Caring for loved ones can simultaneously be one of the most rewarding and most challenging roles you have. Regardless of who you are caring for – parents, siblings, children, spouses – you may encounter situations that others may not understand. You may feel alone. You may feel like no one else could possibly understand what you’re going through.
When I was a caregiver for years for my mom and brother, I realized I was in uncharted territory, but the moment I connected with other caregivers, my life shifted. Whether it was hearing about emotional issues or discussing navigating healthcare, the connection piece became a powerful lifesaver. That experience is the core of why I started Breathing Spaces years ago. I wanted to offer a connection for others from a place of understanding, and the knowledge that voices must be heard, and stories must be told.
During a conversation with one of our coaches, Bob Loftis, who volunteers his time supporting the online groups, we talked about the power of circles. That inspired a new way of looking at those support vehicles, combining our energy and efforts in reaching out to more care partners to support our groups throughout the nation, and bringing our support under one umbrella of care.
We came up with the term care circles, and a vital part of them is our community of care partners, who bring their expertise. Our online support groups are sponsored by our care partner, Bay Area Cancer Connections. In the San Francisco Bay area, our caregivers’ walks are hosted by our care partner, Curves of Los Altos. Others of our care partners offer everything from legal advice to a guiding hand when we must look at living options for our elderly family members.
Our care circles also include the family caregivers across the nation who join our online support retreats, the caregivers who participate in our walks, and the members of our private Facebook group, who provide ongoing support and advice to each other. No matter how people come to us, however, the most important factor is the connections that form. From gaining hope to learning new ways of interacting, caregivers realize that self-care is vital for themselves, as well as critical for the ones they are caring for.
The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.” Our circles encompass all of our offerings and give the power of connection its needed spotlight. We are widening our circle with new team members joining us to provide you with even further support in the days ahead.
Whether you are a family caregiver or professional, we know your struggles, honor your journey and look forward to further supporting you in the days ahead. You are never alone.