Living Life on Your Own Terms

Joy in later stages of lifeAs I reflect on the various stages of life, it occurs to me that although each stage has its challenges, the caregiving stage must be one of the most difficult!

A few years ago I asked my cousin Laurie, who was the same age as my dad, what decade she had enjoyed the most. I was so surprised when she said, “My 70’s! I loved my 70’s!”

When I asked why, she said, “I was retired and my health was good. I had enough money to travel. I’d given back to the community way more than I’d taken, so I quit volunteering. My hormones finally left me alone, so men were no longer a problem; and for the first time in my life, I lived just for myself. I did whatever the hell I wanted to do whenever I felt like it!”

Laurie had a lot of good times in her life. She also suffered some tremendous heartbreaks and losses, but she came through it all with her good humor, positive attitude and appreciation for other people firmly intact.

If you are a caregiver right now, you are most likely in one of the most difficult stages of life that you will ever experience. You may be feeling isolated, confined, angry, sad and frightened. You may feel like you have very little control over anything and that you will never be in a position to do what you want to do when you feel like doing it!

I know it’s hard to imagine right now, but this stage won’t last forever. This is temporary, and as difficult as it is, you will find the strength, courage and humor to meet whatever challenges lie ahead.

My hope is that you will take care of yourself as you go through it, so that when your caregiving experience does come to an end that, like my cousin Laurie, you will be able to let go of the pain and start living life on your own terms. I also hope those terms will include lots of time with others who have survived the journey through suffering and loss and have come out on the other side of it eager to laugh, love and live life to the fullest.