What I’m about to write comes from a lot of firsthand observation. Not just outside my home, but inside my house. When someone is sick and struggling the patient normally gets the bulk of the attention. The concern and prayers are often focused on an audience of one. But, what about the caregiver?
My own personal health has been like a never ending roller coaster ride. One moment I think I’m getting better and the next minute my nerve pain has me thinking I need a psychiatrist. Months before my back surgery and now nearly 9 months afterwards my wife Aimee is still helping me day and night.
Aimee knows what it’s like to help me out of bed day after day. She knows what it’s like to have to tie a grown man’s shoes. She knows what it’s like to feel like a full time nurse and waitress. Thank God, she also knows how to just take me by the hand while tears are rolling and just pray. She even listens to the same painful complaints day after day. She not only has to watch me suffer constantly, but inside she is suffering. Not to mention having to still carry on with so many other daily responsibilities as if she were a single mother. After all, we do have four boys that need attention.
While serving as a hospice chaplain I’ve spotted this issue quite often. First, I would recognize and get to know the actual patient that was obviously battling some life threatening illness. However, I knew it was impossible to ignore the other person who loved them dearly and was always by their side. We call that person the primary caregiver. Meaning that person was the main one who looked after the care of their loved one all the time.
I’ve learned over time the significance of pulling aside the primary caregiver for a private conversation. I wanted to look into their hurting eyes and recognize their heavy heart. I would tell them something I knew they desperately needed to hear. “Hey, I just want you to know I realize there is more than just one struggling patient in this house.” Often, the tears would roll down their cheeks. As for just a few moments they got to express their struggle, their pain, their heartbreak, and get the much needed attention they deserved.
So, when you see someone going through something big and life changing. Don’t just check on the patient, but recognize the caregiver. Take time to pray for and encourage that person who is fighting daily to encourage the patient they dearly love. Because I know personally that without a great caregiver it’s hard to make a great recovery.
You see, even though I feel in the greatest physical fight of my life. I’m constantly realizing that without my wife being such a great caregiver I would never make it through. So, caregivers out there who don’t feel appreciated enough know that we realize your priceless importance. And that you not only hurt for the patient, but you are hurting yourself.
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)