When You’re the Caregiver, Part Two

nurse cap tree topper IIWelcome back to part two of When You’re the Caregiver (click the title for a refresher), where six weeks ago I posed a scenario and the questions:

So what do you do? How do you now navigate through the many details and issues thrust upon you? How do you fit in the necessities of your own life and family while bearing your friend or loved one’s burden of ill health, disease, life-threatening or debilitating physical circumstance?

It’s my honor to share with you in this follow-up post some caregiver wisdom offered by two very special individuals – my friends, Cheryl and Lisa. They live the earth’s axis apart, but being a caregiver is universal. Cheryl relates her wisdom in story form while Lisa shares three exceptional tips culled from experience of caring for her aging parents.

What I love about their offerings is they both arrive at the same conclusion and end with the same encouragement to us all.

Let others write 12-chapter books on the subject. We bless those who labor in caregiver employment who could share volumes. Let’s set aside the bandwagon bloggers with their twenty-five tips to sanity.

Right here, in this brief interlude, is some fine caregiver wisdom from two women who have lived it and know full well where their strength comes from. Join me as they share –

Thirty years ago my husband and I were asked to foster a three month old baby boy, and we did. We already had three children of our own. That request was for an unknown time…it could have been anything from a few days to a few months. It turned out to be a lifetime commitment. It also turned out that baby boy had significant cognitive, emotional and behavioural disabilities that were not initially evident at that very young age but became apparent as he grew.

Thirty years on as his main caregiver and I am trying to think what words of wisdom can I share here and I really have only one at this moment…I have learned that Jesus is sufficient.

I have lived all the things you describe, sometimes for days, weeks and years on end: tiredness, frustration, the running on empty feeling, frayed emotions, the constant dealings with doctors, hospitals, governmental authorities….well, I won’t go on but you get the picture.

Our beautiful 30 year old autistic son now lives in supported accommodation but is still a major part of our lives and I am still responsible for co-ordinating major areas of his life. But no matter how tired I got, how teary, how frustrated, how inadequate I felt, I learned along the way that Jesus, His love, His grace, was sufficient to get me through whatever each day brings, even at the times I just wanted to sit in a corner and scream, or cry, or sleep!

Wish I could come up with some wonderful words of wisdom for people caring for others on a daily basis, but I can’t put it any other way: He is sufficient. We aren’t, but He is.

And if we will allow Him to, He will get us through.

~ Cheryl

And from Lisa, the three tips in bold with my comments in italics

1. Take time for yourself and your spouse each week to get away for a few hours to be alone and just talk.

We all know marriages experience a multitude of stressors. Making time for you as a couple in the midst of care giving is essential for remembering who the two of you are and for talking it out instead of stuffing it in, especially if you are caregiver to family members.

Iif you aren’t married, it’s just as important to heed Lisa’s advice. That’s what good friends are for! A coffee, lunch or dinner out and a good long chat can provide some necessary respite and a chance to just breathe.

2. Learn it is ok to ask for help from others when it is offered.

I appreciate that Lisa listed this tip in the manner she did. In one brief sentence she gives us a challenge.

As much as we wish they were or think they should be, people are not mind readers. Many a caregiver has carried a too-heavy load far too long because to ask for help was a) humiliating b) beneath them 3) selfish 4) proof that they aren’t perfect after all 5) should be able to handle it themselves – or any other number of limiting beliefs that hinder the simple question: “Would you help me with this ______?” (fill in the blank with what you need)

It is ok to ask for help. And yes, we can learn to do so. Our own health may one day depend on it.

3. LEAN on God when you are exhausted and know He will give you what you need for that moment or day!

In the moment or the long day, thank you Lisa and Cheryl for reminding us all that He is sufficient.

…and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.
Deuteronomy 33:25 KJV

~ Nancy

I’d love to share with you an insightful caregiver’s tool called Reviewing My Days, one of the eight Listen To My Life maps. You can contact me here for more information.

photo credit: tsayrate via photopin cc

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