I have a client whose dad lives out of town.  He’s now single as he’s recently become a widower and he had a couple aches and pains but on the whole was doing really well managing on his own.  The other day, though, he slipped on the ice and ended up with a broken hip.

As you can imagine, it’s really difficult living with a broken hip.  For one thing, driving is out of the question for a while.  Sitting, getting up, lying down, and going to the bathroom all present new and awkward challenges that we can’t even imagine if we’ve never been there.

In the meantime, the son – my client – has taken time off work to help his Dad and get him settled at home.  His employer wonders when he’ll be back.  So does his family.  And so does he.

His life is now upside down in a way he’s never known before.  His dad had friends but no one close enough to live with his dad and help him through this.  He’s doing his best to make important arrangments so his dad has the support he needs and he’s doing a great job managing the details.

So you may wonder how I help clients in situations like this.

What I do is I help them figure out what practical details need to be attended to and come up with potential solutions to these problems. For example, his Dad can’t do the grocery shopping or the laundry at this point.  He also can’t get to his bedroom on the second floor.  Much of what I help clients see is how to anticipate the needs that may come up now that things have changed and come up with some possibilities for handling things.

As we all know, life is constantly changing which means that things need to be tweaked to accomodate the changes.  That’s another thing that I help with – I help clients respond to those ever changing circumstances and make the tweaks that are needed.

But, of everything that I do, the one that clients seem to need the most is some acknowledgment for how hard the situation inherently is. When someone we love is sick or has an accident, things change.  That, of course, is a fact AND it can be a very tough pill to swallow when the one we love has always been strong and self sufficient.

Often, they don’t want help and it’s hard to help those that don’t want it.  When we are doing our best to help, it can be nerve-wracking and stressful to feel like we’re “swimming against the tide” as we try and make things better.

I can’t offer you a magic wand to change things unfortunately but what I can give you a couple suggestions to get through these tough situations with a little more ease.

And, believe it or not, the first thing to ask yourself after you’ve gotten through the most urgent part of the situation and you know your loved one is safe is this question:  What is the most important thing that YOU need to remember right now?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question – and the first thing that comes to your mind is often exactly what you need to know.

Notice how I put the focus back on you – the one who is helping your loved one through this.  Why?:  Because you must put your own oxygen mask on first as the airlines always say.

And as much as we may want to help someone else, if we’re not taking care of ourselves we can’t be of any use to anyone else.

Once you remember what you most need to know, you may know instinctively what to do next.  For example, maybe what you most need to remember right now is that you’re okay.  Just knowing that may be all you need to know to keep moving forward.  If so, great.

If the answer you get to that question feels incomplete, try asking yourself this: what would truly be helpful for me right now?

The answer may be dinner with a friend,  exercise, sleep, or to catch up on some nagging important details in your life.  AND you may not be able to do those things right now.  If you can’t, can you make a date with yourself to do them at a specific time in the near future?  You may think that’s impossible – and you may not be able to name the exact time and place, but I invite you to just make space for that idea of taking care of yourself to germinate  and watch what happens.

You may find that suddenly, you have the time to do that thing that would be so helpful.  Or, you may start looking for ways to create that time.  Or, you may choose something else to do to take care of yourself in the meantime.

The point is that once you tune into your own needs, you may just be more attuned to how you can create the time to take care of  yourself in a much needed way. It may not look exactly as you envisioned  – maybe it will just be a couple nice deep breaths instead of dinner with a friend .

Remember that you are important. Whether you are the one who isn’t feeling well or the loved one helping out, there are clues everywhere for what can be most helpful to us when we’re going through something difficult – and we have a choice about how we approach our situations.

What do you most need to remember right now?

What would truly be helpful?

No matter what your situation is, I welcome your comments.

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