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http://open.salon.com/blog/lost_in_berlin/2010/08/24/doing_enough_the_challenge_of_long-distance_caregiving

"But for most people, the guilt is “only” making their lives miserable. I think this provides an opportunity to look at what this guilt is. Now, in my case, there is a lot of guilt. One question I would always ask myself is, Am I doing enough? I should be doing more for him and for my son! How can my son thrive if I'm always focused on my father? Am I a good daughter, mother, partner? What more should I be doing? You see, that “should” is so strong because, after all, I can never do enough. And not only can I never do enough, I can never do it well enough. So a lot of guilt statements come up.

What I do with a client is try to find out what those guilt statements are. Find the one guilt statement that is the kingpin for all the others. Then we talk about it and find out where it comes from. What value has it had for them over the years in helping them get through school or be better at work? What was important about it? What’s important about it now? And I try to get them to ask these basic questions: How do you know when you’ve done enough? What does it look like to do enough? What does it mean and what impact does it have? When you ask the question, you reach an “aha,” that little shift, when you move from passively accepting outside forces to actively asking what you want. And then maybe you discover that what you want is to give your family members the best care and have a healthy life for yourself."

"What final advice can you give readers who are faced with the challenge of providing long-distance care to a family member?

You have to give yourself permission to be honest with yourself. Otherwise you will be fighting but not accomplishing anything. It won’t be good for the person you’re caring for, and it certainly won’t be good for you as a caregiver."

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October 2013

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