Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Leaving a Support Group

Mom attends a monthly support group in person which seems to really help.  These gatherings are facilitated and the conversations focus on how people are feeling, where they're at in the care of their person with Alzheimer's and suggestions to help the participants move forward in a constructive manner.

I have not joined an in-person group.  I'm a bit removed from Lyn's care and also need to manager my obligations to my own household.  However, I'm part of an on-line support group.  Mom was too for a while.

Lately, I've been thinking of disconnecting from the group.  I've been keeping an eye on it for several years now and find I rarely post.  My posts are infrequent because the majority of the posts that cross my feed are focused on the individual's sense of guilt or anger.  They feel guilty about a nursing home placement, about lies they tell to smooth things over for the individual with Alzheimer's, about feeling like they're not doing enough to care for the person.  The people who post may be enraged over a sibling's behavior to (not) care for their parent or about something the person with Alzheimer's has said or done.  Sometimes, there's so many posts dealing with guilt and anger that I just have to ignore that feed for a day or two because I'm afraid I'll respond with something unkind like "It's not about you!"

Why would a blunt statement like this be unkind?  Well, in a lot of ways, it IS about them.  They're the ones washing excrement off the wall or hearing a beloved parent tell them they don't matter.  They're the ones being financially harmed by the care of their parents or emotionally harmed by the actions of their siblings.  They're the ones seeking support and understanding.  Perhaps they can't get away to join a structured, in-person group.  Perhaps the online community is all they can consistently access.  Perhaps the "I'm sorry" statements or virtual hugs really help them feel better.

When I joined a couple of years ago, there were two or three active members who served in the role of moderator and excelled at it.  As is the nature with such groups, their situations have changed and they have moved on.  Other members have come or gone as well.  The group has a different tone to it now.  There was always posts centered on anger and guilt but there were more posts seeking advice or sharing a funny or tender moment.

I'm not contributing much and I definitely am not seeking support from the other members.  I've left other on-line communities before and changes in tone or group composition are part of what happens with any community.

Yeah... I think it is time for me to move on.

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