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Practical Caregiving

Seeing the Good in Bad Situations

By Jean Donahue

Are you going through rough times? Are you frustrated? Are you unhappy about your life at this time? Do you need help you are not getting?

Throughout the years Iíve heard from people who felt this way. I know there have been times in my life that were rough, when Iíve been frustrated and Iíve been unhappy about things. After a short period of time, I always decided to stop feeling that way. Thatís something my parents taught me. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and start looking for the good in a situation, because thereís always something good that comes out of a situation.

When I was in eighth grade, the father of a classmate committed suicide. Iíll call him Joe. I had heard that something good always comes from everything -- even bad things -- so I decided to watch to see if I could find what good comes from a suicide. The bad things were easy to see: the family, the people who loved Joe, were devastated. Their life was suddenly much harder. They hurt so badly. Each one felt it was their fault. In fact, they would never get over Joeís suicide.

So, what good could come out of such a horrible, devastating situation?

I waited and waited and waited, but I didnít find anything. I finally stopped thinking about it. A little over a year later, I heard a young man (Iíll call him Frank) speak of the good that had come out of Joeís suicide. Frank was frustrated with his life. He was in college and had dreams of becoming successful and wealthy, but he started partying and didnít apply himself. He had to drop out of school.

Frank was wondering why he was here on this earth. He was frustrated and miserable. Thatís when Joe committed suicide. Frank stopped thinking of himself and started thinking about Joeís family. Frank helped them any way he could. As a matter of fact, he felt so bad for Joeís family that he stopped thinking about himself. He took them to the grocery store. He taught the mother to drive, and he helped her get a job. Frank found that thinking of other people and helping others was the most important thing in life. Thinking only of himself and what he wanted was what led him to become so frustrated and miserable.

In the end, something good indeed did come from Joeís suicide.

But what about you? Please donít think that you will be helping someone else if you commit suicide. You wonít. A better alternative is to start thinking of someone else. They donít have to be the person you are caregiving for, your loved one. Think of your friends, your neighbors, your children, even people you donít know.

Why not try giving something to a child who needs help. You donít have to do this face to face; contact an organization that helps children. They can tell you about some of the situations they face and what is needed. You donít have to leave your home for this; just make a phone call.

And what about helping the many elderly who are very poor. Give them a meal. Give them an old coat you donít need. Give them a smile when you see them in a store. A smile can do wonders for them. It tells them you are happy to see them. It tells them they are worthwhile. It tells them they have a shot at happiness.

When you think youíre in a situation you canít get through, try to remember that you have come through every other situation, and you will get through this one. You are stronger than you think you are. You will become even stronger because of this experience.

If anyone helps your loved one, treat them like kings and queens. They will be more willing to help if they feel you appreciate them. Tell them you are glad they came. Smile when you see them. Donít complain and argue with them all the time, unless they are mistreating your loved one. If that happens and they are a professional helper, call the company and tell them why you donít want that person to come out again.

If you are frustrated, tell them to please excuse you for being in a bad mood. Explain that you are frustrated and that they are not the problem. They will understand that; everyone has days like that. Just donít let your own frustrations get in the way of the treatment given to your loved one.

Ask them if they know how you can get the help you need. Ask the doctor. Call a local hospital and talk to the social worker. Ask nursing homes, churches, anyplace you think might be able to help or know where you can get help. There is help somewhere. You just need to find it.

Remember, be nice to people. Your attitude is very important to getting the help you and your loved one needs.

As caregivers, you are all wonderful and very important people. You are taking care of your loved one, and not everyone can do that. I am proud of all of you. Getting frustrated, angry, upset and unhappy are all human feelings. Try to channel your feelings to help you rather than cause you more problems. You can decide to do that. You donít have to let your feelings ruin your life. It can get better, but you have to do it. I canít do that for you. Itís up to you.