Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The First, and The First, and The First.....

This time last year my brother and I were thinking about our first Thanksgiving…ever…without Mama. She had passed away on October 28 and from that day forward almost everything was a First.
The First Day of Our Lives Without Mama, The First Thanksgiving, First Christmas, our First Birthdays Without Her.
This year, obviously, is not a First. But, there have been so many times during the last week or so when I’ve thought about Mama and how she loved to get ready of the holidays (although, at times it was a hassle), be with everyone and enjoy the celebrations.
If you are in our situations—your caregiver journey is over—keep remembering the good times. The more you think about them the more they become the dominant theme. Thinking about the difficult times only reinforces the negative.
If you are still a caregiver there are two thoughts I’d offer: First, there will be a time somewhere in the future in which a day, an event, a holiday will be, for you, a First. 
The very practical understanding I’d like for you to take away is there will be a day when your caregiver stresses will be over. 
I certainly realize the reality is bittersweet, but simply understanding there will be a day when your journey will end can be comforting.
Second, understand the holiday doesn’t need to be perfect. Again, I understand the thought of, “we are not going to let all this ruin the holidays” is a normal, we-all-have-it thought. 
Caregiving can be one of those life events, like having a child, that throws everything into a spin and there is a normal reaction to want at least SOME of life to be “normal”.
But, trying to make everything perfect denies the reality of the journey and puts an extra burden on, not just one group—the people who are trying to make it perfect—but, a second group—the people who think they are supposed to act (for your benefit) like nothing as changed.
So, understand that the journey won’t last forever and don’t try to make things perfect. Those two reasonably simple strategies can lower your stress level and raise your level of thankfulness; two incredibly valuable blessings during this wonderful season. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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