Happier: Is there Happiness as a Care-Giver?

Is anyone really happy? What is happiness anyway? I’ve touched on this before in previous posts but let’s dive deeper into this thing they call happiness but from a care givers point of view! So many of us wonder through life looking for some reason to be happy but is happiness really just waking up and being happy, being thankful for those we have in life, that first cup of coffee, piece of toast, or that fruit?

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Let me be the first to tell you that true happiness is those things and so much more. Happiness is something that we have control over. Happiness is in fact, what we decide to be happy over. Recently, I became a care-giver of my father in his final weeks fighting stage 4 lung cancer. This made me very happy, as it was rewarding to be with dad during these troubling times, yet it was also very stressful seeing the decline in such a good man making me unhappy.

Care-giving while remaining optimistic and happy was a new concept to us in our newly formed family life but is something millions of people around the world do everyday and very challenging to say the least. Being cared for or cared by is a team effort no matter what side of the fence you are on and if everyone can remain happy during these times the easier it can be. However, how can anyone remain happy having to manage doctor visits, medications, hospice personal, and the mental/physical health of a loved one? On the flip side and as I have yet to find out… what toll did all this short-term happiness that I had during this time will/is playing on my overall real state of happiness both mentally and physically. I guess only time will tell huh?

Going at anything in life alone can be very challenging, scary, and filled with unknowns but trying to remain happy during these times is very important. Here are some things I found helped and are helping right up to this post.

Rule #1

Don’t do it alone. One thing I noticed over the last few years in fighting this cancer is that there is a lot of help out there for you whether it comes from the doctors, hospice crew, co-workers, or other family and friends. If you don’t ask or take any help think about how this will affect your overall happiness. Also think about how this will affect your health, finances, and spirit? Chances are you will see them all decline eventually and you will end up broke, depressed, and unhappy that you didn’t do enough. Yes? No?

Rule #2

Make it worth every minute. in my dads final weeks/month we were very blessed to have worked with amazing doctors (although dad was convinced they were only after his money), family, and an amazing hospice staff throughout the greater Tampa area. Over this time, I felt a great sense of happiness and continually told myself (even if I was NOT getting paid) that this time spent with him was worth every minute and every dollar of energy we all put into his full-time care. Even though my health and finances continued to decline throughout this time, I tried my best to remain happy and make every minute count. I think dad appreciated it although I still think sometimes he could see the stress mounting.

Rule #3

Tell those your with how much you love them. All to often in life, I think a lot of us get caught up in the moment regardless of what it is. Care-giving is no different. Care-giving requires all your time, energy, and effort, so how can you remain happy and tell all those others in your life that you love them? I by no means have excelled or am excelling in this category but did/do my best each day to tell others how much I love/loved them. Heck, I was even telling the hospice crew I loved them at the end. Now that both my parents have passed I will continue to work on this and hopefully when it’s my time those I touched throughout my life will tell me those exact words… I love you in the end!

 

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I know that I could create an endless list of how to remain happy as a care-giver but I’ll save those for another day. The fact(s) is that most of us choose to be unhappy and more people should choose to be happy, especially if you are or will become a care-giver. Life as a care-giver can be filled with spreadsheets, charts, sleepless nights, etc. but if you somehow can remain happy, I think that is what will carry you to a long end life, while not pissing off all those that you are so close to. And as Mother Teresa said “spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come without leaving happier.” Thoughts?

In memory of my AWESOME LOVING DAD!!!

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