I’ve said many times that few things are more disorienting than the shift from being cared for by your parents to caring for your parents. The only thing that makes it harder is when your parent (or spouse) has dementia. This is quite possibly the most challenging of all situations.
Every Sunday, I allow myself the pleasure of spending time on Krista Tippett’s website, www.onbeing.org. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled onto a podcast entitled, “The Myth of Closure” with family therapist Pauline Boss.
She’s coined the phrase “ambiguous loss,” which I find revelatory. Ambiguous loss refers to “a loss that is unclear, that has no resolution or closure”…. Where a loved one’s “status as absent or present remains hazy.”
My neighbor George is not a daughter but he’s certainly part of the daughterhood. You see, until a year ago, he spent most of his time taking care of his parents in the home they shared.
Now, from my perspective, he was the best kind of son any parents could hope to have and he fully embodied the spirit of honoring your mother and father.
But from his perspective, he was constantly failing.
Once he relayed a story to me about how he was in the kitchen one night making dinner for his parents – both bed bound in different rooms upstairs. As he’s running the food trays up and down the stairs, as he did for every meal, suddenly his mother calls out, “Come sit with me.”
Recently when I was talking to a friend about daughterhood, she asked me, “Why isn’t there someone I can pay to help me figure out how to get the best care for my mom? You know, someone who can help me navigate the system.”
That’s a really good question. There are, in fact, many different types of professionals you can hire to help out when your parent needs care.
One problem, though, is that, many of the daughters I know are reluctant to pay out of pocket for –- sometimes expensive –- professionals to perform tasks that they feel they should be able to do themselves.