“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” ― Rosalyn Carter
Over the years, I’ve known that a host of my friends served as caregivers for either their father or/and mother but I didn’t fully understand their experience until it was my turn. After my dad passed a few friends, all of whom had been caregivers, stopped by to pay their condolences and we immediately began discussing our varied caregiving journeys. We discussed our struggles, the commitment, the patience, the hours, the sacrifices, the rewards, and the caregiving journey itself. Caregiving was certainly not a role ANY of expected to assume but none of us had any regrets.
According to the American Psychological Association, almost 66 million adults are caregivers for an ill relative. A caregiver is someone who is actively engaged in providing care and needs to another such as a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend. A caregiver is typically a member (or members) of a person’s family or social network that helps them with the activities of daily living. Caregiving allows individuals the opportunity to express their love through their actions to their- spouse, parents, children, and significant others.
Caregiving is one of the most selfless acts of love that one can give to a loved one but it can also be very revealing. Caregiving will inevitably expose one’s willingness, commitment, and family bonds. It will either strengthen and solidify a loving family bond or it will reveal the cracks and tear a family completely apart. Last week, I received a call from one of my caregiving friends whose dad’s health is declining. She was angered that her brother wasn’t giving her any assistance in caring for their dad. I reminded her that even though, the Bible tells us to honor our father and mother, not all of our siblings will answer the call. I told her NOT to be concerned with what he’s doing or not doing. Instead, I suggested that she focus on loving and being there for her dad without any regrets. While he was hospitalized, I encouraged her to simply spend quality time together. Past the time by telling him how much she loves him and appreciated the life he created for her and sharing her fondest memories of him. She took a deep breath and heeded my advice.
The caregiving journey looks different for everyone. The length of time is different and so are the needs of our loved ones. Caregiving isn’t a simple task but despite its difficulties, it’s a loving experience filled with invaluable lessons. Caregiving is a finite experience and when it ends, you’ll emerge as a different person. Your perspective and appreciation of life and love will inevitably be changed forever. Despite putting my life on hold for the past 2 years, being a caregiver has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve ever had and I have no regrets.
SHIP TALK: Have you ever been a caregiver for someone? What were your thoughts?
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