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Imagine that you have an adult child or spouse or an elderly parent with a mental or physical disability. For decades, you've done everything (medically, financially, physically, emotionally) you can to help them, but they either do not improve, or they get worse. Eventually, being around them causes you great pain and interferes with your ability to enjoy life. But you love your family member, and you feel a responsibility for them, so leaving or putting them in a care facility would cause equal or possibly greater pain of a different kind. It's no-win; either choice leads to pain.

How would you work through a situation like this? Do you just grit your teeth and suffer? Or is there another way to look at it?

asked Jan 14 '12 at 21:27

Rick's gravatar image

Rick ♦

By your story, I would assume you're struggling to keep your loved ones with you. Your efforts to do so indicate that you value them. Any time you gained through your efforts is by no means a losing situation. You must enjoy what time you have left with whom you love. Getting old is something I fear, and I'm only 19. That's why I find it difficult to reject religion.

(Jan 14 '12 at 22:16) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

Would your life improve markedly knowing that someone whom you value a great deal has been sent off to a facility? You would balance the value of round-the-clock care (which cannot realistically be provided) versus the value of having them around you. Life constantly gives us this kind of equation and everyone balances these equations differently. From what you describe above, the person in question may be getting to the point where the burden of care appears to be getting greater than the value you are deriving from their company. Try to integrate your honesty and benevolence.

(Jan 15 '12 at 12:58) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

If both choices are, to you, really, truly, equally bad, then which choice you make is really irrelevant. So rather than agonizing over this choice, make it, get past it, and start focusing on what (perhaps small) ways you can improve your life.

Such perfect equality of the two choices is improbable, though.

Perhaps instead, you are conflicted: you want freedom to live for yourself, but along with the freedom would come tremendous guilt. Would that guilt be rational? If not, then it would be self-betrayal to continue as personal care-giver. If the guilt would be rational, it would be self-betrayal not to continue as personal care-giver.

Somehow, you'd need to find the choice which you'd be most happy and proud with.

Life is about concerning yourself with how you can become happier. Bad things might happen to you, but you cannot let this cause you to give up the pursuit of happiness long term.

John Galt's oath states: "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

You must ask yourself: "Am I now living for myself? Or am I living for another person's sake?" Would this person you are caring for want you to sacrifice your long-term happiness for their sake?

What about the other people in the world whom you love, or might love? Do they deserve to be neglected because of the disabled person in question?

answered Jan 16 '12 at 13:05

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦

SOME people will want you to sacrifice your long-term happiness for their sake. The challenge is for the producer to recognize this clearly in their head. Once that happens, the proper feeling and actions will follow.

(Jan 16 '12 at 14:39) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Exactly. I left that question unanswered, but not rhetorically. The answer to the question is crucial. It determines whether or not the person you are helping is a leech.

(Jan 16 '12 at 15:15) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

"Bad things might happen to you, but you cannot let this cause you to give up the pursuit of happiness long term." Thanks, John. That's a great piece of advice.

(Jan 16 '12 at 18:10) Rick ♦ Rick's gravatar image
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Asked: Jan 14 '12 at 21:27

Seen: 1,891 times

Last updated: Jan 16 '12 at 18:10