In the past couple weeks I have had the misfortune of running into grandmothers, two of them to be precise, one the first week and another last week.
Anyone who knows me well is familiar with how badly I want to be a grandmother so you would think I would enjoy listening to them. On the contrary, it was incredibly difficult.
You see, both of these women have adult grandchildren who are disconnected from their families and lost in the world of addiction and mental health. They called me to see what they could do. Of course they did. Of course they need to know how to help their grandchildren.
That ache takes my breath away every time. Especially when I know there isn’t much they can do for their adult grandchildren. How do I tell them that? You can’t tell Grandmas that. They won’t have it.
They both wanted someone to sweep those “kids” up and take them away and make them better. I explained to them that couldn’t happen unless those grandchildren were a danger to themselves or someone else. Grandmas can be very logical and the response to that was that their grandchildren are a danger to themselves. They are in danger of losing their jobs or cars or homes or children. They are in danger of killing themselves or overdosing. “Why isn’t that enough?” they said. To hear those words so tightly wrapped with love and care left me speechless.
It is impossible for grandmothers to comprehend and accept the idea that their grandchildren have to get worse before they can get forced into help. They were dumbfounded as that idea took shape in their brains. Were they just to stand by and watch things get worse? They were so sad and scared for their grandchildren and great grandchildren and the ripple effect of all of this terrible stress on the whole family.
Grandmas are powerful. That love is unconditional and unwavering. They don’t see addicted adults when they look through eyes of love. They see those children that they are fiercely protective of and they are desperate to intervene. At times in the conversation their voices became soft when they told me stories about their grandchildren and then the frustration would take over and I found out Grandmas can swear with the best of them!
I supported them as best I could, told them to call anytime if they needed to talk. I told them to talk to their friends and family about this and encourage the family members to connect to people and places where they can work out their stress. I reminded them that there are many families who are going through the same thing and reaching out to each other to connect is a good starting place. I told them about the Stand Up Now movement that is happening that they could lend their names to help advocate for appropriate resources for their grandchildren.
I hated to hang up without being able to offer them what they wanted.
Some days I wish I had a tranquilizer gun and a treatment center full of Grandmas.