It’s hard to believe that this series is coming to a close. Writing the 8 previous entries has allowed me to reflect on all the caregiving stories I’ve heard over the past twenty years. It has also allowed me to take note of the aspects of caregiving that seldom get talked about, the magnanimous gestures by caregivers for those needing your love, support, and assistance. It is often a thankless job. One of the greatest things I ever witnessed was a doctor thanking the caregiver for being so present to the situation and showing commitment, perseverance, and love throughout the patient’s journey to health and healing.
I felt it was only right to close this 9 part series with an aspect of caregiving that is often overlooked and yet I believe makes you, the caregiver, an invaluable component of the patient’s care. It is also the reason your relationship with the patient and the care team is so crucial. What’s the final aspect of the series?
R is for Realistic
I can’t think of any greater gift you can give the person you’re caring for than the gift of reality. It’s so easy for many people after being diagnosed with a chronic or other life-altering illness to be all “pie-in-the-sky”. You, the caregiver, are often more firmly planted in the reality of the day. You’re in tune with the patient’s needs, the concerns of the patient and the care team, and you try to find a happy balance between all concerned parties. I want to make one thing very clear; I don’t believe that being realistic means you’re pessimistic in any way. Sometimes being realistic prevents the patient from undue stress and strain, not to mention endless let downs from misguided expectations.
If anything, as the person who holds the “reality” card you’re in a great position to be optimistic because you’ve developed the capacity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It’s interesting about the optimist/pessimist debate because often I’ve found that the patient wants to stop treatment, but the caregiver believes so strongly in what’s possible that the deep dialogue takes place about love, commitment, and end-of-life care.
I hope you’ve been able and willing to take in all aspects I’ve discussed in this 9 part series. It has been an amazing journey to be able to honor your presence as a caregiver. I know I’ve done it before, but once again I’d like to say, THANK YOU for your tireless efforts to ease the transitions of the patient from someone who has been well to someone who is health challenged. I want you to know that there are resources for support that I hope you’ll take advantage of in your community. You can further your own journey by going to www.survivingstrong.com and signing up for the “Courageous Caregiver” e-course. It’s a series delivered over the course of three weeks and allows you to explore caregiving even deeper with follow-up questions along the way.
It’s been an honor and privilege to accompany you on this journey. I look forward to spending more time with you in the future!