Throughout the book, Joe Biden needs to balance his feelings as the caregiver with Beau Biden’s feelings as the person with a brain tumour, experiencing aphasia. While it’s Beau’s cancer and aphasia, it naturally affects the people around him who love and care about him.

Joe Biden’s book, Promise Me, Dad, is the latest installment of our online book club. We will be focusing solely on the parts of the book that cover aphasia and caregiving.

It’s All Good

Biden recounts how his son guided their reaction to his cancer and aphasia. On page 11, Biden remembers,

He was fine, he kept saying. In fact, I had not heard him complain once since his diagnosis fifteen months earlier. “It’s all good,” he would say, over and over. “Getting better every day.”

I was under strict orders never to betray worry in front of anybody. “Dad, don’t look at me sad,” Beau had admonished me once, when he caught me eyeing him. He had been firm: “Dad. Dad! You understand me? Don’t look at me like that.”

Of course, Joe Biden is also allowed his feelings. He’s allowed to feel sad or frustrated or worried, too. But Beau sets his limits over what he wants around him. He is grateful for hope but eschews sadness.

A Columnist’s Advice

Carolyn Hax recently covered this topic in her daily advice column. On December 17th, she answered a woman’s question about navigating an illness or health condition as a couple. She is the person with the health crisis, and she is furious with her husband for telling her step-daughters about her situation.

Carolyn begins by pointing out that they’re both equally allowed to have feelings: “No doubt it’s a scary time for you. Though obviously to a lesser degree, it’s a scary time for your husband, too.”

She guides them to a place of understanding, ending with Susan Silk’s Ring Theory, a system that allows everyone to feel what they need to feel… but in a place that doesn’t create more grief for the people closest to the problem.

How do you balance your feelings as a caregiver with the wishes of the other person?

Image: Lisa Zoe via Unsplash