“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”. Habakkuk 3:17-18
Are you struggling with caregiving? I learned some caregiving principles when I recently read a book that I am going to share with you called, The Art of Caregiving. I lost my mom to cancer some 15 years ago . This book gives valuable tips in caring for those with cancer. It was written by Michael S. Barry in 2007. He is a Reverend who also spent year ministering to the needs of cancer patients and their loved ones. Even though the focus is on caring for loved ones with cancer, the principles and ideas he shares can be used with a loved one going through any type of debilitating disease, as well as the big ‘C’. Many of our loved ones that we care for do have diseases or conditions like that, therefore I found this advice and insight very encouraging and enlightening to hear.
ATTITUDES TOWARD CAREGIVING
A few chapter names so you get an idea of what’s in this book are for example; Principles of Caregiving, the Roles we play, When its Hard to Focus, Flow into Joy, and Boundaries in Caregiving. They actually cover more material than I can possibly mention, but I touch on these few to give you an idea.
When the author starts talking about caregiving,, he discusses what a privilege it is and how our attitudes toward caregiving or ‘the patient’ will greatly affect the quality of care we give.
“Caregiving is more than an act of love; effective caregiving is an art of love”
“Caregiving is a great privilege, and it is as demanding as it is rewarding. To do it well requires us to examine our own attitudes. We need to assess our beliefs about disease and discomfort and how we face difficulties in our own lives.”.
This is very true. If we don’t feel good about caregiving, then it will come out in how we do it. If we feel great about it, are glad to have the privilege to do this; it will more of a blessing for the ‘patient’ as well as for the caregiver. Make no mistake, caregiving is difficult and at times seemingly has little reward, but if there is anything one can do to make it more life-giving and enjoyable, then we should focus on that because when it is more enjoyable, it still isn’t easy, just easier.
PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF CAREGIVING
As the book progresses, he goes into the more practical aspects of how to give active care and support to the one you care about. In the chapter about Being a Real Friend, you would read something like this:
“It is fundamentally impossible to worry while at the same time trusting in God. Complete trust in God dissipates worry; they are mutually exclusive. “
While there are always things to be concerned about, we also need to have a certain amount of faith. If we are lacking in faith, then it definitely will not help in trying to life the spirits of the one we support through this battle. The caregiver must also take care of his own needs to better be able to assist his loved one. The author then gives practical resources and tips to look into for support and professional help for the caregiver and the one with cancer. A couple of those sites mentioned are: http://www.ourjourneyofhope.com/ and http://www.caregiver.com/. On top of that are ways to deal with stress and boundaries in caregiving. We definitely need to know our limitations, and what only God can do when trying to encourage the one with cancer.
I found this book to be a valuable resource. It is not dogmatic in insisting there is only one way to do things because there really isn’t. There are different cancers, different treatments, and different people respond differently. It is great to explore different options, and to be able to use different methods of caring also.
The Art of Caregiving definitely encourages all this. I just wish I could have had a resource help like this when I was caring for my mom with cancer. I think I might have been able to handle things a bit differently. Truthfully, when I first started reading it, I wasn’t looking forward to finishing it. When I finished, however, I felt very encouraged and blessed. Hope, joy, encouragement and a positive outlook were woven throughout the book. I trust many of you would benefit from reading it also.
One more tidbit to end this post: “The goal of caregiving is to create a physical and emotional environment where, in spite of the possibility of death, the order of the day is joy, not sadness. Hope, not despair. Life and living, not fear of death and dying.”
“A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes