“The moment I start reaching out, our family will lose our privacy!”

Family Eating Meal Together At HomeThis is the fourth installment in my series of posts about self-limiting beliefs that hold us family caregivers back from reaching out for the love and support we and our loved ones need.

Like the beliefs we’ve already discussed, concern for you family’s privacy is very easy to understand and to empathize with. No one would choose to live in a fish bowl. Not even a fish!

The good news is that you can protect your privacy while allowing in the love and support you and your loved one need. This blog post will show you how.

For starters, you may want to view my Kitchen Table Chat video I made for Patient Power on this topic: Caregivers: How to Set Comfortable Boundaries and Get the Help You Need http://goo.gl/4OskW

In that video I tell the story of how my friend Betsy reached out to me when her husband Mel, a long time dear friend of mine, was dying. Even at that terribly trying time, she realized that what she needed was personal space, not company. And her strength in being able to tell me that was a true teaching in how we can respect our own needs and still have love in our lives.

So, there are two things to do here:

Decide what kinds of privacy are important to you and your loved one:

– What issues are to be kept private? Your loved one’s current prognosis? Your family dynamics? Your financial situation?

– Who do you want to be in the know about your loved one’s condition and the ongoing specifics of what is going on. You may think of a few concentric circles of people, with you and loved one in the center (and any other family members who belong there with you) with the outer circles reflecting who you want to connect with and with what level of intimacy.

Choose the easiest way for you to let people know how to respect your needs:

Email – You can send a group e-mail yourself or ask someone on a list serve that you participate in (congregation, organization, community) to send it on your behalf.

Caresites – These sites – caringbridge.com, lotsahelpinghands.com and carepages.com – are free websites that are very easy to set up and use. They make it easy to let people know what’s going on and what your family needs. More to the point here, they allow you to set your own privacy settings as to who has access to your site (anyone who hears about your needs or only people that you invite to participate) and what is communicated to them.

Declaration of Interdependence – Use this tool, which is soon to be included in a Caregiver Gift Packet for those who sign up at www.yestolifecoaching.com. Meanwhile, it can be found in Coaching for Caregivers,(p. 40 ). It can help you let people know your preferences about the attitudes and behaviors that would be most helpful to you and your loved one. For example, “Please leave your worries on the doorstep.” Or, “We prefer your visits to be frequent but brief.” Or, “Please ask me first if I want to talk about the medical situation or not.” Or, “Please ask me how you can best be supportive of me right now.” If telling people your preferences seems too bold or off putting to you and you want to get past your reluctance, I recommend you get a copy of my Entitlement Learner’s Permit another goodie from my book(p.33), that Dr. Bernie Siegel and I created for this purpose in our earlier book, Help Me To Heal.

Don’t let the fear of intrusion get in the way of you getting all the love and support that you and your loved one are entitled to receiving.

I encourage you not to ignore this issue, but to manage it so that you and your loved one get what you need. I know you’ll be glad you did.

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