A Caregiver’s Manifesto

Young woman praying

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices, God is pleased.—HEBREWS 13:16 (NIV)

My husband, Chris, and I were at the end of our caregiving rope. My mother’s naturally combative personality was worsening as her memory faltered. Nearly every interaction exhausted us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

It didn’t help that Mom and I had never enjoyed a warm relationship. I rarely measured up to her expectations. Even at 97, she repeatedly pointed out things she didn’t like about me, like how I wasn’t around enough or attentive enough. Nearly everything I tried to help her with backfired on me. She also knew how to open old wounds.

I felt racked by guilt. Was I the only daughter on the planet that had such an oil-and-water relationship with her mother and struggled with providing her care?

Then I read an article about the best ways to support difficult family members while saving your own peace of mind. Several tips helped me write a personal caregiver’s manifesto.

First, I would major in kindness and patience and aim to please God in my caregiving, even when Mom threw verbal daggers my way. I would strive to think more like a detached, compassionate caregiver than a dejected, conscience-stricken daughter. And I would stop striving for the unlikely fairytale ending of receiving the affirmation and appreciation I so wanted from her.

Today's Prayer:

Lord, help me remember not to take things so personally when I have problems or doubts as a caregiver.

Adapted from Strength & Grace: Daily Devotions for Caregivers, a new publication from Guideposts