You’ve been the strength for someone physically ailing, but you’re left out of the spotlight. It’s not that you want accolades- you just want people to understand what you are undergoing is more than a full-time job. Caregiving is a job that occurs hourly and doesn’t ask you if you want a predictable break for coffee, a breather, and the refreshment of alone time.
There may be many who try to strengthen and encourage the person your caregiving for, but you may not receive much encouragement to keep up the good fight. There may be some who do not see the bags under your eyes from caring for someone in constant need, or the worry lines from the fear of a further decline in health- possibly an end to a life. Your face maps a story untold.
You are the unsung hero that should replace superheroes. Your resources are limited, yet you give all you possess. What strength you have, my caregiver friend! People may not understand why you cannot hang out as consistently as what you once did, why some of you must sacrifice a full-time job for part-time work or even work altogether. They may judge you unfairly, thinking you have all the time in the world. May this not hurt you, my friend.
I know you are already facing the loss of your own dreams and yes, even the sting of seeing the loss of the dreams from the loved one you care for. Just know, people cannot peer into life behind closed doors, and that’s okay. People are not in your role of constant care. They do not carry your burden, my caregiver friend.
Please, do me a favor and take care of yourself, even if this self-care causes you guilt. Allow yourself to experience joy in the suffering. This joy of yours will be contagious to the one you’re caregiving for. Not to mention strengthening your own physical health can only help you take care of your special person more.
And by the way, this letter to you isn’t just about the person you’re taking care of. You hold value yourself, dear friend. You are your own person apart from them that needs to be recognized as an individual who holds value.
You are the firefighter running into the blaze of fire and the death of smoke, risking it all to save the one you love. But remember, you cannot shoulder the burden of saving their life. You are not the invincible Superman, even though I look up to as if you are him.
This was written in a journal I had tucked away for almost six months. Although our life has changed in some respects since I wrote these words, I wanted them to be shared mainly as a comfort to caregivers.
I wanted you, caregiver, to know that you have a distinct purpose beyond who you’re caring for. I also wanted you to know that if anything ever did happen to the one you love, it’s not your fault.
As I saw Michael’s eyes scan these pages some six months ago, I could see his eyes pooling with tears at the mention that it wouldn’t be his fault if something happened to me. It was something that was unspoken in our moments before, but I needed him to know that although care-giving is respectable, it doesn’t give him the God-like authority to call the shots as far as my health is concerned. I think the correlation exists more than what’s talked about: IF [fill in the blank negative health event] happens then I’m responsible and I’m a bad caregiver.
This just isn’t the case. No matter how good of a doctor someone is, or how well the patient is attended to, mishaps can and do happen. If you’re doing your best, you are not fault. You are not superhuman. And yes, you still carry your own unique individuality.