Five Sweet Gifts: Unexpected Blessings from Caregiving

By Rosanne Burke

Are you a caregiver to a loved one? Were you thrust into the role when you least expected it? Illness of a loved one often comes out of the blue and it can affect many aspects of both the person’s life and the lives of the people around them. For yourself, one of those changes may be that you have a new job title, that of caregiver. 

There is no doubt that caregiving is difficult work. Many people feel ill equipped for this new role. There is often no one to turn to for help and no one gives you a manual to tell you what to do. Will you make some mistakes along the way? Most likely.  It’s okay, you’re human.

We often hear about the burdens of caregiving, and the demands that it places on people. We don’t always hear about the positive side of caregiving.  Yes, there can be a positive side to caregiving. As with any situation, you can choose to see the glass as half empty or half full. Caregiving will reward you with some sweet gifts if you open your eyes and heart to receive them.

Here are five of them:

  1. Caring for a loved one who is either sick or dying makes you realize that life is indeed short and our time on this earth is limited. Caregiving will force you to face your own mortality. As a result, you may choose to make different decisions for yourself. Perhaps the person you are caring for has many unrealized dreams and plans for the future that they will never get to experience. What will you do today to live out your dreams and a life of no regrets?
     
  2. Many caregivers will tell you that caregiving has taught them to slow down. When the person you are caring for is no longer able to experience all that life has to offer, it’s the small things that make a difference. An ice cream cone, a foot massage, or a phone call from a friend can make a day worth living. Caregiving teaches you to “sweat the small things.”
     
  3. Caregiving can give you the opportunity to just be with the person you love. When you are forced to slow down and be in the company of another person, it opens space for conversations to take place that may otherwise never happen. 
     
  4. Caregiving will make you appreciate the work of people who choose to do caregiving as a profession. It makes you realize that for these individuals, caregiving is more of a calling than a job. It takes a special kind of person to devote their life to caring for others and you will never again take these people for granted.
     
  5. Caring for a loved one, in particular a parent, is a gift in itself. It is a privilege to care for the person who raised you. There is no experience more intimate than to help your mom or dad to bathe or to assist them with eating. To be able to do so is an opportunity to thank them for all that they did for you growing up. Some people may never have the opportunity to thank their parents or to care for them when they need it most. 

Are you a caregiver to a loved one? Have you received unexpected blessings as a result of being a caregiver? Share them with us! We would love to hear about your caregiving experiences.

Rosanne Burke is a Nova Scotia-based Certified Dementia Trainer, speaker, and consultant.

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