, then 20 minutes into the meeting, the day goes downhill. You so enjoy most of the support group members. Miranda, however, just drives you nuts. And, today she's having a bad day--or so she drones on to the group. Miranda has many solutions available to her--her siblings help her, her caree has long-term care insurance which pays for help, her husband has a well-paying job. In your mind, as you face the day on your own, caring for your parents and your spouse, her complaints feel immature, insensitive and petty.

It's like someone else pushes you forward, puts the words in your mouth. As Miranda begins to complain how her sister can't load the dishwasher properly, you watch yourself stand up and say,

"Miranda, grow up. All of us" (you watch yourself wave your hand to include everyone but, of course, Miranda) "have very serious, very significant challenges. Every day. Your petty complaints are an insult to all of us."

Silence. Then, tears. Miranda begins to cry.

What to do?

A Family Caregiver's Cheat Sheet:
You Make a Support Group Member Cry (and Not in a Good Way)

1. Sit down.

2. Pass Miranda a tissue.

3. Take a moment to catch your breath.

4. Ask the group, "How was everyone else's day?"

5. Continue to participate in the group, offering suggestions when appropriate and empathy when best.

6. Before the meeting closes, say to the group, "I love coming here. I apologize if I made anyone uncomfortable earlier during the meeting. In the future, I'll share concerns I have with individuals in private."

7. On the way home from the meeting, call your best friend and say, "You will not believe what I just did."

8. When you get home, take out your journal and write an entry about the reasons Miranda makes you crazy.

9. Turn the page and write another entry about all the reasons why you can forgive Miranda.

10. Turn the page and write another entry about all the reasons you are grateful for the Miranda's in your life. Because Miranda truly makes you grateful for the good that you have. You have good.

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