The people we interviewed expressed a range of feelings and experiences, from negative to positive. We asked them to elaborate on the positive aspects and share any life lessons from their experiences as caregivers. In this topic page, we present some of the life lessons that caregivers shared with us, as well as the different ways that they felt appreciated. In all of these cases, caregivers presented their stories as important contributions to their own growth and transformation as better human beings.
Marc said, “Life brings you on paths and whatever happens, you will have given the best of yourself. You will be proud of what you have done for someone on this planet.”
Several caregivers learned that it is okay to take time to care for themselves. Marlyn said, “That certainly was a big realization, that I had to be responsible for not only looking after myself, but for thinking of myself and being willing to say, “No, I won’t do that,’ which is not necessarily a natural thing that most spouses would say if all along they’ve been very sort of cooperative and helpful with each other.” Marc learned something similar and said, “Taking care of oneself, this is essential. This is a second lesson. Because when you don’t take care of yourself, you falter, and you can’t help the other person.”
Several caregivers spoke about the things they had learned from caregiving. Many caregivers mentioned they had learned to let go. For example, Joseph said, “Letting go helps me a lot. It is someone else’s life, not mine and, yes I can be of service, but … I don’t have all the answers.” Being a caregiver deepened several people’s understanding of emotions and appreciation of other people’s experiences. Shayna said, “You shouldn’t judge until you’ve not only walked in their position but followed the footsteps.”
Some caregivers had to work on improving their patience.
Several caregivers described how they learned to put their negative thinking aside. Others also spoke about their own growth in compassion, empathy, and serenity. Some caregivers described how it had helped them to mature or to make them stronger. Despite the positive effects, Shayna said, “I think I am a better person, but I would go back in a second. Caregiving is very difficult, very self-denying.”
Many caregivers appreciated the fact that they were able to do something good for someone else, creating a sense of fulfillment, pride or happiness.