Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!
I’ve spoken about types of caregiving and the impact that caregiving has on your daily routine. When I write about being diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness I speak about the shock and the grief and I haven’t addressed that for you, the caregiver. At the time of the patient’s diagnosis there is a period of shock and grief. When we grieve or mourn there is a significant shift in our consciousness. We begin to think about the impermanence of circumstances and of life itself.
For some reason we, those living in Western civilized nations, have an assumption that we will live to be old. We expect to go through our early and middle adulthood following the normal stages of development, retire and live out our golden years until the time comes when the body begins to wear down. The truth is we’re not guaranteed any length of life. We aren’t guaranteed a life without illness as you know following the diagnosis of your loved one. Grieving or mourning the loss of that expectation, that vision of what life would be like is part of the process, not only of caregiving, but of coping with all of life’s turbulence.
I know for me, the idea that I would be on medication for the rest of my life was a shock. At the time of my diagnosis there was only a minimal amount of treatment options. As I entered my early adulthood medical breakthroughs came out and continue to come out with new medications. I’m tied to the pharmacy and my doctor for eternity (unless there’s a miracle). On the caregiver end there needs to be a form of surrender that allows you to pry your grip off the life you believed you were supposed to have, and grasp the ring of life as it is.
We all wish that life would be free of illness, but that’s not a reality. As a caregiver, mourning is part of the process. It doesn’t mean you abandon hopes and dreams, just that they may be altered a bit. It doesn’t mean you can’t carry out the visions and hopes you held prior to the diagnosis, just that they may need to be adapted to the current circumstance. Grieving/mourning can apply to adaptation and revision of how you’ll live your life. It’s part of the process and at times can be quite painful. However, it also punctuates your resilience for living the best life possible.