A Letter to Caregivers

A letter to #caregivers.  You need to read this. http://wp.me/p2UZoK-FR via @caregivermomDear Caregiver Friend:

I’m sending you this letter because I used to send letters. I used to do a lot of things…

I used to be a great aunt. Well, I’m a great-aunt now, but I used to be a great aunt. I sent post cards and birthday cards and letters. I remembered birthdays and celebrated with my nieces and nephews when they accomplished something. I used to be a great sister too. I sent multiple choice and fill-in-the blank letters to my sister who didn’t write much so she could return mail easily. It was a joke between us. I used to be a great friend. I remembered birthdays, sent notes of encouragement and often corresponded with far-away friends.

I’m afraid my nieces and nephews don’t even remember those far away days. If someone were to send me a multiple-choice letter now, it probably wouldn’t get returned. The last time I wrote a letter to a friend? Well, maybe that was back in 2002? I remember birthdays if Facebook sends me a notification. Notes of encouragement might be dashed off, but usually I just write “praying” under someone’s prayer request. And general correspondence? It does not happen. Ever.

I realize that our culture has changed with emails, Facebook, twitter and texting. But I’ve changed more.

When our son was diagnosed with leukemia, our world, by necessity, shrank to the 4 walls of the hospital room where he resided. On a good day it involved the hospital corridors where we could walk and on a highlighted day I could run to the store while someone stayed with my boy. Treatment protocol lasted three and a half years and in the process of keeping my head above water, I completely forgot how to write. I forgot birthdays. I forgot to celebrate successes and I lost touch with friends and even family. I forget a lot of things!

I carry a lot of guilt for that. Don’t do that, my friend.

Let that guilt go. Caregivers have a LOT to deal with and it’s real and it’s every day and it’s a fight. Go ahead. Deal with the emergencies. Your brain can only handle so much (If you don’t believe me, read all about Chemo-brain by Proxy) and it’s not meant to handle more. Handle what you can and let go of those other things. You can’t be great at everything when you’re working so hard to be a great caregiver.

So I’m sending you this letter. It’s a celebration for me. After 10 years of being a cancer caregiver and crazy mom – I had an urge to write a letter.

Quick, I have to push send before I forget!

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • great post carol! i’m a nurse and have observed many caregivers stressed beyond what they needed to be b/c they were trying to live their normal life AND be a caretaker. i think it is a form of denial. their life is no longer normal. they can’t live their old normal. it isn’t possible! loved this:)
    martha brady recently posted…WHAT DOES HEALTHY LOOK LIKE?My Profile

  • Martha – you called it right! Trying to be “normal” while caregiving. Denial or ignorance, I’m not sure which, but either reason means too many expectations on our shoulders (most often placed there by ourselves). If we can just learn to let go…
    Carol recently posted…A Letter to CaregiversMy Profile

  • Oh, dear Carol, I so understand. After 15 years of caring for my again Mama, I know that things become surrounded by the need to do for others, and those “other” things just sit or go by the wayside. And guilt is our natural inclination, our human emotion that pops right up! It will be two years since Mama passed away come 1/30…just a bit over a week away. That guilt did not just disappear as soon as Mom died nor did I just jump back into doing all those “other” things that sat by the sidelines. I have begun writing cards or letters again, but very slowly and only when I can handle that inside of me.
    Thank you for writing this for many people need to understand that it is okay to be the way they are in the midst of giving care. To release the guilt to God and not carry it around with them is the way to handle it, but I did not do that very well then. Still in the learning phase… : )

    Carol, I have written a lot about care giving at Being Woven and am now writing a post about once a month for Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood on giving care. I have part one on journaling through caregiving this Friday. Part 2 is 1/30 (sort of an appropos date for me).
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda
    ~ linda recently posted…Empty, Purify, Fill Me, and Pour Me Out, LORDMy Profile