The focus of all of your efforts is the love you have to share!
Chronic illness and disability invades every aspect of your life; if you are not careful it can erode away all of your strength and leave you feeling lost.
While the medical needs may be urgent in the day to day care of your loved one, it is important to create and nurture a relationship between you and God, you and your spouse, you and your children, and you and your loved ones.
For the caregiver every day is new and yet in so many ways the same. Every day the caregiver is reminded of what was, what life used to be, all the while caring for their loved one in everyway. These daily challenges can lead you down the path of exhaustion, stress, lonliness, anger, resentment, and guilt. You may find yourself spiritually at a lose of faith, hope, and peace. Mentally you may feel anxious, fearful, and worrisome. Physically you can feel stressed and exhausted. And emotionally you can feel loneliness, anger, resentment, and guilt. Over time chronic illness and disability can and will wear you down if you are not careful.
Let me encourage you to take one day at a time. No matter what the day holds take one day at a time. Savor every moment that you are with them; caring for them, giving to them, and loving on them. It is so easy to focus on the challenges. If you are always looking at what they cannot do, waiting for that next milestone, or searching for that next treatment you can miss their ability to be a part of life in their own unique way.
Each day that you work towards creating a new normal for you and your family is a gift that you give to yourself, the loved one you are caring for and those around you. This one day is an opportunity to be present in the moment while yet hopeful for tomorrow. As you are mindful of the many tasks at hand do not get caught up in the worries and what if’s of the illness. Make each day an opportunity to find joy in the journey, feel a peace in your soul, and to share the love in your heart.
Your Loved One
Open your heart for more…oftentimes, as a caregiver we can focus on the “work” of a caregiver. We focus on their medical needs, their personal needs, their schedules. We dedicate our lives to becoming the best advocate, teacher, parent, case worker, nurse, that we can be.
We spend our days researching every website or reading every article written about the illness. While these efforts are to be applauded remember to open your HEART to your loved one.
Spend time with them, love on them, laugh with them! Take them to dinner, go for a walk, watch a movie together. Look past the illness and see them for who they really are…they are your daughter, your son, your mother, your father, your sibling, your grandparent, your friend. They are your loved one. The privilege you have to care for them in this way is a blessing for them and for you!
Are you enduring or enjoying your life as a caregiver? You know it does not have to be an either or question. You do not have to give up on enjoying life just because chronic illness and disability is a daily part of your routine. Your days can turn on a dime. What started out as a regular day can easily turn into a visit to the ER, an unexpected trip to the nursing home, or a lengthy phone call with a variety of providers. These “unexpected” moments can happen all of the time requiring the emotional and mental energy needed for you to be flexible at any point in time.
Your care giving senses can and will be heightened. Grief can and will be a daily challenge. If not careful, the weight and stress on your emotions can become almost unbearable and bring you to a place where you operate out of fear and anxiety. Your mind stays on autopilot in a constant fight or flight mentality.
Refresh your hope for yourself as a caregiver and your loved one. Work hard to not focus on feelings of guilt or shame. Always wishing for a different life or a different illness will only add to an already heavy load.
As your day unfolds do not let the stresses, frustrations, and aggravations of the illness define you. Do not let the juggling demands of a caregiver rob you of a life that can be enjoyed to the fullest. Yours is a life worth living!
You will find yourself in a season of learning, adapting, and changing while on this journey. For many it is a roller coaster of events and emotions. You may be in a season of grieving, a season of stability, or even a season of constant change.
Remember the good. Even though there is so much bad about the illness remember the good. Take time to reflect on a new friendship that was forged, the meeting of a fellow prayer warrior, a connection to a great resource that will help you take care of your loved one, a doctor who gets you, a nurse who understands you, or a caseworker who helps you; whatever season you find yourself in remember.
Remember to let those around you walk with you on this journey. Whether it is your family, friends, or even strangers people really do want to help.
In this season see if there is any area where you may need to redirect, refocus, or reevaluate the many things that vie for your time and attention. Upon your reflection, take a moment to breathe. Breathe through the changes, emotions, and tasks at hand. Be open to see what this season of a caregiver can bring. Let it be a season of love in a whole new way.