Good morning caregivers everywhere! It's Scott here and I want to wish each and every one of you a very happy holiday season! In our family we celebrate Hanukkah as well as Christmas and I often find myself thinking on all the meanings and importance this season holds, especially as a well-seasoned caregiver.
I look at holidays differently since I became a caregiver and wanted to share a thought or two here just in case there are other caregivers among us who also feel a bit 'different' or perhaps a touch out of sorts at this time of year.
Holidays can be a double edged sword for caregivers. At least they were for me. Times of seeing so many folks consumed by the details, events, and happiness of the season, while I had to simply try and fit it all into the chaotic and crammed caregiving life of my wife and myself. In my wife's case she viewed the holidays as a 'bad' thing since they promised to provide interruptions and distractions to her critical daily routine. I imagine it also brought times of wishing she could have still been the involved family member she had been before her illness.
It took years for many of our family and friends to begin to understand that for me, as a caregiver, holidays had to be handled differently than they were back in the pre-illness old days. Some adjusted some. Some never did. I bear no ill will towards those who disliked how we had to deal with holidays since I have come to realize that is a core issue with caregiving — so many folks who don't understand the demands, pressures, and changes caregiving brings to a person's life. So very true at the holidays!
These days, as our family approaches our third Christmas without my wife, the holidays continue to be a time of conflicting feelings. So much of the holidays are steeped in nostalgia and traditions, yet for our grandchildren, children, and myself, that all changed forever with the death of my wife. Each decoration in the bin have taken on different meaning, carols bring back new kinds of memories, and my heart aches when I do something as simple as hang our family members' stockings by the fireplace and leave hers tucked away. It's not all bad, by any means, as we are developing new activities to fill our holidays together, which has helped, but gosh darn it if caregiving didn't change my life forever in so many ways.
Caregivers are amazing and wonderful people! I am so very proud of everyone of us here! You each deserve a huge thank you and love for your day in, day out, efforts — so to each of you I send love and thanks from our home to yours!
Be strong, be courageous, and may you find peace! May the love of the season be with every caregiver!