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Work / Job? 
Started by karla22
19 Jul 2012, 6:25 PM

Hi again,
Another question: I'm a subcontractor/freelancer. I fear telling any of my clients that I'll be providing care to a family member who has cancer -- as I'm afraid they won't re-hire me or pass any jobs to me.

And when I'm not available for that phone call at 10am, and why not? Just because... How about the next day... no, can't do it then either... agh. I guess I don't "like" the fact that I have to keep this secret and there will be no help work related.

Any thoughts or suggestions? Much appreciated!

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Reply by Cath1
20 Jul 2012, 4:04 AM

Hi karla22:

It's great to have you join our forum! Welcome!:-) I imagine that you are dealing with many emotions in light of your Mom's cancer diagnoses. I'm sorry that you Mom must deal with this heartless disease, and that you, as her daughter and her primary caregiver must go through it all with her. I'm wishing you both and your family much strength! I hope you will feel the support of our Virtual Hospice community and know that as you reach out to us we will respond to you heart to heart.

Your thread should inspire a good discussion as I am sure many people struggle with what to say to others at work, and how much information they feel comfortable and wise to reveal about being a caregiver to a loved one living with cancer. The professional relationships we have are much like like our personal ties in the sense that we probably choose what to say and share, how much, and with whom based upon our previous history, our level of trust and mutual rapport. However, business is always business and the bottom line is critical to those clients you serve.

With that in mind, I personally would choose only to share the most basic and most minimal information about the situation without feeling any need to lie. Your clients, even if they are friendly should not be counted on for sympathy or emotional support. If they offer it to you that would be sweet, but my advice would be to maintain a professional distance between you.

You might say that your Mom is being treated for a serious illness and while she has the support of many others, there may be times when it will be your responsibility to be there for her to help her. Let the client know that you simply want them to be aware up front  and ask them if they have any concerns that you would be happy to address. Most clients I think would appreciate and respect your honesty. They may surprise you and not express any concerns and if they don't state any, don't offer up any further information. Assure them that you will keep them abreast should circumstances change.

If they worry that you may miss important phone calls, remind them that you will be diligent about checking messages and returning calls promptly. If necessary, remind them of your track record of reliability and commitment to your work. Ask the client if they can offer you some flexibility and express your appreciation if they are willing. If necessary, stress that while you don't foresee the situation interfering too much or too often with your work, that you are adaptable and feel confident that you can manage.

So the more I write the more I see that there are no easy pat answers - darn! - but whatever you decide to do and say I think the most important thing is believing that you can deliver on whatever you promise. If you are uncertain, or know the situation will greatly impact your work and therefore your clients, I think you need to be prepared for this possibility and consider informing clients of that truth. I imagine to pretend that all will be well and that you can get by if you don't believe you can would only add to the pressure you now feel. 

I look forward to your response and to read what suggestions others have for you, karla22.   I wish that work related issues didn't weigh on your mind as I'm sure that these type of worries only exacerbate your helpless feelings. The reality is that we all - or most of us - have to earn a living and it is a very real concern and it becomes even more crucial when we must take care of an ill loved one - and for the self-employed there is no safety net.

You have a lot to think about karla22 but you don't have to wonder alone - we are here with you!:-)

With affection -hugs- xo
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Reply by NatR
18 Aug 2012, 5:50 PM

Hello Karla22,

I am sorry to heat about your moms illness.  It's a stressful time for you all- but especially for your mom and yourself as her support and caregiver!

In this hopefully "enlightened" age of more acceptance and understanding - I do believe your clients and contacts will have a more accepting view of your focus and energies expended in taking care of your mom and her needs!

I know not everyone can understand illness and caregiving - especially if they haven't experienced it personally.

But frankly your reasons to be unavailable are honorable and should be respected - not judged as an unreliable person! 

I do hope that you will be able to juggle your work and caregiving responsibility - and share truthfully why you cannot commit or reach a deadline!

Sometimes giving an alternate reason may be applicable for some clients- but I do believe honesty is the best policy - and that you will be admired and respected - not judged - for what you are focussing on!

I would suggest feeling out your clients and giving them information as needed and don't feel guilty about it!

Your mom obviously comes first and rightly so

I wish you the best in the coming weeks and months as you continue to follow your heart. 
Hope my words and feelings give you some input on your  situation and I wish your family the best as well!  
You sound like the kind of daughter we all want to have!
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