Coming to Terms with Being Cared for and Being a Caregiver

My Dear Friends, Family and Students,

I have been overwhelmed lately with coming to terms with taking care of my Dad and his aging process that I am a witness to. Everything came to a head when Dad was hospitalized and as a result had to be placed in a full care nursing home. It is the ONE PLACE he said he never wanted to be. I was quietly sitting at my desk yesterday morning listening to my breath slowly coming in and out and the birds singing outside when I was struck with a realization about being cared for and being a caregiver that I have choosen to share with you. The picture at the left is of my Dad and I when he was certainly taking care of me.

Coming to Terms with Being Cared for
and Being a Caregiver

When an individual has been hurt or is sick and requires care from others, the realization that they are no longer the same person can trigger feelings of depression, pressure, pain and emotional judgment in both the person who this has happened to and the caregiver. Another factor to consider: when one is under pressure, in pain or on medication - how much remains to connect to their Higher Self? In these moments where reaction plays a predominate role there is very little space to touch the infinite.

For me, when I had my heart attack my world became very small. Also leaving my business and home in Czech to move in with my daughter and her family thus coming from my perception of weakness where everyone else was stronger and healthier than was an opportunity to experience being needy and cared for. When I allowed my self to be still I could feel a sense of order and perfection. I had to understand only “this moment”. Now in retrospect, I clearly see that people who are dependent have a different world - a different view of reality. There are many variables and considerations to being a receiver of care. I have always taught that receiving for most people is very difficult, for in receiving we must give up control. When we are the giver, we can control how much and when we give. To be on the receiving end of care is also quite difficult and often confusing.

Surely I was different: unsure of myself, physically weak, foggy memory, angry and frustrated for not understanding and also for being weak and needing help. It seemed that people looked at me differently and I felt a great deal of pressure. All I saw was my own world and I could not understand any other. I was only doing my best to find myself, working at doing everything I could, not really knowing how I used to do something, only knowing that I was doing it differently and feeling like it was not as good as it was before - whatever that was. And foremost that I had to prove I was worthy of living.

The role of caregiver can often push people beyond their own boundaries. Before one becomes a caregiver, they usually have more than a full life to deal with and manage. Care giving can occupy many different energetic levels, based on the needs of the dependent person and the desires of the caregiver. For some, this might mean limited hours, for others it can become a task that occupies all their waking moments.

One example from perhaps millions of situations was a couple I heard about after my own health issues. The man had been a bed-ridden stroke victim for more than 5 years. He had become his own limitations and no longer could relate to the person he was before his stroke. As a result, his wife of more than 25 years felt anger and resentment at him 'giving up'. What began as her husband's stroke with hope of recovery had faded and disappeared after weeks, months and years. In her mind, this meant that the man she had loved was dead for she was caregiver to a stranger, living with only the illusion of what was before.

Now that I am a care giver to my Father I am faced with the same feelings that the woman had; resentment at him for giving up. This attitude has been a death to my soul…after all who elected me God. This self righteous idea that I know how he is supposed to be and it is not this. I imagine that my family thought the same things about me only a few years before when I was recovering. No I am not the same as before…I am certainly more honest about myself and it has been humbling to admit I am no longer the person I once was. My Dad is no longer the same person either. In some regards that is a blessings as he is more mellow, his bite is not as bad as it was in my growing up years. But still I found myself less able to cope. It has been only while writing this that I remembered my own journey of recovery, the confusion and pain of giving up control.

Here is a man who was in charge of his life, knew where he was going and how to get there. He is now completely reliant on people to move him, bath him and handle his basic needs. He has lost his old self and can not identify with what is in his place. No wonder life is holds no promise for him. It is my task to love him as he is and be with him in these changes for how ever long it is. It is hard to let go of our old selves and accept much less relate to the new version with all its imperfections and limitations. That in it self is perfect; today I can truthfully say I am grateful for the experience of being cared for and for caring for another person and the lessons both continue to bring.

I wish you and yours a Blessed Easter and Passover season. May you be filled with light, joy and song.


1 comment:

  1. Being reliant on others may take us to many places including perhaps that of surrender. That surrender can also allows others to give and for there to be the mutual experience of acquiring gratitude or a state of unconditional love. Sometimes the person in greatest need is not the one seemingly receiving all the practical care. And sometimes in their seeming state of passivity, is actively working on the heart of the care-giver as well as their own. And when the work is done, then it is possible for everyone to move on.