While this article is written for people who’ve taken on supporting friends and family because of the pandemic, the advice is applicable to anyone who’s stepped in to help someone in need — after an accident, sudden illness, or any other unexpected life change — only to realize that the support they’ve signed up to provide isn’t something they can do in perpetuity.
When pandemic-related shutdowns started, many people rushed to the rescue of their loved ones. They rallied to meet an extraordinary situation and extended themselves in deep and loving ways. They welcomed home adult children with open arms. They jumped to babysit for their grandkids. They volunteered to shop for neighbors and elderly relatives.
“At first, I thought, this is going to be great,” said Nancy Graham of Plainfield, Ill., about sheltering in place with her husband and their three adult children. “I bought puzzles. I bought stuff to make candles. I was like, let’s watch a documentary a week! Let’s learn something!”
Five months in?
“It’s awful,” said Ms. Graham, a real estate agent. “It’s been years since we’ve all been under the same roof for more than a week. I want to kill them, they want to kill each other, and my husband hides in his office.”
Indeed, with no end in sight, many people are wearing down. How long can they keep this up? Can they dial back their level of commitment, be it a pledge of time, money or emotional support? And why is it all so hard?
“When you want to say ‘no,’ to a loved one, you’re afraid that they’re going to make that ‘no’ mean that you’re a bad mother or grandparent or friend. You figure, I’m just going to say ‘yes,’ so I don’t have to feel guilty later,” she [Karen C.L. Anderson, author of “Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, Liberation & Inspiration” and a life coach specializing in family boundaries] said.