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The Importance of Caring for the Caregiver

Posted Apr 04 2012 10:03pm

Caring for the caregiver is almost as intense as being a caregiver. 

Family. Extended family. Friends. Neighbors. Co-workers. Church and community.

A caregiver needs a wide net. Even if they only send good thoughts and prayers, (there’s no “only” to it–thoughts and prayers may be the most important gift of all). 

The wider your care circle the more you feel and can draw on their love and strength. You know you’re not alone. 

I’m sitting in a hospital room with my daughter and granddaughter. I’m on “Team Lucy,” as my two week old g’baby recovers from open heart surgery. My daughter’s role is to be here for her daughter, to be her voice and her protector. My role is to care for my daughter and son-in-law. I’ve got their back.

I make sure my daughter eats, that she pumps (she’s breastfeeding), that she gets out of the room, if just for a few minutes a day, to distract her, help her laugh, let her vent, hold her when she cries. I bring her food, refill her water bottle, cover her with a blanket, sit up and watch the baby’s monitors so she can rest knowing that someone who loves this little one is keeping guard. 

Debee, a dear friend and lifecoach asked me, “Your daughter is caring for her daughter and you’re caring for your daughter, but who’s caring for you?” The care circle widens. 

Our family has been on high alert and we’ve burned through all our emotions and physical energy in the last week. If it weren’t for the connections we feel with each other and with our circle I believe it would too, too easy to succumb to the fear and dread that lurks around every thought. 

Caring for a caregiver means paying attention to details–food, sleep, medication and other “doctorly” info, squelching runaway worries,and soothing crazy thinking, and being there when the waves of overwhelming grief inevitably arise. 

It means not being too somber or too silly. 

It means being strong at times, comforting at others.

It means delegating and calling in the “tribe.”

It means being the one that information is filtered to and then sent out. It means listening. It means choosing your words wisely–not flinging fear or trying to fix things, or taking over. 

I’ve been a caregiver so I know what it means to give and receive care. I’ve had the blessing of being  surrounded by those who love you. It means everything. 



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