Bob Mueller

Author

Wedding Officiant

Motivational Speaker

Catholic Bishop

 

Keeping It All Together

It’s easy to love someone else when they are doing well, when they are far away, or any
time the conditions are calm and the sailing smooth. The challenge and true test of love
is how to express care, how to show it and embody it in our own actions when difficulties
arise, when needs increase, when resources are taxed and when it would be easier to
simply walk the other way.

If you are involved in a caregiving situation with a loved one, believe me, you are doing
something valuable and something that is not a given with everyone else, no matter how
much it may seem that way. I’d like to offer several suggestions that have helped me
keep it all together as a caregiver.

  1. Create time for yourself. The key prerequisite for being helpful to others is
    simply figuring how to last and how to survive. Creating time away is at the core
    of sustaining energy and commitment for the duration of any caregiving situation.

  2. Feel all of your emotions. Caring for others can be an experience filled with all
    kinds of feelings. Emotions like love, tenderness, concern, empathy are easy to
    welcome into our awareness. Other emotions like frustration, anger,
    disappointment, sorrow and discouragement tend to be tougher to deal with. We
    need to feel them all as they lead us to knowledge.

  3. Pace yourself. Caregiving will require us to learn some new rhythms and
    techniques and some new ways to pace ourselves. At times we’ll push ourselves
    too fast, and go more slowly than we need to at other times. There is great value
    in noticing our pace, and working with it.

  4. Look for hidden blessings. Part of the nature of blessings is that they are
    bestowed upon us and come to us uninvited. Each morning we are born again and
    each day something fills our cup if we just notice.

  5. Find fellow compadres. Discover those who understand your experience and
    walk alongside you. That’s why support groups are so enlightening. It’s
    important to find true friends who will just listen and be with you.

  6. Keep learning. Life is full of fascinating information. It can alter our
    perspective. It alters it by expanding perception, sharpening accuracy and
    affirming already existing intuitive wisdom. Gleaning as much information as
    possible can been a boon for any caregiver.

  7. Be open to your loved ones. We are not the ones doing all of the giving. Be
    prepared to receive. Working as a caregiver I learn more from those I serve that
    I’m sure they learn from me.

  8. Say “No.” Sometimes you have to choose the smaller negative in order to allow
    for the larger positive. For caregivers the most difficult word to get out is the
    word “no.” Saying no to an unreasonable demand can mean saying yes to
    freedom from resentment or frustration.

  9. Go with the Flow. Caregiving invites us to go with the flow. It can teach us a
    great deal about flexibility of both heart and hand. Sometimes you just have to
    surrender and let the game come to you.

  10. Be Gentle with Yourself. You have to take care of yourself first. If you don’t
    take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of another person. Notice
    when you need help and be sure to find it. Notice when you are weary and be
    sure to do whatever it takes to regain your strength. When you are sad, seek
    comfort. When you are confused or at a loss for what to do, invite counsel.
    Consider it not a luxury but an imperative.

  11. Let Laughter Heal You. Laughter is a symptom of joy. And joy, whether in the
    form of laughter or just a quietly happy heart, mysteriously heals, energizes and
    uplifts the human spirit all at once. As a dedicated caregiver, you deserve your
    own share of beautiful sunsets, bouts with pure joy, eruptions of wholesome
    laughter, doses of humor and excursions into sheer happiness. And so do those
    you care for.

  12. “It goes on.” This is my favorite Robert Frost quote about life. There is no rush.
    There is no crisis. The future awaits me and we must never again act as though it
    doesn’t exist.


May your caregiving be blessed and graced! And all along the way, may your heart grow
in understanding of how important and how valuable love in the face of challenge really
is.