Dear Vitamin C –
I am struggling with my elderly parents not taking the Coronavirus pandemic seriously. They are citing facts like “so many people die of the flu every year” etc. They seem to think that if they go to the grocery store during the “senior time” that they are somehow protected. They refuse to sign up for online grocery delivery and continue to go to the grocery store every two days. They are very lax on their protective gear and I doubt they are keeping the 6ft guideline for social distancing. I feel every time I talk to them on the phone I end up yelling at them because they are just not getting it.
What can I do? – Panicked
Dear Panicked –
Feelings of panic and even frustration are completely normal when you hear of a loved one not making safe decisions. The only thing you can do is to let them know the impact of their actions on you. It is important to note that when you communicate this impact that you do it from a place of love rather than fear. Fear, which usually shows up as frustration and anger, is not a good communication tool. People don’t respond well to anger. They either retreat or attack back and no real understanding is happening. It is important to note that pain, or the anticipation of pain, is underlying your fear and if you can get in touch with that pain and speak from that place it can make a big difference.
For instance, if you were to say to your parents: “I am worried that if you don’t take the recommended precautions during this time you will get sick and I won’t be able to help you. If you need to go to the hospital I won’t be able to visit you. If the worst were to happen and you die, you would die alone and that would be heartbreaking for me, so please be safe.”
After you convey the impact of your parents’ actions on you from a place of love, you must accept that this is their life and they have the right to live it the way they desire. You also have to decide whether or not you want every encounter with them to be one that ends in anger and frustration. As humans we are always trying to make the “uncertain” certain so that we can feel safe but that is not the way life is. Life is a mystery. The best you can do is lead with love, lean into the mystery and sign up for the adventure.
Yours – Vitamin C