I Needed Help As A Caregiver: A Personal Story


One minute Bernie was sitting on a tall stool in a store and the next minute, as she leaned to one side to see what a clerk wanted to show her, her feet became caught on a metal footrest, she lost her balance, and dropped helplessly to the concrete floor. I was seated beside her, saw it all unfold in slow motion, and was unable to catch her or break her fall. It was frightening to watch.

Tests in the emergency room showed no broken or cracked bones, but Bernie was in agony. She cried out in pain each time she moved. For ten days she was wheelchair-bound. For weeks she moved only laboriously with a walker. She needed around-the-clock care.

I stopped going to my office. I started doing all the cooking, the serving of meals, the cleanup afterward. I did the laundry and the household chores. I undertook the nursing responsibilities and the coordination of medical appointments and physical therapy.

I had a little backup support, but not much. And, to be honest, that was okay—I wanted to be the one who was there for Bernie. I know her. I love her. Who else could do this caregiving as well as I?

Then something else happened. Over the course of days and weeks, my energy started to wane. I couldn’t ever seem to feel rested. My spirits drooped. I wondered how long this episode in our lives would continue. I wondered how long I could keep doing all that was required. Would things ever get better? How could I regain my sense of composure and optimism? What about the work waiting for me at my office?

Daily-Inspirations-brandIt was a couple of weeks before I thought of something so obvious that I felt embarrassed I had not considered it. Two years prior I had created a resource for people just like me—family caregivers in need of encouragement and support. Titled “Daily Inspirations for Caregivers,” it arrives each morning via email, 365 times in a row. I signed myself up for a subscription. It felt funny doing so.

It had taken me about a year and a half to create all the short videos, the audios that used my own voice, the one-page writings, and the photo-thoughts built around my camera work. Throughout that time I had visualized providing family caregivers with something to look forward to hearing, seeing, reading, and pondering every single day. I wanted to share with them something that might give them confidence and hope. I wanted to add a spark to their day. I wanted to help them persevere, to find a sense of stability.

You know what? I learned—unexpectedly, unintentionally, gratefully—that “Daily Inspirations for Caregivers” works!

It was such an unusual experience, receiving messages in video format that I had forgotten I had created. My words and my own voice soothed me, lifted me, and gave me courage. When I longed for assurance and insight for doing this caregiving work, there it was, waiting for me, like a gift.

Bernie has healed now and most of my caregiving duties have receded. I have cycled through the entire 365 inspirations. Looking back, there were a handful of videos that especially spoke to me when I was in the midst of my struggles. These are their titles and the links for you to see them:

If you’d like to sample more of these inspirations, I’ll happily send you twenty days worth with my compliments. Just let me know your first name, last name and email address at jmiller@willowgreen.com. Or call our office at 260.490.2222.

I’d like to think they’ll work for you, or for someone you know, as well as they did for me.

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4 Responses to “I Needed Help As A Caregiver: A Personal Story”

  1. Norma Martin Says:

    It’s so surprising when we can become our own inspiration just by reading something we wrote and forgot.

  2. Jeana Bodart Says:

    Wow, Jim, I’m so sorry that happened to Bernie and to you, but also so grateful about the surprising comfort that your own wonderful meditations brought you. What a boomerang blessing! What you received as gift and gave as gift also returned as gift! I’m praying for both of you. Thanks for sharing ALL your gifts with us, Jim.

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