Self-Care is life saver while navigating complexity. I cannot stress enough on self-care. Those of us who walk around with the responsibility chip, need to pay particular attention to caring for ourselves. Self-care is not about being selfish.
I recall when my brother and father had passed, we had friends, family and acquaintances, visiting us around the clock to offer their condolences. It is quite hard to multitask grieving a loved one and playing host at the same time. There were cultural expectations to continually play the host, which took a toll on us emotionally. I am thankful to friends and family who came over to offer solace, as well as take some responsibilities off our shoulders. They took over the kitchen, served tea, organised the meals.
Also, some conversations gravitated toward people’s curiosity about events leading to their passing, and the what ifs. It would be a one-off conversation for them, but for us, it was repetitive; we were reliving it over and over again, until one day, I snapped.
Being assertive to take time-offs, discouraging conversations that were not helpful, sleeping and eating on time, and being mindful to not make sudden emotional decisions etc. were part of my self-care routine during that period.
Self-care might translate into creating some physical distance for emotional clarity; alone time or solitude; getting enough rest and sleep; listening to music; going for walks, exploring creative or physical activities, reaching out and having conversations with close friends/family, venting out frustration, and asking for help.. etc.
Caregivers need care too. If you are a caregiver for someone, who is struggling with health or grieving a loved one, one of the things you would notice is that the priority is always the visibly struggling person; caregivers are usually ignored, by themselves and others. I have seen some caregivers going into a deep depression as they neglect to care for themselves and don’t know how to ask for help.
I want to share a powerful example of self-care and caregiving with a short story about how my uncle, proactively navigated circumstances around his mother’s illness. They are a family of nine children, with him being the oldest male child. After their father had died when he was 18 years old, he took on the role of caring for his mom and siblings, the youngest being only 14 months old.
When the realisation came upon him that their’s mother’s health had taken a downturn, he called a family meeting with all the siblings, including five sisters who lived in India. He discussed with them, the possibility of their mom being bedridden for a few years until she passed. He suggested that they each take turns, in whatever form that worked for each of them, in caring for their mother. He also assured them that any inconvenience they might face during this period, financially or otherwise, would be taken care off. More than just inconveniences being addressed, he wanted to make sure each of their needs was met.
His perspective was that none of the siblings should put their lives on hold at any point in caring for their mother that resentment about being a caregiver might creep in. His vision was for their mother to live peacefully with the best of energy around her, until she untill she breathed her last, and the family to stay connected through this journey, so he worked backwards from there to create that experience for her as well as each of them.
Help was organised, Palliative care arrangements were. Their mom was moved to another independent home where each of them had the freedom to come and go as they pleased, without inconveniencing the others.
He wanted to make sure that their emotional needs were also taken care of, and did not want this to be a stressful period of any of their lives.During four odd years that she was bedridden, she was well looked after, the siblings took breaks, were sent on holidays to let off steam and relax; life was as normal as was possible under the curcumstances. Finally, when she passed, it was she had all herchildren were around her.
One one level it might seem depersonalized and rational when we hear of siblings being compensated to care for their own mother. As I recall, his suggestions did create some discomfort in the family. What I appreciate and admire about his approach was that he courage address and have much needed conversations most of us think about but might not voice out.
Not everyone has financial resources to handle situations in sich a manner, but the perspective of self care while caring for a loved is what I wanted to bring attention to.
Explore what self-care looks like for you. Ask yourself, how am I doing? What do I need n to do to take care of myself.
Life & Relationship Coach (CPCC)