When I think of this month’s focus of strength and immortality, I think about teenagers. They seem to have all the energy the older generation longs for. The word invincible describes their demeanor and “nothing is going to happen” is a phrase I heard often during my teenage rearing years as a mom.
Strength is a word that we can all relate to and while there are many strengths, physical is the most talked about. If you eat your spinach, you become strong like the fictional character Popeye, the sailor-man, from the early 1970’s cartoon.
It is no wonder that fictional heroes are so intriguing. The way they defy the odds of evil and blast through boulders, swing from building to building and swim endlessly underwater. Superman comes to mind, an immortal superhero saving anyone and everyone from harm. He protects and prevails, but even Superman has his weakness.
The Cost of Superman-Like Powers
Immortality! This topic of immortal strength and mortal finite self is something we don’t hear a lot of conversation around. In the 30-plus years I have been helping and working with caregivers, I have seen Superman-like powers. Watching caregivers defy odds of sleep, lifting weight beyond their strength, endless battles with disappointing news, and surviving the loss of many milestones. They become everything to everyone, but at what cost?
I could go on about the odds that caregivers defy and what they endure, and if you are a caregiver reading this, I’m sure you can relate.
The one thing I will go on about, though, is the mortal state of our journey on this earth. The importance of paying attention to the NOT so immortal strength caregivers display is worth a continuous conversation; something we need to advocate and create awareness around. The support for the caregiving industry is imminent, a conversation perhaps for another day. Just know that at Hope Grows, in its 10th year, we continue to provide assistance.
Helping Caregivers Find Balance
Our Hope Grows model is, in part, helping a caregiver find their balance and to get to a place of being comfortable with the thought, “I can’t do it all AND nor should I.” I’m not saying that we have to be the opposite of strong, just stressing the importance of maintaining boundaries around being everything to everyone, especially when CAREGIVING!
Part of our model is helping the caregiver put together their team of support and setting the correct “individual” boundaries to help each person offset the kryptonite of fatigue and burnout.
Working in hospice as a spiritual counselor, I watched many caregivers burn out. If you are not aware of the model of hospice, services include a five-day respite every so many months or as needed. The patient receiving hospice care is placed at a facility for five days to allow the family caregiver to utilize a break.
What I saw repeatedly were caregivers not using respite for self. Most of the time, the family member sat at the bedside at the facility instead of taking a break. There were many different reasons when asked the reason for not taking a break and the answer that resonated the most with me was. “No one can take care of my loved one like I can.”
You know what? They are right. No one is going to provide the same level of personal care a family member could provide, but that doesn’t mean, YOU, the caregiver, don’t deserve or need a break.
At Hope Grows, we understand the many emotions that occur around finding time for self. Another part of the care we provide is helping sort through those emotions, providing steps to get to a place of seeking respite and above all, help with the thoughts of being immortal in a mortal state of living and being. So, I think a caregiver’s kryptonite circles around the inability to remove self from the “care” that one is providing. Strength is not about being immortal and the more we try to act like we are invincible, the faster our mortality can spin out of control.