If there were honourable mention for “Invisible Heroes of the Pandemic”, surely one would go to the family caregivers of loved ones with chronic illness/disabilities (in any form).
Those who have devoted their time to in-home care-tending for beloved members of their unit that are health compromised. They don’t get paid for it, a standing ovation or applause. Their work no less honorable and is some of the toughest they’ve faced. Their patient someone they love dearly and for whom they have a deep emotional investment. They wake each day with a daily commitment to selfless acts of love and honour for that person they cherish. Their motivation? Preserving their dignity. This is not “work”, it’s purpose and not one many would choose. Not something everyone could commit to for the long-term.
Those overwhelming feelings of isolation, limited freedom, hypervigilance, day-by-day/hour-by-hour uncertainty of how things will play out and that heightened awareness of infectious disease most of us had our first experience with during this pandemic? Caregivers have been living that all already. Their lives irrevocably changed for months, years prior to Covid-19 being a part of our lives. They were already grieving the loss of plans/dreams they envisioned for their life indefinitely. They carry the heaviness of anticipatory grief, emotional and physical burnout, the trauma of watching someone they love slip away and still they rise again, each day and press forward. The depth of caregiving challenges exacerbated by supports, reprieve and necessary respite being ripped away under pandemic times. Their pain has already softened and humbled them. They’ve already learned to cling to the simplest joys of each day to cope — to put one foot in front of the other. This is not to diminish the vital, incredible work of those on the front lines, rather lifting a veil on those who’ve been doing the emotionally and physically challenging in-home care pre-COVID and are helping keep further stress off our healthcare systems by doing so.
On this National Caregiver’s Day [April 6th], love to all the family caregivers. You are not invisible to so many families who’ve been touched by your compassion. You are the unpaid backbone of our healthcare system and are deserving of WAY more recognition and deep appreciation the whole year through.
If you know someone providing in-home care to a loved one, reach out. I bet it will mean the world to them.