Over the weekend as I do every day – I still read the letters you send me to firstname.lastname@example.org – we had a call last Tuesday and I think this explains it. This woman called in pretty exasperated with some people who wanted to encroach upon this private, serious time where her aunt is dying and they want to see her.
And the assessment I made listening to the caller was that she was is in over-protect mode and that what was most important in life at the time of death was that we have the opportunity to hear from people who were meaningful to us. That they cared about us, they loved us, they appreciated us, they're going to miss us. I think that's what we want to hear. She said the aunt just didn't look good, didn't feel good. Lot of excuses for facing the reality – I should say, for not facing the reality.
So, Lisa wrote in over the weekend as a follow up:
“Hello. I called you on Tuesday regarding my aunt who has been battling metastatic breast cancer for years. The reason for my call was to see what I should say to her wonderful longtime friend who wanted to visit. My aunt is very insecure about having people over and her friend was being perseverant about coming over. You told me to tell my aunt to let her friend come over so that her friend can give her love.”
By the way, at that point in the phone call, the phone call totally changed. Lisa has been so caretaking of the aunt, that she a little bit couldn't stand back and see the bigger picture. She was just being protective.
“I listened to my call with you a few times and it really hit me in a way I hadn't thought about before. I'm thankful I called you that day. I thought about our call all day. This is what I wrote to my aunt's friend, ‘I do want to apologize if I have seemed to come across as playing defensive for my aunt and in some cases I suppose I have. All of this is happening between my aunt and uncle at times is surreal to me. I realize I'm trying to create some sort of balance and keep everybody happy as if there were an infinite amount of time.’”
“I know the day is coming when my aunt will no longer be here with us and watching her ride this roller coaster is not easy for me. I realize you and your family have embraced her and them into yours and you are all like a second family. Your love for her is undeniable. I truly do not want to cause any tension between us over this and I felt that it has. All of our past conversations have been much appreciated and having you to help me navigate through this journey my aunt is on will never be forgotten. I understand it is important for my aunt to let her family and friends come over and give their love to her. So, I am looking forward to your visit tomorrow.’ On Thursday, I told my aunt her friend was coming over and I told her what you told me to say to my aunt. My aunt totally understood. That afternoon, her friend came over. They had a very nice 15-minute visit and the following day she stopped by again with cookies. My gut is telling me my aunt does not have a lot of time and I'm thankful I followed your advice right then. Thank you for what you do.”
What did they say? When you're really close to it, you can't really see it. You have to stand back. There's some art like that. Stand up close and it just looks like mushy things. Stand back in this beautiful creation. Perhaps that's the kind of thing I do for a lot of the callers every day. You're standing way too close to it; you can't see the picture. Hence, some of the options and opportunities are not available to you because you're too close to it. Give me a chance to yank you back. You can see the painting in all its glory.
The Dr. Laura Call of the Day Podcast