When I was much younger I was quite the consumer of peanut butter sandwiches. I not only enjoyed the taste of the finished product (either plain, with jelly, jam or honey), I enjoyed the “making” of the sandwich. It was a new adventure every time the lid was opened. How full would the jar be? Would I have to scrape the sides or would I be the lucky first to dip into the smooth top? And then there was the all-important spreading on the bread step. It was here that you had to be very careful because if you spread the peanut butter too thin and applied too much pressure you would rip the bread!
Caregiving is much like spreading peanut butter, if you do not take care, you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin and something ends up “ripping”. You want to be alert to the possibility and gently proceed so that you can be your best for the one you love.
A caregiver is not necessarily the same as a health care professional. As a caregiver, your heart is involved in the process. Because of this, when you give care, you give of yourself… physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and even spiritually. Care giving is: energy and effort held together by love and/or a sense of duty. Again, with so much going out, it is highly recommended to make sure you don’t run out of what’s going out!
As you continue to access the peanut butter, take time to recognize how much is left in the jar and have an idea where you can go to get more before you run too low, or worse, you run out completely. Find out/remember those things that fill you with energy and enthusiasm…soft music, loud music; familiar places, unfamiliar places; old movies, new movies…whatever it is that works for you. The key is not just recognizing what you need to do to take care of you, but being deliberate in doing what needs to be done. It doesn’t have to take long. You may have to settle for one spoonful at a time. That is OK. Your goal is not to find the biggest jar on the shelf, but rather to make sure you have enough to make it through each moment of each day… without ripping the bread.
I’ll share a few more thoughts along these lines in the days ahead. For now, I encourage you to take the time (even if it’s just a second or two) and think about you. Caregiver…Take Care.
Wes Bynum, Bereavement Coordinator
Hospice of East Texas