For as long as humans have cared about their families, there have been caregivers. Most of us at one point or another in our lives will have to worry about elderly loved ones or our own care.
Perhaps, you have had to learn to deal with health or other concerns of a close family member, and you know how difficult this can be.
If you’re like me, you want to create an enchanting experience for those you love, in all of life’s transitions.
In the case of our family, in 2015, I took on the role of being my mother’s primary caregiver after she had a heart attack and stroke in March and later moved in with my family. I thought it might be useful to share what I learned, and perhaps gain insights and suggestions from you, my blogging friends as well.
I spent a considerable amount of time in finding ways to develop practices that created a new normal for our family, after my mom moved in with my sons and me. For my mom 2015 was a very difficult year, both her best friend and her brother passed away. My mom was planning on going on a river cruise with her friend Yvonne, until she found out in February that Yvonne was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It was so inspiring to talk with Yvonne in the hospital, she was so kind, strong and encouraging, and was a caregiver for me. I was so very sad when she lost her battle with cancer two months later. Yvonne was one of the most enchanting people I’ve ever met, and she taught me so much about leaving our life with grace and concern for others.
When I talk with people about my experiences, I have been surprised to learn how prevalent the challenge of creating the best situations for those we love is for so many people.
In our case, my big focus was helping my mom to create new daily and weekly practices. Sometimes, it is the little things that helped make life make sense again. After getting a doctor, the first thing I did when my mom moved here was to get her a hairstylist. When my mom lived in San Antonio, one of the people who enchanted her life each week was her delightful hairstylist Debbie. I felt my mom needed to get back to receiving kindness every week from someone outside her family, and this helped her to start a new life up here.
My mom is both very lucky and hard working. She does her best to keep her mind and body strong. At 85, she is still very lively. After several months of physical and cardiac therapy from May through November, my mom started lessons with a physical trainer every week at our health club. She also joined our church, and is open to meeting new friends.
What I noticed helps to make the experience of care giving more enchanting for everyone involved is to:
- As the Caregiver, give yourself permission to grieve the loss of your old way of life and let go of ideas of how life is supposed to be, and help the person you are caring for to do the same.
- Allow some areas of your life to fall apart and diminish if that’s necessary for your process of creating a new normal.
- Yet, keep up the daily and weekly practices that give your life stability.
- Allow your heart to remain open to ways to move beyond loss into a new normal, with new relationships that don’t replace what you have lost, but make the loss bearable. My mom kept her heart open, which made it so much easier to care for her.
- Let go of the people who cannot be with you on this part of your journey.
It is part of the human journey to struggle with loss. We all have our own ways of creating a new normal in our lives, and there is no template for doing this. I would love to hear about any other ways that you have found to create a new normal as a caregiver.
Note: the above ideas also apply for other changes. For instance, when wonderful new success, partnerships, and goals come true, there is often a need to grieve the loss of your old way of life. The feeling of loss simultaneously with the feeling of joy and jubilation can be a disconcerting one.
Whenever, you are creating a new normal in life, whether it as a caregiver, or any other major life change, I highly recommend that you keep and/or create daily and weekly practices that support stability.
Today’s contemplation: In what areas of your life, are you still in the process of creating a new normal in your life or business?