When the care giving role has finished, the individual usually experiences a loss of identity. Here are ten ways of transitioning successfully from being a caregiver to creating a new life.
“Now you can get on with your life” are the words of comfort we hear when our role as caregiver is over. The depression that we sink into, and others cannot fathom, is grief for ourselves. Others will attempt to help us get over the grief for the person lost from our life but will fail to realize that it is the loss of self for which we grieve later. Indeed we don’t realize this for ourselves at the time. Since we have spent a long time putting the needs of another first, we fail to understand how much of self-identification was tied up in those needs.
I was a caregiver for almost 10 years. Grief followed my partner’s death. But my “depression” did not hit till 18 months later. It was a period of transition – from one self to the next. From one identity, one image of self – to a new me. The transition has a big question mark at the beginning. “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?” “Who am I, anyway?” The journey is that of our own transformation.
How do we successfully transition?
1. Recognize that this is the task at hand.
2. Re-evaluate the role that we have played and now lost. This means look at it as if we were writing a job description. We do not need to dwell on criticizing how successfully we performed, but focus on what skills we acquired, what tasks we accomplished, what creativity we showed. Society does not place value on the role we have played. We must not fall into the trap of belittling our own accomplishments. We must familiarize ourselves with whom we have become because of this experience. We have been forever changed.
3. Recognize that over time we searched for recognition in the role we played. To do it well, the caregiver role became us. It was how we identified ourselves. Others related to us through that role. Any socializing we had was a respite from that role. Any emotional support we received was to help us cope with that role. Most of our conversation was about the talk of care giving. Then it is over and all the professionals who shared the challenge have disappeared. We are not supposed to need them any more. But they were the people who validated who we were. All those routines that had become our life – the doctor visits, the care giver support groups, the volunteers – have all gone. Suddenly we are naked. We have no identity and we are alone. The task at hand is to build a new identity.
4. Don’t deny the pain, look at the fears, and accept the feelings for what they are. We are learning how to face change. We are learning how to let go of the past – of whom we were, of what was. We are in a transition where there is no going back. A time when this moment truly is the most important of our life. For it is the only moment that is real. The only moment that counts. How we live it will determine what is ahead of us.
5. Find a mentor who has been there. If no one is available chose someone who is prepared to listen without thinking they must solve problems. Only you can forge the future path. It must come from within you, not the suggestions of others. The gift others can give you now is the ear that witnesses your progress. Their only task is to stop you from dwelling on negative repetition. We used to call this being a “broken record.” Sometimes we used to imitate playing on an imaginary violin to indicate the repetitive telling of a sad story. We do not make changes when we are repeating the same old story over and over again.
6. Slowly open new doors and test how you feel. My breakthrough came when I started reading books on spirituality and healing. I will list a few that have impacted my life and caused me to shift my views, beliefs and attitudes. They moved me from being a victim of my circumstance to being the captain of my ship. This is not a complete list but examples of books that helped me look at the world, life and me in a different way. They helped the change process.
Anatomy of the Spirit / Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can – Caroline Myss
When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chödron
The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
My Grandfather’s Blessings – Rachel Naomi Remen MD
Home with God – Neale Donald Walsch
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankel
7. Let go of self restricting beliefs and attitudes about yourself and your future. “Poor me,” “my life is over,” “I shall never be able to…” – they will not serve you well. They are a devise to stifle facing change. If we see our cup as half empty – it will remain so. If we see that same cup as half full then there is room for more. When we believe in “can’t,” then that is what we will experience.
8. Let go of the need to make yesterday a living presence today. Instead use the knowledge gained yesterday to make today more successful. The brain cannot distinguish between what is happening now and what you are remembering from the past. To remember the pain of the past is to bring it back to make it real – a conscious decision. The brain can’t tell the difference. The brain can only bring into awareness one thing at a time. Again, you choose what you focus on.
9. If you experience real difficulty focusing on the now, finding it so much easier to retreat into the past, we must develop rituals to stay present. Going for a walk and consciously focusing on everything we see is a helpful exercise. Quickly we realize how much we are missing when our thoughts are not here. Actively listen to the conversations of others. Don’t concentrate on how you can segue conversation to go back in time with you. In conversations with others, discipline yourself to only talk about new information, not stuff they have heard before. This is a powerful exercise because it forces you to bring newness into your life – what you saw on your walk, the book you have just read, the TV program, the baking you have tried, today’s weather, sports teams etc. Now you are creating new life, not regurgitating the past.
10. Gradually the new you will emerge with new dreams and aspirations. They may have to be adapted to fit the budget or the limits of increased age, but we are no longer letting the budget or our age be the excuse for not doing something.
11. To be a caregiver is a gift. Often a painful one that we were unprepared for, but the new butterfly that emerges from our transitional cocoon could never have seen life if we had not met the challenge.
The person I am today, ten years after my care giving ended, is not the person I would have become without the experience. I am filled with gratitude and know I have become the person I was supposed to be in this life.
By Barbara McDowall of www.AuthenticLives.com
Just back from almost 2 weeks in my favourite part of the country, kind of my spiritual home away from home – Canada’s east coast and PEI in particular. When I spend any time along our Atlantic seaboard (Nova Scotia in particular), I invariably find myself asking “How can I live and work here”? And I feel I am getting closer to having an answer to that question.
