excerpts from "The Caretaker's Journey" by Carolyn Kemp
Being a Caretaker is the ultimate gift of yourself to someone you love. It will demand all of you; it will return much to you. It can bring frustration, learning, heartbreak, joy, fatigue, satisfaction, hope, despair, and faith. Your special person may be a mate, a parent, a sibling, or a dear friend.
Because I have been privileged to be a caretaker and to have a caretaker, I feel for those on both sides. And I would like to share with you some practical aspects of being a caretaker.
Be an active participant: Learn all you can about the disease and treatments – you can never know too much. Accompany your loved one to the doctor – two sets of ears hear more. Tape the consultations if you need to verify information when you get home. Be the patient's advocate in the doctor's office, the treatment room and in the hospital. Note subtle changes that the doctor might miss. Fight for the best opinions, the best tests and the best treatments. Help educate others.
Resist the "poor me" attitude: During your loved one's illness you will be walking a tightrope. Continue some of your regular activities. Don't get jealous of his time away form you.
Find support to help you through difficult times: Ask for God's help. Locate prayer chains and put your loved one on their list for active prayer. This brings hope and healing in difficult times.
Never lose hope: There'll be nights when you cry – that's OK – but pull yourself out of any despondency. Touch your loved one and say, "Thank you, God, for this moment." Treasure your special moments together. Actively tuck little memories away. Remembering these moments later, comfort will flow over you.
Learn some of the responsibilities you have not handled: This will spare him the frustration of seeing you struggle if he is no longer able to do these things. Do this gradually, so he will not think you are taking away his "jobs." It’s OK to depend on each other.
Finally, for the caretaker, no advice can be more direct than the serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
I wish peace, love, serenity and healing to you all.