Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On caregiving - Fall into winter

It’s a beautiful fall day – the sun is shining, the sky is that special kind of transparent blue, and the leaves are already starting to fall. Standing by the kitchen sink this morning, I could see a constant rain of leaves floating down – sort of an odd “sky-is-falling” sensation.

I think today how very lucky I am, heading into this fall with good health, a happy family and work that I love. This isn’t true for every family, however. Just yesterday as I was waiting to see my doctor for an annual check-up, I overheard the man who entered just before me sharing how difficult and stressful his life is right now.

He’s lost his job and worries about losing his home. He’s a little past middle age, making these losses hard to take, and harder to recover from. Clearly, he’s not alone in our society today. Many people are hurting and many people have no idea how they’ll recover.

When we were younger, it was easy to think, “I’ll just get another job.” I’d say to my family, “Money is a renewable resource, so let’s enjoy what we have. We can earn more.”

As I get older the renew-ability of money seems less of a given. I know if I had to change jobs or careers now, it would be much more challenging than it was in my younger days. Individuals who have retired, assuming their pensions were secure and adequate, and now experience rising costs or disappearing pensions face an uncertain and frightening future.

Fall is, inherently, a time of reflection; a time when the bright fresh colors of spring and summer fade and fall away, and the cold slumber of winter begins. Our economic cycle seems to mimic nature, with October being a month of dramatic financial and stock market drops, perhaps preparing us for a winter of less abundant prosperity – this year, at least.

As my team and I work hard to bring more training and resources to the people who struggle to continue to care for their loved ones, I believe, more deeply than ever, that together we can find the joy even in winter. We can, perhaps, cozy up to a warm fire, create new friendships that give us encouragement and laughter, and come out next spring richer for our experiences.

So bring on the winter – we’ll get through together.

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