Who Takes Care of the Care Giver: Care Giving Sucks

A couple of years ago, when a friend of mine lost her mother, I opted to send her a card that said “sorry your day sucked” rather than a traditional sympathy card.  

What I received in return was a phone call resulting in one of the most authentic conversations I have ever had.  I admit I was a bit nervous when she opened with “I got your card.”  Immediately I thought I had made a mistake of epic proportions.  However, the sigh of relief, the laughter and the admission that her job as care giver over the past year did indeed suck a lot of the time, reaffirmed what I believed to be the truth when I purchased the, uh-hem….less than traditional sympathy card.

So what does this have to do with my mission of creating conversation around “Who Takes Care of the Caregiver?”  Well, everything!  

In essence care giving sucks is the unofficial tagline of the job.  One that is recited only in the silence of one’s mind.  When a care giver is asked how they are doing, it’s likely you will hear something like “fine, we have good days and bad, but we are managing.” Translation? Yep you guessed it, care giving sucks.

Now seems like a great time to pause, as there are likely readers who have a lot to say at this point, no doubt  using words including but not limited to, harsh, cold, heartless, or negative.  To them I say, please keep reading, you might be surprised where this headed.

So ask yourself, do you know a caregiver?  It’s likely you do, or if you don’t now, you will at some point in your life.  When this happens you will feel generally sympathetic towards their situation and be inclined to say one or both of the following: “Please let me know if there is anything I can do.” and/or “Please remember to take care of yourself” to which you will receive the same answer to both: “I will”.  P.S. they won’t.  

This is not to say that these genuine affections aren’t appreciated, because believe me they ARE!  The sad truth,however, is that care givers often end up living each day with their head barely above the water and they simply don’t remember your offer.  That is unless you phrase the intent with a slightly more realistic view of the situation.  One that will really slap them across the face, because when you say it…. and I mean really say it……”hey your situation really sucks, how about 20 minutes to vent judge free” they will always remember your act of kindness, even if phrased in what might appear as harsh to an outsider.  

It’s just the simple truth, while there is an incredible amount of humanity, love and respect that one can learn and benefit from while care giving, the truth is a lot of the day to day stuff doesn’t fit into the verbiage of a well crafted greeting card.  So I urge you all to engage a little humor, face reality and simply say “sorry your day sucked”   

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