Nurturing the Nurturer
Sep 02, 2014 01:51PM
● By Elaine Voci, Ph.D.
There are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.” ~Rosalynn Carter
Caregiving is demanding work that can bring many gifts in disguise—unexpected and significant life experiences that grace you with a closer, more meaningful connection to yourself and others. Caregiving doesn’t stop life—it changes its direction. Being a caregiver often deepens the ways that caregivers think about life, love, family, illness, aging and personal commitment.
Caregiving involves constant acts of service, routine daily actions that are necessary but can contribute to feelings of stress, irritation, helplessness and isolation. Each situation is different and every circumstance requires unique compromises, but it’s important to understand your own limitations. You can’t do it alone.
Strategies for surviving this life passage begin with acknowledging how important it is for you to regularly do something self-pampering, relaxing and completely removed from your caregiver responsibilities in order to sustain yourself. Enlisting the aid of others in carrying out some of the physical work can be a lifesaver. Helpful and caring family, friends and neighbors can provide companionship, prepare meals, wash clothes, run errands and more. It can be restorative to just go to the grocery store and have time alone, knowing that your loved one is being well cared for in your absence.
Another resource to consider adding to your support system is a Celebrant, someone who can creatively and compassionately help you celebrate and affirm the life of your loved one to honor the love and memories that endure through difficult passages. Such uplifting ceremonies can bring about compassion, forgiveness and acceptance, and inspire a healing transformation in the one who is cared for and the ones who give care.
Caregiving is an amazing journey that invites you to dig deep and find your higher power and/or your best self; it teaches you to reorganize priorities, to slow down and to more deeply appreciate life. It underscores a simple truth: you must care for yourself as if you are your own best friend. In the words of Buddha, “You, yourself, as much as anyone in the universe, deserve your love and affection.”