Caregiver Care

Audrey’s husband has
long-standing health problems.
He’s been near death
more than once.
Now her daughter,
who lives by herself,
has been diagnosed with an arterial blood clot.
The prognosis is uncertain,
both short-term and long-term.
Audrey’s daughter-in-law, who lives nearby,
is struggling with her father’s impending death,
as is that whole family.
So fear and anxiety fill Audrey’s days.
She is on caregiver overload.

My wife Bernie and Audrey are friends.
So Bernie invited Audrey over Friday morning.
She prepared special muffins
and coffee in holiday cups.
She started a fire in the fireplace,
lit candles around the living room,
and put on quiet background music.
When Audrey arrived, they sat on the couch,
watched the fire, and talked at length.
Bernie mostly listened and empathized.
Audrey spun out her feelings and concerns.
But after awhile she also spoke about
the everyday events of her life—
her quilting, Christmas plans, other friends.
The warm atmosphere and the set-aside time
worked together to create a space
that Audrey could make her own
and do with as she pleased.
That’s exactly what she did.
By the time she left,
nothing had changed about Audrey’s situation,
but she had changed a little.
She was a little more relaxed,
a little more refreshed,
a little more ready to return to her life.
Audrey had been on the receiving end
of Bernie’s restorative care.

When we think of giving care to others,
we often think of the ill, the disabled, the dying.
Sometimes those who need our caregiving
are other caregivers themselves.
Who will encourage those around us
who strive so hard to encourage others?
Who will care for those
who deserve and need such care
as much as they’re hesitant to ask for it?
We can.
We who have been where they have been,
and understand.
We who have, at the moment,
the time and freedom to do that,
or we can make both of those.
We who know that caring for caregivers
is tremendously important,
and easily overlooked,
and beneficial beyond words.

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