Are you a fan of the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz? My husband claims it is his favourite movie, and he loves the Tin Man the best.
That shiny, tangle of tin parts had been oiling up his joints to try and get himself moving, and he missed his old life when he had been a human with real emotions. As he contemplated life and love, he came to the conclusion that he needed a heart. He was off to see the Wizard, and only realized that he had a heart when it was breaking over the loss of Dorothy.
That longing for connection and the capacity to love got me thinking about the amazing hearts of caregivers, and I have to thank Gary Sturgis and his book, Surviving Grief for inspiring me to write about heart.
Caregivers know about hearts that are filled with love and pain, and that are breaking or already broken. Hearts that are codependent and have trouble setting boundaries for themselves. Hearts that are grieving before, during and after a loved one passes. Hearts that are tired of the heavy mantle of long-term caregiving, and yet still grateful for the time well spent. Hearts that may be angry or frustrated, and yet still filled with tender compassion and kindness.
They have hearts that carry so much guilt over this mixed bag of emotions, and for the times they lost their patience. Hearts that have the courage to call 911 against all objections, and drive to medical appointments through all kinds of weather. Hearts that ache as they try to communicate with a parent who doesn’t know them, and hearts that wish things were different. Hearts that may have already lost their partner to dementia but faithfully attend to the one they love.
Family caregivers are the definition of heart.
Maybe Oriah Mountain Dreamer had caregivers in mind when she wrote her inspirational poem, “The Invitation.”
“I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it… I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done.“
The family caregiver knows about that kind of deep connection where their love language is clearly in action. Even if they are unwell, they get up and do what needs to be done for the one they love.
If you are a caregiver give yourself credit for having such a strong, generous, loving heart. If you know a caregiver, give them a hug.
The Elk Valley Caregiver Support group meets in Fernie at CBAL(402 Hwy 3, unit 1A) on the 4th Wednesday of each month at 2pm. (Feb 28, 2024)
For more support check out:
Caregivers Network For East Kootenay Seniors Facebook
Toll free line 1-877-489-0803 (free and confidential)