Funeral and Life Memorial Celebrant
A Caring Presence for you and your family so you can Celebrate a Life
Servicing Greater Adelaide, Fleurieu, South Coast and Adelaide Hills Regions of South Australia
Carers be kind to yourselves
Grief and how to help #9
This blog carries on from two previous blogs. The first is on Anticipatory Grief and explores the grief that sets in when an illness diagnosis changes things. The second was on the fact we all need some normal and mundane life tasks despite the unpleasant news. Make no mistake, when a partner of the dying person is confronted with such a reality it is not an easy ‘ride’ at all; it in fact starts to become like a roller coaster. Whether the person is being cared for at home, or in the hospital, there is a constant list of things that need attention. Medications, Doctors, Specialists and visits start to become an all-encompassing reality.
If that is not enough there is also the family stuff. Ensuring they come together and managing the differing expectations and dealing together with the emotional turmoil. Then there are affairs to be death with, wills, power of attorney, advance care directives, funeral directors and end of life issues. And it is often the case that the person in care is not perhaps even aware of the surrounding issues; they are busy enough facing their own reality of the situation. For all concerned, it all about peace, tranquility and connecting with important people in the person’s life. What is, hopefully, a peaceful reality for the one being cared for, can be kind of chaotic for the one doing the caring.
And then there is the ‘outside world’ ; those who care but are not quite so sure what to say, will be asking the continual question “How is everything going?” They are probably asking out of genuine interest, but with all of the other stuff going on, a carer may not want to field such questions. “I am just holding it together enough for me and my partner, without having to deal with the rest of the world as well.”
If you know the person well enough, it could be during this time they could do with a kind of ‘personal assistant.’ Someone who can run errands, someone who can be a listening ear, someone who can just be there. It could be that the person will take the calls and give reports to those who ask, and maybe pass on the more relevant messages. This very simple act of being the point of contact, means the carer is not continually having to answer the queries. After all, they probably are not stopping long enough to really contemplate this question for themselves.
And yes, for those who are caring, there will be times, perhaps once a week, where you will need take time out for yourself. It is during this time you can find refreshment through some pleasurable activity, and so find your ‘second wind’ to go back to the bedside. It could be during this time, the ‘personal assistant’ could sit at the bedside. Knowing this ‘seat’ is covered, you may not feel so guilty taking time out for yourself.
When times are tough, and caring for a loved one who is terminally ill is indeed tough, we may think we have what it takes to go it alone. But the reality is, as humans, we are designed for connection, and to have a couple of special people, or ‘personal assistants’ may make the hard times just a little easier. There is nothing weak about asking for help; in fact, it may become a time where something bigger, and more beautiful, takes over the relationship and the benefit will be felt by all, including the one you are caring for.
The commentary in this blog is intended to be general in nature. It is just some observations from one fellow traveller in life to another. If anything in this blog raises issues for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or consult with a trusted medical professional.