Caregiving is a Lonely Act of Kindness


The Washington Post - November 20, 2016

It's uplifting to find a family coming together, so targeted and focused in their planning that the end of life process becomes a natural flow. 
I don't think this is the case for most. In a monthly caregiver support group I facilitate, I hear tales of loneliness, of frustration and anger, of guilt for having that anger, of people managing a system that is stacked against them and everyone has their hand out, of paid home caregivers who do little caregiving and need constant supervision just to get basic service, of home hospice and doctors that show little concern other than who is paying the bill, where bouts of "sundowning", the particular task of wandering around or pulling on their clothes that is so definitive of those near end of life, are met with doses of morphine. 
More often than not one family member does this alone with other family members hearing the struggle of primary caregiving but unwilling to put themselves out of their daily routine to reach out and serve. This is the reality of dying with a parent or spouse in America.

Yet one person stays.  Ever present.  The family member, close friend, or dedicated, selfless caregiver. THIS is the person that provides the service that gives dignity.  THIS is the person who lives in the background, allowing the dying person to shine one last time. THIS is the person who is there  in service while the act of passing happens, allowing the key to be found, the doorway to open.  No other act has as much kindness within it.