I haven’t focused on Gratitude as a theme since November (Thanksgiving) of last year, but I want to return to it today because I am definitely noticing how much I have to be grateful for and I’m hoping this is true for you as well.
Grace is not a theme we’ve touched on here (at least, I don’t recall it) and I’m reminded by a dear Jewish friend that the word itself is tied up in Christian origins, so that may be the reason we don’t talk about it much – it’s not a part of the common lexicon but starting today I’m hoping it will be.
In religious-speak, grace is often defined as undeserved mercy, a kindness that comes our way through divine intervention. But I like to think of it as the disposition to show kindness or compassion, and also the capacity to recognize and appreciate it when it shows up in your own life-full-of-failings. I know I see it there.
Grit, the third attribute, seems to emerge from an American, “can do” spirit, often revered in country music songs about picking ourselves up after some love-tragedy and starting anew. For me, grit is more about passion & perseverance; it is about being able to focus on what’s most important in the face of adversity or chaos. It’s that capacity to simply keep on keeping-on when others would (or have) quit.
I happen to believe that caregivers need all three of these attributes in their lives. They are tools that keep us focused, balanced and calm in the midst of whatever comes our way.
I certainly spot all three of these in my clients – especially after we’ve become well acquainted with each other – I see their Gratitude, Grace & Grit as gifts which empower them to get through the most challenging days, weeks, months and even years.
- Gratitude shows up in conversation with even my most stressed clients – they’re grateful for a neighbor who offered to grocery shop for them, grateful for a note sent by the clinician assessing their loved-one and acknowledging the extent of decline that is evident, grateful for the flowers at the hardware store that seem to hint of spring. It doesn’t take much!
- Grace is evident in the way they describe the home health aide who arrives late (because it takes two bus routs and 3-block walk to get there) with empathy in their voice for her service. It is demonstrated in the appreciation for a quiet afternoon when everything (well, most things) seem to go right, rather than wrong. Simple gifts can bring them a sense of grace.
- Grit is apparent in their never-give-up attitude that reveals itself in quiet resignation to the work that is required – not complaining, not retreating, and certainly not neglecting even the most wearisome chores. Caregivers often don’t even see how many responsibilities they’re juggling until I point it out to them – they’re simply people who keep on keeping-on like a moder-day Sisyphus (the character in Greek mythology sentenced by the gods to do repetitive, seemingly futile work, rolling a boulder up the hill, only to have it back on the ground in front of him the next day). That is how caregiving can feel.
What’s your capacity for Gratitude, Grace & Grit?
- Do you need some help reinforcing your gratitude practice, sticking with it in the face of disappointment or grief?
- Do you struggle to find grace in small things and extend it to others with empathy and compassion?
- Is your grit sufficient to the tasks in front of you or do you grow weary with the repetitive nature of your caregiving chores?
If any of these are true of you please know, they just reveal your humanity! We all need some reinforcement when times get difficult. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to acknowledge that your Gratitude, Grace & Grit may need a gentle tune-up. We’ve all been there! I invite you to feel to call and let me know if I can help!