What does a caregiver sometimes forget in caregiving?
When I was a teenager, my mother tried to explain to me that no matter how many times I got into trouble, she could never stop loving me. She told me over and over again that love was “unconditional”.
She went on to explain that there’s a universal law that parents will always love their children, that they cannot stop. Like any rebel teenager, I questioned all she said.
Which is harder love or relationships?
But now I realized she was indeed a wise woman. I wish she was here so I could ask her about relationships. Are they unconditional, too?
My niece recently came for a visit. We got to talking about relationships, especially those strained by caring for a sick or aging person. Is this a universal law? Relationships tend to falter when there is sickness or failing human functions?
Many readers tell me they are taking care of a family member they never liked in the first place. The person was mean or whatever. Now the person is ill AND still mean.
Other readers truly love their spouse or parent, but the relationship is strained because of all the caregiving, burdens, and dignity threatened by the failing human body.
Others tell me they are blessed to care for a loved one.
People do not show their better side when they are ill. We have to remember that they are frightened.
They are worried. They don’t feel good. They are not on their best behavior. They feel the guilt of being a burden to another.
The better part of a human is a caregiver.
So how do we get past the failing human body to see the person within? How do we keep love, compassion, and care above all the daily tasks that invade our lives?
I remember something my father said when I was little. Dad was a family physician. I asked him what he heard when he listened to a patient’s heart. He replied, “I hear their story.” Naturally, I didn’t understand what he meant.
But as a physician assistant, I never forgot this. No matter who the patient was, no matter what part of the body I was examining, I always heard their “heart”. I trusted their heart to tell me their story.
So I’ve learned over the years, that the human heart is truly a remarkable thing. It can tell a story, but it can also listen. It can make us laugh, but it can also make us cry. It can break, but it can swell with love.
It guides us through each day whether we want to follow it or not.
Our members are a truly great group of wise men and women. We teach them how to have unconditional love for themselves and their lives. They see the goodness in those they care for. They learn to listen with their hearts. It is how each and every one of them enjoys the best of each day. It is what makes our group so special. The Caregiver’s Freedom Club.