Thursday, 8 October 2020

HOW CAREGIVING CHANGES US: WHAT DIES, WHAT GROWS


You may not accept the title of caregiver. Regardless, you have cared for another, enduring ongoing uncertainty and self-doubt, amid evolving and unwanted relationship changes, and changing networks. It has become a part of you. To deny this aspect of your life is to deny you. You discovered these things about yourself not because you are a caregiver, but because you found parts of yourself in caregiving.

Your pre-caregiver life may now feel oddly unfamiliar, like looking in family albums at a person that resembles you but also feels like a stranger. When you began this journey, you may have convinced yourself that it was only temporary. Care would be enacted while you could, until someone else stepped up. Or when life returned to normal. Here you are, weeks, months, or years later. Though you didn’t want to go on this journey, what you have seen and what you are continuing to experience cannot be denied. The day-to-day realities of being with another in ways you had never experienced or even conceived of is now indelibly part of how you see yourself. It’s part of how you talk about yourself. It’s now part of how others view you. This transformation is an accomplishment—not an accident.

It’s part of how you talk about yourself. It’s now part of how others view you. This transformation is an accomplishment—not an accident.

Along the way, you have had to reconcile why you’ve felt disappointed by those closest to you. You’ve felt isolated and alone, excluded and offended by the beliefs and values others take for granted. You’ve been hurt by others’ (non)reactions to you and your situation. But you’ve also developed your own voice. This kind of authenticity is deceptive because it makes it appear as if it has existed for all times. But it hasn’t. It was earned.

Just as there is no clear “beginning” to the caregiver role, there is no clear “ending” point. It can’t be marked by the end of caregiver responsibilities. That would be like saying parenthood ends when your children go away to college. Or that your love for your spouse or partner immediately stops after their death. There are no clear ending points when love and care and you—your sense of who you are and what you have become—are involved.

There is no going back to the ‘before-caregiving you’ because caring changes us permanently and fundamentally. Our ‘old operating systems’ don’t work for our caregiving lives so slowly, we begin to reinvent and replace them with new ones. 

In caregiving, what has died in you? What has grown? 
If you would like to share your reflections on personal transformation as a result of caring for someone, join our chat at Huddol.com on October 30 from noon-1pm. You will be welcome to ‘unmute’ to share, or type into the chat box or…just listen. All are welcome.

GROUP SESSION

What’s Died in You, What Has Grown?

Friday, October 30th, 12 pm EDT

When you become a caregiver, everything changes – daily actions, beliefs, hopes, expectations and connections to others. In this group session, we will explore what happens to us when we care and turn toward—not away—from our loved ones, and how deep care for another transforms us and our relationships. We will ask, what grows in us, what dies?

This event is hosted by Huddol.com, a support platform for patients and caregivers. I'm a 'Pro' there which means I offer free live learning and sharing events from time to time and offer support to caregivers in the online forums. If you would like to join for this free event, click the register link below. Huddol operates a bit like Apple - you register with a credit card because there are some paid services IF you choose to buy them. But everything I offer there is FREE so there will never be charge to your card unless you choose to order something else. I hope you can join us! 

Register >


4 comments:

Unknown said...

Hello all,

My name is Clarissa and I'm a project coordinator at UC, Berkeley where me and my team are currently recruiting for a research study testing in-home assistive technology for caregivers to those with dementia. I've been working closely with caregivers for over a year and I know how badly this community is in need of support. This research study provides participants with a Presence Caregiver Research kit, mobile app and Amazon Echo for absolutely no cost. Participants can also earn up to $150 by completing stress-free questionnaires.

It's been an honor to conduct research in support of those who have been dedicating their lives to caring for a loved one. If you'd like to learn more and see if you are eligible to participate visit us at https://research.presencefamily.com/

The Caregivers' Living Room said...

Hi Clarissa,
Do you have a jpg or png poster for your project? I can share that on twitter and on my FB page, The Caregivers' Living Room. If you have a poster, send it to my at [email protected] and I'll share. All the best, Donna

Barbara G. Matthews said...


Caregiving is transforming in both positive and negative ways. Visit www.bgmatthewsblog.wordpress.com for my full response to this article.

Robin Milford said...

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