The Dance is a song made popular by Garth Brooks. It relates to the pain of a loss that might have been prevented had he just known how a relationship would turn out. But in order to miss the pain he would have also had to miss “the dance.”
In each of our own everyday lives we often come across situations that we might be tempted to avoid in order to prevent unnecessary heartache. Working as a professional home caregiver, as I do, you can be confronted with a lot of different health and mental issues and conditions of various patients. Some people are very easy to care for whereas others produce a great amount of stress. Some people need you for only a short while, and then they may improve to the point where they no longer require your services. Others may be on a downward trend that eventually ends in their sad demise.
If you are naturally caring and devoted to the best care of your clients then you will take great pride and joy in what you are able to do for them. A truly dedicated caregiver cannot always help but form a close bond with many of those receiving care. Some caregivers will grow so close to their clients and patients that they become more like family. As a result of the closeness, when that particular individual passes, the caregiver is obviously devastated and will definitely feel the loss in a very deep and sad manner.
My Bitter Sweet Caregiving Journey
I took care of a precious, gracious,and delightful lady for about 18 months. Somehow, we established an immediate heartfelt connection with each other the first time I went to her home. We had many treasured moments during my time with her. I took her places that she needed to go. I ran errands for her and took care of her home. There were some things that she was not able to do for herself. The things that I did for her made it possible for her to live alone. She loved her home and living somewhat independently. Without that little bit of assistance she would have had to give up her home and live either with a relative or in a nursing home. She appreciated everything that I did for her. I am heartbroken to tell you that she just passed away. She was much more than just a dear elderly lady I took care of. She was a great friend as well. During the time that I had the privilege to take care of her, I had the opportunity to get to know her and her family very well.
Always before I left her house we would hug. I would kiss her on her forehead and she would give me the gentlest sweetest kiss on the cheek. It was so light, gentle, and innocent it is what I think of when I think of Butterfly kisses. That is the same as a child would give. I am going to miss those so much. I already do.
The Agony of Despair
As her health deteriorated, she spent the past two months of her life going back and forth to the hospital and the nursing home. Along with her other complications, she also lost her ability to walk. She became quite discouraged and was about to lose hope completely. Whenever I walked into the nursing home to visit her, she would often be sitting in the hall in a wheelchair staring at the floor. This once delightful lady was very depressed. I would take her into her room and we would talk for a while. Sometimes she would have a snack while I was there.
The Joy of Hope
On one of my visits to her, I decided to read her an article on “The Miracle of Hope From Faith” which is found on ConquerEachNewDay.com. That is a site that serves as a resource for caregivers like me. As I was reading to her, I could see her countenance brighten. That little spark of hope that she was so tightly holding on to, was rekindled and flamed right back up! At some point in almost every one of my visits she would smile and tell me “I am going to get to go home in a few days.”
One day, I took another elderly lady that I had started to care for while my friend was in the nursing home, to the doctor. I was happily surprised to see that my friend and her daughter were also sitting there at the doctor’s office. We all had to have hugs all around. Her daughter later told me that she had turned to her, as they left, and said “When I get to go home Glenda is going to take good care of me.” She never lost that hope and the power of that hope is what, I believe, kept her going as long as she did.
Now that she is gone, she has also taken a good chunk of my heart with her! I have many memories of the good times we shared. When I go to the grocery store, I will always pay attention to the items that I would have purchased for her. Have you ever noticed that it is the little things that always remind you of someone very dear whom you have lost?
The Sad Pain of Loss
How can caregivers still be caring and yet protect their own feelings and hearts from the pain of such a loss? Different people have different ways of dealing with it. Usually, the caregiver simply tries to maintain the perspective that this is a professional relationship and keep in mind that at some point in the future it will indeed end. When it does end, the caregiver must be prepared and able to continue giving and providing the professional caregiving services in order to help the next person to be cared for . Otherwise, there cannot be a next person; not if the lingering presence of such strong emotional attachments are allowed to paralyze the caregiver’s abilities to provide the required level of care and attention.
