Some of the most important things I’ve learned in life and most certainly as a family caregiver are what I refer to as the Three C’s. Conversation, Compassion, and Compromise.
Life as a family caregiver is an experience. It’s all about navigating your way through knowing that you have to be adaptable for the sake of you and your loved one. If you don’t, the unpleasant experiences can be very challenging.
Conversations need to take place, and they are not always easy to do. Assuming that someone knows what you are thinking or thinking you know what someone is saying are minefields. I remember conversations with my Mom; sometimes I had to take a deep breath and go through with them, and often they turned out ok. Having conversations with a centered state of mind vs. coming out in angst/anger can make the world of difference for you both. Think of how it feels to you when someone comes after you in a heated moment; your defenses go straight up.
Compassion can be for both your loved one and yourself. The emotions they are going through are often beyond your comprehension. Their struggle with the ‘what if, why did, will I’ are tapes that can be running consistently in their heads. Fear is often at the root of it all.
Don’t forget about compassion for yourself. You are not always going to do or say the right things, trust me your won’t. That’s the time to reach out to others, especially to people that have been or are family caregivers who can have the most compassion for what YOU are experiencing.
Compromise, well that’s where ya just gotta give sometimes. There are a couple of quotes I found from Pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers. One was describing the way he observed the world; “When I look at a sunset, I don’t say, ‘Soften the orange a little on the right-hand corner, and put a bit more purple in the cloud color. I don’t try to control a sunset; I watch it with awe.” He then went on about people; “One of the most satisfying experiences, is just fully to appreciate an individual in the same way I appreciate a sunset.”
It’s about learning to appreciate your loved one for who they are, what they are going through and how/what you are too.
Take a step away from it all, be gentle, and B-R-E-A-T-H-E.