A friend of mine had recently reviewed my essays over the years. She said that she thought it curious that I’d never written an essay about caretakers. Specifically, people that provide care for the elderly, the physically infirm, the terminally ill, or the physical and mental handicapped.
It’s hard for me to write about a subject of which I have such a limited understanding. I have been a father to my children and had taken care of them when they’d been sick. When I was a teenager I was an orderly in a nursing home. I helped the residents out of bed and got them dressed and ready for the day. In taking care of my kids, I knew that they, in time, would get better. And in taking care of the elderly I knew that, eventually, they would die.
I have ever experienced taking care of a person that was suspended in an ongoing state of need. I have never taken care of a person that lives with an illness that could last months or years due to a chronic but slowly progressive physical or neurological disability.
But I’ve known a few that have. Their personalities are distinct. They are not angels. I will in no way blather endlessly about their selflessness and sainted interpersonal qualities. No, they’re human with all the faults you and I have. The difference is that these people possess four intrapersonal qualities that have set them apart from the rest of those I’ve known: Empathy, selflessness, calm, and acceptance.
None of these qualities are foreign to us. None of the four are qualities that you and I have not felt or demonstrated. The difference in the caretaker is that they apply these qualities at that same time with exceptional depth and steadiness. Their resolve doesn’t waver. They neither question or complain about their interaction, never place their annoyance or inconvenience over the condition of the infirm.
The empathy of a caregiver sets their perspective. The selflessness of a caregiver establishes their focus. The calm of a caregiver gives balance in their response. The acceptance of a caregiver is steeped in gratitude.
And if there is one quality that sets a caregiver apart from the rest of us, it is their sense of acceptance. They don’t fight their role. They are grateful for the opportunity to share themselves with a person in need. What anyone else may see as a tragedy, they truly view their life as merely changed. They do not see this as a change in fortune, but a change in direction.
Care givers just show up. They put their own needs aside and balance their life with the needs and requirements of another. They don’t put on airs, they don’t ask for recognition or applause.
Care givers accept their role and see life through the lens of love.
I ran across a quote that best describes the nature and range of a caregiver’s heart. Regardless of the depth of change and sadness that precedes a caregiver’s role, these words underscore that quality of acceptance that sets their spirit apart from ours. “Misfortune is never mournful to the soul who accepts it; for such do always see that a every cloud is an Angel’s face.”
God Bless The Care Giver. Their life gives air to the suffering. They rise to the occasion of the needy. Every day, they do what we think we should do if we were a really good person, but they go ahead and actually do it.
They are the person we hope to be. Their lives are the example we need to follow.
By entrusting us with your feelings, we help you take steps that you see necessary to begin and put forth the energy to make the needed change.
Now notice something: Trust in a coach, mentor, or guide helps you see what's in front of you. We see a Coach for Your Heart a little like an emotional Sherpa, somebody that helps you climb your mountain by pointing out where to best step along the path.
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