Caregiver Survival Tip #6
Have a Good Cry

IMG_1125When someone you love is suffering in terrible pain, or when every day brings another complication and the loss of another ability, it twists your gut and breaks your heart.

As caregivers, we tend to expend a tremendous amount of energy keeping ourselves and our care receivers pumped up emotionally. We look for tidbits of information and interesting stories we can share. We fix food, fluff pillows, play uplifting music, arrange flowers, rent funny movies, share inspirational messages and do whatever else we can to distract our care receiver and bring a smile to his/her face.

Most of the time we can pull it off. We somehow find the energy to keep ourselves and our loved one from falling into an abyss of hopeless depression, but sometimes fear and frustration overwhelm us. Our hearts are seized with grief. We are overcome with feelings of anger, sadness and loss.

You feel a pain in your chest, a lump in your throat and tears swell up in your eyes. When that happens, don’t choke it down. Let it out.

In his best selling book, “Home Coming”, John Bradshaw wrote, “All these feelings need to be felt. We need to stomp and storm; to sob and cry; to perspire and tremble.”

Crying is cathartic. Did you know that there are physical benefits to crying? It’s true. Tears lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, and release stress hormones from your body.

When they were little, most men were told, “Boys don’t cry.” When women started entering the workforce in mass during the 1960’s and 70’s, we quickly learned that crying in the workplace could have very harsh consequence. In one way or another, we have all been taught that when we feel ourselves on the verge of tears that we need to push them down and keep them in.

It’s time to shift our thinking and recognize that crying is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of caring. Crying will benefit you physically, and it may help you release enough anxiety, tension and sadness that once your tears dry, you’ll be able to put another smile on your face and once again tap into the emotional energy you need to continue caring for someone who needs you so desperately.