Elevating how we talk about money – hindsight from a Sandwich Generation Caregiver
My membership in “The Sandwich Generation” club became real for me during a 3 week period when we were told my Dad was terminal, my Mum was diagnosed with Dementia and her drivers license was taken on the spot and my son, that I am the sole parent to, started high school. All within 3 weeks. In hindsight the most difficult part for me to accept was that, in spite of growing up the youngest of 3 children, that I was functionally an only child now….or the only one willing or able to show up.
There may be variations on events and timing, but my story is not unique. Caring people doing their best under challenging circumstances to meet the needs of their loved ones as best they can. Digging deep on a consistent and prolonged basis to be mentally present, emotionally and physically available while recognizing that you are only 1 person. I am exhausted just writing this, yet this was my life for several years.
In my practice I see, time and again, money creating intense emotion for people. Compounding this is our discomfort from not having been “taught money”. This is because money amplifies any emotion that is already present and most people naturally shy away if those emotions are negative or overwhelming and they feel unequipped to manage them. Sound familiar?
As was my personal experience, caregivers are often named as Power of Attorney and Will Executors while also standing to inherit assets. During the most challenging time in my life I now had to start asking about things like Wills, POA documents and financial arrangements which, of course, amplified every single emotion all of us were feeling. Talking about it was necessary and important, however under those circumstances it intensified my fear of overstepping the invisible boundaries within the family, focusing on a negative outcome, appearing selfish, greedy and insensitive. You name it, I felt it and it left me steeping in a bath of overwhelming unsettling emotion.
Helping you shift this dynamic in order to more quickly initiate these conversations is my intention for writing this blog. The most effective way to do this is to elevate the conversation to the highest intention. Rather than asking questions about finances, legal documents etc, how about elevating the conversation to sound more like;
“Mom, Dad you’ve said your intention is (insert intention here). Can we make sure everything is in place for that to happen, I have some questions about what that means for me that I need to ask. How does that sound?”
I wish I had the tools back then to have initiated this empowering conversation. It would have saved me a lot of heartache and time.
So whatever your next step is, please determine what resources you need in order to take it. Financial Plans are necessary and need to be in place regardless of what stage of life you are at.