Jeanne (my wife) and I were just on a tour of some of the National Parks in Arizona and Utah. We visited the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks. We had never visited these parks; they were all we hoped they would be. Our tour included twenty other people who began as strangers at the start of the tour and became friends by the end. We often shared a meal where stories were exchanged regarding our families, the things we saw or did that impacted us during that day or the prior day, and what our plans were after the tour ended.
A story I want to share is what one of our dinner companions was going to do after the tour. She shared with us that her mother was dealing with stage two Alzheimer’s and after the tour she was going to be meeting her brother and sister to move her mom from her mother’s home to an assisted living facility they had agreed would provide the additional care they, as a family were no longer capable of providing. I plan to write a future note on the pros and cons of making choices for someone versus allowing them to either make the decision themselves or in conjunction with others. Until then, here are some thoughts I’ve put together from working with individuals who have chosen to deal with their issues versus ignoring them.
Being proactive in dealing with difficult family decisions has several benefits, including:
- The problem is likely to be resolved more quickly. When you take steps to address a problem, it is likely to be resolved more quickly than if you do nothing. This can save you time, stress, and money.
- Relationships are more likely to be strengthened. When you communicate openly and honestly with your family members, it can help to strengthen your relationships. This can make it easier to deal with future challenges.
- Opportunities are more likely to be seized. When you are proactive, you are more likely to seize opportunities for growth and change. This can lead to a better life for you and your family.
How to Be Proactive
There are a few things you can do to be proactive in dealing with difficult family decisions. These include:
- Gather information. It will allow you to make a more informed decision. Talk to your family members, experts, and anyone else who may be able to help you.
- Our friend from the trip is a powerhouse and did all these things and put them into a spreadsheet to keep them organized.
- Consider your options. There is no one right answer to every difficult family decision. Consider all your options and weigh their pros and cons.
- Make a plan. Once you have considered all of your options, make a plan for how you are going to address the problem. This plan should include a timeline, a budget, and a list of responsibilities.
- The siblings were going to try to set up the new apartment with their mom’s furniture and art to help make the new surroundings as comfortable and relatable as they could.
- Be flexible. Things don't always go according to plan. Be prepared to make adjustments to your plan as needed.
- Communicate with your family. It is important to keep all members informed of progress and to get their input as needed.
- The fact that the other siblings, in the case of our friend, were all in agreement regarding their mom will help remove an area that often results in conflict.
- Seek support. If you are struggling to deal with a difficult family decision, do not hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or a professional.
- Our friend utilized a service to help her find a living facility for her mom. Sometimes, using a third party for some, or the entire project will facilitate moving forward.
Difficult family decisions are a part of life. However, by being proactive, you can make the process easier and less stressful. By gathering information, considering your options, having a plan, and being flexible, you can increase your chances of making a decision that is in the best interests of everyone involved which will help lead to the best outcome.
Here are some additional tips for being proactive in dealing with difficult family decisions:
- If you're struggling with your decision, don't be afraid to ask for help from your family, friends, or a professional.
- Know that you are not the first person to have to deal with the issue you are dealing with. Our friend shared with us that several people provided input regarding having gone through the same thing and offered insight as to their experiences.
- Be patient. It may take time to come to a decision that everyone agrees on. Don't rush the process.
- Remember that you're not alone. Many people have faced difficult family decisions. There is no guarantee regarding the outcome. Increase your odds by being methodical, communicating early and often, and seeking the assistance that is available to you.
Life is not a straight line. There are twists and turns. My beverage of choice when having to work through these situations is two parts compassion and one part empathy, stirred gently and sipped slowly. Know you are not in this by yourself. We are here to help – do not hesitate to reach out.
To Living the Good Life,