Caregiver, are there moments in your day that are particularly stressful? Do you stay in a constant state of stress due to the chaos around you? Are you in the “caregiving club” (i.e. “the club that no one wants to be a part of)?
Stress-free caregiving is an oxymoron. Caregiving is stressful because life is stressful. Trying to take care of someone else only increases the strain. Since problems will not be eliminated while we are alive, it is up to us to find ways to deal with the issues that life throws at us.
We have all seen the written tests that measure our stress level. The tests ask questions about various life events and we score ourselves, only to be shocked by the final result.
This blog is not to measure your stress level, because all humans have stress to some degree or another. Instead, this blog is meant to be a tool for you to gain information and hopefully leave feeling encouraged for your day.
Stress free verses burden free:
It would be nice if we could all relax with ease like my Afghan Hound, Darla, did. She made life look so graceful and easy. Her hair (aka- fur) was perfectly gorgeous and she carried herself so regally.
Darla’s laid-back lifestyle certainly does not epitomize caregivers. Most caregivers do not have the option of being stress-free, but Jesus said we could be burden free if we give Him our burdens (see Matthew 11:28).
The idea to put this blog together shocked me. For almost twenty years people have encouraged me as I wrote magazine articles, etc… However, I never dreamed of putting together something online. A precious friend (and woman who cared for her husband until his death) once gave me some wonderful advice. She was speaking about herself, but I took it to heart. “God does not always give us the ministry we want, but when He gives us a ministry, we must do it to the best of our ability.”
This woman knew what she was talking about, because she did not want to be in her position of watching the love of her life die. However, she would still find ways to encourage other people in the same situation. Her greeting, when she met someone whose spouse was also dying, went like this, “Welcome to the club that no one wants to be a part of.”
Hundreds of people attended her husband’s funeral. Some were there out of respect for him. However, I believe there were even more people in attendance who were like me- individuals who admired this stately female and wanted to be there for her.
follow her example:
This woman’s introduction would be a wonderful way to greet each other. Instead of gloomily saying “hello” and unloading the day’s problems when we see each other, what if we were to smile and have a good word to lift the other person up with?
what not to do:
I contrast the dear lady I wrote about above with a neighbor I once avoided like the plague. I would try to get into my car without her seeing me, but it was usualy too late. A common day would include her spotting me through her window and coming outside to intercept me.
“Honey, look at my arms. They used me like a pin cushion in the hospital,” she would say trotting after me.
“Yes.” I responded.
The woman would keep coming after me, even though I was carrying heavy boxes to my car. It made me wonder if my neighbor even knew my name after six years of living next door to me. I knew her name and every detail of each car and health problem she had. She never called me by name or asked how I was even though we lived next to each other for years.
Her job, in caregiving, must have been a lonely one since she was trying to care for herself alone. Despondency might have plagued her from time to time, as well. (For more on depression, click here.)
I wanted to share with her some of the informative tricks people shared with me, to help with tension and stress. Unfortunately, my neighbor would not let me get a word in.
The former caregiver and my neighbor stood in stark contrast to each other. Lady #1 used her words to build others up, even though she was gong through so many difficulties during her husband’s 10 year battle with Alzheimer’s. Lady #2 only wanted people to listen to her complaints.
I could rename these ladies “the endearing caregiver” and the “annoying caregiver”.
Each of us have probably been both types of caregivers at different points in life. I know there have been times when I wanted to be heard and times I have listened.
who do you want to be around?
When you look at both of these ladies, which person do think is easier to be around? The first lady gave her burdens to God. Her faith sustained her and carried her all the way through the 10 darkest years of her life.
When I picture these two women, I picture two people with their hands held out. One is leaning back, grasping, and asking people to give to her. The second lady is reaching forward and giving to others.
Yes, stress-free caregiving is an oxymoron, but burden-free caregiving does not have to be. It is possible to live life more relaxed during the worst years of your life.
What about you?
We would love to hear your stories. Do you know someone who seems to handle challenges well? Please leave a comment telling us what you think their secret is.