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Genson Geriatrics Caring for Aging Adults Let Bygones be Bygones

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

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Genson Geriatrics

Genson Geriatrics Caring for Aging Adults

Mother’s Day may have come and gone, but if we’re being honest, shouldn’t every day be Mother’s Day? The whole month of May, at the very least. Mother’s Day is observed in 40+ countries worldwide. It’s a day to honor mothers and motherhood.

June is here and Father’s Day is fast approaching. Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is observed worldwide and is a holiday honoring one’s father, father figure, as well as fatherhood as a whole.

A day devoted to celebrating Mother or Father can be challenging for some. The older we get comes the hard reality that Mom or Dad may not be here to celebrate. There’s also the possible scenario that as Mom and Dad age, physical and/or cognitive decline shrouds the memory of who she/he once was. Some of us are separated from our parents by miles, while history may cause a divide for others.

No manual comes with parenthood. So often we hear parents sigh, “I did the best I could.” Is it possible we hold our mothers and fathers to a higher level of standards than others because they did do their best in so many areas that it’s easy to direct our attention to the one area where they fell short?

Parenting is a series of impossible challenges. How do you teach children of any age to let go of the past while encouraging them to embrace the unknown future?

Being a parent isn’t just about the happy days. It’s about the struggles. It’s about how you get through the ups as well as the downs. It’s about being there for all the good moments, but more importantly, all the tough ones.

Dating back to Biblical times, Proverbs 27:1, we’re told nobody is promised tomorrow. If we’re holding onto past grudges, sometimes we need to be reminded that one mistake does not define a person. It’s important to love and appreciate the people in your life.

Of course, there are unforgivable transgressions people commit, but for the average person, is the grudge you’re carrying worth the risk? Our parents’ time here on earth is finite. A recent Healthline article reminds us that “harboring anger and resentment toward another person over real or perceived wrongs only hurts you, even when that person caused real or perceived harm.”

The Healthline article points out that grudges can harm your health over time. A grudge can make you more pessimistic, isolate you from others, increase your risk of cognitive decline, negatively affect your mental health, and add to your overall stress.

Meanwhile, the benefits of forgiving include improved coping styles and healthier relationships. The Healthline article makes it clear that forgiving does not mean:

· Pardoning: relieving the other person of responsibility

· Condoning: saying their action or behavior was OK

· Excusing: trying to justify their actions

· Forgetting: erasing the event from your memory

While certainly not easy, letting go of a grudge may require intentional practice. “If your grudges tend to linger and fester, with thoughts and feelings related to them frequently popping up to derail your mood and ruin your day, it may help to connect with a trusted mental health professional.”

Letting go of grudges and resentment with our parents can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Not to mention, the precious gift of time together. Perhaps it is time to accept the apology, bear no malice, end a quarrel, or extend an olive branch. The alternative is to learn how to heal from regret when Mom and Dad are no longer here. The call is yours, but we’re reminded that mistakes we can’t let go of have the power to become a life sentence.


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