I Am a Family Caregiver: Meet Mary Tutterow

Denise

I Am a Family Caregiver: Meet Mary Tutterow

Denise
(Editor’s Note: We continue our I Am a Family Caregiver campaign by featuring Mary Tutterow. You can connect with Mary on her profile page: @thecaregiver. Our questions and her answers follow.)

Mary_TutterowCaregiving.com: Fill in the blank: I am____.
Mary: I am a family caregiver, caring for our daughter with special needs.

Caregiving.com: What's the biggest misconception that others have about family caregiver?
Mary: That manuals and tips about getting organized, coping, etc. will change the pain so many caregivers are in. What we are wrestling with goes much deeper. It requires persistence to find the roots and even harder work to make the emotional and spiritual changes necessary for healing.

Caregiving.com: What would you like others to understand about your role as a family caregiver?
Mary: To the outsider, it looks like it was the death of me (at least the old me they used to know). But it was an invitation to a new beginning to live and love in a most profound and fulfilling way.

Caregiving.com: How do you describe what family caregivers do?
Mary: They love and serve others sacrificially.

Caregiving.com: How can others help you?
Mary: Almost EVERYONE on the planet will find themselves being a caregiver of someone at some point. Others can help me by looking to me as a teacher, talking with me as a pioneer into territory they will one day inhabit, not seeing me as someone to be pitied, rather respecting and discussing my courage. And in return, I will have enough grace to receive the love people are sending my way, not being offended by their awkward attempts to encounter something they are scared of.

Caregiving.com: What’s one tip you suggest that helps another family caregiver?
Mary: Change your perspective. God hasn't done something terrible to you and the person you are caring for. God wants to do something wonderful through you!

Caregiving.com: Briefly tell us about your caregiving situation.
Mary: My husband and I care for our daughter who is mentally and physically challenged with a chronic seizure disorder. We also cared for my mother-in-law through cancer and early stage dementia.

Caregiving.com: What do you hope to accomplish during your life?
Mary: I hope to change the way caregivers love and care--from exhausted to exhilarated, from isolated to inspired, from overwhelmed to overjoyed!

(We’d love to feature your story in our campaign–just complete our “I Am a Family Caregiver” campaign questionnaire. We also want to share you story if you are a stressed-out family caregiver. If you are a working family caregiver, feel free to also share your story as part of our Hire a Family Caregiver campaign. And, we also want to see your caregiving support group.)