OK, I did my job, not a job really, it is in my nature to nurture. But now, after the loss of my eldest brother and his wife, my sister in law, my own dad and mother, and, most recently, my husband, what do I do now? How do I pick up the pieces of my life and move forward?
I certainly do not have all the answers. In fact, I am only now, a year and a half after the death of my husband to pancreatic cancer, beginning to try and put my life back together. Because after a loss, you feel broken. Or at least I did. And broken things need to mend. Just like any other part of your body, your spirit, your inner resources, need time to heal and mend.
Certain things happened that have set me in motion.
- I recently saw photos of myself and saw someone who had pain in their face and eyes that was not there before....before the loss of my mother and my husband 3 years ago. But I also saw photos of someone who is still strong and capable. I may look tired and sometimes melancholy, but there is still a person there. I may be changed from my experiences, but I am not still broken. I am mending...
- Then I read something on FaceBook about a yoga class given by a colleague which seemed to address both my physical and spiritual needs. So, I sent a message to my colleague, asking her about the yoga class, and set myself in motion to participate in the class. I took action to help mend myself.
- And finally, I heard someone say "I will not be a victim of my circumstances". That statement woke me up. I am not a victim, because what I did as a caregiver I did willingly and with great love and devotion. And just because I am not surrounded by the people I love who have passed on, died, gone to heaven, whatever one believes when a living body stops breathing.....does not mean I am alone. I am not surrounded by the same people, but their spirits are still with me. And they would not be happy to think that their deaths have robbed me of something. They all loved me very much and, if the truth be told, their deaths gave me something. A deeper love for each of them. I realized I am not a victim unless I make myself one.
So, I am not a victim of my circumstances. I am someone who willing gave a great deal of strength, love and support to the people I loved who I was lucky enough to be with at the end of their lives, knowing that they knew I loved them, and I knew they loved me. There was nothing left unsaid, or unfinished. Well, this is not a fairy tale, so there always is something left to say or do, and you do relive the experiences over and over and wonder "did I do everything I could? say everything I should?" If I did all of that, why do I feel so alone?
What I am finding out is being alone and being lonely are two different things. And I have a choice which I want to be. And I choose neither. I am not a victim of my circumstances. I am a caregiver who is now starting to mend and care for myself. Yes, it does feel like another job, and I certainly don't have all the answers. But this is the beginning of my journey. And perhaps, my journey is something like your own. And we can chronicle it together.
One caregiver to another.