Caring for the Caregiver with Soul Sustenance
Soul Sustenance! What does that mean to you?
I’m not talking about religion, or religious beliefs. It does involve an aspect of spirituality–in whatever form you choose to seek spirituality. But it’s more than either of those even though it may combine aspects of both on a deeper level.
Why is Soul Sustenance important to the caregiver–whether of a client, family member, friend, or stranger?
Caregiving, regardless of the client or patient, is draining. We’ve already talked about the physical and mental demands. It does however, extend far beyond those two realms. Yes, there’s the physical exhaustion and the mental chaos of trying to keep so many things in order. Yes, there’s the use of brute strength to lift someone or the mental task of trying to communicate with an Alzheimer’s patient or someone incapable of understanding. All that is part of the everyday world of caregiving.
But what is it that you carry home with you, or shows up in your dreams, at the end of your shift or when you lay your head down to rest?
That’s where the aspect of Soul Sustenance comes into play. In caregiving a crisis is always waiting to happen. If you are caring for the elderly or the chronically ill the specter of death is usually hovering nearby.
How do you deal with the specter of death?
How does your client/patient feel about the specter of death?
How does the family of your client/patient, feel about the specter of death?
Does your client/patient feel they have lived a good life?
What does your client/patient feel will happen to them when they die?
Does your client/patient feel they are being punished for aspects of their lives?
By addressing these questions you can start to build a practice of Soul Sustenance that will support you through crisis, through the tough times, through times when your client/patient is in deep pain or in the throes of death. Also by addressing these questions you can help ease the transition from this life to whatever lies beyond for your client/patient. Assess these questions first from your own point of view to confirm your beliefs and then ask yourself how your client/patient feels. If you don’t have the answer to how your client/patient feels then you can ask subtle questions to get an idea.
I’m not talking about convincing your client/patient of some belief system, religious structure, or heavenly abode. Rather than trying to convince anyone of anything learn to focus in and trust what you believe. It will give you a peacefulness in your heart which will be seen as calm from those observing you from the outside. So dig deep and answer the questions for yourself. Once you have your answers you are better prepared to assist your client/patient with their search for answers.
If your client/patient wishes to discuss the subject then you are free to share your beliefs, but remember, this is not about convincing them to adopt the same beliefs. Rather it’s about letting them draw strength from you as they embark on an examination of their own feelings. It takes a strong person to allow others to draw different conclusions about subjects that are so important. By allowing the differences you reinforce, with your calm and peaceful attitudes, the right of everyone to form their own opinions and choose their own comfort.
Soul Sustenance=Calm, Peaceful Acceptance and Graceful Understanding.
It is one of the greatest gifts you can share with your client/patient. It is also one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Dig deep! The mutual benefits will astound you.
Feel free to share your stories or questions on this subject. I’d love to hear from you.
In June we’ll be exploring the aspect of safety for your clients/patients.