Sunday 1 December 2019

The Before and DURING of Caregiving Relationships

Yesterday, the co-author of our book The Unexpected Journey of CaringDr. Zachary White and I were chatting about a workshop that he gave to spousal caregivers attending the Well Spouse Association's annual conference. Zachary was helping caregivers try out language to describe the transforming nature of their spousal relationship - before, during and after caregiving. 

I was fascinated. "Here's an exercise you can try", Zachary suggested, "see where it goes when you think about caring for your Mom. Finish these two sentences: Being my Mom's daughter was like... and now, Being my Mom's caregiver-daughter was like..." "OK!", I said. I pondered these two relationships and closed my eyes, searching for an image. 

I said, "Being my Mom's daughter was like looking at the earth from outer space. It was all swirly, vibrant colours, but it was a contained sphere and I could look at it from a distance." 

Then I reflected on how my relationship changed when I began to give care to Mom. "Being my Mom's caregiver-daughter was like standing on the edge of an active volcano. Hot and unpredictable!", I laughed at the dark truth of it. 

I've been thinking about the power of this simple exercise to help put words to the ways that caregiving has changed my relationships. I'm going to continue thinking about metaphors - for me before children, for me after Nick's disabilities began to define my life and for me today. Tell me about your metaphors. Your life as a caregiving daughter/son/mother/father/brother/sister is like.....


AniA said...

My relationship with my mom was like a walk on a forest path, lots of looking around at the world and occasionally sharing an observation. Since becoming a caregiver for her my relationship with her is like minding an especially fractious toddler in a store on a busy street. Stressful, embarassing and always at the edge of a major catastrophe-

The Caregivers' Living Room said...

Oh my goodness - these are so vivid. I can imagine now, the words coming out of your mouth are "Excuse us. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Oh, it's exhausting and so sad. Your metaphors are beautiful and very, very real. Thank you for sharing.