Looking after loved ones, particularly when they were previously our caregivers, is almost bound to present challenges. And yet it can also be an opportunity to connect with and express those deep levels of care and compassion that are naturally within each of us. The story that follows is an ordinary story of extra-ordinary resilience and love, sent to me by a friend who finds himself caring for his father, who is in his 90’s and in poor health.
“It’s an interesting experience caring for my dad. I could probably easily slide down some rabbit hole of frustration or self-pity, that ‘whirlpool of emotions’, but I find that I’m not. It is what it is and I find I just apply myself to the circumstances. I’m not reflecting too much about it either, I’m just doing what it feels like has come naturally to me. I’m surprised at myself, I would have thought I’d get incredibly frustrated with it all and I do get frustrated from time to time, but deep down I’m okay, so there it is.
My brother, by contrast seems to be ‘up and down’ with it all. Sometimes extremely bad tempered or sarcastic about pretty much anything and everything, other times almost dictatorial about what should or shouldn’t be happening. Again, I could react I suppose, I could accept what feels like an invitation to join the conflict, but don’t see the point. I feel grounded enough and reasonably at peace internally, I think he might feel better if he were the same but the outward behaviour suggests otherwise. I’ve pondered if it might be an opportunity to help by trying to point to the things that actually are okay about the situation, but I feel the snowstorm for John is too heavy right now.
It is tough, I won’t deny. I find humour is essential. Most weeks brings some element of activity with my dad that I would never have thought I would have had to do (I won’t go into the details!), and I’m sure if his brain was functioning fully, he would feel the same, so thank goodness it isn’t. It’s just got to be got on with.
Someday I’d value the opportunity to reflect on this period. Against a background of what seems to be becoming an ever increasingly turbulent world I find it helpful to just focus on the moment, and look to the good stuff. Each moment that feels good in retrospect, leads to another good moment. These build up to a generally good sense of wellbeing.”
As you read his story, did you notice the wisdom, love and compassion that comes from accepting the circumstances he finds himself in, without the need for additional meaning? It’s a wonderful example of the practical implications of understanding the principles behind our experience. We all have both the capacity to be fully immersed in our experience and the capacity to wake up to the fact that it is our thinking that creates our experience. Life flows, there is no right or wrong about it; it’s our own thinking that makes it so.