Last Moments of Caregiving
I cannot say that I have personally experienced being a caregiver for a dying loved one. But I can certainly say that I have witnessed how those brave hearts we call caregivers endure their difficult last moments of caregiving for their loved ones. I have seen true expressions of love as my grandma cared for my grandpa on his passing time and then how my aunt cared for her during her final months. I have also seen how other relatives go entirely out of their way to tend for those they love.
More recently, I did not exactly see or personally witness this act of love but it is not hard to understand how much a person cares for the other as when their eyes lit by talking about someone they hold dearly close to their hearts. This is the case of my editor and good friend Mari M. Jenkins whose grandfather’s last moments were joyous and so full of love it inspired many wonderful pieces of art and music from Mari and her two amazing children. She also dedicated her beautiful blog www.heroesoflove.com to him as her personal letters to her dear grandpa and also shares her thoughts on caregiving with other millions of silent heroes of love around the world.
On those last moments of caregiving, it is a time where many priorities change and the quality of life’s final moments become the top concern. Making sure your loved one’s final moments are the best they can be requires much more than just tending for their health but also for their emotional state. Planning ahead for the end of life caregiving is the best strategy to follow as the final journey comes turning grief into acceptance and sadness to joy.
The shift from curative care to palliative measures is a big and hard change as the caregiver’s main goal is to make those last moments as pain-free and as comfortable as possible. It takes much extra strength for that “last pull”. This final time can last for days, weeks or months, sometimes even years. Often caregivers agree on those final stages as the most challenging and constant tests on your mental and physical health. These last moments of caregiving need all the support they can get. There are many sources of help available like palliative care practitioners, specialized nurses, home health agents, hospice providers and nursing home personnel.
Being a caregiver for this part of life is a strange combination of simple acts of daily care with intricate end of life decisions that usually involves painful emotions and mourning. It is a special moment of connecting and loving as the patient’s need for companionship remains untouched. Even if they can no longer recognize you, he or she may still draw comfort from the sound of your voice or your touch.
If you are a caregiver during this time, know that you are not alone. Even the most experienced caregivers that do this for a living find themselves confronting unique challenging moments and could be on the risk of burning out. Now more than ever is extremely important to have periods of respite care. A break to regroup yourself and clear your thoughts to come back and face whatever comes with clarity and acceptance.
It is not easy letting go but it is not easy seeing your dad, mom, grandma, grandpa, etc, go through stages of pain. There comes a time in life when we all will surrender ourselves to the eternal dream and knowing what to expect can diminish any dread of what may come and can be of great use when someone close to you comes to the end of their life.
Cherish these last moments of caregiving since they are precious and might give more lessons of life than reading all the books about it. It is no lie that this time will be a turmoil and take you on a journey deep into yourself and probably make you see life differently. As with any voyage it is wise to go well packed.