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3 Ways to Take Care of a Caretaker

In my posts, I mostly address needs of cancer patients. That’s because I know that experience well. It’s not because I think they’re the only ones impacted by cancer! So this week I conducted a caretaker survey in hopes of identifying their greatest needs. Actually, I only interviewed one caretaker, but she’s a very good one ­– my wife, Terri. I asked what advice she would give to those who want to help a helper. Feel free to respond back or comment with your thoughts. Terri’s input: “First, just listen. Then, let me grieve. Then, cast the burden oncaretaker hands the Lord together.”

Three ways to take care of a caretaker – with my comments:

1) Listen.
Ecclesiastes 3:7b – “A time to be silent and a time to speak.”

When caring for caretakers, resist the temptation to be profound. Sometimes we try to alleviate deep pains and life-threatening concerns with a spiritual platitude or two. Even if true, these attempts fall flat as people tend to minimize the severity of a medical prognosis or the turmoil they bring. Many times it is more about timing. Caretakers will usually care to listen when care has been shown through listening.

2) Let me grieve.
Matthew 5:4 – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

There are monumental life events for caretakers and their families which are lost forever in the midst of a cancer battle. Mom, Dad or both may miss a first grade graduation party; or miss an entire season of their child’s sporting events; a wedding or a funeral, like I missed my dad’s. Students’ grades suffer. Incomes decline just as expenses increase. Holidays are shrouded by sadness. Caretaker’s needs go unmet as attention is focused on the patient’s survival. So do not gloss over these losses. When a caretaker recites them, they are not engaging in self-pity, they are processing reality. In fact, when grievances are not validated, self-pity is more likely to result.

3) Cast the burden on the Lord together.
Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one another’s burdens.”

After listening and validating the pain and concerns of a caretaker, now it is time to cast these on the Lord – together. A burden shared is a burden lightened. He cares for us deeply and prayer really does make a difference. Philippians 4:6–7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Do you know a helper you can help today?

Caretakers – what would you add to this list?

Father, thank You for providing people to help us when we suffer! Train us to see their needs — not as an after-thought — but as a primary focus of our concern.

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