Jeannie Broussard is a daughter, wife, mother and caregiver who graciously met with Dr. Marcia Howland and shared her caregiving story. Earlier this month, in a post titled “When I Felt Worn to the Bone,” Jeannie introduced us to her family and the season of her life in which she was the main caregiver for her husband, Bruce, and her mother, Louise. She continues the interview by allowing us to see her struggles and her peace.
... anger and resentment were sometimes difficult to contain.
“Even with doing the best possible, fatigue was still a factor. Just the sheer hours of time it took to care for two people in two locations required that some things did not get done. Looking back, I note some observations:”
"Giving credit to myself for caring for my loved ones seemed a bit self-centered."
It can often be difficult to give yourself credit for selflessly caring for your loved one but be kind to yourself and recognize your triumphs as well as the difficult days.
"Long-term busyness hid the accumulation of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy drain."
"Different diseases required different approaches for each loved one."
"Watching my loved ones decline subtly accrued anticipatory grief of the loss to come."
"Emotional roller coaster rides of guilt, anger and resentment were sometimes difficult to contain."
"Sleep deprivation contributed to appetite changes, irritability and disequilibrium."
"Efforts to encourage my loved ones takes energy while still attempting to provide self-care."
"Home modifications added to safety and ease of care."
"Isolation from routine required readjustment when the caregiving role was done."
Faith has always been an important aspect of Jeannie’s life and was a large source of strength while caring for her husband and mother. “My pastor shared the ABCs of life — these key words still guide me in finding a new identity beyond wife, daughter and caregiver:”
A = Attention, Approval, Appreciation and Adventure
B = Believe, Belong, Become and Be serving
C = Chemistry, Connectedness, Circumstances, Consciousness and Choices
Jeannie continues by reflecting on the end of her caregiving journey. “After the death of two members of my family eight months apart, my grief was deep and broad. Some of my own health issues surfaced that needed attention. Suddenly, a brief time of immobility reminded me that caregiving can occur at any time. After my recovery, the determination to reconnect with old friends and make new ones kept me from isolating myself.”
... I feel blessed to have had the strength to be a caregiver...
“Though at times I was worn to the bone, I feel blessed to have had the strength to be a caregiver to two of the central people in my life. I hope my experiences will help others to weather the caregiving experiences and become whole again after.”