Permission to Fail

A few years ago I was part of an expert panel discussion on “How to care for yourself while caregiving” through WEGO Health and one of the other panelist, Ben Murphy (@athletdad) shared a great point.  He said that one of the biggest obstacles to caring for ourselves and others is that we don’t give ourselves permission to fail.

Having both worked with and been a caregiver, I understand that we all want to do the right thing all the time when it comes to caring for someone we love.  Unfortunately we are human, therefore we will more than likely meet with a few (if not many) failures during our journey.

Failures can include (but are not limited to):

  • Reacting to a caregiving emergency instead of pro-active planning as we recognized growing issues.
  • Poor or lack of communication with other family members
  • Not questioning a medical professional when we felt something about the treatment plan wasn’t right
  • Waiting too long to make a care decision
  • Taking advice from the wrong sources
  • ____________________(fill in the blank)

In my career I’ve met thousands of caregivers and they all have one thing in common:

 20/20 hind sight.  They share their coulda’, shoulda’, woulda’s with me and, at times, the sense of guilt and sadness is overwhelming.

Caregivers tend to forget that they are human and as such they are doing the best they can with the information given to them during a stressful time.  Allowing yourself permission to fail doesn’t mean you stop trying, it means that you are not always going to be perfect.  It may mean you feel disappointment in yourself or in others.  The issue becomes when you get stuck in that failure, reliving it over and over, even years after your loved one has passed away.

You are not your failures.

The reality is you can choose to move on from your failure.  Failure is a temporary condition.  You tried something, it didn’t work, and it’s over.  Unless you have a time-machine and can go back and make a different decision, continuing to dwell in a past failure is an exercise in futility.

Permission to Failure Points to Ponder:

  • Evaluate what went wrong and then learn from your failures
  • Remind yourself that you are human and with that comes times of failure.
  • Repeat this mantra “I’m doing the best I can. I can only do what I can do.”
  • Keep a list of your successes (small and large).
  • Create a support system: People who will listen and encourage you when you feel stuck in your failures.

Most importantly give yourself permission to fail and MOVE ON!  Tomorrow is a new day, with new opportunities for success.  You can do it.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

For more support visit

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
This entry was posted in against all odds, boomers, caregiving, eldercare, elders, encouragement, forgiveness, health care, making a plan, sandwich generation, taking care of yourself, work/life/flex, working caregiver and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Permission to Fail

  1. Pingback: January 19, 2020 Eldercare Meeting – Buddhist Eldercare

  2. Johhny McKenzy says:

    Excellent work. see you,


  3. Tom Jackson says:

    Hi I think that your blog is really nice!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s