Monday, April 21, 2008

Yes or No?

It seems to me, after years of working with people (a hazard of being a social worker), that asking for help is one of the hardest things to do. I have been reminded of this most recently by a friend who had surgery last week. Independent soul that she is, for the last month she has been adamantly telling all of her friends that she doesn't/won't need help, and all will be well.
I've had surgery, and remember trying to persuade my body that it really could do more than walk to the mail box and back in a day.

This weekend my friend finally admitted that perhaps she is going to need some help when she goes home. The fact that she lives alone and has only walked down the hospital hall once, with help, might have something to do with that. I am relieved that, if only for a short time, she may consider letting one or more of her friends stay with her, help with meals etc. We all want to help. We see it as a gift we can offer. It is hard to wait patiently in hopes that someone we care about will let us offer that gift.

Coincidentally, I'm giving a short presentation on Thursday to a Chamber Leaderhip group on being a caregiver for another adult. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to tell them. Caregiving can be a hard role, physically and mentally exhausting. The rewards may be many, or it may be a resentful duty. The most common concern of the person being cared for is being a burden to family and friends. The reality is, the act of caregiving is sometimes a burden. Many caregivers I've talked to, also speak of satisfaction in helping, giving back to a loved one and personal growth. They want to do what they are doing, even on the days it is hard.

One of the lessons I learned from my years in hospice care was to ask for help when I need it. I've always been a very independent person, just like my friend. My family, friends and coworkers have called me their "rock" because so many people rely on me for support. Asking for help when I was sick or sad just didn't enter in to the picture. Little by little, I learned from the people I was supposed to be helping that asking for help is a strength. I also learned to accept the gift of support when it is offered.

This got a little heavier than I intended but has been much on my mind recently. So my question for the day is, "Are you able to ask for and accept help from others?" It is something to think about.

1 comment:

Amy Lane said...

Answer: I'm getting there. I didn't used to be--not at all. Not even a little. Last year, when my professional life fell apart on me, I couldn't make myself swallow my pride with my administrators--of course, it didn't help that I felt like one of them was out to get me.

But I know that five years ago, I never would have considered having an 'editing staff'--consisting completely of volunteers. Maturity in little bits? Very likely.