The following post an editorial by Karen van Vuuren from Vol2#3 of Natural Transitions Magazine: Caregiving and Receiving.
Suddenly, there was not enough of me to go around. Over the course of a week, I’d received pleas for help from three friends with relationship crises, two with broken limbs, and one with a life-threatening illness. On the home front, I was trying to avoid being sucked into my own minor maelstrom with my high school senior as she prepared for exams and completed college applications. I felt guilty and frustrated that I simply couldn’t do it all. The irony was not lost on me that, at the same time, I was also putting together this issue of NTM with its focus on caregiving and receiving.
Sharing the burdens and the blessings of supporting those in need is more important than ever, for both our personal physical and mental well-being and our social and cultural health. When our family support networks and our financial resources fall short of our needs, we must create these new support communities. Share the Care founder, Sheila Warnock, has long exhorted Americans to “return to the barnstorming mentality of yesteryear,” and she repeats her call for community in her article for this issue, Don’t Do It Alone!
We’ve devoted much of this issue of NTM to the caregiver’s needs. But clearly a healthy caregiving scenario, in which the caregiver does not buckle under the weight of his or her role, will positively impact the care recipient as well. Although the newly coined diagnosis, Caregiver Stress, is not yet in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it is increasingly acknowledged and recognized by medical professionals. Exhaustion, depression, anger, guilt, and a decline in one’s own health can all dog the caregiver who experiences “unrelieved” caregiving. This issue of NTM is in honor and support of those who care for the sick and the dying—and for the newly emerging circles of those who care for the dead (see Undertaking with Love and Quaker Burial Societies: Departing in the Company of Brethren). Please SUBSCRIBE to Natural Transitions magazine and send your comments and story ideas to us.