While the society praised relationship, love, big families and children, the idea of parents is limited to the loving couple who produces and takes care of the offsprings. However, the fact of inevitable aging of those happy, strong and all-mighty parents is often avoided, forgotten and ignored. Children are raised with the thought that “parents” is some eternal, stable mechanism, which is available 24/7 and emotionally, spiritually devoted to their life.
It is always the first time, when suddenly you reveal that they are not the gods but vulnerable humans which may be fragile and weak. You are blessed not to have the extremes yet hard diseases among aged are so frequent and whose other burden it becomes than not the children? To take care of doctors, hospitals, loading your head with tons of medical information, medication effects, diving into hospital atmosphere, children become professional health care specialists with no leaves, job quits, and breaks. No matter your dreams, or, plans are, the parents’ disease intrude your life as a storm, and you cannot see it differently than the punishment or the gods, karma, or a curse.
It is hard to see parents weak and helpless, hard to realize that things will never be the same, and it is frustrating to realize the weigh of your own responsibility. It is like being as all dark Tarot Arcanas alltogether: falling Tower, bound Hanged Man, broken king from Death, pierced man from Ten of Swords, and a trapped Eight of Swords. It is a turning point, when a child has to become a parent, to allow deep inner transformation, to learn from the situation.
From the perspective of spirit, parents and children are the souls who just have a tighter bound compared to other connections, and therefore, their connection is encoded in the core of existence, continuing in distance of after death, especially between same sexes. Father lives in son’s actions, thoughts, behavior, as Mother reflected in daughter. We are reflection and continuation of our parents, and we will always remain the container of the genes, of generation’s patterns, mentality and spiritual potential. Nevertheless, we must be better, new, improving and enhancing the best, and decreasing the negative programmes influences, avoiding falling into same mind traps which ruined our parents. Paradoxically, a disease gives us such a chance. Breaking the routine circle, it pushes a parent and a child face to face with each other, making us “see” and “hear” each other, perhaps even opening new sides of our personalities. It is a challenge, naturally avoided.
Culture plays such a huge role in parents-children relations. While in the EU and the US, a nursing home is a common thing, the very thought of putting an old parent in nursing home in traditional societies like Asia, Russian and post-Soviet countries sounds a blasphemy. The old patriarchal system encoded duty and obligation in the minds of population, thus, families are created and children are born out of fear of future rather than for love and care. As a beautiful actress Aishwariya in “Princess of spices” responded to admiration from the Indian tight traditional connection: “When the roots are too strong, they might strangle you”. The dreadful consequence is that most don’t feel anything towards parents except indifference, which in the critical situation of parents’ dependence turns into abusing and cruelty.
To put it more practical, coping firstly means a high level of humbleness and faith. While the first will give you reconciliation with the frustrating circumstances and grant with patience, the second will inspire you, turning the darkness into a spiritual challenge, making you wise Hermit, and healing angels from The Judgement and Temperance. These Arcanas are far from the joyful yet they are strong, able to change and influence, guide and heal. From my personal perspective I concluded that the scarcest moment in every hard situation is attitude and emotional state of all members of the family. The true loss is not the disability or physical dysfunction, even not passing away; what makes me panic, is anger, depression, despair, loss of faith, and giving up. When sick person is broken, medication won’t help or will bring a short-lasting effect, but when she is ready to fight, preserve the will of life, feels a sense of life, then even the hardest stages could be defeated, and cure becomes possible, or at least, the pain will be bearable. Moreover, the body depends on the inner state. I had too many examples in my life, watching various aged people, wondering to see how some in their 50-s started failing out of senselessness or disappointment, and how some in their 70-s can live a full busy meaningful life. It was amazing to see the power of their mental worldviews and emotional attitudes on their physical state and energy.
Secondly, you must become a doctor, a fairy, a god, and Jesus yourself for your parents: confident, strong, optimistic, inspiring and literally, a good wizard with magic powers. Despite self-control and spiritual background, you must become that guiding light for them, where they can take hope, strength and power. At the same time, you mustn’t allow vampirizing your energy, which is so common in capricious and demanding parents, often between mothers and daughters. Be strict and cut any attempts of complaining, set time boundaries, explain you cannot be available every second, and if you work, it doesn’t mean you forget them. And change pity for compassion, as pity is recognizing their disability, wretched state. Treat them as strong people with annoying yet temporal difficulty, show your trust and respect in their strength, let them feel their primary role in their healing, make them express their state, keep them busy depending on the nature and stage of the disease.
Thirdly, act out of love, or quit it. Find a reliable nursing home, hospital, or hire a professional nurse (apply for three jobs, but find a way to at least provide a care if you cannot provide an emotional involvement). Parents feel children in their own high intuitional way, so it is vain to cheat them and play caring children if inside we are not. Besides, sick people are so sensitive that each wince on our face, or a tiring sigh, or ignoring indifferent look may pierce their heart with an offence, or guilt. And if the first make them touchier and complaining, the second simply destroys them, making them feel a burden. In any case hypocrisy and irritation from children kill them faster than any disease.
Fourthly, while feeling an emotional focus, preserve an objective perspective, otherwise you will be broken inside. Think, analyze every step, check any medical prescription, don’t panic, cry no matter how hard you feel, distract yourself with any mental task, which is extremely helpful and refreshing to go on. I found that helpful to prepare my public speeches and mentorship duties while waiting in the queue with my mother in hospitals, knowing she is just happy to see me active not depressed.
The situations with helpless or sick parents, which are so awkward, confusing, totally “unfit” into the image of “successful and nice” life, are a huge lesson for both parents and children to learn about upbringing, contribution and true family responsibilities. Support is not just gather at Christmas, or send money to the family members, it is about knowing each other better than friends or colleagues, mutual giving and sharing instead of mutual torturing with the demands and obligations, and constant learning from each other within the family.
I think such situation is a perfect reflection of the old wisdom: “As you saw, so you reap”. Parents receive same energy they had contributed, and children must think what intangible example do they give to their own children, because that what they will receive in future too. In my lucky case my parents were wise enough since their youth to keep me involved, play with me, listen to my, guiding me through life challenges, teaching me with their example, becoming my friends and companions, letting me go suppressing their natural worries or desires. Never I heard a word “must”, and even though I am far from being a natural kind nurse, I take care of them with all possible energy, following their example of game, visualizations, talks to support their mood first, then physical state, because I want them be strong and happy, because we are the team, friends and the closest people to each other. Duty is poor motivation, love is a universal coping mechanism.