Recently, a dear friend of mine wrote to tell me that her dad had survived a stroke which has left him completely dependent – unable to speak or use the right side of his body. Like many Canadians, my friend is from another country and her father lives on the other side of the globe from her. In her letter to me she described the emotional pain and stress that she and her family have been going through, and her trips back home which have forced her to take time from a busy job and young children.
What’s worse, is that this accident happened six months ago. In her state of despair she neglected writing or calling the people close to her, because she couldn’t bear to speak the words out loud. This meant that for the past six months, I was unable to be there for her, like many of her friends.
Even if you live far away from your parents, as soon as they become dependent, you become a caregiver. One of the most important things for caregivers to remember is to reach out. If my friend had been able to reach out to me and the people she knows, instead of worrying about being a damper, she could have received more help. Of course no one could make her father better, but she could have help with you chores and child care, and better efforts cheer her family. If no one knows, no one will know to help you.
If you are a caregiver and you’re not telling the people around you, you are making a difficult situation harder than it should be. Don’t worry about writing a sad letter when you normally keep in touch with happy notes – your friends will be glad you told them, and will want to help.