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Faith and Spiritual Growth for the Maturing Adult

Journey to Wholeness: A Caregiving Gem

A Caregiving Gem
 

by Richard Johnson

Whether the caregiver is caring for an aging parent, a spouse, or a child, my studies and investigations into the caregiving role have unearthed some gems of caregiving. One such gem is the sequence of nine steps that together can elevate caregiving tasks to a spiritual level. These steps seem to be almost universal (everybody goes through them) and normative (they're normal).

  1. Feeling sorry. When sickness or disability strikes someone we love, it's almost automatic to feel sorry that his or her life has been diminished.
  2. Heroic acts of caregiving. In sentimental pity for the losses experienced by the loved one, caregivers can, in the emotion of the moment, commit to caregiving levels that they are not able to sustain.
  3. Confusion. When their best efforts don't seem to be changing the situation to any appreciable degree, caregivers often move into an emotional turmoil where they question their capabilities and their commitment. At this point self-depreciation and self-discounting can dampen the heart and soul of the caregiver.
  4. Anger and resentment. While caregivers do not universally feel such feelings, a substantial percentage of caregivers do feel them. This is normal!
  5. Depression. When and if step four remains unresolved, depression of some sort becomes almost inevitable.
  6. Information seeking. If the caregiver seeks out a friend, a confidante, or a care companion, then they may be able to poke their heads above their depression.
  7. Empathic identification with other caregivers. Even if the caregiver can find one other caregiver with whom they can share their experiences, that's usually sufficient to unburden them emotionally just enough so they can begin to appreciate the spiritual dimension of caregiving.
  8. Forgiveness of self. Only the willingness to remain ever open to God's forgiveness can remedy the guilt that so often arises in the face of the caregiving role.
  9. Letting-go. "Let go and let God" is the adage that makes so much sense here. It is only through the active and creative acceptance that caregivers can emerge from the strain of care, and find themselves refreshed and rejuvenated in the ever-abundant grace of God.

Where are you in your caregiving role? Always look to the next step ... there you will find God.

To learn more about caregiving, log onto: SeniorAdultMinistry.com

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