By Dr. Yolanda Peppers
Good Day Fellow Caregivers,
I want to speak about what isn’t spoken about very often; something that is quite painful, yet forgivable, and that is dealing with feelings of animosity. We oftentimes hear caregiving stories that involve loving family members and friends that step up to the plate. We hear less about those that are alone and the feelings that can come with caring for someone with a lack of support.
How do we navigate those feelings and embrace forgiveness? Let’s talk about it.
Focus on what you can control, and that is yourself.
My story starts when I was a caregiver to a loved one that had multiple children. As I cared for them, day in and day out, I couldn’t help but notice the absence of her children. They would not call or check-in for several weeks and months at a time, or otherwise offer support. Some would even come into town to visit and not check in with her.
This brought me a lot of grief and anger. I couldn’t understand how it was possible, that a person that fed you, clothed you, purchased gifts for you, and took care of you could be thrown away from your mind.
But I had to soon realize that I was bringing myself a lot of grief, while the people I was angry with were out living their lives. It was then that I decided to carry on and focus on being there for the person I was caring for.
Do not let the actions of others interrupt your assignment. Accept the situation for what it is and move forward.
Let people navigate their own feelings.
Everyone grieves differently, and some not at all, but you have to accept it either way. Everyone is fighting their own battles in ways that you may not understand. This is not the time to pass judgment, it is a time to show an example of God’s unconditional love.
Some children never truly develop a relationship with their parents, which can make caregiving mentally taxing. Having to care for a parent you were never truly able to connect with can be an arduous task. Some also may have had to navigate some negative experiences with their parents, which can also make caregiving a challenge. They may be harboring feelings of resentment they have yet to deal with.
Some are grieving and do not know how to handle seeing this once independent, bigger-than-life person that could do everything before, now fragile and frail. They use avoidance as a tactic instead of dealing with reality head-on.
Some may be dealing with debilitating personal life circumstances. They may be struggling to be there for themselves and dont have the capacity to pour from an empty cup. Understand that sometimes people need to focus on being better for themselves before they can be there for anyone else. What they may need is support and understanding during that time.
There are many reasons why a relative may choose to not interact with a person that requires caregiving. Give them grace as they navigate their feelings.
Forgiveness is not easy, but doable.
I found the lack of acknowledgment from the family of the person I was caring for mind-blowing and upsetting, yet I carried on. Was I angry? Absolutely! Yet I smiled and carried out my duties. Eventually, the Lord gave me peace and rationale as to why her family members were not interacting and I was able to forgive. God spoke and told me to let it go, and I continued to pray for them.
The lesson here is simple. Pray for them and move on.
Grace and forgiveness are key to your own peace.
Caregiver family, I challenge you to practice grace and forgiveness. As you care for those that lack the support of caring family and loved ones, don’t judge. They are grappling with a loss that is unimaginable and may not know how to cope or receive assistance.
Our assignment is to continue as caregivers and care for our loved ones as best we can and PRAY for their children or significant others.
-Dr. Yolanda Peppers
Continue to follow our caregiving blog series at https://www.drjeanneporterking.com/caregivers-corner/