I’ve been thinking a lot about my oldest sister who was born with cerebral palsy and yet has cared for others most of her life.
At breakfast this morning with mom and dad we were discussing her life and how she has always found herself caring for others and neglecting her own health in the process.
She had two children and has cared for them their whole lives until they were grown. She went on to teach handicapped and mentally challenged adults in a local facility and even working at a battered woman’s shelter on the weekends. She even wound up bringing a disabled man into her home and cared for him up until recently when she could no longer provide the care he needed so she had to place him in a nursing home.
In the past year she has also had to give up the teaching position she desperately loved because it was taking too much of a toll on her physical health. While she continues working with the women at the shelter she now finds herself feeling empty because she has been a care-giver so long she doesn’t know what to do with herself.
We often find ourselves in the role of care-giver, whether by a conscious decision to take that role or in the event of some crisis. We fulfill that role day after day, often neglecting our own health in the process and when we find ourselves at the end of that chapter in our life, we are often left with an emptiness and a sense that we aren’t making this great dent in society.
Caregiving may be our role in life for the time being but it should never become where we find our identity.
In actuality, we have given love, care, and the majority of our lives to others in the greatest of ways. Somehow, some of us were just created to give unconditionally but knowing that it’s okay to take a season and regroup and take care of ourselves, is something that is needed.
My sister is one of the most selfless people I know. She would give a stranger everything she had so that they wouldn’t have to do without.
I look forward to seeing her while I’m in town and encouraging her to relax, enjoy her new grandson, and take care of herself while she has this down time. It may not be forever, but it’s okay to take this time while the opportunity presents itself.
Here are some great resources for the caregiving journey and beyond: