I cleaned out a room in the basement last week that I have abandoned. It was a cluttered and dusty mess! I found something in a stack of papers that is so very fitting for what I am going through with my mother. I hope it will help you too and for the caregivers in your life. I have no idea where I picked it up or when but it landed in my hands for a reason. It is a prayer for caregivers and the woman who wrote it has a clear sense of what it means to work together to form an atmosphere that authentically thrives for the greater good.
It was four years ago that my mom stopped driving and I started down the road of finding caregivers for her so she could remain in her home, her deepest wish. It has been a long and winding road with many inclines and declines on the route. I mostly write about the good because I have worked very hard in my life to see my glass as half full, not empty; to see what I do have and not what or who is missing; to notice the light and the blessings that appear through the darkness of life.
But, living with someone suffering from memory loss can get complicated. Intertwined with the good, now and then things happen that are kind of ugly. For one, which causes the most friction, is individuals can overstep boundaries. It happens all the time with any situation in life. We are human. A few examples are when we are not clear of our roles, we see pieces and not the full picture, or selfish and controlling characteristics create unnecessary drama and chaos.The tension from all this can direct a situation into a pot of burning food because there are too many cooks in the kitchen. There is the saying "too many cooks spoil the broth." Until someone raises their hand with an uncooked chicken and offers up the idea to notice that every individual has a strength and a kitchen thrives with creativity and teamwork, the quality of the broth will be questionable. But it doesn't have to be. We make it this way. We also have the power to change the way it turns out. Adding a few sprigs of humility and self-reflection help.
When I started taking my mom to her doctor appointments a few years ago, her doctor told me to tell my family members to find ways to cope with my mom's potential decline and find support networks. I hope sharing parts of my experience is a support for others. From my experience, what I would encourage any family faced with someone who has dementia or Alzheimer's is notice the charisms, the gifts family members attain to create a thriving kitchen of cooks who can create a beautiful feast that begins with healing, not spoiled, broth. The kitchen might look like a mess with open cabinets, spices scattered about on the counters, flour and sauce splattered on the ceiling and walls all while other individuals enthusiastically serve and clear the dishes from the table, load the dishwasher, and take out the trash. Healing and quality care happen when individuals prepare, cook, and clean up freely and willingly together with love and kindness. It might be a slow process to recognize and accept where everyone's expertise fits in. But it can happen. A miracle if it happens right away! Should I remind us that miracles don't happen very often? Or maybe they do, and we don't recognize them because they come in Divine forms, not the ways our minds want them to. Perhaps this recognition is the nourishment a meal genuinely well-prepared offers, both for a family and the individual who is suffering.
Frankly, I believe we can take this idea of authentically interacting and operating together into any situation we encounter to live in harmony as the human family.There is a gift that lives within each person. Every role in the kitchen of life has worth. When we devote time to our talents, it creates the sweetness for the journey.
Thank you Sr. Colette for using your gift and creating a beautiful prayer for the caregivers in the world.
God bless families with a loved one inflicted with memory loss.
God bless the caregivers.
May the God of Many Names also inspire individual families, and the human family, to create a thriving, loving, and healing space for those in need, and one another.
Prayer for Caregivers
O, Divine Healer,
Look down upon all who care for your people
-wounded in body or mind or spirit-
Gift our minds with knowledge and wisdom,
Our hands with the touch of kindness,
Our spirits with a deep compassion.
Open our hearts to be ever more inclusive
And deepen our capacity for wonder
That we may recognize You
in unexpected people and situations.
We pray in gratitude, O Healing Mystery,
For the skill of Physicians
The experience of Nurses,
The touch of CNA's and Orderlies,
The cleansing gifts of Housekeepers,
The listening ear of Social Workers,
The creativity of Case Managers,
The prayer and presence of Chaplains,
The attentiveness of Dieticians,
The expertise of Information Technologists and Engineers,
The guidance and vision of Administrators and Leaders.
Thank you for the call to be a healing presence to Your People.
Bless us and all whom we encounter,
O God of Many Names.
-Sr. Colette Hanlon, SC, BCC