SAN DIEGO, Feb. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- The ringing in of the New Year makes us reflect on the past. We look at not only the year that just ended but also at our entire lives. As we hope for a great new beginning, it's nice to recognize and give ourselves credit, as hard as that is to do. Anyone who has played the role of caregiver knows how hard that can be.
We begin that caregiving journey aiming for perfection. Our goals are to provide the best care, to embrace this new role with skill, patience, love and dedication. But no journey is perfect and no one can be all things to all people.
I cared for my Mother who was dying from lung cancer. My father had proceeded her as well as my only sibling. So I was her only caregiver. I was determined to give her the best of care and make her end of life fully lived. I had to balance working full time, running my own business, being a wife, caring for a troop of rescue dogs and everything else we all have to deal with every day. But I believed I could do it all and do it very well.
It did not take long to realize that was impossible. So my role shifted to caregiver/care director. I rallied family, friends and neighbors to help. Though they were glad to, and they even wanted to, I still felt guilty that I was not doing 'it all' and felt that as her daughter I should be doing it all. When Mom passed I felt more guilty that I had others help in the care. I even regretted that time others had with her that I did not. But then I began to reflect on the outcome. And I realized because I gave up some of the care I actually gave her more. I had more quality time with her because I had more of myself to give outside the role of being only her caregiver. I had time to 'direct' her last wishes like having all her old friends from up North visit while she could still enjoy their company. Because I wasn't doing every little thing I could make the big things happen like her dream trip to Greece. I still remember our lunch in Santorini and feeding the stray cats and laughing with her. I saw all the old friends make the trip to see her, her joy of being with them. I watched old movies with her, helped her write long letters to those far away, baked all of our favorite cookies together. I still did a lot of the caregiving but I also helped her do the 'living'.
As I reflect, as I do every year, I no longer feel the guilt of not being the perfect caregiver who can do it all. I instead see that I accomplished the real goal, making her end of life a very full one. And maybe it's not about being all the little things to someone, maybe it's about being the big thing, being their daughter.
Deborah Loercher, The Elizabeth Hospice, 919 821 1191, firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE The Elizabeth Hospice