I received a very nice email over the weekend from a colleague who forwards information about our site’s activities to her colleagues, which includes ministers at her local churches. She forwards the information so they have resources to share with their church members in a caregiving role.
In response to her messages, they write back, telling her “thanks, but no thanks.” They tell her they “don’t have caregivers here” or, if they do, “it’s a secret.”
Oh, my. I’m just not sure what to think about these responses. Is the response from laziness? Denial? Fear?
(Disclaimer: We know that many churches and synagogues have been very helpful to many family caregivers, including to those who blog here. To those churches and synagogues, thank you!!)
I guess it’s the secret part that gets my dander. I’m wondering if this is a reflection of our world? That we’re all too busy to notice when a member of our house of worship stops attending because of caregiving? Or, now brings an aging relative to service? Or, wheels a spouse to the front pew?
The idea that leaders in some communities don’t know their family caregivers reminds me of an excuse that’s tossed around regularly by organizations targeting family caregivers: “Family caregivers don’t self-identify, which is why we can’t reach them.” This excuse took root in the late 1990s; national caregiving organizations even spent research money to prove this—which only proves to me you can prove anything as long as you have the money to prove it.
If a service provider or organization who targets family caregivers can’t reach family caregivers, then I would suggest re-writing the marketing plan or improving the services offered. Don’t point the finger at your customers—family caregivers.
So, I guess to any leader of a house of worship, who says that they don’t have family caregivers in their midst or they don’t know because it’s a secret, I offer this challenge:
Have you asked?
Because once you ask, you’ll see that family caregivers sit right in front of you, doing God’s work.
(What’s your experience with your house of worship? Please share in our comments section, below.)