Going Solo

Mark’s mother suffered
both kidney and liver failure.
She spent ten weeks
in four different hospitals.
Three times she almost died.
She’s on dialysis now.
Unable to live alone,
she has moved into Mark’s small home
with his wife and two teenage daughters.
The younger daughter gave up her bedroom
and moved to the basement
so her grandmother could have her own room.
As he and I sat at lunch last week,
I asked him what it’s like to be a caregiver.
His first words were, “It’s been hard.”
Later he said, “Originally I was frazzled but I’m less so now.”
Later still he shook his head, saying,
“There is absolutely no way I could do this alone.
No way.”

What Mark cannot do alone is similar
to what so many other family caregivers cannot do alone:
all the medical appointments,
all the special meals and preparations,
all the constant oversight and care,
all the changes in schedules and routines,
all the daily and nightly accommodations.
When the caregiving is long-term and heavy-duty,
it’s too much for one alone to handle.
It may even be too much for three or four.
When we realize it’s too much for just us,
we need to let others help us:
spouses and partners,
children and grandchildren,
parents and grandparents,
friends and co-workers.
And if they don’t show up on their own,
our task is to ask them to, in all earnestness.
And if that doesn’t work, or isn’t possible,
then we need to enlarge our scope to
social workers and chaplains and healthcare professionals,
congregations and community organizations,
perhaps government agencies and advocacy groups.
Going it entirely alone is not a valid option.
Too much is at stake—
for whoever it is we care for
as well as for we who give the care.

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One Response to “Going Solo”

  1. Carol Bradley Bursack Says:

    What a beautifully written post! Concise and very, very true. I just wanted to say, “Well done.”
    Carol Bradley Bursack
    Minding Our Elders

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