Suffering in Silence

Image result for suffering in silenc animated
Stuffing your feelings is dangerous

I an April 22, 2020 article from Caregiver Warrior website, CAREGIVERS! STOP SUFFERING IN SILENCE. IT’S DANGEROUS!” Suzanne White states that it is an almost universal tendency of caregivers to suffer in silence, and because of this, it is not only dangerous to their well-being, but also to everyone else involved.  She goes on to say that when she reached out to talk about what she was feeling, her life changed instantly.

It was during my adolescent and teenage years, that I suffered a time of “secret keeping”—which later, as a young adult, I recognized as detrimental to my emotional well-being. With a lot of personal introspection and practice, it was a pattern I changed. 

Fast forward forty years to the time when I was primary caregiver for my mother-in-law who moved into our home.  Everything went quite well for about two years.  But then her health began to decline rapidly, and my stress began to increase significantly. I joined a support group and it was great to be able to talk about the stresses of caregiving with people who just “get it.”  

Suzanne stated in the Caregiver Warrior article: “So silence be damned. Don’t be a victim or a martyr.” That was exactly how I felt—which I think stemmed from by my role as an IN-LAW caregiver. The support group leader suggested a family meeting to encourage more involvement from my husband’s siblings.   But I must report that even though strides were made, the once-good relationship we had with my husband’s family took a major hit. 

“Despite a good multi-decade relationship, the difference in our family cultures and its impact on who we were as people was just too vast. Once the trouble began, interaction among all parties became increasingly difficult, and then impossible. That was the quicksand I never saw in my path.”

What to Do about Mama? p. 40

To sum the experience up:  I agree that suffering in silence is dangerous and that growing resentment would have had a more destructive result. But sharing our feelings and frustrations  with “the others” did not result in an instant change for the better, and in fact, although we have been able to rebuild relationships with his sisters, my husband and his brother are still estranged. 

Hugs I am Missing

I’m glad I still have your hugs, Grandpa, but we are sure missing the others.

As Our Parents Age
Timely Topics on Aging for Adult Children & Everyone Else

The following article on the As Our Parents Age website totally hits the nail on the head summing it up perfectly with: “But the inability to have interaction with much-loved family members? Excruciating.” However, I would like to add an additional perspective.

When my brother and I were young, our father went to the Mayo Clinic for treatment of advanced Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. His diagnosis had been kept secret from him, as was common in the late 1950s-early 60s. He was informed of his condition while there, and died a short while later. We never spoke to or saw him again. Now, many decades later, my brother is ill. Because of COVID-19, I am tormented by the fear that I will neither see nor embrace him again. (This is certainly a scenario that too many families are experiencing in our world today.)  He, too, is on my list of who I am missing.  

Caregiving in the Time of CoVid-19, #18: Missing Children and Grandchildren

Ask just about anyone my age to describe what is most difficult about this increasingly long period of CoVid-19 social distancing (63 days at my house), and just about everyone mentions their separation from adult children and grandchildren. And my friends with new babies in the family ache to reach out and touch them.

It’s frustrating, and it hurts. Worse still, there is no end on the horizon to this distancing, at least not for grandparents. Six months? Twelve months? Eighteen months? No one knows.

Sure we talk with our families on FaceTime, and yes, we laugh and mail trinkets, books, and birthday presents. But in reality, there is no substitute for being there with them. Friends tell me that every call makes them worry about one thing or another or consider potential ways to be helpful to family members. Yet, we cannot do anything.

And today, on a Zoom discussion about the pandemic, medical and epidemiology experts, noted that until there is a vaccine if we do see our grandchildren, we may have to refrain from hugging.

Seriously? Can grandparents really refrain from hugging? Grandparenting is defined by hugging.

Staying home hasn’t been that difficult. Spending less time doing errands is not a big challenge. Finding things to do that fill up the time — easy. Exercising is a cinch since I have all the time in the world and can take pictures of spring flowers. Postponed vacations?  Not a big deal. Connecting with friends via text or Zoom or email, or on an old-fashioned phone does not substitute for face-to-face, but it works during this time of social distancing. Watching or listening to Dr. Fauci, Gov. Cuomo, and Prime Minister Trudeau — great fun, and I learn so much. I am fortunate and privileged.

But the inability to have interaction with much-loved family members?  Excruciating.

Caregiving—it isn’t magic

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In the article, 4 Essential Qualities of Women Caregivers, Louisa Stringer discusses the benefits of caregivers developing an awareness of their inner health.  Specifically addressing those who care for a loved one with cancer, Stringer avers that overall wellbeing is enhanced by recognizing:

  • Caregiving is relational
  • Caregivers are resilient.
  • Caregiving is compassion.
  • Caregivers have intuition

The qualities and characteristics of caregivers are discussed extensively in What to Do about Mama? 

“We think, too, that “inner strength” refers to the gifts we might have been born with. But they are also the ones that we have since developed, such as character and abilities.”

“We are addressing here the characteristics of a good caregiver, under the premise that if you are a caregiver, these are qualities you may well already embody. And, if indeed, you feel you are lacking in some of them, we recommend that you work on developing them. The following are attributes that not only facilitate performing your caregiving responsibilities but also can potentially enrich all your relationships.”

What to Do about Mama? pp. 263-268
  • Love, care, and compassion
  • Commitment to family
  • Problem-solving
  • Apply knowledge and skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Understand and set personal limits
  • Effective communication
  • Empower and facilitate

Another Free Kindle Weekend

Free Kindle download TODAY, May 15th through SUNDAY, May 17th

A Mother’s Day Message

Today we are celebrating Mother’s Day during the coronavirus pandemic. My husband and I did this via ZOOM with our three grown children, their spouses, and our nine grandchildren from ages six to sixteen. Of course I couldn’t give them hugs and kisses, and it was a little bit hectic — but it was good. Good because we still have each other. Too many do not. So today I am sharing three articles about loss.

