THE SANDWICH GENERATION
The holidays are always a hectic time of year. Shopping for others. Looking for that “perfect” gift -- for others. Planning parties for others. Cooking for others. Cleaning the house. Taking care of everyone else but yourself.
The holidays should be a time for caregivers to recharge themselves, both physically and emotionally.
Let someone else host the annual Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Or make it pot luck. Giving gift cards is a one-stop shopping spree instead of sore feet.
A small pamphlet “Caring For Yourself When You Are Caring For Someone Who Is Ill” by Rabbi Earl A. Grollman is insightful. I think once you understand what is happening within yourself, hopefully you will be better able to handle your tough elder caregiving responsibilities.
The following are excerpts from the pamphlet published by Jewish Lights Publishing.
- “Unfortunately, we place little emphasis on the caregivers, who are too often forgotten as they deal with their own private fears, sadness, emptiness and bewilderment.”
- “You may be emotionally, spiritually and physically overloaded. You know that if you collapse under the strain, you will not be as effective as you would like to be in supporting someone who so desperately needs you.”
- “No responsibility is more demanding than caring for someone you love who is sick. But you will destroy yourself if you attempt to devote every minute of each day to vigilant watchfulness.”
- “Understand the possible physical and emotional consequences caused by the loss of health: disbelief, numbness, hostility, anger, guilt, depression. These are normal adaptive responses. The more your life is bound up with your beloved, the more vulnerable you are to these feelings.”
- “Feelings are neither good nor bad. They are just feelings. There’s no right way to express emotions nor a prescribed time it will take you to adjust. Feel free to feel. Accepting your emotions as natural will help you restore them.”
- “You can’t short-circuit the normal flow of natural emotions.”
- “Don’t become a martyr.”
- “Don’t withdraw and isolate yourself from other people. Don’t escape into loneliness.”
- “Choose and seek out those friends who will listen to how you feel and not tell you how you should feel.”
Rabbi Grollman ends his message by saying: “Acknowledge and respect your own needs: monitoring your personal health, finding quiet time for yourself, understanding your human feelings, expressing emotions, sharing with friends and searching for a spiritual message. You cannot control the illness that is causing dreadful changes in both your life and the life of your loved one. You can only choose how you will meet the challenge of the ordeal. Care for yourself.”