“It is vital for a caregiver to look for a silver lining in the clouds of constant stress, even when we feel the stress isn’t there. That’s because the stress is always there. A smile, a laugh, a kind word can go so far in relieving your feelings of being stuck. When I say stuck, I don’t mean it in a resentful way; it’s like you’re just unable to move forward. It’s the inability to sometimes make decisions necessary for your personal life because of the needs your loved one has. Laugh, cry, let the emotion flow; it will be a type of emotional cleansing for you. It will help you in the day to day struggle with all the responsibility on your shoulders. Remember that a joyful heart is like a medicine.”
The above paragraph is from our book “Finding Grace and Peace IN SPITE OF Trials and Tragedy; The Johnny Ashley Story.” (Available on our website) The advice is given to caregivers as they navigate the stress related to the work they do for their loved ones. Humor is such a good stress reliever, even finding humor in the stress itself.
Many people look to self-medicate during times of trial and stress. This only adds to the stress, and only offers a temporary relief. Caregivers are under a load of busyness and worry most of the time. Managing the care of someone with special needs, plus the responsibilities that are already on their plate is a daunting task.
Cut yourself some slack! Doing the work of a caregiver will never go smoothly. Life throws curveballs at us all the time. Just about the time you think we’ve got things under control, there is a call from the doctor, or a fall, or some other emergency that requires us to rearrange our schedule. The plans for the day get tossed out the window and we must face the challenge that is before us.
If you are a caregiver today, please know you are doing a great job! No one else can, or will, do what you are doing! Allow yourself to let some things slip. You can only do so much. The laundry will be there tomorrow, the kids know what you are going through. Face each crisis as it comes and try not to look too far down the road.
“Allow yourself to laugh. There is a bit of twisted humor in caring for a loved one. Things can be very intense in this ministry. There are also moments that can make you laugh. One such time for me and Joann happened many years ago.
“Hospitalizations and surgeries can be very exhausting for the family. Sometimes you can get a little punchy from not getting much sleep. After Johnny’s first heart surgery, while he was still in intensive care, Joann and I were in the waiting room while the nurses changed shifts and gave report on their patients. I had just finished some of mints that were in a hard plastic container. I took the empty box and hid it in my hand while pretending to crack my neck. As I twisted my head with my hands I crushed the plastic box which made a loud cracking sound. While I was doing that a young boy came around the corner and his eyes got as big as saucers and he said, “Dang!” He thought that I was really cracking my neck. I showed him the plastic box so he wouldn’t think I broke my neck. This just struck a funny bone in Joann and me and we laughed uncontrollably for several minutes. Tears flowed down our faces and sore stomachs followed. That really helped us relieve some of the stress of being in the hospital.”
Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
I want to say, “Thank you” once again for all those that are caring for a loved one. You are a hero! You may not feel like it, but to the one you are caring for, you are a blessing! Let the medicine of laughter relive some of the stress you are under. Enjoy a good belly laugh and know your work is appreciated.