“It was a privilege to care for her.”
When I repeated my father’s words to a friend of mine her response was – ‘Wow – you sure don’t hear that very much anymore. I’m really glad to hear someone say that’. That conversation came to mind when I was reading a group chat about the abandonment by family and friends when a loved one gets a diagnosis of dementia.
I think it is so easy to think about our own feelings of fear or not knowing what to say and when we focus on ourselves it becomes much easier to walk away. But we really miss a lot when we do that. We miss the opportunity to deepen our relationship with this family member or friend and those who are part of ‘the battle’. We miss the opportunity to deepen our own capacity for generosity, understanding and compassion. We miss the opportunity to model for our kids (or grandchildren) the right way to act when the going gets tough. And let’s face it – life is going to throw our children and grandchildren curve balls. If we can show to them how to be generous, compassionate – even noble – in the face of suffering and difficulties, we will have given them a life lesson of immeasurable worth.
If our reaction is walking away – we diminish ourselves as human beings and become much less than we could be. We may think we are avoiding suffering or we may not think at all but just be uncomfortable so we shy away. But as Benjamin Franklin said:
“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”
Alternatively, we can reach out and be focused on the other and our hearts will grow. Our capacity to be a better human being in every part of our life will increase. That is a gift worth receiving – making it a privilege to care.