By Chris MacLellan
To be entrusted with the care of another human being is
one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed on you.
It takes on meaning that is beyond approach. New
parents have nine months to prepare for the responsibility.
Doctors and nurses undergo years of rigorous training for
the work that they do. But caregivers can find
themselves thrust suddenly into roles that they did not
choose when called to care for a partner, spouse or loved
one after a diagnosis or an accident.
At a moment’s notice, you become a caregiver without any
warning or time to think things through. You feel like you
have no idea of what you are supposed to do, so you do your
best as you follow your instincts and common sense. You
embrace the new reality. You simply care for the one you
When you become a caregiver for your life partner, a new
and uncharted realm opens up. Two distinct
relationships must now be blended into one. The familiar
partner from the past remains and is always present.
But now there is someone different on the scene – someone
with a significant illness.
Suddenly, two people sharing a life together will need to
face challenges that cannot be left unattended. A
whole set of new and hard-core emotions are likely to
intrude on the relationship. Worry, detachment, mortality,
anger, fear of abandonment and having to live life alone, to
name just a few, intertwine with the idiosyncrasies of your
personal dynamics. They can lurk in a caregiver’s mind when
faced with a life-and-relationship-altering illness in your
Caregiving is an intense experience that asks you to
surrender yourself for the needs of someone else.
Oftentimes, you have to give up the things you love in order
to care for the one you love. Even though it may feel
like a hardship, you make the choice because you know that
it is what love and commitment is all about. Yet it is
not that simple, because caregiving can be an emotional,
physical, and interpersonal roller coaster that is both
tremendously rewarding and frustrating. These emotions can
surely test even the best communication and trust in a
relationship. The common denominator in the blending
of these two relationships is communication.
Communication is a funny thing; just like relationships.
It is funny how the two go hand in hand. Successful
relationships are built on strong communication and trust.
It is through honest communication that the true essence of
a partnership is reveled. This does not change when
you add the role of caregiver to the mix.
Communication has to be the focal point for conveying the
wants and needs of the one who is ill, and this must be
accomplished without losing the identity of either the
partnership or the caregiver. The term “delicate
balance” takes on a whole new meaning.