Q: My retired mother has become quite the prolific artist and loves gifting her pieces to me. I’ve hung a couple in the house but they’re not particularly good and definitely not my taste. I’d like to ask her to stop gifting me these paintings. On the other hand, I suspect it hurts her feelings that I am not displaying every piece of art she has given us. How do I get out of this?
A: You know your mother better than anyone. If you think she can tolerate gentle communication about her “over” gifting, then this is the best place to start. If you feel discussing the paintings will detract from the very activity that gives her pleasure, then you’ll have to support her. If your mom does not live nearby, then hang the paintings when she is around and trade them out when she leaves. This is the compassionate way to manage the situation. If she visits regularly, then it’s time to find a balance. Place her paintings in a few carefully selected rooms. If you have limited space, then trade them out from time to time so that she sees a variety of her art. Also, be sure that your own art is hanging on wall space so that she sees your walls occupied. Your last step is to advise her to donate her paintings to a senior center, a public clinic or a community center or even volunteer as an art teacher for young people or seniors.
Q: My beloved pet bird died last Monday at less than a year of age. I am devastated due to how deeply bonded we were. He was likely born with this disease; birds are notorious for hiding illness until they are very sick. My question is, how do I forgive my veterinarian of 15 years, who, unbeknownst to me at the time, has lost her sense of compassion and integrity, and, as such, misdiagnosed him entirely? She all but ignored my pleas for advice as to his continued decline. I will never have her treat my other birds, especially in light of learning fellow “bird friends” have had similar experiences and complaints. How do I forgive myself for not having the foresight to take him elsewhere? I am haunted by the feeling he might have recovered in the hands of a doctor who was thorough and genuinely cared!
A: Losing a pet is so painful. It’s natural to feel responsible and helpless because they are unable to clearly communicate their needs. You need to accept that you did all that you could do. An extra layer of grief is a common emotion felt by people who believe a health care provider missed something that resulted in the loss of a loved one. Many times, when people feel wronged or they don’t want others to go through a similar experience, they engage in advocacy. It can be a positive outlet. Start a website or a platform that informs bird owners of medical conditions and provides a list of referrals for veterinarians or ornithologists. This way you can harness the memory of your pet and channel your frustration and anguish into advocacy work. If you are still really struggling with this loss, I strongly encourage therapy as a place to sort through these feelings as well as your grief.
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