Shouting Tenderly

Terry Brezsny Ballantyne
- Terry Brezsny Ballantyne

Shouting Tenderly

How to you shout ” I love you!” and sound like you mean it?

A reader wrote to me and told this story:

“I am caring for my mom who has mini stroke related dementia. Her intellect and observations about life are still,  on occasion, profound and moving.  For a moment you feel you can reach out and make a true connection, and then the moment fades and she will be confused about what a calendar is for, or what month it is.

When she is close and connected I feel so much like I want to say something meaningful to her, something to soothe her ragged soul, frustrated with aging, worried she didn’t contribute enough in life, yet  fiercely proud  of her accomplishments.

I want to tell her we all suffer an arc of relevancy, that the measure of relevance changes as we age.  That the measure of our contribution cannot remain static.  In the prime of our lives we are wage earners, or wealth builders, we care for a family, we are relied on by friends, we are the hub, our worth very visible.  As we age, our value changes from “doing” to “being”.

Being a container for broader truths, a testimony to how we lived life, a reminder or a cautionary tale for others.  Trying to measure your worth or relevancy at 87 by standards you set in your 40s is bound to be painful.

But when I try to share some of these nuanced things, even on the good days, I have to shout them because she can’t hear well and all the tenderness or insight or personal connection is drained away by a loud voice.  I thought about texting or email, but she is beyond managing a device. So I sit with my heartbreaking insights as I watch her unravel, see her pain at being in the margins, and wonder how will I calibrate my value when I am frail and fading away?  What will be my reasons for going forward? How can I help her be happy?

If anyone else has had this experience of losing tenderness to the amplified voice, could they share that?  It would help.”

Does anyone have this experience and how did they deal with it?



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