Caregiving is a stressful job even during the best of times. The sheer amount of responsibility is enough to make the most stoic person falter, but there are also a number of diverse personalities at play. Your care recipient may be grouchy or demanding or your spouse may resent the time you devote to caregiving instead of your relationship. Then there are the people who look on from the outside and offer everything from heartfelt support to scathing criticism.
In such a high-pressure environment, a meltdown is likely to happen from time to time, especially for those who are not getting enough respite and are prone to stuffing their feelings. Onlookers who are clueless about the realities of caregiving often add to the stress by offering “advice,” which usually sounds more disapproving than helpful. You can only hide your irritation, bite back a sarcastic response, and let the comments or actions pass so many times. Patience eventually wears thin.
The same applies to your care receiver and immediate family members. All it takes is a particular comment, behavior, accident, or demand made on a wrong day to elicit a snide remark or full-on outburst. If the other person’s remark or suggestion was innocuous or came from a genuinely good place, we usually recognize that our overreaction was unwarranted almost instantly. That’s when the shame begins to creep in. The guilt is especially poignant when we lash out at our care recipients over something that is out of their control. It is mortifying, but it is an occurrence that’s more common than most caregivers would like to admit.
Often this sudden burst of anger is entirely misdirected. Our spouse, child, friend, or care recipient may wind up becoming a target when our hurt really stems from the overwhelming stress of our caregiving situation, how unappreciated we feel, and/or how little support we get from other family members and friends. But recognizing our error isn’t enough. Once uttered, our words can’t be taken back. There’s only one way to patch things up: extending a sincere apology.
Ensuring an Apology Is Heartfelt" Apologizing sounds simple enough...