Caregiver Burnout: Words that Break Us

caregiver burnoutPedro was ‘circling the drain’—his life hung in the balance and no one knew for sure how to stop the infections that waged war on his chemo-weakened body. The doctors had started using drugs they thought might work, and spending long minutes sitting on his bed, staring at him (it’s never a good sign when doctor takes the time to sit on a patient’s bed or when the nurses drop everything and runs to the room when the call button gets pushed).

My cell phone buzzed, and I hurried from the room to take the call. A family friend had come to visit, so Pedro wouldn’t be alone when I stepped out for a few minutes. I wish I hadn’t. Unkind words poured from someone I trusted. Someone I thought was safe and on my side berated me with bitter words for what they perceived to be my horrible actions of the night before.

I had allowed the family friend to spend the night in Pedro’s room while I had found a hotel and luxuriated in a decent night’s sleep for the first time in months. The impersonal hotel room and soothing soak in a bath had worked like balm to my broken thoughts and frantic worry. I had arrived back at the hospital feeling as if I could handle the next second, the next minute, the next hour, the next decision.

Each hurtful word pierced my heart. Mesmerized, all I could do was listen and pray for wisdom and the ability to not utter hateful words back. After what seemed like hours, I muttered an apology and promised that I would call my tormenter the next time I felt the need for a break or feared I suffered from caregiver burnout.

Broken and wilted once again, I entered Pedro’s room. Our family friend looked up and smiled. “I’m so glad I could come and that you got a good night’s sleep,” he said. “You need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of Pedro.”

I nodded numbly.

“May I pray with you before I leave?” he asked.

I nodded again and bowed my head. As our dear friend lifted Pedro and I up in prayer, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit draw close and pick the broken shards from my wounded heart. I knew without a doubt that whatever happened, God would heal my brokenness. And that was enough. It’s always enough. (tweet this)

Have you ever felt broken beyond words? Romans 8:25-27

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Visiting from FMF!

    Thank you for sharing. What a hard road to walk, that of brokenness and suffering. So thankful for our Father who always meets us there to carry us through! May His grace bind us up in our broken places. May He bless you today!

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thanks for visiting, Ruth! I’m so grateful for a heavnly father who covers me with his grace.

  • I can’t imagine that feeling. I have a friend who has experienced similar things to this, and I know through her that it is so difficult. But what a comfort and peace we are able to find in our Saviour.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • What a hard thing to experience during an already difficult season. May His grace abound toward you, Anita. Stopping by from FMF.

  • What a beautiful post. We helped with a loved one who was dying and I can attest to how intense and sad that job is.
    Jenn recently posted…Hearts and Pom-PomsMy Profile

  • I can’t even imagine how hurtful that must have been for you! I don’t know why people think it is ever okay to be unkind. You are an amazing lady with a LOT of strength to be able to hold your tongue and not respond to that kind of behaviour with a lack of charity. I’m so glad your friend prayed with you and you felt the peace and consolation of the Holy Spirit to heal some of the wounds caused by the person who called you. Good friends and prayer are a good thing!

    Stopping by from 31 Days Survivors!
    The Momma (aka Therese Moma) recently posted…A Song for WednesdayMy Profile

  • Words have so much power, don’t they? Thank you for the reminder to always be kind with my words (definitely something I struggle with).

  • Sending this on to a couple of sweet friends who are in hospitals tonight carrying for their own children. Bless you for sharing your own journey here.
    Wendy recently posted…Savor motherhoodMy Profile