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Caring Relationships

Caring Relationships

Greetings one and all! I hope you are doing well and loving life. Once again, I invite you to take a deep breath, pour a cup of coffee or hot tea, and relax. I am writing this reflection the day before Valentine’s Day. At the grocery store yesterday morning, the floral department was overflowing with red and pink petals and balloons. Tis the season for flowers, chocolates, and romantic dinners, right? Well, that is certainly a lovely (and sweet) facet of the annual celebration of romantic relationships. Personally, the day serves as an occasion to acknowledge and to give thanks for all variations of loving and caring relationships that enrich my life—family, friends, siblings, and beloved pets. These are the caring relationships that sustain me—day in and day out. Certainly worthy of recognition and celebration!

Today, I am also mindful of how caring relationships change over time due to changing life circumstances. Change can be instantaneous or gradual, depending on the situation. For example, a serious accident resulting in physical and/or cognitive injuries precipitates immediate alterations to roles and responsibilities. Whereas the diagnosis of a serious, progressive disease prompts incremental changes. Regardless, changes in our physical and cognitive abilities transform caring relationships—often shifting the focus from who we are to what we do. As a result, our intimate roles (i.e. spouse, partner, daughter, son, etc.) take a back seat to our functional roles (caregiver or care receiver). So, we need to pay attention! Our intimate roles need to be nurtured as well.

This past week, I read the poignant story of a married couple dealing with the implications of a life-changing accident. The gentleman is described in the article as an avid sports enthusiast who loves cycling, rock climbing, and hiking. The woman is an internationally known and respected educator. Several years ago, the gentleman was paralyzed as the result of a tragic accident. Since then, he and his family have been dealing with the challenges posed by quadriplegia.

As I read the story, I marveled at the obvious courage, resilience, faith, and love exhibited by this couple on a daily, if not momentary, basis. The couple is very honest in the depiction of their day-to-day existence. Life is far from easy. Some days are absolutely horrid. However, they intentionally nurture and strengthen the emotional ties that bind them together. At day’s end, the wife lies beside her husband and gently strokes his face. Being together, they care for each other in sacred and sustaining ways.

The story of this couple lingers in my heart and mind. The image of being with our loved ones is motivational and inspirational. In fact, being in caring relationships is transformational. So, I encourage you to intentionally take time every day to reclaim your intimate, emotional relationships with family and friends. By strengthening the heart-to-heart connections, we are conscious of why we care.

I look forward to the ongoing conversation. If you have specific questions or concerns related to your caregiving experience, I would love to hear from you. Until the next posting, I wish you and yours countless blessings…jane

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