When the Caregiver Wants More for the Care-Receiver Than They, The Receiver, May Want for Themselves.
By Rev Debbie Mechley
Often times we are caught up in the caregiving scenario that seems to bring demands on us and what may seem to be, ungratefulness. We may struggle with this and continue to seek support to maintain as healthy an attitude as possible while dealing day to day with our loved one. We have discussed this ongoing part of our caregiving experience during our time together in our Care for the Caregiver support group.
But, what if you are caring for someone who typically is quite grateful for the love and the care that you have extended to them. Maybe, they seldom complain, but still, they do need your continual care, companionship and attention.
Let’s say your elderly parent was once vibrant and energetic and now they have slowed down and may not feel like attending the social activities that they used to. Is their conversation less engaging and less frequent? Do they seem to have lost their zest for life? Where has their joy gone? As you watch this, you may ask, “Where has my own joy gone.”
These are questions that arise when the care receiver begins to slow down and actually begin to unwind in a more permanent way. How does this affect you as a caregiver? Do you find yourself encouraging your mother to continue to out for bingo or get her hair done at the salon? Do you find yourself telling them how important it is for them to keep on moving so as to maintain their life?
It is difficult watching our parents or loved ones turning that corner of life, but the inevitable truth is, the body just becomes worn out and worn down. Taking this crossroads is a natural part of the aging process and allowing this change is healthier than not. Resistance can become confusing to the person and to the body that says, “I need to begin my End of Life process.”
I had a friend whose mother was 97 years old. She was also active and involved up to this age. One day, Mary was becoming aware that her mother was not as interested in going out shopping or to lunch as she had always been. Mary became concerned. I remember a time when she said, “This has got to turn around. This just isn’t like you, Mom. So let’s get ready and I will take you to play cards with the ladies.”
Mary’s mother was simply losing interest because she was tired. After all, she was 97 years old. Her petite body had just become exhausted and it was obvious, that she was approaching a new phase in her life, possibly the beginning of her End of Life process. Many people are not aware, but the dying process can begin eight months prior to death itself. The “dying process” is simply natural. We are actually born knowing how to die at a cellular level. What may feel very natural for an aging parent may be a space of resistance for those caregivers finding their way to make the adjustment to this new phase, referred to as the “last event of our life.”
You may find yourself asking, “Where is their joy?” This may be difficult as well as feeling like a personal loss to the caregiver. Wondering where the joy and love for life have gone for your loved one, may very well feel like your joy is slipping away as well. I encourage you to find your way to honoring where your aging loved one is in their life’s journey. By allowing them to be exactly where they have come to be, you also honor yourself in this life event. By supporting and allowing your loved one to move through this journey in their own way, you will find your own joy again. If you have joy, this will be felt by the one that you care for and you will feel the shift.
I encourage you to embrace the “Art of Allowing” and you in turn will embrace your own wellbeing. May peace be with you and may all be well in your world.
Blessing of Love and Light,
Rev Debbie Mechley
Spiritual Care Advisor and Chaplain