On the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes our parish celebrated a wonderful Mass of healing and support for caregivers. It is interesting that if it were “just” for healing, the church would have been packed but not so much for caregivers. They are a silent bunch. In many cases they didn’t come into the role of caregiving by choice but rather by love. It also wasn’t like they could for the most part give up their own lives to take on this role since part of their caregiving includes continuing to work, care for children, get groceries, pay bills, etc. This is probably why they are so silent; they haven’t time to take care neither of their own needs nor in many circumstances to even reach for resources which could help them.
A few years back I offered a workshop for caregivers. As usual it wasn’t too well attended. I had speakers there from Council on the Aging, and Visiting Nurses among others. As these speakers went over the resources available there were attendees who started crying. They didn’t know there were such resources or that they were easier to obtain than they realized. Their tears were from relief.
I’m not so idealistic as to think that these caregivers took the time to use the resources. It seemed for the most part that just knowing resources were there “if they ever needed them” was enough to support and encourage them.
Because there are so many caregivers, both known and unknown, I think it’s helpful and important for us to pray for them. Pray that they realize how present God is to them even if they are too busy to feel or know his presence. May they know that they are offering the greatest gift they have to offer. And when they are overwhelmed and irritable and ready to throw in the hat, may they realize that even then they are offering love for they wouldn’t be so frustrated if they didn’t care.
And for those of us not in this role at the present time, may we prepare ourselves now with the knowledge we need of resources because if we love, chances are we will be called to be caregivers. This is the blessing of love and the supreme gift of gratitude.