Personal growth and transformation
The people we interviewed expressed a range of feelings and experiences, from negative to positive. We asked them to elaborate on the positive aspects and share any life lessons from their experiences as caregivers. In this topic page, we present some of the life lessons that caregivers shared with us, as well as the different ways that they felt appreciated. In all of these cases, caregivers presented their stories as important contributions to their own growth and transformation as better human beings.
Marc said, “Life brings you on paths and whatever happens, you will have given the best of yourself. You will be proud of what you have done for someone on this planet.”
Daphne learned that making a mistake is in fact a learning experience.
Life was never meant to be easy. So nobody’s going to hand you a platter with a bunch of, a book that says this is how you deal with life. It doesn’t work that way. You will always be learning throughout your life. There’s never a mistake. It’s a learning […]
Go with the flow: Elaine always tells her granddaughters to make the best of what life brings.
Oh boy. The life lesson is that you’ve really never got your life figured out because , all of a sudden, you have—what is this saying that I’ve always lived by?…I know I’m going to forget it, but it’s about what you had planned. In order to live the life […]
Rhyannan benefits from caregiving in terms of her own growth and compassion.
Well, there’s a place inside of yourself, in the sense of your own self worth, to be able to address a need that’s out there—and such a critical need. Often this isn’t just making soup for somebody because they’ve broken their leg and they can’t cook right now, right. I […]
Several caregivers learned that it is okay to take time to care for themselves. Marlyn said, “That certainly was a big realization, that I had to be responsible for not only looking after myself, but for thinking of myself and being willing to say, “No, I won’t do that,’ which is not necessarily a natural thing that most spouses would say if all along they’ve been very sort of cooperative and helpful with each other.” Marc learned something similar and said, “Taking care of oneself, this is essential. This is a second lesson. Because when you don’t take care of yourself, you falter, and you can’t help the other person.”
Joanne pushed herself and found her limits. She has learned to take better care of herself.
I think my mom is really lucky to have someone like me, who’s so devoted to her. I think sometimes she realizes that, and she tells me she appreciates it, but I look ahead to myself when I’m her age and I’m thinking, “Wow, what’s my situation going to be?”, […]
When things aren’t being done correctly, Mike says you have the right to stand up and say “No, we have to find another way.”
It’s okay to say no. I’ve read a lot of books about [caregiving], and that’s one of the books I read actually, It’s Okay to Say No. Everything comes in stages. That was brought up from another book that I read, and I saw that in here we all go through […]
Several caregivers spoke about the things they had learned from caregiving. Many caregivers mentioned they had learned to let go. For example, Joseph said, “Letting go helps me a lot. It is someone else’s life, not mine and, yes I can be of service, but … I don’t have all the answers.” Being a caregiver deepened several people’s understanding of emotions and appreciation of other people’s experiences. Shayna said, “You shouldn’t judge until you’ve not only walked in their position but followed the footsteps.”
Some caregivers had to work on improving their patience.
David is working on his patience; it is a lesson that he still needs to learn.
A life lesson? Good heavens. I don’t know it yet. I’m sure there are some life lessons there but… I guess I’m working on my patience. I have, I have good patience for certain things, like for example, if I’m doing a painting and I need to spend a whole bunch of hours drawing details or painting details, I can do that. But, when getting somebody dressed or taking care of somebody physically, I’m not always good at it. So, I guess that’s part of a lesson that I need to learn. That sounds kind of mundane but it’s the best I can come up with. I think the life lessons will come up later, but it hasn’t hit me in the face yet.
Several caregivers described how they learned to put their negative thinking aside. Others also spoke about their own growth in compassion, empathy, and serenity. Some caregivers described how it had helped them to mature or to make them stronger. Despite the positive effects, Shayna said, “I think I am a better person, but I would go back in a second. Caregiving is very difficult, very self-denying.”
Keeping someone happy and seeing them get better is very rewarding for Madhu.
Oh life lesson? Be very happy, be positive. I’m always happy. People say, “You laugh a lot,” and I say, “Why should I cry?” […] I think, be happy, make others happy, give back to the society, because somebody helps you when you need help. Somebody [is] always there, right? And […]
Many caregivers appreciated the fact that they were able to do something good for someone else, creating a sense of fulfillment, pride or happiness.
Matsonia feels fulfilled and happy knowing she can take care of her husband.
It’s the greatest gift you can give to another human being. To give yourself, to give your life for another person. Like I said, there are some people who are so selfish or they are so needy themselves they could never carry out this task. Caregivers are tough, and you […]
There is an incredible amount of joy in caregiving, says Barbara.
In almost all the cases that I’ve done caregiving, and it’s been a fair number of them by this time, there has been an incredible amount of joy. There has been an ability to recognize when a life is done: that sometimes when you are only seeing somebody once a […]
“Try to be happy and positive.” Helping others is important for Madhu.
Well, sure. It is very rewarding. Rewarding means that when you see the progress that the patient is making, right? Well, that’s very rewarding. Of course, it’s mainly on medication or the system, but [also] how the family or caregiver have helped the patient. You can see the signs on […]
Caring for his daughter has kept him from ageing, says Jacques.
Well, it might keep me from having Alzheimer’s. No, not really. No, but only the positive aspects, it’s that it… I can tell you one thing, caring for my daughter, it has kept me from ageing. It didn’t force me to age; it kept me from ageing. I have that […]
Rachel has a close bond with her mother, and appreciates the time she has spent with her.
Developing a close connection with my mom. I think we have a bond. I think it can be unhelpful at times, but I’ve been lucky to develop the relationship that I have had with her, and it wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t the way that it is. I […]
Although caregiving is hard, Kai thinks we should embrace the experience and learn from it.
The most positive experience of this whole caregiving experience was the fact that I had a really close relationship with my dad, and with my mom. And I felt, with all the sacrifices that they did for us—they sent us away to get a great education, knowing that they could […]