I miss my Mom and the relationship we had so much. It seems like we can’t have a real conversation about anything any more. It is so difficult to visit. I don’t know what to say or do, so sometimes I just don’t visit her. Afterwards I feel so guilty! Is there a way to have enjoyable visits?
Dear Missing Mom,
There are lots of ways to have enjoyable visits! True enough, it takes some change in your language – and some practice. Absolute number five says: Never Say “Remember,” Instead Reminisce. This will help you with visits.
Your mom will remember the past very well, and will like to talk about it. The most important thing to practice when you initiate these conversations is to try not to use the word “remember,” and start sort of in the middle of the sentence. With my Mom I would say something like, “When I was little and you were out milking the cows, you would ask me to listen for the phone. I always answered whenever it rang. Sometimes our neighbor Mrs. Kippes would get really mad at me, because it was her ring and not ours!” With that, Mom would just light up and start talking about the farm, milking and even about the neighbors. She would continue talking and we would both enjoy our visit.
Too often, we caregivers try to visit by asking direct questions, and when they don’t know the answers, they don’t know what to say! They may make something up, and we may become concerned that they aren’t telling the truth. We often confront them about how we remember that particular instance. This can result in arguing, reasoning, shaming or even lecturing, and so the visit becomes difficult for both of us.
Each of these first five Absolutes are about communication, and remember, they are all interchangeable. We just need to shift our focus on enjoying our time together, not on establishing facts about things that probably aren’t really that important anyway.