The month of May marked the second anniversary of my mother’s death. Five months before, my dad had died. May also brought Mother’s Day; June – Father’s Day. All of these “days” jumbled together have affected me differently, this year, than they did in the last two years. I’ve found myself wondering why.
The stories in my book, Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories, illustrate the fact that I’m not alone with my very mixed “after it’s over” feelings.
Merrie Sue says, at the end of her story, “I’m just glad it’s all over. It’s kind of like a play – a drama with the sick person sort of center stage. And we’re all playing in the drama. Some of it was very good. But, I’m glad it’s over.”
David ends his story with, “Now, I guess, I’m no longer a part of the sandwich generation. I’m the top slice of bread. I think you appreciate life more and take a longer view of things when you get in that position...”
And Janice says, “No matter what you do, you don’t think you can do enough. It’s always on your mind. I still – when I drive off in that direction – automatically start going to Eventide” (the nursing home where her mother lived).
Recovering from the years of being on-call 24/7; recovering from the sadness of it all; re-discovering the good memories buried under the stress and worry of caregiving – it’s all a process. Like Janice, each time I left home, my car would start to turn toward the nursing home, as though it were programmed to do so. It was automatic for me to turn in that indirection. I’d done it every morning for all of those years.
So, the fact that it’s taken me over two years to really feel the loss; to change my thought process; to accept the pain and move into new emotional territory – that fact shouldn’t be surprising to me. It’s all part of the journey.
I’m dealing with it. Welcoming back the good memories. I’m also sharing my own experiences with other caregivers. It helps keep my elder’s memories alive. And, I am told, my column, talks and book help other caregivers along the path. The journey continues.
Tell us about your caregiving journey in the message boards.
Published On: June 19, 2006