I attended an event this past week where a published author asked me to share a bit about my blog before offering up some thoughts on the type of book I might write related to my chosen topic of elder care.
“I think a book that compiled a number of uplifting stories related to caregiving would be really well-received. I know I enjoy spending time with my 92 year old grandmother on a weekly basis and I think I’d like to read about others who are having similarly positive caregiving experiences.”
Really? I thought to myself.
You would go to a bookstore and leave with an anthology of positive stories about caregiving under your arm to read in your spare time? Are we talking about a coffee table type-book to share with others or one that rests on your nightstand and evokes the warm fuzzies before bed? You’d consider this caregiver support?
Honestly, I didn’t get it. And having thought about it for the past few days, I still don’t.
Of course there are many positive attributes of caring for an aging parent; with a saint for a mother, you’ll never catch me arguing otherwise.
But life experiences – like people – aren’t one dimensional. Instead they’re often complex, and prickily. They can be positive and uplifting and can also evoke difficult, messy feelings. And yes, this happens even when you love the person you’re caring for (and maybe even because you love the person).
In her book Caregiving: Helping An Aging Loved One Jo Horne touches on the notion of having “difficult feelings”. In fact, she goes so far as to add this point to her Caregivers’ Bill of Rights. Right #4 says:
Caregivers have a right to get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.
To this I say, AMEN.
Amen to books that celebrate the complexity of caregiving.
Amen to authors who encourage caregivers to be where (and who) they are without guilt and who offer up their insights within that particular space.
I’m hoping I have the courage to write a book like that someday…
I think it’s in me.