Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Gratitude Poem

When I write the word “Gratitude”
I think recovery.
I don’t think “cancer”.
I think gratitude for him
for me, for this
     --surely not this?
We are grateful or we are not.
We say Yes! and Thank you!
All around me well-meaning
friends say,
“You can say ‘No’!”
But I say Yes
I don’t No.
Who knew…
“It’s like a relationship on steroids” I
told a friend and
then I realized
that was no metaphor.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Caregiving and Your Spiritual Life

Oh, we pray a lot as caregivers. You may be saying traditional, memorized prayers. You may be talking to whatever is bigger than you (I call that your “Bigger”) in a direct and sometimes desperate way. Or maybe your prayer just sounds a lot like cursing, “Jesus Christ!” and “For God’s sake, come on!” But those also count as prayers.

I’ve been a spiritual director and a spiritual coach for many years. Almost as long as I have been a caregiver. For years I had to explain and explain and almost apologize, “No, not religious”, “Nope, not Catholic,” and “No, I’m not part of a church”…and I got used to the baffled looks.

Now, more and more people understand the difference between religion and spirituality, between believing in God and wanting to connect with something bigger and outside of themselves. And as we get older our need to make sense of life and to clarify our values and beliefs presses on us.

So, I was so happy to see that Dr. Jeff Kane, author of the book, “Healing Healthcare” includes a chapter on spiritual support as an essential component in the healthcare system. In chapter 18, “Help is on the Way” Kane writes about all of the kinds of help a patient and the caregiver need to make the medical experience complete and successful.

He writes about one hospital chaplain, David Swetman, who distributes a flyer to all patients and families in the local hospital that includes this statement: 

You think. You feel. You communicate. You have relationships. You have a style, a sense of humor, and attitude and an approach to life. Perhaps you feel deep religious beliefs or a strong connection to God; perhaps you have none. It is all of these non-physical parts of you that make up your spiritual self.”

Kane points out that while illness may cause pain to the physical body, it is in those non-physical parts that suffering resides, and that suffering also requires treatment.

And so, as caregivers we need to give time, attention and resources to our spiritual health as well.