It’s common when residents of Cedar Rapids and elsewhere begin to receive hospice care, for them to consider taking steps to make peace with friends and family, especially if there has been tension or pain in the past.
Though there’s no right or wrong time to go about repairing past unhappiness, there’s certainly an incentive to do it at the end of someone’s life. Otherwise, they may never the chance to do so, and those around them may also have regrets that they weren’t able to come back together.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice have worked with a variety of clients over the years interested in patching up old relationships and apologizing for past traumas, and not sure where to begin.
These situations can be between ex-spouses, brothers and sisters, parents and children, other relations, even friends who may have drifted apart over the years or had specific reasons or circumstances to sever their relationships and break off contact.
But a hospice situation sometimes can help reverse estrangement and bring people back together, which can often be beneficial to not just the two parties but everyone around them, such as other friends or family who may have urged this type of reconciliation in the past.
This is a good month to begin the process of reaching out: not only does February have Valentine’s Day in it, when we reach out to loved ones, it’s also Relationship Wellness Month when we try to connect with and nurture the special people in our lives, resolve past disputes positively, and reach out to area relationship resources.
It can be scary to try to initiate contact with other people if you have spent a long time apart or have experienced negative feelings, but the benefits can be worth it.
For those trying to establish connections and bring people together but not sure how to go about it, here are some options.
- Ask for help. If you have difficulties initiating a phone call, email or letter, perhaps a trusted family member or friend can contact someone on your behalf. The other person likely might be uncomfortable as well, so a third party might be better to arrange a meeting.
- Make yourself take the high road. Many family feuds or problems with friends stemmed from neither party wanting to apologize since both of them sometimes feeling like they were in the right and the other person was in the wrong. This stubbornness/pride may turn into “I’m not apologizing until he/she apologizes” and could carry on for years. So even if you may still feel you were correct deep inside, be a good human and start the process by apologizing first.
- Don’t force it. If someone is willing to get together to catch up, but may not be ready to apologize or forgive and forget past grievances, that’s OK. You can still enjoy their company and hear their stories. They may be dealing with their past in different ways than you. Asking them to reciprocate after you apologize to them might be emotionally traumatic.
- Have others present. This could serve a dual role: it could encourage people to be polite to each other if there are others around. It can also create the opportunity for other loved ones preset to see both of you together and hear shared stories from the past. For instance, if your child has grown up only hearing stories about an estranged family member, they may enjoy meeting them in person even if it is for a difficult reason.
- Discuss ground rules. If someone feels uncomfortable about getting together, start by outlining general expectations. “I want to see you before the end and hear about your life, but we don’t need to talk about X situations in our past if you’re not comfortable going there.” This could reassure someone of your intentions and that you aren’t necessarily interested in forgetting/ignoring the past. Consider meeting in a neutral public location like a coffee shop if someone isn’t interested in visiting your home.
- Simply enjoy their company. Adding pressure to say or do the right thing can backfire especially if it’s already a tough situation emotionally. Consider the occasion to be a simple and casual get-together from people with a shared past who may or may not have a lot in common now. You can share your life and they can share their life without anyone being judgmental. If they want to continue to stay in touch with either future get-togethers or at least stay in contact by phone or email, welcome it but don’t request it.
Every relationship is unique, including the reasons for one ending or at least being strained. But hospice care can create situations where clients want to reach out and connect with people from their past. Even if it doesn’t lead to a full reconciliation between people, at least it’s a start in a positive direction.