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Caring For Another and Caring For Yourself

Caregiving. The word brings to mind most beautiful images of compassion and self-sacrifice; cradling a newborn baby, comforting a person who is ill or dying, supporting someone who is bereaved. Healthy caregiving can bring out all that is best in us. And that is beautiful.

But, there is another side to caregiving—a side we may not care to think about or talk about. Done without adequate rest or relief, caregiving becomes a chore and a drain. Done without proper knowledge and support, it becomes confusing and harrowing. Done without appreciation or understanding, it turns disappointing or disheartening.

Most caregivers have little or no training or experience in providing personal attention for another human being.

Some suggestions to help us offer care to others without ignoring our own needs include:

  1. The healthiest way to care for another is to care for yourself.

  2. It is important to recognize your feelings and what they mean.

  3. To be close to another person, you must establish your own boundaries.

  4. In accepting your own helplessness, you become a better helper.

  5. Caregiving is more than giving care. It also involves receiving care.

  6. As a caregiver, your strength is in your flexibility.

  7. The only way to support another effectively is to be effectively support.

  8. In the ordinariness of your caregiving, look for sacredness.

From The Caregiver’s Book by James Miller Published by Augsburg Fortress, 1996