(This post is a chapter from my book: Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.)
Family care-giving demands huge sacrifices emotionally, spiritually, and physically from the caregiver. At the same time it is not often affirmed and recognized by society. Sometimes even the caregiver’s loved ones do not affirm or acknowledge the love sacrifices which are being made for them. They sometimes can not or do not do this, because they themselves are so overwhelmed with their disease. In the spring of 2009 in the midst of my husband’s neurological disease I wrote the following words:
“The other day I took one of those Facebook quizzes. I am never big on these quizzes, because they appear to be a bit of a hoax. The quiz I took this time, however, seemed to match my reality pretty closely. The name of the quiz was “What is Your Love Language?” It said my love language was words of affirmation.
Before my husband’s illness he would tell me I was beautiful, and he would often call me ‘his favorite wife.’ It became a standing source of teasing between us, because my reply would always be, ‘How many wives do you have?’ My husband was always good about giving loving cards on special occasions also. So much of that verbal affirmation is gone now. My husband’s speech is so poor that basic communication between us is difficult. I miss also the basic bouncing of ideas between us.
Yesterday at my husband’s suggestion we went out to eat. He so seldom wants to go anywhere let along suggest it, so I readily agreed. It was very windy, however, and so we took the wheelchair. By the time I had wrestled the wheelchair in and out of the trunk of the car, gone through the buffet line for my husband and then for myself, and then basically carried on a conversation with myself during lunch; I began to wonder if it was worth it. As I said, I miss the verbal exchange.
A day or so ago I read a devotional in my care-giving devotional book about the importance of God’s affirmation of His love for and delight in His children. Knowing this is a source of comfort to me more than knowing what I do in my care-giving role has a purpose and meaning. I need to feel affirmed as me not as my role as a caregiver."
Dear Christian caregiver, the world may not recognize what you do. Your loved one for whom you care may not always be able to recognize and acknowledge what you do. God, however, does see what you do for your loved one. You are doing noble work, dear caregiver. God also delights in you and loves you just as you are! (Check out Zephaniah 3:17 in the Old Testament of the Bible!)