I recently witnessed some of the highs and lows related to a family coping with the failing health and eventual death of my friend’s father and her mother’s husband. This experience reminded me of how tenuous and uncertain our life span can be. One moment you may be laughing and telling stories with your beloved and in the next you may be weeping and grieving the loss of your beloved. The finality of death may be seen as a sweet blessing after a long stretch of hospice care or an unfathomable loss due to unresolved hurts or unmet needs. Each person will have a different range of feelings depending on the quality of connection with the deceased.
As a therapist I often think about the impact of life and death on my clients and their families. Personally and professionally, I have seen how children learn from their caregivers how to view time and how to use it. The perception of time impacts not only the quality of our family interactions, but every other aspect of our lives.
We occasionally forget the value of time with our loved ones when we get wrapped up in the busyness of life or when we hold onto past hurts or regrets. Caregivers are responsible to teach their children the value of time through their words and actions. Strong relationships with family, friends, peers and associates are created by people showing up to share, listen, encourage and support each other. Healthy relationships promote a sense of safety, security and personal well-being.
In my office, I have often heard clients state, “I don’t have time for _____.” Filling in the blank could be, “my child is having too many temper tantrums, my child is crying too much, my child is not feeling well, my child is taking too long to get ready, etc.” This statement makes me wonder, “What do you have time for?” A child’s words and actions are a form of communication that something is right or wrong in their world—physically, emotionally, socially, cognitively, spiritually. Caregivers need to take the time and to figure out what their child is trying to say to bring about a sense of support and relief. If you the caregiver are feeling too overwhelmed and are having a hard time deciphering your child’s actions, you may want to consider outside support via individual, couples or family therapy. There is no shame in doing this.
I am a firm believer in our having or taking time for what is important to us. There is no one right way to spend our time any given day. We get to decide when we wake up what is on our plate for the day—a variation of work, play or relaxation. The decision making process continues with the consideration of whether we have any responsibilities to ourselves, our family, our job and/or our community?
Because, no one knows how much time any of us will have on earth, it is up to each one of us to make the most of the time we have. Are you going to spend your time being present with your family and creating memories or are you going to take your time and family for granted? I challenge you to take the time to reflect on how you spend your time in taking care of yourself and building positive connections with your family members.