Young children often learn the little song that goes, “This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine.” Most of them don’t really understand the true meaning of the words, but they are filled with pride just the same to think that their light can be shared with others and that somehow this makes a difference – that somehow they make a difference. We all know that it’s a song promoting stewardship and sharing our gifts with others in the world.
One way to share your light is through caregiving. Caregiving takes on many shapes and forms in our society. It is a huge force that makes an enormous difference in the lives of millions of people around the world.
It’s ironic that you may not even be aware of the impact caregivers have until it touches your life or the life of someone you know. Once it does, a magical thing happens. You begin to see caregivers everywhere. There’s the lady who supports an elderly man on his morning walk. There’s an aunt who watches over a niece suffering from mental issues whose parents need to work. There’s the wife, gently working with her husband as he learns to regain use of his left hand after surgery. There’s a daughter helping her mother remember what she needs at the grocery store. They are all sharing their light. They are all making a difference with the positive energy of love and support for a fellow human.
Caregiving for a loved one with a life-limiting illness is an act of love and loyalty that goes beyond normal caregiving. It is a selfless exertion of effort to care for someone you love during a period that is emotionally charged and fraught with sadness.
However, giving care to a loved one with such an illness is one of the brightest forms of sharing your light that you will ever offer to another person. So whether you are currently in the midst of this incredible adventure, or if you are still considering putting forth your light to help someone else, there are things you should consider. Things you should reflect upon in order to take on this responsibility with all the horsepower you can muster in yourself. The Yolo Hospice team can be an invaluable source of information and there’s always an empathetic ear to listen and to answer questions.
Here are some words of wisdom collected from those who have travelled this path before you. They are snippets of truth passed on to you as a gift.
– Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
– Let others help you. Don’t try to do everything yourself.
– Don’t let guilt cloud your vision of what is truly important.
– Don’t panic! Help is only a phone call away.
– Talk to as many people as you can to gain knowledge from their experience.
– Read as much as you can.
– Take time for yourself.
– Do not lose your sense of humor.
– Sleep is important. Get as much as you can.
– Find help for the sorrow. It will come but help is out there.
– Educate yourself as much as possible.
– Enjoy the process.
– Cherish this time.
– Have a strong support group. Consult with Yolo Hospice for guidance.
– Get your ducks in a row – legal and financial.
– Keep hope alive.
– Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can return the favor some day.
– Love and be patient.
– Keep and open mind and an open heart.
– Do not isolate yourself or your loved one.
Then when your particular journey is finished, you can look back on it with satisfaction, joy and pride knowing that your light truly made a difference in so many, many ways. The world is truly thankful to those people who open themselves up and give with their hands and hearts. Humans can’t live in this world without them. It is an essential element of human survival just like food and water. Be steadfast in your role as caregiver and share your light with dedication and love.