Being a caregiver puts us to the test. It tests our emotional stability; it tests our mental focus; it tests our physical resolve; it tests our spiritual strength. It pushes our finances to the brink; it marginalizes lifelong friends and families; it seeks to undermine any semblance of normalcy we need to carry on. It is the most gut-wrenchingly difficult challenge I have ever endured. It stole some of the best years of my life; and it asked me to stand by helplessly as my wife’s once vital, laughter filled life, seeped out of her in small drips until there was nothing left, except for a wisp of a woman who used to be formidable. And then, being a caregiver had me on my knees pleading for a merciful end to her once beautiful life, which thankfully set her free from the prison of this dreadful disease.
Being a caregiver however, also provides us with an opportunity. We can choose to perservere during a time where exhaustion taunts us; to have faith during a time that has us so confounded by the vagaries of a life gone awry. We can choose to turn the burdonsome responsibility that we have to shoulder, into a ministry of love, where we learn about empathy, patience and the fragility of life; We can replace fear with courage, embracing the uncertainty of change with the calming waters of acceptance. We can come to know ourselves for the first time in our lives, as we discover that during one of the greatest tests we will ever face, we are in possession of a wellspring of inner resources that had never before seen the light of day, for there was no need. We can choose to become an inspiration to the vast community of caregivers, who themselves struggle, by setting an example of what it looks like to take a challenge of this magnitude and turn it into an opportunity for growth and healing. We can choose to re-invent ourselves and re-claim our lives in a way that shines as a legacy to those that we care for and those that we have lost.
Caregivers are put to the test. Caregivers have a choice. Take a swan dive into the abyss of despair by allowing yourself to be swept away by the tidal wave of grief, frustration, doubt, fear and resentment. Or…choose to embrace the sacredness of life and create something authentic, meaningful and purposeful out of some of the shittiest ingredients imaginable. We have within us the power to create a life that is far bigger than what we could have imagined for ourselves had we not been tested so severely.
Caregivers are in this together. I promise. Let us lift ourselves, and each other to a new and formidable place with a yearning heart. We are caregivers. What a noble calling. Let’s grow and heal as individuals and as a community.
Yours in Life and Health,