“No One Has Caregiving on Their Bucket List” Chris MacLellan, Founder, Whole Care Network
Isn’t that the truth? We don’t plan for it. We don’t anticipate the phone call that changes our life. And we sure don’t have it on our bucket list.
Yet, it’s one of those statements which binds caregivers together in a beautiful and strangely poignant way. When I introduce this quote to family caregivers, the response is a short, ironic laugh or “isn’t that the truth”.
This one quote and our united reaction to it connects us in a way which opens the door to share OUR stories. Too often, the only story we tell is that of our care partner. How they are doing, a litany of the tasks we take on or what resources we are struggling to find. What we are rarely given is the chance to focus on ourselves and our emotions.
For some reason, in our united reaction with the truth of that statement, we are given permission to talk about ourselves. I find people are willing to share their stories about what was happening in their life when they took caregiving on. How their dreams and goals have had to shift and what dreams, if any, they have for the future.
And often these conversations shift to grief and how we grieve the loss of our care partner as we knew them, the loss of life as we knew it and the loss of dreams we had for that life. Grief runs through caregiving like a river.
The gift of being a part of this club, the club no one has on their bucket list, is that we are able to express our emotions in a way that is healing. Healing, because every other club member gets it and you know you won’t be judged. We form a bond over the changes to our life’s trajectory, no matter how different our lives were before caregiving. We support one another and make it OK to find ways to reclaim some small part of ourselves so we do not completely lose ourselves in caregiving.
Now that caregiving has ended for me, I understand, as never before, the importance of keeping a life during caregiving. The next time you are with other caregivers, share this quote with them and then get ready to share your story and hear theirs. In that sharing, work together to find ways to make it OK to reclaim and keep a life during caregiving.
I would love to hear your story. Please share it in the comments.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
Deb is the author of “Your Caregiver Relationship Contract and “A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers.” Your Caregiver Relationship Contract is available in both English and Spanish. It explains how to have an intentional conversation and the how unspoken expectations can cause problems during caregiving. A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers explains how important it is to learn how your person wants to live their life out and how you, the caregiver are the most important person in this relationship, giving you tips and tricks for this journey.
Click here to learn more about Your Caregiver Relationship Contract or here for the Spanish version: Su Contrato de relación como cuidador de un ser querido. Click here to learn more about A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers.
Deb is available as a caregiver consultant. She will answer the question: “Where do I start?” and find the resources to alleviate your stress. If you would like to invest a half hour to learn how she can help you, please contact her at: Free 30 minute consulting call