Traditionally in the US and for many parts of our world, the end of the Gregorian calendar brings with it the celebration of all things sacred. All things special. Central to this is the celebration of family. Of community.
With this in mind, I wanted to take some time to highlight some of the heroes and heroines in our midst… our caregivers. It doesn’t matter what country you come from. Or what people group, race, color, nationality you associate yourself with. One thing is certain. The very young to the geriatrics amongst us, have had and will all eventually need a caregiver.
Caregiving is character building.
Caregivers come in various shapes and sizes, whether they have immediate or distant kinship ties, friends or are strangers. One can argue that the primary criteria for being a caregiver is simply caring.
This is the ability to go past traditional normative constructs that define caregiver “job” requirements and instead, to serve from the heart. This is regardless of blood bonds, challenges and tribulations one may see and or face.
Can I just say that dad, mum, you were and are great caregivers.
Now there are traditional formats of who or what constitutes one to be a caregiver. Some of us have been fortunate to have had parent(s) who have filled this role and done a most commendable job of it… though we may not have thought so at the time!
To you we say a heartfelt thank you for being 25/8 caregivers. Simply amazing.
Trusting in a caregiver is the same regardless whether in the desert or the White House.
Some of us were raised by grandparents who stepped in when there was no parent alive or able to be the primary caregiver. Or perhaps that grandparent was present to fill in as the caregiver, so that parents could work outside the home with the peace of mind that there was someone trustworthy, someone able to take care of their prized possessions.
Whether a grandparent out in the most obscure parts of our world or a grandparent diligently loving on the First Family’s children in the White House, we say thank you.
How about you? You know, whether through circumstance or by virtue of the pecking order of your birth, some or all of your siblings care and welfare fell on your shoulders. You did the best you knew how.
For stepping up and caring enough to help your siblings see adulthood, we say thank you.
Caregivers sacrifice more than we can sometimes comprehend
Or even that family member pursuing a singular dream. Whether to become a world renown athlete or a top scientist and everything else in between. Someone else had to be the primary caregiver to give that dream an environment conducive to success, to keep the household intact, alive and hopefully thriving.
You the caregiver stood, and still stands in the gap so that sacrifices made will hopefully make sense at the end of it all. You the caregiver are an incubator for this dream, that there will be an inner circle of people able to see and enjoy that success.
To those caregivers who sacrificed so much so that someone else’s dream would become the collectives dream, to you we say thank you.
Caregivers provide much needed emotional support.
And to you friends out there. Your kind deeds never went unnoticed. When you saw, heard or felt how your friends had trouble in their homes, you intuitively knew they needed some place safer, more secure than where they were at.
You cared enough as a friend to invite your friend over. To share what you had.
You help them through rough patches when they thought that they might explode.
You were a genuine caregiver.
For caring enough to give that emotional support, we say thank you.
The seemingly infinite wells of a caregiver’s heart.
Then there are those adults who were maybe related to or had no kinship ties to many a child growing up. That child or individual, perhaps up to the point of meeting you, had never known what it was like to receive love and care from another human being on a consistent basis.
You invested in the character development of that individual.
You allowed these individuals to come into your heart, into your home and you treated them as one of your own.
You cared enough to speak words of correction and affirmation so that they would set out on the road to being the person they were created to be.
For this and for for so much more, we say thank you.
For all those who have cared for other people’s loved ones in care homes, nursing homes, or some other type of institutionalized setting. It has not been easy. It has not been the perfect setting.
But on paper, even though your role has been defined as a job, you’ve gone past the job description and made it personal.
You have provided care so well. You have been noted.
You have been appreciated. You’ve genuinely cared and served from the heart. To you we say thank you.
Caregivers also need ongoing support
For those caregivers who see their loved ones changing right before their eyes, from being that vibrant individual to becoming an echo of who they once were.
We see you still love fiercely, despite the tangible manifestations of their decline.
We see you love unconditionally, upholding them in dignity.
You make us observers longingly wonder if anyone will ever care and do for us as you care and do for the loved one fading away right before you.
We see how being a caregiver is not defined by a set of words, or circumstances. It just is. To you we say thank you.
To those caregivers who have gone through and are going through unimaginable disasters.
In the midst of conflict, pain and/or persecution, you still find a way to be a caregiver for other voiceless, sometimes nameless individuals.
How can one find the words that go beyond thank you.. for saving lives when your own life is in peril?
We say thank you for unlocking the essence of humanity, of a true caregiver… operating from the heart.
So we celebrate all caregivers, perhaps wondering what actions we can do as individuals to help even just one caregiver?
Practical tips.. what does thank you look like?
- Be a friend. Be there. Listen.
Being there for the caregiver – whether it’s a text/sms, call, email or physical presence. See love is a verb and not just another 4-letter word. Our attention and authenticity towards a caregiver on their journey carries more importance than we will ever comprehend.
- Speak if and when needed.
Be the voice of strength. The voice of compassion. The voice that helps when tough decisions need to be made. Sometimes in silence. Sometimes in agreement. Sometimes being the voice of the ”reality option.” Speak in wisdom.
- Do not be afraid to ask… ”What can I do?”
You may find that you are the solution. Assist with resources where and as able. Whether in hard cash, researching for additional resources, volunteering time so the caregiver can have some “me” time or perhaps networking on their behalf. You may be the needed link in connecting them to a business, a friend or organization that can help them meet that real and or felt need.
- Give without expecting anything in return. After all, that in essence is what being a caregiver is all about.