Caring for Caregivers

Maybe it’s because I am a Spoonie who has substantial experience with being cared for by others, maybe it’s because I feel deep guilt when I have to lean on others to do things for me, maybe it’s because of my Empath gifting that allows me to see what others don’t, or maybe it’s because I genuinely care about people whom willingly serve and support others; whatever the reason or combination thereof, I am sincerely invested in making sure that caregivers are given the comfort that they so graciously give. In the last two months, I have spoken to a few loved ones who were supporting others through the loss of family members, in addition to listening to them voice their concerns and pains, I am insistent that they be mindful of and attentive to their own needs as well. This isn’t to take any attention away from the person that they are supporting nor is it encouraging them to abandon their role, it’s reminding them that as they help others get through their challenges, they too are being impacted. I imagine that this is why they try to educate the emotions out of medical professionals because if the Healer is sick who heals the Ill. When a person takes on the role of caregiver, whether it be personal or professional, they step into a position that comes with more work than recognition. Being a caregiver(support person) requires a temperament that is nurturing and selfless, not many people possess such qualities, this is why it is vitally important that those who choose to render comfort and assurance to others in their weakest moments are in turn given the same warmth.

As I stated earlier, I know firsthand the benefit of having someone by your side when you are facing an illness, dealing with grief, or just finding it difficult to navigate through life. For me, living with Endometriosis has put me in positions where I’ve had to lean on others for help with day to day activities after surgery or during intense flare-ups when the pain is crippling. I am truly grateful for the nurses and family members who have helped me recover and find my footing each time. I am always humbled by people who so willingly lend a hand to help me or take time out to be the listening ear and shoulder to lean on when I need to cry my way through. I often reflect upon those times and I am always reminded of the good in mankind. I remember those who didn’t just tell me that I could make but they helped me make it. Because of my experiences with these people, I am always aware of their value and the absolute necessity to take care of them as they take care of others. For some, it is so easy to look at these people and see no need to pour into them, after all, they knew what they signed up for, right? Wrong. A person’s choice in a profession or desire to be of service to others doesn’t diminish their humanity. These people are just as human as the people that they serve and their needs should be met equally.

When I think of the nurses who held my hand while I was going under, my family members who sit with me and help me with anything that I need, my Life Coach who is always there cheering with me and for me, and my Kye who advocates for me in every way possible; I don’t see an available resource, I see a vessel of God, a blessing that should be honored and cherished. Because I believe that true teaching is telling you both what to do and how to do it, I am going to give you some ideas on how to show your appreciation for the caregivers and/or support persons in your life:

Be Gracious

When we are sick or stressed, our emotions are raw and patience can be short. We are prone to snap or lash out at those closest. It is so important that caregivers aren’t used as punching bags, they don’t deserve to be abused. Simply saying please and thank you goes a long way. This lets them know that you respect them as a person. If you are feeling irritated or anxious tell them so they can be aware of your feelings and interact with you accordingly, communication is key.

Be Considerate

Because support persons are so immersed in being supportive, they often push their needs to the side. Therefore, little things like making sure that they are eating means a lot. Showing them that you care for them just as much as they care for you creates an environment of reciprocal compassion.

Ban Burnout

Caregivers are humans, not robots, they get tired too. To avoid caregiver burnout make sure that you encourage them to rest when you rest and when possible provide them with relief. Having more than one support person is best for everyone. If your best friend is your constant go to when you need a listening ear, try going to another friend or relative from time to time. Also, try to remember the advice they have given you in the past and see if you can apply it to your current challenge. we have to allow our tribe members time to rest and recharge.

Role Reversal

It’s ok to ask your caregiver how they are feeling, remember to invest in them by showing interest in their thoughts and feelings. Be attentive to their non-verbal cues, if you see them constantly yawning, they are tired. If you notice a shift in their demeanor ask them if they need to vent. While you may not be able to personally do this, always have someone on your team who cares about your caregiver.

When someone is willing to support you through life’s challenges don’t take it for granted. Understand that the person who is loving and/or supportive towards you has chosen to do so. In my numerous hospital visits and stays, I have encountered some mean nurses who had the worst bedside manner. Because of them, I value the compassionate nurses who have taken care of me. When I do my surveys I always give their names and detail my experience with them, I have even sent them cards and flowers. If you are kind to me, I am going to make sure you know how much I appreciate you. As for friends and family who stand with you supportively, show them that you don’t take their concern for you lightly. Something as simple as a well thought out handmade gift, paying for them to have lunch at their favorite restaurant, or having flowers delivered to them sends a clear message of love and gratitude.

Being of service to others isn’t an easy task. People can be difficult and hard to work with even when they need you. This is why it’s so imperative that we are invested in taking care of those who take care of us.

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