ARTICLES / Caregiver / Rocks
and Caregivers...What's the Connection? /
Kristine Dwyer, Staff Writer
Rocks and caregiving do not seem compatible in the
same sentence or have an obvious connection. Rocks may
seem ordinary, seemingly useless and taken for granted.
Rocks may even seem unchanging; however, they do go
through cycles and are constantly changing due to
environmental influences, much like caregiving itself.
Robert Greenleaf once wrote, “Caring for persons, the
more able and the less able serving each other, is the
rock upon which a good society is built.”
The word “rock” can have significant meanings in
understanding the plight of caregivers. Idioms such as
“hit rock bottom,” “rock the boat,” “between a rock and
hard place,” “God as my rock” or “solid as a rock” can
all apply to the context of caregiving roles.
Caregiving can be satisfying, rewarding and, at times,
difficult work. It is not only the task of doing, but
also the task of coping, figuring out creative solutions
or even trying to keep our heads above water. Caregiving
challenges us all physically, mentally and spiritually.
Our mission is to figure out how to meet that triple
challenge while at the same time acknowledging that, now
and then, we may feel defeated and overburdened.
A bucket of rocks can be symbolic of the heavy load we
may carry when we provide care to a loved one.
Individual rocks in that bucket may represent life
circumstances that contribute to the weight of caring,
such as lack of sleep, medical challenges, or a constant
need for supervision of the care receiver. Taking the
rocks out of the bucket, one at a time, and asking for
help from others can lighten the load. Home care
services, meal programs, housekeeping help,
transportation, respite care, or a friend who is there
to listen can all be utilized to help us carry our load
longer and farther.
Multiple roles and responsibilities can keep us working
tirelessly to maintain a healthy life balance and
steadiness. A stack of balanced rocks can represent a
caregiver’s balancing act, while caring individuals and
services can provide a support network to keep the rocks
from tumbling down. Rocks can also signify a solid
foundation from which to build our caregiving values and
The personal meaning and use of rocks can be endless.
They are solid to the core despite years of enduring
changes in weather and temperature or being tossed
ashore by ferocious waves. These constant influences
have shaped each rock just as life experiences shape us
into the individuals we are today. Rocks in nature can
bring about a feeling of calm or comfort and are useful
for relieving pain when smooth, warmed stones are used
in massage therapy. Rocks can be collected, painted,
polished, specially chosen for a decorative rock garden
or used as stepping stones, as in the case of caregivers
who seek a pathway to follow.
Each rock is unique in color, shape and texture, and
their creation and history are varied, just like each
caregiver. Rocks can bring to mind the importance of
perseverance through trying times or represent a strong
fortress and shield against trouble. They can also
remind us to take time for ourselves, to sit by a
peaceful lake, feel the breeze and hear the soothing
waves, walk along the beach, search for agates, or skip
rocks in the water.
Rocks can symbolize the positive characteristics of
people as in steadiness, permanence, and strength. These
are all fine features that we can look for in the people
we choose to surround us and uplift us as we walk along
the path of caregiving. People around us can be our
“rocks,” confidantes and guides. Even a pile of rocks
can be viewed as a group of family members or friends
all nestled together to form a strong care team.
Rock statues, also known as “inukshuks,” have
far-reaching meanings and historically were used as
landmarks, beacons, and aids in navigation. Often seen
standing along Canada’s shores, these statues endure as
eternal symbols of leadership, encourage the importance
of friendship and remind us of our dependence upon each
other. The inukshuks guided people and gave them hope in
barren places to handle hardships they encountered.
Valuable lessons can be learned from the inukshuks as
caregivers navigate through uncharted waters or journey
into unknown territory.
Yes, rocks truly do have a connection to caregiving in
so many ways. Like a pebble thrown into the water, the
ripples created remind us we will all be touched by
caregiving sometime in our lives.