Once a caregiver, always a caregiver

Throughout our lives we have scores of opportunities to learn valuable lessons; if we pay attention, that is. Today I would like to share with you something I learned “after the loss.” It is that once the human heart takes on the difficult but worthy task (and identity) of becoming a caregiver, it will remain a caregiver.

In the midst of caring for my dad during the last decade of his life, I discovered that it was best to step into his world. Every time I tried to move him into the fast-moving pace of my world, it turned into a complete disaster. Slowing everything down became best for both of us.

Shortly after my father passed away, I felt as though someone hit a “pause” button. My plans had been to take a well-deserved vacation, visit some old friends, start fishing again, etc.

However, after living three thousand days and nights as a caregiver, always on alert, I had difficulty finding the “play” button again.

The endowment of my new freedom wasn’t all that appealing. In fact, what I missed the most was my dad, and, amazingly enough, the actual act of caregiving.

The years of having such crucial responsibilities were now imbedded in me, actually becoming a huge part of my individuality. After my release, I found myself almost frantic, constantly looking to see who else needed help. It didn’t matter who or what it was — a dying plant or a sniffling cat, I was ready to dive in and issue all the caregiving techniques I had mastered over the past decade.

I found myself going to more support groups than when I was caring for my dad. I was getting my “fix” as if I was a junkie on drugs. Without even realizing it at first, I was finding a release and a way to work through the grief brought on by the loss of my father; lo and behold I was becoming a caregiver to other caregivers!

Please give support groups a try. You will discover that, along with those who are inexperienced, there will also be attendees that have traveled all the way through their journey of caring for their loved ones and are now, unselfishly, sticking around to share their wisdom with others in need.

This brings me back to my point; it’s extremely difficult to shed the skin of being a caregiver. It becomes like a thick, weathered hide.

So, if you made it all the way through your campaign, get out there and share your knowledge. Helping others and spreading awareness may, in turn, help you to start up a social life again, which is a very difficult thing to do after devoting yourself to one individual for so very long.

You may have a new calling in your life and you just don’t know it yet.