By BIS Contributor Cindy Arledge
Learning how to walk comes with bumps and bruises. Falling down and getting back up is part of the process.
My granddaughter Avery, the youngest of four cousins, is clueless to the limitations her age and size impose on her ability to keep up. Mimicking her older sister’s behavior, when Avery falls down, she picks herself up, dusts herself off, and shrills, “I’m OK!”
Unless she isn’t, and then the tears flow. So far, her tumbles and falls have been minor, nothing that a hug and kiss won’t cure.
My grandchildren spark my imagination, curiosity and wonder. They help me understand the cycle of life in ways I could never have anticipated. Although I was in my forties when my parents passed away eight months apart, I felt like an orphan after their deaths. Losing your parents at any age is life changing.
As the only daughter and youngest sibling, decisions for my parents’ care fell on my shoulders. Despite assurances they were “OK,” as their health declined it was evident they were not. It sounds dramatic, but dad’s inability to ask for help shortened his life. Even though he had a home health care provider to help him, he refused to ask. In the midst of lung cancer treatment, he fell and broke a hip while treating a bedsore on his backside. Cancer treatments were suspended to preform hip replacement surgery. Although his surgery went well, he died from lung cancer a few weeks later.
When my grandson Christian was born we became a three generational family again. Only now, it’s my generation that is the next in line to go. Becoming a grandmother transformed me from orphan to matriarch.
We learn to reject help early.
Witnessing Avery’s adorable “I’m OK” made me realize we learn by watching others. When offered a helping hand, she twists away, lurching forward on unsteady feet. “I’m OK” is her declaration of victory, punctuated by a smile of satisfaction. At 18 months old she is claiming her independence, which is an important part of human development.
Equally important is honing the ability to ask for help. It may even save your life. Many will face a temporary, or permanent, loss of independence at some point in life. Ironically, a willingness to ask for help can make losing independence easier and smoother. It can actually extend our ability to remain independent in other areas.
My aunt was fairly young when she realized her driving skills had deteriorated. She willingly relinquished her car keys to her children. For the rest of her life she relied on friends and family to drive her to church, family gatherings, doctor, hair, and nail appointments. I believe it is one of the reasons she lived as long as she did. Rather than drive stressed and afraid, she released a piece of her independence to increase her overall enjoyment of life. Her loved ones safely navigated traffic, while she enjoyed the ride from the passenger seat.
The people who show up to help, like my aunt’s drivers, feel better for making a positive difference. At the end of the day, refusing to ask for help denies our loved ones an opportunity to feel good about themselves.
Where do we learn how to ask for help?
Although my aunt and dad came from the same family, they were polar opposites on the spectrum of asking for help. Asking for help is important, but equally important is having the skill and courage to discuss difficult topics. According to Ben Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Preplanning “what-if” scenarios before they happen prevents much of the chaos surrounding end-of-life care, and death.
According to The Conversation Project “60% of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is “extremely important, but 56% have not communicated their end-of-life wishes.” To protect your family, you have to be willing to have difficult conversations. Odds are, unless you have formal training, or your family of origin set a positive example, you don’t have the skills to conduct these conversations with your family. Courage is a critical ingredient, but so is training.
Legacy Family Planning provides the opportunity to conduct these conversations. Smart families hire a certified planner. Legacy Family Planning is the little known estate planning tool formerly reserved for the ultra-rich. Rather than relying on legal documents to transfer financial assets, a growing number of families are creating a Legacy Family Plan to protect their family’s future. Legacy Family Planning is the process to provide the ounce of prevention.
How about you?
Are you comfortable asking for help, or will you fight for independence to the end? Declaring “I’m OK” when you aren’t doesn’t help anyone. Please consider joining the Legacy Family Revolution. Talk to your family, and enjoy the ride for as long as you can.
Cindy Arledge, MBA is a #1 international best-selling author and visionary leader of the Legacy Family Planning Industry. Cindy is committed to inspiring 1 million families to adopt the secret planning tool used by ultra-wealthy families to transfer values, character and wisdom before wealth. Cindy’s passion to protect families was born out of the pain she experienced after her parents passed away eight months apart.