I just finished reading a little book entitled, “Congratulations, by the way.”
The author, George Saunders, speaking to a graduating class, describes what he’s regretted most in his life. Turns out, it was a failure of kindness. Those moments when he hesitated to offer someone a word, a touch, or a smile to make them feel valued and understood.
I see this often, but with a twist. In caregiver communities, people reach out to each other daily with warmth and compassion, yet they don’t extend that same empathy to themselves. Instead, there is only a litany of should’s:
I should be stronger. I should be able to handle all this. I should be doing a better job.
The thing is, what you are doing is often an exhausting, all-consuming, roller-coaster ride in the dark, and there are times of questioning your sanity and the ability to continue. Yet, despite all this, you keep on going. And that needs to be honored.
So, here’s to you on Valentine’s Day. Nothing fancy. No roses or gooey sentiments. Just a good, strong, get-the-job-done cup of coffee that speaks to some of your finest qualities.
As George Saunders says, “Try to be kinder.” And I would say to caregivers everywhere, “Begin with yourself.”