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The Struggle to be a Good Caregiver

Mark Dohle

Well-Known Member
faceing the mystery of life and death.jpg

The Struggle to be a Good Caregiver

When younger I tried to open up my heart, to be able to actually love others by working with the elderly, and the dying, in our community. Working with someone day after day, seeing them at their best, and their worst, as well as taking care of bodily needs, is a deep form of intimacy. Also, those I worked with experienced my own struggle to be a good caregiver, and saw how I would fail. It was a relationship of mutual acceptance of each other’s human foibles. It was a slow process and still is for me, as I move toward the time when I too will have to be taken care of.

The last miles of life is for many the most difficult, yet also the most important, as alone each of us has to face the mystery of God, eternity, and letting go of all that keeps us here. Caregivers and there are millions of them, accompany these souls in their final years, months, days, hours and moments. It is a great honor. To be with the dying, and to pray for them, and with them is a great honor.

Since COVID came on the scene I am now back in the Infirmary after being away for nine years. It is a different experience as a caregiver. I am older now, close to the age of the oldest ones I am taking care of. We have three senior monks in their mid-nineties and that is with men who are only 20 years older than me. So I am coming face to face with my own mortality, as well as fragility. My struggle with fatigue is more difficult, but nonetheless, it is good for me to be back. Everyone who is a caregiver, I believe, has to experience aspects of themselves that can keep them from truly giving of themselves. It is this bit of self-knowledge that allows growth in one's ability to feel empathy and compassion. I am blessed to be given this opportunity to once again be one of the many members of the community who help with the elderly and the infirm. It is a communal endeavor. We each bring unique gifts that enrich each one of us.-

Br. Emilio who is now in charge of running the Infirmary, is a gentle, and compassionate soul. He works hard and we are there to support him.Br.MD

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Well-Known Member
One thing very important as a caregiver is to recognize that the person is more than the elderly, sickly person you are addressing, but is still the young person he/she always was. I remember as a young caregiver in a nursing home setting a patient on my case load assignment was a woman who everyone dreaded as rude and nasty to all. I did not find her to be that way. And as I was leaving, she said something I will not forget, 'You are so human'. That about summed it up.