What is a crisis anyway? Dictionary definitions say such things as
a turning point or a loss of any kind. Well, using those
definitions many things can certainly be called crises. For my
family the big crisis, the turning point, the loss, was the
realization that one of our daughters had a serious mental
illness. It's been several years now since we heard that
diagnosis, and today she is in a much better place.
has not been an easy road for anyone in the family. We have all
had to change, and we realized that as we changed for the better,
she also became better. We have learned much. First and foremost,
we have learned to see our daughter as a valuable human being,
someone with strengths and weaknesses just like all of us. It was
hard at first to accept that while she may never be able to work,
and several things would be harder for her to do than for many
others, she is still perfect in the eyes of God.
Secondly, we all had to learn how to
take care of ourselves in
the midst of being a support for her. This is not easy. When
someone in the family is hurting in any way, our natural
inclination is to give too much of ourselves to try to help them.
While it is admirable to try to serve, if the caregiver falls
apart that does not help anyone, lest of all the person requiring
Today I do workshops and retreats for people who are hurting
for many reasons. They may have a family member with an
illness, their spouse may be suffering from dementia, or perhaps
one of their children may be going through a very difficult time
and need help. Whatever the situation what I find in so many cases
is that the caregiver is not taking enough care of him/herself.
When asked why they are not, the response is nearly always that
the other person's need is so great, they just can't let them
down. They forget that they are running the risk of becoming
unable to care for their needy person if they don't stay well
And, lastly, looking for the blessings in the situation is key.
I know that also is not easy. When we were first in the early
stages of coming to grips with our situation I could not see one
blessing. All I could see was loss. All I could feel was fear.
However, gradually, I did learn to stop each day and force my mind
to try to find any small thing that I could feel good about. And,
eventually, as the days went on, this became much easier to do.
Little things like time to read a magazine, a phone call from a
friend, perhaps my daughter accomplishing something that had not
been possible before, all of these things and more became
could be grateful for.
Crisis. Who wants to experience one? Not anybody, I am sure, if
given the choice. But we all have heard cases of people who say as
they come to terms with their
personal crisis that today they are
better for it. I say the same. I am a better, more peaceful person
today. Sure I still wish my daughter's life didn't have so many
struggles at times, but then all of us have struggles. I feel
blessed to be her mother.