An essay by Brian McLaughlin, Advocate

Memories of My Grandfather Influence My Work

It was the summer of 1980 and I was 16. Time seemed to stand still as I anxiously waited for life to begin.

One evening I called my Grandfather who was in the hospital for a routine matter. We talked at length at what grand adventures we would have when he returned home.

Unfortunately, my Grandfather suffered a serious stroke that very night.

I remember going to the hospital with my Mother and Grandmother. The doctor called them out of the room and I was left alone with my Grandfather. He began to cry and he grabbed for my hand. Shaken I said, "it will be Ok Grandpa". We both knew I was wishing at best and lying at worst.

A few days past and my Grandfather returned home. He had lost the ability to speak and to understand language at times. He had only partial use of his arms and legs. He became frustrated and depressed.

While part of the aging process can be the slow loss of abilities, my Grandfather had to endure huge losses in the matter of a few hours. His mood sunk further as he made little progress with his physical therapy. One day my Grandmother called to say my Grandfather had held a kitchen knife to his chest. He did this as he had no other way of sharing the dark feelings he was experiencing.

My Grandfather’s doctor ordered a psychiatric hospitalization. Understandably this caused my Grandfather to become even more agitated. Because of this he was given an anti-psychotic medication for sedation. After his Hospitalization, my Grandfather entered a nursing home where he died a few weeks later.

My Grandfather was the reason I chose to study Psychology. When I encounter a difficult person in my work I envision my Grandfather and this allows me to give my best.

Respectfully submitted for your consideration,

Brian Patrick McLaughlin MS/CPS
MH Consumer Advocate
Erie County, PA.

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