Along the way to PEI, I happened to notice one of the ubiquitous roadside signs. This one said PEACE BEGINS AT HOME. It got me thinking about what that meant to me. Personally, I had to ask myself how peaceful was I within myself (my home), so to speak? Based on my level of personal peace, what was the impact of me being peaceful on the world around me? To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “peaceful is as peaceful does.”
With that awareness how can I then make a positive contribution to world peace through intentionally and consciously becoming more peaceful within myself? What would I need to change about me to make that happen?
To change or improve any habit or skill most often requires some kind of unlearning/relearning or training regimen. With that in mind, what regular program or practice will help me shift my focus to peace within. What works best for me is a regular practice of daily meditation of no less than 30 minutes first thing in the morning and 30 minutes at the end of my day. Frequent affirmations such as “I am a peaceful person and I bring peace to the world” are helpful in reminding me who I am and wish to become more of.
Gandhi said it so well many years ago – be the change you wish to see in the world. If I wish to see peace in the world, I must be grounded in peace, to the point that should I meet someone who doesn’t speak my language, it is clear I am grounded in peace because I am that person in the world – they can see it in action.
Peace is not something that can be imposed externally. World peace will become a more probable reality every time one or more of us intentionally and consciously choose to be peace in the world. Thankfully, this energy is an ever-increasing part of our world today. Witness the prominence of Eastern philosophies which support personal awareness, personal responsibility as essential components to creating an aware and responsible world with a commitment to ending judgment and shame.
Buddhism continues to offer me the opportunity to love myself, to love others, and to love my enemies. It offers the compassionate lens to our common “suffering” and our ability to look at ourselves as microcosms of the world. If we can be honest with ourselves, fully loving and approving of ourselves, our innately compassionate hearts become engaged in this life, as we open up to our commonality and our shared wish for a better life for ourselves, for our children and for our beloved planet.
I am grateful for that roadside billboard and for its reminder of one of many truths – as within, so without.
Barbara McDowall is a spiritual teacher, mentor, doula for the dying and celebrant (weddings, baptisms, celebrations of life). Located in Toronto, Canada, she is available for consultation by phone or in person. For more information, and visit http://www.AuthenticLives.com
Written by: Jenn Weesies
Each February everyone puts a lot of effort into demonstrating their feelings towards their loved ones. They make or buy gifts, plan special excursions and recommit their lives to each other. They act in such a way that makes their special someone feel loved, cared for and cherished. Some people though, will argue that this demonstration of affection toward loved ones shouldn’t just occur during February but should happen all year long as well. Caregivers and family members of people experiencing incontinence are constantly striving to provide the best care for their loved ones to demonstrate their affection. However, as many know, caring for their loved one’s unique incontinence situation can be difficult.Incontinence is not uncommon. Urinary incontinence affects more than 200 million people worldwide and nearly 25 million American adults are currently experiencing temporary or chronic urinary incontinence. According to the National Association for Incontinence (NAFC), incontinence characteristically affects more women than men. In fact, one out of four women and one out of eight men experience incontinence.
Enhancing the quality of care you are providing your loved ones experiencing incontinence means improving the quality of control with the right products and right fit at the best price. Here are three ways that can help you demonstrate your affection towards your loved ones experiencing incontinence by ramping up the quality of your care.
1. Buy hospital grade incontinence care products to keep your loved one comfortable. Hospital grade incontinence care products are far superior to the products that you can buy at a local superstore. These products are better quality and can increase your assurance in managing your loved one’s incontinence. They provide the highest level of protection, superior odor protection, the best fit, and the latest technology to quickly draw wetness caused by urinary incontinence away from your loved one’s body. With hospital grade products you can be sure that your loved one will remain dry and comfortable all day long.
2. Buy from a knowledgeable home health care center or medical equipment supply company. Highly regarded home health care centers and medical equipment supply companies focus on ongoing personalized management for your loved one’s unique urinary incontinence situation. They can provide personal support over the phone, online and in the store to find the best incontinence care products for your loved one. Briefs, protective underwear, pads and liners are available in gender specific fits and an array of sizes and protection levels. Home health care centers and medical equipment supply companies can offer insight to customize incontinence care products for your loved one. They can also recommend products that are easy to get on and to change, improving the ease of care. Their knowledge can enhance quality of life for individuals dealing with incontinence and can help caregivers and families provide more supportive care.
3. Enroll in a home delivery program to save money and time. Experienced home health care centers and medical equipment supply companies can connect you with money and time saving options that other stores cannot. The best offer discreet home delivery programs that can supply caregivers and family members with the convenience of on-time supplies at their doorstep with a range of cost effective savings plans. These programs allow you to order the highest quality products in bulk. After all, buying and ordering incontinence care products should not have to take precious time away from spending moments with your loved ones.
Demonstrate your feelings towards your loved one experiencing incontinence all year long through providing them the best care and incontinence care products possible. Seek the help from a knowledgeable home health care center or medical equipment supply company. They have resources and support staff dedicated to making your job easier and your loved ones happy and comfortable.
About the Author Binson’s Home Health Care Centers began in Center Line, Mich. and has grown to the home health care center it is today. Currently, there are centers in Michigan and Florida. For more information about incontinence products and programs call Binson’s at 888-246-7667 or visit: http://www.binsons.com/
article from Content Crooner