My Mom passed away September 16, 1997, and not one day goes by without some thought of her. I want to share some of my thoughts with you, as I wish someone had done for me. Maybe you can find some small way to make changes in your care giving so that each of you will experience a deep feeling of warmth and contentment for having brought sunshine into the final season of life, and so that you, yourself, will have peace within.
For myself, as a caregiver, I would put much more emphasis on the emotional needs of the person. It is much more important for them to be happy, to feel better about themselves today, and to know they are loved because you care enough to find out about their real needs, and then help to fulfill them.
For My Mom, I’d find something positive to say to her – about herself. Maybe it would be about her great sense of humor when deep down inside she didn’t really feel like being funny, or the way she captured an audience with her story telling. Maybe it would be the strength she always exhibited in the face of adversity, when she wasn’t really a strong person at all. She just had to act that way so no one would know how weak and alone she really felt.
I’d give her the attention and praise she so needed to feel like she was somebody, instead of holding back and trying to make her a stronger person. I’d let her share her life with me by listening to the stories I never fully believed, and I’d make believe I believed. So what if I’d heard them over and over. How much time would it have taken to sit down and listen one more time when it meant so much to her? Now, I’ll never hear the stories again.I’d take her to the beach like she asked instead of saying, “Carmen can take you because she likes going to the beach and I just don’t have the patience to sit there.” It would have been a perfect time to listen to the stories. Well, Carmen never took her and every time I pass the beach – I remember.
I wouldn’t believe it when people said, “Don’t you feel guilty after all you’ve done for her.” What did I do? I was her Caregiver. I took her to all her doctor appointments, all the tests at the hospital. I picked up the laundry, took care of it at home and dropped it off in a day or two, and had to run right out again. I did the grocery shopping every week and after I dropped it off and put it away, and I had to run. I cleaned the kitchen, cooked the food and brought it over. I stopped everyday to make sure she’d eaten or fixed her meals and helped her eat and take her pills, and I had to run again. I set up her pills every week, or double checked what the nurse did because they made mistakes a lot or the pills ran out. I dealt with the nurses, hospice, Medicare, doctors, creditors, etc. I was so busy doing what had to be done; I never got the chance to do what I should have done – something meaningful with someone who really just needed ME.
If I knew then what I know now,
these haunting memories wouldn’t keep surfacing. I wouldn’t bear the guilt and sadness of failing to recognize the deep emotional needs of a human being. If you are truly a caregiver, take the time to make sure you are giving the care where it is really needed. Talk or listen and hear with your heart as well as your ears. Read between the lines because some people just expect you to know how they think or feel. Be direct and get right to the point. Ask what they would REALLY like to do, what they want to talk about or where they’d like to go. As caregivers we know we can’t do it all, but if I knew then what I know now, I’d make sure I made time for what really counts, for my Mom and for me.
BOTTOM LINE: Learn from yesterday, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow… Author unknown