How To Cope With Caregiver Guilt

Life is what we make of it, right?  This is what we are told.  That if we push through time with the right amount of vigor, we can achieve our dreams with a full heart and a happy ending.  But rarely do these tales mention entrapment via circumstance.  Seldom do they reflect that choice is usually conditional. 

 White Pumpkin Recipe 1: Curry pumpkin soup with barley, fresh tomatoes, scallions, cilantro and coconut milk.

White Pumpkin Recipe 1: Curry pumpkin soup with barley, fresh tomatoes, scallions, cilantro and coconut milk.

As caregivers we are often accustomed to squelched hope and rarely do these stolen dreams leave us clues for reparations.  However, a passage through loss, be it people or dreams, is never short on perspective.  Hindsight hurts for all the things we didn’t see before.  The pain doesn’t stem from whom or what is now gone; it’s a pain from recognizing what we had, and the failure then, to act.  It’s all the missed opportunities we can’t get back, and learning in the now, how to sit with forever. These are the seeds of our guilt and no one else can help us sow them.

 White Pumpkin Recipe 2: Pumpkin paratha with cumin seeds and cilantro.

White Pumpkin Recipe 2: Pumpkin paratha with cumin seeds and cilantro.

Caregiver guilt is akin to a wet blanket and industry insiders are quick to call for its disposal. It’s heavy, burdening one’s mental health, and hardly the stuff of optimism that dominates the world of self-care.  But in truth that blanket, wet as it may be, is constructed of fibers, entwined with layers that represent so much more than what most outsiders perceive.  It’s a compass that governs our future selves.  It’s not to be cast off, but rather something to heed, as it provides a rare peek at our unmasked emotion.  It’s the truest reflection of the stranger we keep inside.

Sometimes the only thing that’s different is our perception of what ”is”.  And sometimes the only way to see that is to listen...
 White Pumpkin Recipe 3: Warm white pumpkin salad with barley, kale, cilantro, pepitas, and lime.

White Pumpkin Recipe 3: Warm white pumpkin salad with barley, kale, cilantro, pepitas, and lime.

Guilt doesn’t have to imply flawed. It can be embraced for growth even when it doesn’t fit well with the mainstream social construct.  We can’t be afraid to feel guilt’s weights.  We’ve been carrying it around long enough for it to become us. It's in our fiber.  And to quote the song from this previous post: "it's in my honey, it's in my milk".  Why not give it pause and listen to what it’s saying.  There is more to it than just the burden of weight.  It has a message and needs some breathing room to develop it's voice. 

Just breathe… 

Things might begin to look different, even sound different, even when circumstance remains the same.