Hard Won Wisdom: How to Have a Meaningful Caregiving Journey

If you are taking care of an aging or ill parent, spouse, family member, or friend, your worries, feelings, and challenges are very real.

I took care of my mother for 14 years and while not totally unprepared because of my healthcare background, I admit it was a wild, exhausting ride which ended 3 months short of her 100th birthday.
People who haven’t been on this journey might ask, “What’s so hard about it?”
The emotional rollercoaster. The hours and hours of caring for a sometimes stubborn care recipient. The guilt that you are not doing enough and what is “enough” anyway? The nagging question, “How long do I have to put my life on hold?”
The energy drain. The long hours in the emergency room or in the hospital waiting for a diagnosis. Waiting by the phone 24/7 for bad news. What seems like constant appointments, and errands. The only child or sibling that has no help and believes “I’m the only one that can do this the right way!”
The uncertainty. Is this the end? Will she recover? If yes, what is our new normal? The worry of “How long can I survive doing this? “
Somewhere between year one and fourteen, I realized that taking care of mom was to be the most meaningful journey and most life altering experience of my life. I just wished for more peace of mind and less stress.

If only someone, anyone, would have said to me…
All those feelings – guilt, anger, frustration, fear, your stolen life – are normal. Given what you are going through, you have every right to feel them but then let them go.
You can probably do it best, but do NOT do it alone. Figure out what help you need and ask for it so you can find time to put yourself first and to get enough rest.
Uncertainty is a fact of life. If you don’t embrace it, it will control you and eat you alive.
Live each day as if it were the last and you live in the moment, keep hope alive and have no regrets at the end of the journey. You will survive. ~

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Toni Gitles, owner ofHeart Light Enterprises. For more information contact Toni today at 407-304-6534 or visit online at
www.Heartlightenterprises.com.