Charles shared how having lost so many family members to cancer shapes how he approaches caregiving for his wife today, and how leaning into art and dark humor has helped him process and cope with it all.
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My reflections on the conversation:
I was struck by the way Charles framed his caregiving experience as being "on the ride.” I never thought about my own caregiving experience this way because it sounds a bit detached or somehow not invested in what’s going on. But I knew that was not what Charles meant and when I thought more about it, I realized how helpful this framing could be for caregivers - because it takes us out of the “driver seat,” which is what many of us would try to “inhabit” in a difficult situation because we feel it’s what we are supposed to do to take care of our loved ones. But when we do that, our own needs can come to the forefront and the needs of the person dealing with cancer could get lost.
This framing also acknowledges that we will not have complete control over the situation and it’s not our fault if our loved ones have to suffer. Acceptance doesn’t mean that we don’t try our best to provide support, but it takes the pressure off of caregivers to keep searching for the perfect solution when often, that does not exist.