The Power of Family and Caring
‘Family is who loves you, who takes care of you’. (Bruce Coville)
HOM: Persisting/finding humour/taking responsible risks/listening with understanding and empathy/Applying past knowledge to new situations
This week marks Carers Week. A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health condition, addiction, or who needs extra help as they grow older. It isn’t someone who volunteers or is employed to provide support. During the week we are asked to become more aware of the huge number of people involved in caring, the challenges they face and recognise the contributions they make to families and communities.
Most carers come from within the families of those needing care, because this is usually where the love required to carry out duties of care are found. However, as our quotation suggests, family is not always those connected through blood, but family is who loves you, who takes care of you. Yet, that love can be tested if their contributions go unnoticed or those carers do not receive the support they need to replenish their energies, and money to enable them to live comfortably.
My own experience of carers is a very personal one. In my own far from perfect family, I have seen examples of personal sacrifice on behalf of other members of the family. In the case of my parents, it involved caring for my elderly grandmother and my disabled uncle in our family home. For my father this involved significant financial responsibilities and a great deal of personal support, particularly for his brother. For my mother it involved caring for both, particularly as they aged, and that involved considerable physical support. This was also at a time when they were entering their own retirement.
And then there is my sister who moved in to live with our mother to provide full care for the final two years of her life, for which I will always be grateful, as it was often far from easy.
Any one of us could find ourselves as a carer at some time in our lives and we may also need such care ourselves. Some of us may need to use specialised paid care when the need is greatest, but this can never meet all the care required. It is then that we need to dig deep to connect to a compassion for others that passes all human understanding. It is a compassion based on a love that is:
…patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians:13)
This is a high calling indeed, one that should be valued and never taken for granted.