This is the story of Pam and John; she in her early 50’s and John is 62. Pam is a college professor. John taught at a local community college until diagnosed with Parkinson’s in March 2008, then Lewy Body Dementia in April.


Monday, September 1, 2008


Someone in a group I'm in wrote about struggling to find meaning in caregiving. That sparked me to write some thoughts of my own, which I've edited to take out my replies to her.

How to find meaning? In my own personal healing journey I've been able to find meaning by giving back to others. We can do that in all kinds of small ways. I'm so grateful simply when I run into someone who understands how bad it is—today a couple of colleagues who witnessed a form for me.

Can we find creativity in the ongoing situation? Again I'm thinking of my earlier healing journey, where I worked through painful memories and felt such satisfaction if I could find a creative way to get the feelings out. Is there anything that we can make beautiful? Is there a sense that finding ways to make the ill person's life as good as possible is a dance? Weaving a peaceful place around the pain and confusion.

Feminists have analyzed women's work as not valued because the same tasks have to be done over and over again. It isn't like building something—you sweep the floor and it just gets dirty again. Caregiving is full of such work. Someone has to hold the forces of chaos at bay. Celtic spirituality seeks to find the holy in the mundane, but that isn't easy to hold onto.

I recently read someone who wrote that from caregiving she learned to have faith in herself that she knew best, no matter what other people said or thought. But how can we be less lonely?

1 comment:

pearose said...

In order to make the tallest buildings viable, the repetition of building elements is a must to keep those chaotic forces at bay. Natural and social forces are the basis of design. Creativity requires repetition and mundane work, as well.

Building students as a teacher requires the same mundane tasks. What they may consider as 'busy work' is simply building the foundation for the students' lives beyond their education. I have this argument with students quite often. I'm helping them set piers into the earth so they can be taller and stronger, just like a building. Without that foundation, often based on the mundane, they may not reach their intended dreams. The one person who really matters in regard to whether they think their work is valuable is that person, whether male or female.

You're building up from the foundation of your marriage with John that you're writing about - your piers have been set through years of marriage. However, the strongest of foundations may need some work due to forces not anticipated, which many may consider mundane, but no less valuable. The value is whether the actions are beneficial, not whether a social force agrees or not.

The circular combination of yin and yang represents completeness. The defined strength is in their union, not their separateness.