Even as I work with professional and family caregivers, as well as case managers and social workers around shifting the paradigms of caregiving in this country, I acknowledge that it is often an experience that presents us with overwhelming, energy draining, heartbreaking, extremely challenging moments, days, weeks, months and years. There can easily be a domino effect that courses through the family where the stress, exhaustion and concern from so many perspectives are multiplied and magnified.
The caregiving journey is both precious and precarious.
The path is unlike any other. It is at time smooth; at others, it is like tripping over all the roots, anticipated and unanticipated. I have been there, which is in large part the catalyst for the work I am doing. I have experienced a child with a birth defect, hospitalization, surgery, and complete unknown about the future.
Alzheimer’s was part of the family experience just as it was coming on to the radar screen. The physicians who understood it were few and far between, and at that time there was no such thing as an Alzheimer’s support group. The family member who had Alzheimer’s had also had brain surgery and was diabetic. So many complexities and add in strong willed, too. Then came the experience with the gradual decline of a parent as age took its course.
While there is nothing like face-to-face, person to person presence, support, on the ground help and companionship for traversing the many highs and lows, it is wonderful to see more and more support groups online not only for specific illnesses and conditions but also being part of the broader world of those who have been or are currently caregivers.
These groups can be a resource for moments when feeling alone, even in the middle of the night when it might seem you are the only one awake and there is need for connection of some kind. Often, it is simply the reminder that no one…no one…is in caregiving alone.
One of several groups that honor caregiving beautifully is The Caregiver Space. The website is: http://thecaregiverspace.org/. You can also go to the Facebook page and “Like” to have access to posts. There is sharing across so many stories, situations and ages, with helpful links and tips to add to your resources. It is a place to participate and to be heard and supported. Often by simply speaking the truth of the moment and letting it be released there is freedom.
There are always…always…companions for the journey, whether we know them by name or not, or ever meet them or not. In their presence there is an offering of shelter from the storm and often the spotting of a rainbow or two. Reach out… invite… and allow them to join you.
They are there to help restore our souls and allow us to breathe with a bit more ease.