The Sacrifices of Caregiving – A Tricky Journey
The sacrifices of caregiving are almost too numerous to list, and maintaining the balance between your family life and your caregiving responsibilities is often a very tricky journey.
I was a single mother with three teenage kids the night I got “The Call” and was told that my dad had suffered a severe stroke. Mom was deeply shaken and she asked me to come home.
My son Eric was a senior in high school, and that Friday night was the final football game of the season. It was “Mom’s Night”. All of the senior boys were going to walk out onto the field and give each of their mother’s a rose. It was the last time he and my son Robert, who was a sophomore, would ever play high school football together. In addition, it was my daughter Annie’s 15th birthday. I desperately wanted to stay home with my children, but I couldn’t say no to my mother. So I made the 450 mile drive to my parents‘ home the next day. I had no way of knowing that trip was just the first of countless journeys I’d make back to Kansas over the next ten years.
A friend recently asked if I’d do it any differently if I had the chance to do it over. I said, “I don’t know. I made the best decision I could have made based on the information I had at the time.”
You will make a lot of decisions during the course of your caregiving journey. Some of them will be good decisions. Some will not. Whatever you do, be gentle with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones to understand and forgive you for the times you have to sacrifice their wants and needs for the more demanding and immediate needs of your care receiver.
Try to remember that this time in your life won’t last forever. It will end, and when it’s over, you’ll realize that you missed some important events. You didn’t always meet the needs of all the people in your life – including your own. There were moments when you got tired and lost your cool. There were times when one of the balls you juggled so adeptly slammed to the ground. You will realize that you didn’t do everything perfectly, but you did the best you could. You gave your love, time and attention to someone who could not care for him/herself. You will realize that you sacrificed a lot, but I’m pretty sure that you will never regret the compassion or care you shared with someone you loved as you helped them manage the final stages of their life.