Caregiving is an interesting and winding journey
by: Rachel Engstrom
Until you, yourself, are a primary caregiver for someone you love, you have no idea what this adventure entails. In a way, it’s like being a kid that’s been transferred to another school, in a new country with a foreign language you do not understand. You know a bit about the culture from what you’ve heard from friends, family and what you’ve seen in pop culture. However, now it’s your turn to navigate the unknown journey.
The healthy person you once knew and saw as an equal is now most likely vulnerable in ways you’ve never known and depends on you for so many things.
When my late husband, Grayson, became ill, I, all of a sudden, had to learn the new language of not sharing everything with him, like I had before. I was taking new classes in keeping my fears, worries and stress to myself, and having to talk to friends about my worries when I was away from him, just as I would have to the school counselor when away from home. I had endless classes in life of medical jargon, acronyms, medications, treatment plans, side effects, and had to take independent study classes in mental and emotional health. It was through trial and error that I was able to gather the supplies for my backpack as each week and month went on during the illness journey.
Back when Grayson was ill in 2011 and died in 2013, there were not organizations around like Jack’s that I was aware of at the time. Having a group of humble wonderful people and resources that can interpret and help translate what you’re going through into ways in which you feel validated and heard -is priceless.
Hang on tight, the journey is not easy, but taking care of someone you love and care about is one of the greatest gifts we can be given in this life.
About the author:
Rachel Engstrom M.S.W, C.H.E.S, Jack’s Volunteer and author of
“Wife, Widow, Now What: How I Navigated the Cancer World and How You Can, Too.”
You can find her book on Amazon and WWNW on Facebook and Instagram.