Before being my husband’s primary caregiver, I had considerable experience with burnout. I experienced compassion fatigue as a psychologist and observed it in many health care professionals in hospitals and clinics. We were often trying to achieve standards of success, responsibility, work-ethic, etc. I was pre-occupied with trying to be "responsible" (just thinking the word would make me want to run for chocolate). And I was exhausted. Exhaustion and overwhelm make it nearly impossible to true care for others in our lives, especially caregiving for someone with a serious illness.
Bold Love is a book by Dan Allender that I read back in 2008 which challenges the idea of love as "nice." The author instead makes the convincing argument that true love – Bold Love – is telling the truth. When I was caring for John in 2009, I realized that Bold Love is one antidote of caregiver burnout. It was a perspective shift to realize that being responsible wasn’t about meeting unrealistic standards. Being responsible is about being there for our loved ones. Being honest, being present, and being who we really are.
Caregiving can be about Bold Love which is gently telling others the truth even if it is painful to hear. It’s also about including yourself in the list of people who need to hear the truth and who deserve your responsible care.
I am a health and happiness psychologist. I had an amazing opportunity to care for my late husband with dementia that brought everything into focus: love, purpose, healing, self-care, and living without regrets. You can read more of my story here.
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