The coronavirus has not only taught us about the loss of those we love, but also about the loss of opportunity. For those of you have lost your mothers, especially with words left unsaid, I am sorry. For the rest of you, remember to tell your mother what’s in your heart and not just in your head.

The Swing — A poem by Catherine Galascione and painting by Sally Bullers

If she were the young person she saw
when she closed her eyes and her face relaxed
smooth like the surface of a pond,
she would be flying through the air
on a swing, slicing through sunlight
and shadow, smiling
because no part of herself hurt
or called out for release.

But the air gently flattens her clothes
to her body, like the delicate palpitations
of her inner physician, defining her pain,
revealing the shadow near her heart
like a cloud obscuring the sun,
or the high branches of a tree
she could nearly touch with her toes.


Don’t Forget!

Mother’s Day Weekend Special
Two days left to download What to Do about Mama? free from Kindle.


The Sunbury Press Books Show–covid-19-and-the-family

COVID-19 and the Family

The first in a series of programs based on
After the Pandemic, Visions of Life Post COVID-19

Barb Matthews, co-author of What to Do about Mama?
represented the senior perspective with her essay:
“COVID-19 through the Eyes of a Grandmother.”

Mother’s Day weekend reminders:

What to Do about Mama? Expectations and Realities of Caregiving


First, we would like to thank you for supporting the second edition of What to Do about Mama? To show our appreciation, WTDAM will be available free to download on Kindle throughout this upcoming Mother’s Day weekend. WTDAM may not be a book that you WANT, it is a book that you NEED–even if you think you don’t need it yet, or that you are too darn busy, or you just want to put it all behind you. What to Do about Mama? not only has a lot of useful information, but also a great deal of validation for the thoughts and feelings related to both sides of caregiving—providing and receiving.

After the Pandemic: Visions of Life Post COVID-19

After the Pandemic: Visions of Life Post COVID-19   has been released. Twenty-five Sunbury Press authors contributed twenty-seven chapters about the possible impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on society. Based on their experiences in a variety of fields, they provide their projections about the changes facing us, many of which have already been underway for some time. It is available to online and brick and mortar bookstores worldwide, including through the Sunbury Press store, Barnes and Noble (online), and also Amazon. 

SunburyPressBooksShow–COVID-19 and the Family

Saturday, May 9, 2020 @ 9:00 AM on the BookSpeak Network
Panel Discussion with Lawrence Knorr, Publisher, moderating.

Sunbury Press Books Show–COVID-19 and the Family

Upcoming Events with Sunbury Press

Event One:
What To Do About Mama? FREE Kindle this Mother’s Day weekend

In celebration of Mother’s Day,
What to Do about Mama? Expectations and Realities of Caregiving
(Kindle Edition) is being offered FREE
Friday May 9th through Sunday May 11th, 2020

She took good care of you–
Show her how much you love and care for her, too.

Event Two:
SunburyPressBooksShow–COVID-19 and the Family

Saturday, May 9, 2020 @ 9:00 AM on the BookSpeak Network
Panel Discussion with Lawrence Knorr, Publisher, moderating.

Sunbury Press Books Show–COVID-19 and the Family

Twenty-five Sunbury Press authors contributed twenty-seven chapters about the possible impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on society. Based on their experiences in a variety of fields, they provide their projections about the changes facing us, many of which have already been underway for some time.

  • Barbara Matthews – COVID-19: Through the Eyes of a Grandmother
  • Bridget Smith, Bridget – Dreams Deferred
  • Iris Dorbian –  The Great Equalizer
  • H.A.Callum – Fighting Solo: Covid-19 and the Single Parent
  • Joseph Mazerac – An Essential Optimist–covid-19-and-the-family

After the Pandemic

Sunbury Press has just released a book about the coronavirus. It is a collection of essays written by Sunbury Press authors from the perspective of life after COVID-19.

Caregiving model: living with an elderly parent in your home

To ending
From Onset

The Caring Generation, with host Pamela D. Wilson: Living With Elderly Parents Radio Show

This is a great program for anyone thinking about having an elderly parent move into their home. Pamela Wilson provides information to discuss and consider prior to making a commitment of this magnitude. 

In-home caregiving is the model my husband and I undertook to provide care for his mother. Our arrangement had one major difference:  I assumed the role of primary caregiver as a daughter-in-law.  Our experience is detailed in What to Do about Mama?  

Although our caregiving situation had a number of positives, there was also more difficulties than we ever foresaw. I am highlighting those points because they have the most significant application to the disintegration of our caregiving arrangement.

  • Although we discussed the arrangement extensively with all family members beforehand, we did not establish firm parameters of shared responsibility in a formal, written, and a notarized agreement.
  • We made sacrifices above and beyond what the others were willing to do, which eventually led to resentment.
  • We did not realize how much sharing our home would change our spousal relationship.
  • Unanticipated details surrounding the situation can create unforeseen complications.
  • We underestimated escalating needs, which increased the scope of responsibilities.  Neither did we fully anticipate the number of years involved with providing care.
  • We did not recognize the differences in our family cultures, which led to serious misunderstandings. 
  • Over time, caregiving can become a trap that can undermine the adult child-parent relationship, as well as relationships with other family members.
  • Caregiving can be very long-term. We did not prepare a contingency plan for if and when the arrangement became unmanageable. 
Remember:  Do not enter a live-in caregiving arrangement lightly.