Keeping Your Seat at the Head of the Table


Keeping Your Seat at the Head of the Table

800px-Set_dinner_tableA visitor to the website recently posted a request for help. My friend, she explained, and her sister are locked in a power struggle over who will be the No. 1 caregiver for their mom. My friend has been helping and caring for her mother for years. Now that her mother's end is near, her out-of-town sister has arrived, gunning to take over.

How can I help my friend, she asked?

When you've taken care for years, it can feel like other family members swoop in at the end try to steal your thunder. You stayed for all these years to make the difficult decisions, manage the crises that kept coming, take the midnight phone calls. Now, when the hard work seems behind you, the rest come, pushing and shoving to get the best seat at your caree's table.

It can be so tempting to pull the chairs from under them.

Instead, sit with them. Here's how you can:

1. Let it go. Oh, is this hard! You have every right to feel bitter and resentful. And, yet, your bitterness and resentment just sours and soils your life. You can let go because the others have to live with their own conscience. You can let go because you can sleep at night. Hard to know if they can.

2. Take pride. You made the difference in your caree's last years. Close your eyes and breathe in that satisfaction. You did it.

3. Speak up. You know your caree's wants and needs most. Protect them by speaking up. Do the same for your needs and wants.

4. Take private time. Schedule time for just you and your caree with the sole purpose of simply spending quiet time together. Just be.

5. Know you have the love. When family members return after being absent during a caree's long illness, they may truly be trying to assuage their guilt. They're fighting to feel the love. The jockeying that takes place is for a love you're already received. Because you stayed, you received. You don't need to play catch-up.

You may feel like you have to assert your place when others show up seemingly to take your place. You've secured your place long ago. You do not need to defend it--its hold is too strong.

What's it like for you when out-of-touch family members suddenly show up after a long absence? Share your experiences in our comments section, below.

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