In her book Being with Rachel,
Karen Brennan writes about caring
for her 25-year-old daughter
following a motorcycle accident.
For a long time
Rachel was comatose,
making communication impossible.
Only trained therapists could handle her physical care.
Consequently, as both a mother and a caregiver,
Karen felt nearly helpless.
One day she watched a video of psychologist Ram Dass
speaking to caregivers of those with AIDS.
He advised these caregivers to simply be with the other person,
saying that was more important than anything.
Karen followed his advice,
situating herself often by her daughter’s side,
just being there as fully as she could,
even if she was not equipped to provide much hands-on care.
This act played a significant role in her daughter’s healing,
and in her own healing as a frightened, concerned mother.

It is hard to overestimate the value
of being completely and openly present
to that person with whom we’re paired
when we’re serving in a caregiving role.
Wherever that other person is,
we’re there.
Whatever they feel,
we stay present to them.
However long the journey,
we remain beside them.
Wherever the journey leads,
we accompany just as far as we can.

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