Maintaining this professional mindset and perspective does not mean that you do not care. Naturally, you will develop friendships that are very close. Obviously, you will suffer losses and the pain that such losses bring. However, you also have the pleasure of knowing that, for at least a little while, you have helped someone to have a better life than if you had not been a part of their life. You have given them love and laughter. You have shared their joy and pain. You have shared their tears and sorrow. You have been their friend and companion. You have made their days a little brighter and easier to bear. Yes! In many ways you have taken them from a mere existence to a real life that includes joy and a happy smile on their faces.
Some caregivers are able to maintain a certain distance in their relationships with the ones they care for, in order to protect themselves emotionally. Unfortunately, most often this distance can be readily recognized and felt by the care receiver, who is then left to perceive and conclude that the caregiver does not care for their feelings. However, there are those situations where the caregiver is completely uncaring, and, of course, such so called caregivers have no place in healthcare and should not be allowed to provide such care at all.
As for me, I try to maintain a professional but caring attitude. There has to be a good balance of caring and objectivity for me to do my job well. Without a certain amount of objectivity I cannot give the care that is best for the one being cared for. You need a bit of wisdom too.
Sometimes, when you have taken care of an individual for a long period of time, like I did, you go past that threshold of professional caregiver relationship and it evolves into a true friendship. That means that the loss of that person will be especially hard and painful to bear. Although you will grieve and shed tears, you have to let go at some point. You see, it is not all about you! Rather, it is about what you can do for others. If you cannot move on for the fear of being hurt by the loss of that special someone you have learned to love, then you miss out on some very special “dances” in life. There are some things that are far bigger and more important than our own agenda.
The Dance – A Treasured Moment
Here I would like to share a special video of one of those moments for Garth Brooks. It was a show stopping moment. I do hope that you have some tissues handy.
In the video a cancer patient who was in the audience held up a sign that said, “Chemo this morning – Garth tonight – Enjoying the Dance.” Since Garth Brooks lost both his mother and his sister to cancer, he understood what an effort the lady had made to be able to come to his concert. This created a treasured moment for him. Life provides a lot of opportunities for us to experience some treasured moments. Sometimes those moments are found in the caring for another person or a loved one. Sometimes they are in other opportunities that, unexpectedly, come right out of the blue! Yet, all these opportunities may also bring the risk of some kind of pain. Just as in the song Garth Brooks sang, you could have missed the pain but you would also have had to miss the dance.
What if your taking the risk of potential pain could make a real difference in the life of someone else? Would you be willing to take it? How much are we willing to miss out on in order to protect ourselves from the pain of heartache? How much do we know and understand about that kind of pain?
Maybe I could indeed miss out on the pain, but then I would also miss the dance. To me, the dance is well worth it. I have some treasured memories now that I did not miss out on. How about you? Wouldn’t you like to dance too?
Letting go is the part of love that is the hardest to do. We came into this world with nothing and we shall leave with nothing. On our tombstones the time in between our birth date and death date is represented with a dash. What we choose to do with that dash is the world we live in. I do hope that mine has made a difference. I also hope that yours is. I have also heard it said that our life is a gift from God. What we choose to do with that life is our gift to God. It matters.
Even though our beliefs may be different, we may have learned to place our faith and trust in God. If it were not for Him I would not be able to make it through each and every day. I just don’t understand how it is possible to manage to live without Him. He allows and provides only what He knows is best for us. He protects, leads and guides me each and every day. Some days are difficult but I don’t have to walk through them alone.
I just want this article to inspire someone to take the risk they need to take to really get hold of life and live it. We don’t live in a vacuum even though we may at times feel very much alone. There are many out there that need someone to assist in some small way. There are many others who can indeed lend a helping hand and assist, but who may be just afraid to get involved.
I want to encourage you to not allow fear to stand in your way. Maybe you think that you have nothing to offer but it is quite possible that you are able to do that one thing that one person needs in order to have a life. I beg of you to please give that one thing to save that one person’s life… who knows… you may one day be that one person in need of that one thing to save your life!
If this post has touched you in any way please feel free to share with others. Your comments are welcome below. Thank you for reading.