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Staying Out of Judgment During Chaos

Creating a Compassionate Story During Challenging Times Can Lead to Connection

Evelyn received the call early one morning. Her father had fallen, broken his hip and was in the emergency room. Immediately Evelyn texted her brother Will to ensure that he had received the news as well.

In a quick text back, Will replied that he had been at work since 6 am and was just getting into his car to head to the hospital, saying that he would meet her there.

In the waiting room, Evelyn found her mom with a stack of paperwork. “How’s dad?” she asked as she looked around the crowded seating area.

“He is asleep and Will is sitting in there with him. They are scheduling the surgery now, I just have to fill out all these forms.”

Evelyn assured her mom that she would return and help with the paperwork, she just wanted to get a look at dad first. With that, she took off beyond the double doors searching for his room.

As she approached she heard her dad’s voice and took in a sigh of relief, slowing her pace just a little. Then she heard Will’s voice and she froze in mid step.

Will was asking dad all sorts of questions about money, savings accounts, how much his house was worth, was the mortgage paid off, were there any other retirement accounts? Evelyn was aghast at the conversation. How could he be asking dad any of these things at a time like this?

Evelyn knocked softly on the door as she entered. She hugged her dad as he lie with a blood pressure cuff on one arm and an I.V. in the other. Then she turned towards Will and scowled. Will was taken aback by her greeting and squinted his eyes in confusion.

She then reminded her dad not to “waste his energy talking right now,” as he needed to “save his reserves for the surgery and recovery.” Then she turned to Will again and asked, in a curt voice, not to ask any more questions.

For several weeks later, Evelyn found herself unwilling to call her brother. She harbored resentment towards him and was very skeptical of his motives. She was relieved when her father finally asked her to the Power of Attorney for Finances

“These hospital bills are outrageous,” he began, “Plus I need to pull from my accounts to pay the visiting nurse. Your mom and I talked and we would like you to get things in order right away.”

Evelyn, already overwhelmed with new caregiving responsibilities, yet not wanting her brother Will to steal from her parents, agreed. Later that night she sat at her kitchen table balancing her parent's checkbook.

When she returned the next day Will was visiting. During dad’s physical therapy, the two of them sat on the porch with some iced tea. “Why were you asking dad about money?” she began.

“When?” Will asked.

Evelyn continued, “At the hospital, you were peppering him with questions. What were you trying to get at?” Without hesitation she continued, “just so you know, they appointed me as P.O.A., so you can’t get your grubby hands on a dime!”

Will set his glass of tea down and cocked his head in confusion, “Are you kidding me?” he began, “Now I know why you haven’t returned my calls… you think I am scheming to steal from them?”

Evelyn’s voice rose as she got angrier, “Well, aren’t you? I mean you call, leave me messages, tell me what to do, but never lift a finger yourself. Then I hear you prying information out of dad about his accounts. You just want your share without doing any of the work.”

Will rose from his chair and stepped off the porch. He looked back at Evelyn nodding his head in disappointment, “If that is what you think of me, then there is no reason to continue this conversation.” He got into his car and drove off.

Later Evelyn sat by her dad in his lounge chair as he asked about Will. “He left angry,” she said, “He only cares about himself! He was only asking you about your money because he wants it.”

Dad looked back at his daughter disappointed in her version of the story, “That’s not true Evelyn. Will cares about all of us, that is why he was asking.”

“How could that be?” Evelyn pierced her eyes with skepticism.

Her father explained, “On the day I fell, I had asked Will to be our Power of Attorney for Finances but he declined. Will’s coworker had warned him of costly billing mistakes if Medicare wasn’t monitored and it scared him. Will said you were better organized and capable in that department. He agreed to be the ‘backup’ if needed. That is why he was asking all of those questions. The two of us were going to discuss it with you when you came, but you told me not to talk anymore. I took your advice and waited. I shouldn’t have. It has obviously driven a wedge between the two of you, and for that I am sorry.”

Embarrassed by her inability to find the compassion in the chaos, Evelyn called her brother immediately. She apologized for her behavior and misjudgments in hopes that he would be willing to help her with the finances. She was overwhelmed and needed as much help as possible. The action of living in her misconceptions had only created disconnection, making her feel alone to do all the heavy lifting.

~ Cathy Braxton, Chief Education Officer, Silver Dawn Training Institute

 

Staying out of Judgment is difficult, however, it is the path to connection and empathy. Jumping to conclusions without getting clarification is the quickest leap to judgment. We often may need to take a step back, take a deep breathe and create a compassionate story and start conversations that may be difficult to get to the root of what is best for those that we love.

~ Cathy Braxton, Chief Education Officer, Silver Dawn Training Institute

Staying out of Judgment is difficult, however, it is the path to connection and empathy. Jumping to conclusions without getting clarification is the quickest leap to judgment. We often may need to take a step back, take a deep breathe and create a compassionate story and start conversations that may be difficult to get to the root of what is best for those that we love.

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