Caregiver Harbor Advice

What You Need to Know to Find Peace
Frank Blood

What You Need to Know to Find Peace

This is the time of the year when we hear the word “Peace” most often. Everyone wants peace on earth, many of us would like more peace in our homes and some of us are in desperate need of more peace within ourselves. The phrases roll off our tongues so easily but what does peace mean and how do we get it? Peacefulness is personal and implies a lack of tension within us. The desire for more peace means that we want to reduce the conflict we have about others or about how we view ourselves. Each of us will define peace in different ways, but the way to achieve it is the same for all – it must begin with forgiving, and the hardest person to forgive is yourself.

On Thanksgiving Day, as families were gathered around their tables, nearly every caregiver expressed gratitude for their loved one and genuinely meant it. After the work of getting everyone and everything ready, a sense of calm and thankfulness took over as they considered the blessings they had received. But for some, there was also a sense of guilt. Sometimes, no matter how hard people try to stay focused on the positive things in their lives, they can’t avoid recalling times when they didn’t measure up as they thought they should. Anyone who doesn’t immediately deal with this emotion is headed for trouble.


Caregivers Have a Lot Going On

Stage 4 caregivers are especially vulnerable to guilt because of the intense level of concentration they maintain when providing care. Throughout the year, occasional random thoughts will pop into their minds that might not bother most people but cause the carer deep distress. For example, they may daydream for a moment about how nice it will be when they don’t have to be responsible for Dad any longer. If they interpret this to mean that they wish Dad were dead, they might feel as if they betrayed him or their own moral code and feel horrible about it.

Even the best of us can make a mistake when managing medications for someone. It’s not uncommon for a senior with disabilities to take over a dozen different medications a day. A few of them may be taken more than once a day and the dosing for some may depend on the results of monitoring. It can be confusing even when everything is written down and the caregiver has been doing it for a long time. The consequences of minor mistakes can be hard on everyone and it could take days before the person returns to normal.  A major mistake could cost a life. We want to feel guilty for mistakes we make that cause harm so that we don’t make them again. This is normal guilt – but we still need to figure out a way to keep it from bringing us down.

Accidents happen and there’s nothing we can do to stop them. A caregiver walks out of the room for a moment just before Mom gets out of her chair and falls. Dad hurts himself with tools he’s used for most of his life. The possibilities are endless but caregivers everywhere beat themselves up for not doing enough to prevent the uncontrollable from occurring. “I should have seen this coming” can drive us crazy. If a sibling blames us for the accident, not only is guilt felt more deeply but we now have an anger issue to deal with.


Peaceful People are Happy People

“I forgive them. I forgive myself.” Short enough to Tweet. Powerful enough to bring true peace. Peace beyond our definitions or our ability to comprehend. It’s that kind of thing you can’t explain but you’ll know it when you see(find) it. If we can show compassion instead of anger, especially toward ourselves, the process will naturally get us to our goal.

Complete peace isn’t achieved once and then kept. That kind of perfect peace is fleeting; it only lasts for a moment while are forgiving others and ourselves. Being human means that even if we could clear up everything in our past that needed forgiving, in a very short time we will face something that will create new guilt, new anger, new envy etc. That’s the way life is. But becoming a peaceful person is very attainable. As people who care about all our relationships (home, work, social, spiritual, etc.) we know that the sooner we sweep away the debris that blows into our lives the better off we are. Peaceful people are happy people.

Many people need more than self-help to deal with the emotions felt during caregiving. If you think you are one who could benefit, please seek professional help. In this area, DuPage County Senior Services and Will County Senior Services Center can provide you with references. Do yourself and your loved one a favor by calling today. It doesn’t cost anything to have the conversation and the result could be just what you’re looking for.

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