From Child to Caregiver

Much is written about changing beliefs, having a choice in the way you see things, flipping from negative to positive.

I support much that is written! What I hear from people, though, is how do you apply these principles to specific areas of their lives?

Q . When you are with someone who has been there for you as a care giver, a support system, loving guidance, how do you shift into accepting their aging process, their changing brain, the fact that you now provide much of their care, support and loving guidance?

A. The same way you eat an elephant. One bite at a time.

This doesn’t mean it has to take a long time (if you’re really hungry, that elephant will get eaten more quickly!), what it does mean is that first you determine what is the most important part for you to first approach, or which part of the elephant do you want to consume first?

Our culture is moving away from a mainstream, prescriptive way of living a life and into individuation. This is lovely, as many examples of people who follow their passions, travel the path that feels right to them,and/or listen to their own inner guidance over what others advise, living happier, more fulfilled lives.

So shall we apply this to some specifics?

My mother began showing signs of dementia when she and her husband were still living in their house independently. Mainstream wisdom told me to rush in and advocate, get services to help, be sad, wring my hands and know that “the worst is yet to come”. And since I had siblings, it was going to be difficult to agree on things, so look out!

I tried that. I didn’t like it. Advocating was more like taking over. Being sad prevented me from seeing this phase as precious as any other. Assuming it would only get worse kept me in worry and fear unable to honor the process of life. Questioning the decisions of my involved sisters created tension, built walls and generally kept us each in an “I’m right-er than you” frame of mind.

So I talked to my father-in-law, who I knew had experience in this area, and wisdom that I trusted. He counseled me to follow their lead. Only do what is right before you. No more. No less.

I decided to have a conversation with myself and ask some questions.

What is important to you, Natalie?
If you didn’t have outside influences telling you what is or isn’t appropriate, how would see this differently?
Are you honoring your intuition?
What are your beliefs about the cycle of life?

The flipping part became a natural by-product of me getting in touch with and fully trusting my own, unique was of seeing life. When I honored myself it was easy to honor others and their points of view.

It’s hasn’t always been comfortable or convenient to listen to my inner guidance, however once I got in touch with what my inner guidance really felt like and looked like, I can tell you, it has never let me down.

How can I be so sure? I have a memory like an elephant.


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