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Caring for the Caregiver!

Dear Reader,

Calling all nurturers! You know who you are! The ones who show up to assist when a loved one is in need! Since we are all connected it is natural to feel compassion for our family and friends when they are suffering and it is human to want to help alleviate suffering if we can. But how? How do we best assist? I am quite experienced in the art of caring for the caregivers… that is, supporting those who are in direct need of extra TLC (tender loving care) or their loved ones who often shoulder the burden alone without waiving the flag of exhaustion or quiet desperation. Here are a few simple yet powerful suggestions you may consider the next time you hear of someone who has fallen out of their normal routine due to illness (physical or mental), a hospital visit or any other mishap that leaves someone you know in a vulnerable state either directly or as a caregiver to someone else they hold dear.

  1. SHOW UP! Of course this applies only if you know the person well! But if you are a treasured friend DON’T WAIT FOR AN INVITATION to show up and offer your love! This is not a time people are thinking clearly and it’s certainly not a time people can extend formal invitations. The Red Cross just shows up and so should you!

  2. LISTEN! I’m often told, “But I don’t know what to do! I’m not a doctor! What can I DO to help?” The beautiful part about compassion is that your mere presence gives the powerful message that they are not alone. Listening is becoming a lost art. Offer your FULL, undivided attention. Be soft and open and gentle. Hear what happened, hear where they’re at with it all, hear what they feel scared about or where they feel unable to cope. Be a safe vessel to catch their emotions. This is healing unto itself.

  3. BE REASSURING! Let them know you are committed to their family’s well-being and that you will continue to show up for them. Resist adding undue stress by sharing any negative stories of similar situations. Ask them what they’ve tried and if they’re open to other ideas before you start evangelizing the latest supplement or healing ointment. Healing is a personal journey and remember you’re there to support not prescribe or judge!

  4. GET PHYSICAL! We have become more reclusive as a society with all of our social media “friends” and over sharing. What people post and what they are living are often vastly different yet what we do know for sure is that a real live HUG and someone holding our hand feels good and tender and supportive. Those little hug emojis are so cute but nothing compares to a real hug - heart to heart! Offer a hug, hold a hand. Have a tissue or two handy. Speak softly if at all. Allow your love to permeate the space and raise the vibration.

  5. ACT! Life tends to slow drastically when someone is ill or tending to someone who is ill. Yet the need to eat, and sleep, feed their children and pets, water their plants, walk their dogs, clean their home, get their mail etc. ALL STILL EXIST. What can you comfortably offer to do? Offer to grocery shop for their family or prepare a meal or start a food chain where many people can take on a meal so it is not overwhelming. Offer to give a ride to the hospital or sit in the lobby so when they take a coffee break from bedside support they are not alone.

  6. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! Care givers get tired. And tired people don’t think clearly. They may forget to update you when plans change and you show up to walk the dog, only to discover your friend forgot to tell you that a relative took on the care of the pet. This is not a time to keep score. Allow ample space for supreme flexibility and consider calling or texting before you head out to be sure the plan is still in place. Hospitals change their care plans so frequently it’s hard to keep up so don’t expect minute to minute updates for your convenience. You are making time in your life to help but remember THIS IS THEIR LIFE and they are doing the best they can to cope. If you can’t give without lots of praise and reminders, bow out! Be a blessing not a burden!

Now more than ever, we need one another. We crave comfort and companionship and closeness. Be the light worker. Show up with your whole heart. “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa

BE THE BLESSING YOU ARE CALLED TO BE! With love and gratitude for your giving hearts, Diana

Diana Stone, M.A., is a Wellness Consultant and inspirational writer and speaker. Connect with her at or

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