Blessing Your Caregiver
Who is your caregiver? Is it your spouse? Friend? Family member? Whoever it is, I can bet that he or she has worked tirelessly and sacrificially to serve you. He has had to grieve your accident and the loss he’s felt through it all as well.
It’s easy to become self-absorbed post-concussion. When your head is throbbing and you’re barely able to do daily life activities, all you can think about is surviving that day. It’s up to your loved one to fill in all the responsibilities you used to take care of. He suddenly has a child to take care of instead of a wife.
The more you come back to life, the more you see your caregiver as a hero. She has lovingly and quietly worked hard to care for you. The better you get, the more you realize how much she’s done for you. Then it can become a bit of a tough transition to take back some of the tasks you used to do. There’s trial and error. You may have a few good weeks where you can do a bit more and gain some independence. Then you might hit a bump and have a rough month and it all falls back on your helper.
They may not have signed up for this role, but they’ve taken it on like a true champion.
After caring for my grandparents and other disabled people in my life, I knew all the warning signs of burnout. I knew the stress and strain it can cause helping people. This was a concern for me when I saw Michael now having to care for me.
Something I did from the start was kick him out of the house. I saw him wearing out. He was tired. He worked all day and then had to come home and work all night taking care of me, the dog, and all the house responsibilities. It was a lot for one person. When I saw this in him, I strongly encouraged him to get out and do things that he enjoyed.
He used to play basketball on Monday nights. He had a small group he attended on Tuesdays and a men’s group on Thursdays. He still needed at least two of these nights a week to get some exercise and social time. It was hard for him to leave me, and it was hard for me to let him go, but I knew it was so important for him to have those times.
When he left, we would try to schedule someone else to come sit with me for a couple hours during those times. It gave him peace of mind that someone was there with me. It gave me comfort to have someone in the house, even if I didn’t have the energy to talk to them. They would bring an activity to keep themselves busy, and most of the time, they enjoyed the break themselves.
I have to admit that it’s even harder now when Michael leaves for a few days. He went on a canoe trip last year with some friends. Then he had his brother’s wedding out of town in the fall. Even though I was able to do the basic day-to-day activities at this point, the thought of being responsible for everything set me back a bit. I was overwhelmed. He was somewhat grumpy and struggled being away from me, knowing how hard it would be for me.
As hard as it might have been, I knew that it was good for him to go. He needed to have a break from all the responsibilities and do something for him. Something he could thoroughly enjoy and have peace with.
One thing I would recommend if your helper/spouse goes away for a bit, is to have a few others available to help. Some people could provide meals while he’s away. If you have a dog, someone could come and walk him for you. Hire someone to come in and clean the house. Whatever you struggle with most responsibility wise, find helpers to do that task for you. Or, better yet, see if you can stay with family or friends that know your situation. That way they can help you out, and you won’t feel obligated to visit with them the entire time. If you need a nap, go take one.
All of this to say, your spouse, friend, or family member has done and sacrificed a lot in serving you. They love you and would probably never complain to you about it. But they do need a break from time to time. They need to feel appreciated and valued. They need the support of others as well.
They can feel guilty going out and having fun when they know you can’t. Don’t rub it in. Encourage them to do it and then live vicariously through their story. Get excited for them, and have hope that you’ll be able to join them in the future too. Thank them for all that they do and bless them. It’ll keep them fueled and able to do all that is needed.
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