There are three stages of transitions: Letting Go of the Old Way, the In-Between, and Accepting the New Way. These stages are not linear and logical. We move back and forth, they overlap, are fluid and sometimes we have several transitions going on at one time.
Remote caregiving was often spotlighted as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the early days when much of the world was in some sort of lockdown, but the reality is that those of us who don't live near our parents are often faced with providing care and support from afar, and while it may seem easy from outside, it's really very challenging in its own way.
Being faced with tough decisions isn’t easy for anyone, and it can be a daily occurrence for family caregivers. Undoubtedly the decisions about your loved one but what about choices for yourself? How many of you think about that?
There is more than one right way. Sometimes we get stuck following a method or practice for doing something because "we've always done it that way." But sometimes trying a new way of doing something helps give us a new perspective and better results. In my case, I knew one way of turning my boat, which was to paddle only on the side opposite of the direction I wanted to go. What my teacher showed me, was that I could also turn the boat by pushing the paddle forward on the same side I wanted to go.
It is a great feeling to get things accomplished, but things can slip when you have put the pedal to the metal throughout your whole day. It is crucial, especially when you're going full speed or feeling run down, to become aware of the need to stop and check in with how you are mentally/emotionally feeling. Reacting negatively from a drained mind and body can happen quickly when you're worn down, and will likely cause you to say or do something you'll regret later.
But what exactly does it mean for light to overcome darkness? So much of this season seems focused on connecting with the positive and celebratory states of happiness, joy, and abundance, from the music played and parties planned to the meals prepared and gifts given. Yet, these states of mind and heart can be hard to connect to for individuals who may also be experiencing hardship and difficulty this time of year.
I started a practice back then that I continue today; I keep a gratitude journal and every day I write down at least five things that I am grateful for first thing in the morning. It helps set the tone for my day to walk in with grace rather than…oh gosh, today I’ve got to…….”.
All of this can chip away at your emotions over time. The emotional outcome might be feelings of failure, worthlessness, hopelessness, or any other emotion. Perhaps your head ends up filled with thoughts like, "I'll never be able to…" or "If only I had…." It's understandable. All of it. And the things your mind keeps chattering at you only serve to distract and exhaust you.
A strong, loving woman that gave so much to life and others told me two days later that cancer returned with a vengeance, and she had less than six months to live.
Humor has long been my personal "coping mechanism," and I often tell people that sarcasm is my second language, but I come by this honestly. Everyone in my family, both blood and chosen, responds with witty comebacks or painful puns, or just bad jokes whenever things are getting tense. Even my husband knows that the best way to shake me out of a gloomy mood is to make me laugh, and I do the same for him.