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The Caregiver’s Cairn: How Can I Thank You?

JB2

Greetings one and all...

Welcome back to The Caregiver’s Cairn - a sustaining and empowering guide for caregivers and care receivers. I hope you and yours have enjoyed a lovely month since my last posting. I invite you to pour a cup of coffee or hot tea, curl up in a cozy chair, and take a deep breath. Today, I want to share a story that serves to highlight just how difficult it is for most of us to receive help from other people. More importantly, I want to reiterate that an essential aspect of becoming fully human is learning how to graciously offer and receive help.

A few weeks ago, a significant snow storm dumped over a foot of snow in the Rocky Mountains and along the Front Range. Having lived in Denver for over twenty years, I know the snow dance well. I hunkered down while the snow was flying—sipped hot beverages by the fireplace, worked on upcoming presentations and writing deadlines, and curled up with my beloved critters to read good books. Once the storm passed, I emerged from the house to dig out from the storm. I am blessed to own a snowblower and give thanks every time I start the back-saving machine! For minor amounts of snow, a shovel serves me well. However, this storm was worthy of a snowblower.

After clearing my driveway and sidewalks, I noticed several of my neighbors digging out as well—heads down, backs bent, and shovels flying. One of my neighbors was struggling a bit with the drifts of snow in her driveway. So, I revved up the engine and kept rolling.

Initially, my neighbor tried to wave me off when she noticed that I was heading her way. Although I couldn’t hear her over the noise of the snowblower, I could read her lips. She kept saying, “I’m fine!” Sound familiar? Despite her objections, I opted to plow ahead…literally! Once done, she looked very relieved and expressed her appreciation. Before turning to leave, I gave her a quick hug and advised her to go inside and get warm. She then asked me, “How can I thank you?” To which I responded, “You just did.”

Since that brief encounter with my neighbor, I have been ruminating on her question—“How can I thank you?”  Maybe we are hesitant to ask for and to receive help from others because we don’t know how to adequately thank people for their kindness. Hmmmm….might have something to do with our resistance to assistance, eh? And if so, there is an important lesson to be learned from my snowblowing experience. By merely posing the question, my neighbor more than adequately thanked me for my efforts. It’s that simple…just say thank you!

Learning to graciously receive help is challenging to say the very least. However, by so doing, it affords us the opportunity to become fully human. In giving and receiving care, our understanding of life expands, deepens, and evolves. For that, we can all be thankful.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I invite you to share your perspective on the caregiving journey. Make suggestions. Pose questions. Provide resources. Share your story. Coming together and sharing, we will improve the process for one and all. I look forward to continuing the conversation next month. Til then, blessings to you and yours...Jane W. Barton

Do you have a question for Jane? Please email us at coaarp@aarp.org and we will be in touch soon!

Jane W. Barton, MTS, MASM, CSA is a passionate speaker, writer, and listener. Jane is the founder of Cardinal, LLC, a consulting firm that provides educational programs to assist people in confronting the daunting challenges posed by aging,  serious illness and disability. Jane is well-versed in the areas of grief and bereavement, caregiving, hospice and palliative care, change and transition, and spirituality and health. She presents innovative, transformational programs to community members, healthcare providers, pastoral caregivers, clergy, funeral service providers, and national audiences to improve the experience of people and families challenged by serious, advanced, or terminal illnesses. Previously, Jane served as Director of Education for a hospice and palliative care educational institution. She has also served as a hospice chaplain and bereavement facilitator in hospice and palliative care. Jane is a certified Spiritual Director as well as a Certified Senior Advisor. In a former life, she worked as a financial services representative and an exploration petroleum geologist and manager.
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