Friday, October 3, 2008

Taking Care

Do you know someone who takes care of someone else?

Most of us do.

There are single moms and dads who have to play both parental roles all the time. There are adult children who give up much of their “outside” life to take care of their parents. Spouses become disabled and debilitated and need round the clock care.

It seems at some point in life, we all get the opportunity and blessings of service by taking care of someone we love.

But this weekend’s challenge isn’t about caretaking of children, parents or spouses. It’s about taking care of the caretakers.

What can you, as an individual or family do to help ease the burden of a caretaker you know of?

Can you find a few hours this weekend to give them some time to regain their sense of individuality? Can you take over watching their loved ones for an hour, a day or the weekend?

Maybe you can send them to a movie.

Maybe you can send them to a spa.

Maybe you can just give them the free time to do whatever it is they’ve been longing to do but haven’t been able to.

Could be they want to just go pick up a book at the library.

Could be they just want to get out for a drive.

Could be you don’t know what they want to do, and that’s okay.

You know they don’t need your permission to go relax and recoup. But they may need your help giving themselves permission.

Caretakers are very loyal to the one they watch over. It’s so hard for them to want to let go, even for an hour. I know. I’ve both been a caretaker to my mother, and I’ve watched my father and siblings. It’s a tough thing to allow yourself to relax when a loved one needs constant care or supervision. When you step away from that situation, you worry, no matter how long you’re gone.

It’s tough to let go, even for an hour or two.

You worry about the one you’re watching over. You worry that the person taking over for you won’t know how to do things “just right”. You worry that something will happen.

Still, it’s critical that we allow them time to get away from the situation for even a short time. They need the mental rest. They need to know that others are there to care for them, as well as for their loved one.

You can be that person.

You can help them understand you are competent and capable of taking over for a time. You can make sure they know you’ll contact them if something comes up that you aren’t sure you can handle.

You can even lend them your cellphone and tell them you’ll call them if there’s an urgent matter they need to address.

They may not want to take the time off. They may feel guilty for wanting to take some time alone.

The best you can do is to offer, and to help them in whatever way they need you.

You can at least ask.

And you can certainly listen.

Even if they don’t want to go anywhere, you can stay with them and their loved one and listen.

Listen with your ears, and with your heart.

Ask what they want you to do, as well as what they need you to do.

And then do it.

That is your weekend challenge. Please do what you can, and as always, please pass it on.

Thank you for all you do. Your willingness to serve amazes me. Truly.


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