Chip, Chip, Chip At Caregiver Hearts

Lynette Whiteman

Chip, Chip, Chip At Caregiver Hearts

Lynette Whiteman
Not sure if every caregiver feels this, but this past week, I came to a conclusion. My son is getting married in 2 weeks and I finally settled on a dress which was a major victory. My mom's aide, Pat,  who is a lovely, lovely woman heard me talking about it and asked me to show the dress to her. I brought it into my mom's room and Pat said she loved it and asked about shoes, jewelry, all that stuff.

My mother showed zero interest and just asked what time dinner was and if I was going to be home. I'm not blaming my mother for this, I'm blaming the awful illness of dementia. I have to admit though, it did hurt. It hurt a lot. I wanted her back. I wanted her to ask me to try it on, to tell me it looks great, to ask me all the questions that she used to ask me when I had to go to an event.

This made me think of all the little chips at our hearts we caregivers experience over the years when caring for a loved one. It made me wonder, do caregivers build up scar tissue? Do we get so used to these little losses that we just chalk it up to daily life and don't even talk about it with others?

Before writing this post, I didn't mention this sadness to anyone, but it resided within me. I guess we have to build up scar tissue to survive in this role or else we'd all be walking puddles of tears.

My conclusion -- for caregivers, it's not the big catastrophes like loved ones going to ERs or into nursing homes that define us, although that's usually the times when others pay most attention.  It's the little, day-to-day chips and losses that we all experience but rarely talk about that make us who we are.

When I meet or hear from a caregiver, it's usually when they need help the most. But, now, I vow to also ask and listen to all the chips to their hearts that they don't often talk about and won't discuss unless they are asked. They are painful to hear, yet, so important to give voice to.