How to Cope As a Caregiver

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.  ~George Washington Carver

How wonderful to spend this time with you again. I really enjoy our visits.

You should realize that the articles I write are often printed in blood, so to speak. Today’s is no exception. I need my own advice. Let me explain …

I lost it; I really lost it this morning. Uncontrollable tears. Piles of tissues. I just couldn’t get myself under control. The stress of being an end-time caregiver was taking its toll. I tried to keep myself together for my husband’s benefit. This morning, it didn’t work.

Since I’m being honest, I have to admit that sometimes I don’t follow my own advice. Sometimes, life gets to me and I lose it, too.

I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that you – and I – won’t always get it right. But … we can keep trying.

I’m much better this evening – my emotions are under control again. I’m back in caregiver mode. Our patient has pulled back from the brink – again – and so we continue. Meals, meds, compassionate care. I’m back to what matters most: giving not selfishness, love not resentment, peace not turmoil.

The role of caregiver is perhaps one of the most challenging we can face. I’m sure that Jesus must have said, ‘blessed are the caregivers for they shall find strength’. I know that was true with my mom almost a decade ago. I know, deep down, that  it’s true now. No matter what, we find the inner resources – and sometimes, just sheer grit – to keep going.

It’s hard for our minds to relax and simply attend the present moment. We anticipate, regret, wonder (when, if, why) and dread. It’s all those emotions that cause the most pain and anguish, not misfortune itself. When the moment comes – whatever our ‘moment’ is – we are often better able to deal with it than we anticipated.

So, no matter what you face this week, remember that you can cope. You’re stronger than you think you are. And you can get back up and keep trying. There are no innings in this game of Life. Just keep swinging until you win!  God has declared you victorious – no matter what you’re dealing with. Remember, He and I pray for your peace, joy, blessing and strength to overcome  whatever challenges you.

Don’t anticipate grief. Stay in the moment. Enjoy the time you have. Talk, Laugh. Be. Sleep well (when you can!), knowing that you are giving the most precious gift of all – yourself.

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