Friday, January 11, 2008

Caregiver Blessings

As I'm sitting here trying to decide what excerpt from my book to add next -- or what article to write -- I find myself wanting to avoid diving into the hard stuff first. There's a lot of hard stuff but there's one thing I learned the "hard" way in my career as a family consultant -- don't let yourself become blinded to the beauty of life through the pain and despair of the enormity of the situation you find yourself in. It's bad enough to be watching someone you love deteriorate step by step but to lose sight of the loving, the small things that make it all worthwhile, the positive remembrances of good times in the past.... well, then you lose everything.

I just took some time to scour my book looking for quotes from caregivers I worked with about positive things they remember about having been caregivers or what they learned. Here are a few that I found:

The time I spent caring for my mother was the most difficult in my life and also the most precious. It is hard to see the wonderful moments when one is immersed in the tragedy. In looking back, however, I seem to remember mostly those times and the misery and tragedy is gradually fading.—C. Pezzoni

You find out what you are made of. When I look back on the sacrifices I made, the amazing ways I found to cope, the people who helped me, I find a sense of wonder, and pride that I did it. I didn’t know what I was capable of. I kept my commitment to my mom to be there for her when she needed me most. She helped me into this life. I helped her out of it. We both know it, and nothing can take that away. —R. Ryan

What I have really learned is about my own depth and capacity to love. I’ve become more sensitive to my own mortality and to what matters in the end. Truly loving someone, being aware of beauty and keeping the senses alive helps you appreciate each breath. Some people get that from studying Zen or reading books, I learned it from taking care of my mother.
—L. Ledin

Excerpts from The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving. Available now in print or e-book download from

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