My normal Christmas holiday memo is usually lightweight banter coupled with exaggerated accomplishments, etc. This year is a bit different.
This year has been very tough on many folks. And it is not the season to be jolly. It is another year to just get through.
Right now I am coping with one family member’s post-surgery pain and discomfort of a normal variety. Yet it is still hard and I am too tired to think about decorating, baking, and holiday cheer. I cannot help but wonder about the many families who are at best enduring their own situations during this ever longer season of forced joy.
I am thinking of the people who are grieving, and especially those who are responsible for the care of people in physical and emotional pain. We call them caregivers but the word does not seem to be enough. Caregiver doesn’t cover all of those who stand in the background coping with the never ending problems of people they care about, many of whom have dramatically changed because of physical, cognitive, and addiction issues. In many cases, these unsung care providers will continue to watch their loved ones suffer and finally deteriorate. They are exhausted and don’t anticipate happy endings.
There are others that have been through the care giving process or perhaps suddenly face an empty seat at the table. Many drive back and forth to hospitals, care facilities, and nursing homes worrying about the next phone call or if they will be able to give proper care when their loved one returns home. They know their lives will change forever.
The mental and physical fatigue of caregivers is to most a great unknown until all of a sudden it happens to you! When it occurs during the “season to be jolly,” it is almost a slap in the face. There isn’t anyone who does not know someone like those I mentioned. Or who has not felt it themselves. And all the “it’ll get betters” and “you’re strongs” just don’t cut it.
As for the “what can I do to help” question… yes a casserole may be appreciated. However, sometimes listening is all you can or should do.
Maybe you should put aside for a few minutes your “I’m so busies,” sit still, and listen without comment.
Just be there. That is, I think, the greatest gift.