We run the 'Coffee for the Caregiver' group once a week – every Thursday afternoon at the Solace Center. The group is usually small. Today I had a conversation with the facilitator about the group and as we were talking, I was humbled by the stories of the people who walk through our door. There are so many people in this town who are caring for someone. They are wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, neighbours - they are just doing what they do because they love and care for someone. Often they don't call themselves caregivers, that term is too removed from the relationship, to impersonal. They are there not because of a sense of "role" but because this is what life has given them right now. It is part of being in a relationship.
They are brave and strong and loving – and they struggle sometimes. We all struggle sometimes but when we care for someone, well there is no 'How To' book. There is no step one, step two, step three. The thing is though, they don't know that they are brave and strong and loving. They don't see their strengths because this is not a comfort zone for them. They are stretching themselves every day.
Often, everyday something new comes up for them that they have never experienced before. They live in uncertainty, not knowing what will show up next. They just keep going. As the illness of their person progresses, they become busier; the social aspect of their lives falls away. They feel isolated and often misunderstood. They have questions and there are no answers, or they don't understand the medical lingo, so the answers are unclear.
And they just keep going.
The people who come to the group say that they wouldn't be able to do this as well without it. They say that in talking with others, and sharing stories, they see that they are not alone. They see that others are experiencing some of the same things that they are. Different emotions, being tired, feeling alone, are just some of them. They say that coming to the group is their way of caring for themselves, understanding that they have to stay healthy so they can help their person.
One of the things I love about the group is that it is so respectful and non-judgemental. If someone needs to vent, everyone just lets them vent. If someone needs to cry, they let them cry. If someone needs to tell a funny story, well there is room for that too. I hear a lot of laughter as I walk past the door.
So I guess this blog post has two purposes, the first is to acknowledge the people in our community who are carer's. You carry a lot. The second is an invitation. If you feel that being with others in a safe environment and talking about your experience would be helpful please come. It is Thursday afternoon from 1:00pm to 3:00pm at our Solace Center. Just drop in and check it out.