The healing effects of caregiving get little attention. Many family #caregivers understand that caring for someone can bring positive change and transform our lives. After a week of horrific national violence, I think caregivers have insight to offer as America struggles to heal.
I’ve been thinking about the children who lost a loved one this week. A policeman killed Philando Castile as his girlfriend and her 4-year old daughter watched. Shortly afterward, the families of five Dallas policemen lost fathers, sons, and brothers. The pain that ripped through the country after these senseless murders shreds the fabric of our society. It will haunt us for years to come.
Caregivers and Healing
I think caregivers have a unique perspective on these events. Every day we get up and minister to people we love. We have a deep understanding of the value of life and constant awareness of the threat of death. Research on caregivers also shows that most of us feel caring for a loved one has a healing effect on us. Our approach to healing can play a role in our communities, too.
A 2014 National Opinion Research Center survey found that 83 percent of caregivers viewed our work as a positive experience. Many family caregivers also said they felt: “a sense of giving back to someone who has cared for them, personal growth, and increased meaning and purpose” in life.
People I know are often surprised when I tell them how much I value the experience of caring for my mom. They see it as a hard job and one that must surely depress me. Sometimes that’s true. But I’m also very thankful that I have a job that allows me to do this for my mother. Being a caregiver has made me a far more compassionate, patient and loving person. I feel the healing effect of caregiving in every aspect of my life and I want to share that with others.
Caregivers make the preservation of life a priority even when we know that we can’t save our loved one. Yet so many people around us believe that shooting people who are African-American, White, Latino, or Gay is an acceptable response to conflict. My family raised me to value life and my experience as a caregiver has strengthened what I learned as a kid. We need to respect the gift of life that was given to each person in our society and find ways to make our world more humane for everyone. If you are a caregiver, please encourage your friends and family to share their love and not their hate. There is more than enough outrage to go around, but not nearly enough compassion.