I sit here staring at my screen reading over my old blogs. It’s been a long time since I reached out . . . the last being three years ago. We are now in a pandemic; with problems we could not even fathom three years ago, much less seven months ago! Caregivers are now required to visit their loved ones through a window in or in a safe outdoor environment; move them into a long-term care facility via a virtual tour and; most distressing, losing loved ones without being able to touch them. I think back to being a caregiver for grandma, running from hospital to rehab to home to doctors’ appointments to pharmacies, the list goes on and on. I think “Boy, would I give anything to be a caregiver in those times again.” You heard it right. I would take grandma back at her worst to be able to hold her, kiss her and talk to her once again.
While caregiving is one of the most difficult parts of your life, it also is a telling one. It gives us a perspective we wouldn’t have otherwise had. In the Caregivers Support Group in which I facilitate there is a caregiver, “Mary”, whose dad is in an assisted living community. She says he’s traditionally been a pessimist. Now Mary is worried because he’s no longer complaining! Can you imagine? Worried because your loved one isn’t complaining?! Yes, that is something that gives you those sleepless nights as a caregiver because you don’t recognize your loved one anymore. You wonder if this is the start of a new chapter. Should you read into it, call a doctor, ask your loved one about it, or let it go? And if you let it go and there is a new drama you know you’re going to beat yourself up about it. (Add it to the “Shoulda, woulda, coulda” list!) Well she asks dad, “What did you eat?” He replies: “Does it matter?!” Now, instead of peppering dad to find out what he ate, Mary goes onto the next question to continue the conversation.
Perspective. Mary brings us this story and says, “Dad has taught me to live and love in the moment. He’s right, does it matter what he ate?” These types of situations shape individuals. They take what they have experienced from the situation, reflect and use it in their own lives. Is he giving up? Is he in the acceptance phase? We don’t know, but he seems to be at peace.
They keep talking about the “silver lining” of this pandemic. I guess we can find pearls of wisdom in crisis. The pandemic has given all of us a new perspective on life. It has given me thanks for caring for grandma during “normal” times. It has given countless others time to work on themselves, their families, homes, education, etc. Many of us have learned to truly cherish the moment we are in and to be present. It is also important that we never forget this time as it is one more event to give us thanks for the sanctity of life. We may feel we are struggling with something in life, but now may we all have more patience and view situations from a different, more positive perspective. As they say, this too shall pass. We will all lose something, but hopefully we will gain something as well.