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Practical Caregiving

At Thanksgiving, Make a Point of Finding Happiness

By Jean Donahue

In the United States and Canada, Thanksgiving is a time when we are reminded to be grateful for living where we do and for everything we have. The typical Thanksgiving Day will start out with someone putting a turkey in the oven in the early morning hours. Later in the day, the rest of our family comes with various dishes to go with the turkey. Itís a day of happiness and laughter. All cares and frustrations are forgotten for that one day. It sounds wonderful.

Itís too bad we canít put away our cares and frustrations that easily. As a family caregiver, we canít do that, even on Thanksgiving Day. Our loved one isnít going to get better. We have to live with that fact every minute of every day. On top of that, we are still responsible for our loved oneís care. We canít get away from it, and when it comes down to it, we wouldnít want to. We love them too much to leave them alone on any holiday.

I want everyone reading this to find at least two things to be thankful for. They donít need to be huge things. They can be little things, like being overweight. Thatís right Ė OVERweight. Did you know people in other countries are so skinny and weak they may die? When you think of it that way, you can see how you can be thankful for being overweight. Next, when you are down, think of those two things and rejoice that you have them to be thankful for.

If you donít do something to make your Thanksgiving Day a good day amidst your caregiving, it can be horrible. You can sit and feel sorry for yourself. You can tell yourself that you are in this awful situation and that it looks like the rest of your family is having that carefree time you want so badly.

You can get angry with your loved one, but you know your loved one doesnít have a choice about needing someone to take care of him/her. You can become jealous because your brothers and sisters, your kids, your friends look like they are having a good time, but it wonít change anything. You are a family caregiver. Youíre taking care of your loved one because you love him/her, not because theyíre sick.

Itís so easy to get upset because you arenít doing what you want to do. You and I both know you donít want to be taking care of your loved one. You want them to be healthy and living a normal life, not needing your care. But, we canít live in a fantasy world. Itís essential that you live in the real world, a world where people get sick and need help. But, donít look at the bad things you have to face. Look at the good things that come out of your situation. You are learning so much. You are growing so much. You will be able to talk to someone else in a situation similar to yours and help them. You will always know that you did everything you could to help your loved one when he/she needed it so much. I know itís hard. Iíve been there. But, itís worth it.

No matter what people are doing Ė caregiving, or not -- they all have difficult issues to face. The super rich have problems, even though they have more money than theyíll ever need. A beautiful person has problems, even though she isnít unattractive. An ordinary person walking down the street -- not taking care of their loved one -- has problems, just different ones than you have.

Absolutely everyone has problems they must face. No oneís life is without problems. We all need to face life as it is, not as we would like it to be. Thatís why itís so important for you to look for the good things in your life, and the good things that come out of what you are doing.