Care Givers Blog

Familiy Care Givers Now - Caring for Family

Life’s little heartaches

The BeeGees asked, "How do you mend a broken heart?".  I think that it gets mended through acceptance, strength, forgiveness and moving forward.  The better question may be, "Why do I have a broken heart?"  Because as family caregivers, we have our hearts broken pretty regularly.  We deal with a great deal of loss; loss of the loved one we once knew (changes in physical and mental states), loss of abilities, loss of our own freedom, loss of friends/relationships.  Many times, in order to get through what we have to do as family caregivers, we will create systems and plans and schedules and routines in an effort to gain control over things that we are really not completely in control of.  We visualize what a good day will look like.  We make plans and follow through with them to make the positive outcomes that we are looking for.  Some of us know that these moments will never come again.  So, we want to do everything we can to make the moments perfect.  That's a lot of effort, energy and heart being expended.  So, sometimes when things don't go as planned, we get our hearts broken, our feelings hurt and we experience more loss - loss of the control that we desperately try to have over the uncontrollable.

I find myself in that situation on occasion.  I have tried to lessen the chances of being hurt by having no control over the uncontrollable circumstances that come along.  Lots of times, I give up the control and let the situation roll out the way it is going to roll out and go from being in control to rolling with the punches.  That's part of the resilience of a family caregiver.  But on a rare occasion, you find that you are really looking forward to something (an occasion, an outing, a new piece of medical equipment that will make your life easier) and you put a lot more positive energy there than you even know.  When that plan changes, falls through, gets delayed - it really knocks the wind out of you.  I think when you are still down, it is so important to have at least one person on the planet (not the person that you care for) that you can tell what just threw you for a loop.  When you get to hear yourself explain the situation out loud, automatically, it won't seem as bad as it was when you were the only one carrying the weight.  Hopefully, the person that you talk to will display some empathy and will understand that you just suffered a blow.  Because being heard and acknowledged also will make the situation seem less tragic.  After being heard and acknowledged, I start to see where I am standing and I ask myself if I really need to be there.  Do I need to be THIS upset over a change in plans?  Do I need to be THIS frazzled because we had to leave a restaurant in the middle of the meal? Or do I need to be THIS sad because a social visit got cancelled or postponed?  Most of the time, there are far bigger things to be upset about and this offense can be understood or overlooked.  Put away the horns and other party favors because the pity party has come to an end.  It's time to re-group.  Chalk it up.  Let it go.  See it for what it was.  Take the hate, anger, disgust out of your heart and mind.  Take a deep breath (or a heavy sigh) and keep moving.  If needed, you can even forgive yourself for the way you handled the situation.  Almost always, it's not the end of the world.  As family caregivers, we know that, ultimately, we can't win them all no matter how hard we want to.  So, we sit with it for a while.  It was not what we planned.  But it's OK.  Life continues.  We definitely live and learn.  And we will make it back to happy little by little.  BTW - writing this down for you to read has made me feel tremendously better.  And I am well on the way to mending this most recent broken heart.