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The caregiving journey is a winding road, with many bumps along the way and lots of turns and stops. It’s not a simple journey and there’s not much guidance from others. It is more like wandering into a forest, not knowing what direction to turn along the way. As you wander in the forest you will see the beautiful trees, the lovely butterflies fluttering around and the birds chirping, but sometimes you cannot see or hear the beauty and the path seems overwhelming and impossible.

Those who have already travelled down a caregiver journey will have great compassion for you and those that have not are likely tired of hearing about your daily concerns and impossible challenges. It is understandable, as it is overwhelming for the caregiver let alone someone who is not directly involved. This is where I would say to anyone, reach out to others, seek guidance, get help and do not travel this journey alone. It is impossible to do without tremendous support.

Our loved one has always led a grateful life and one full of faith. This remarkable quality has shone through every day on this path like a guiding light. Although some days can be incredibly difficult when you have a loved one that is struggling and you are tired, in fact exhausted as a caregiver. You press on because of that guiding light. In my case, it is that small ‘thank you’ at the end of a small yet gigantic act of love you have provided like combing one’s hair or putting on their favourite music during a visit. That small thank you, sometimes hardly audible and sometimes communicated through eyes and not words is all that I need to understand the appreciation.

I have found it to be remarkable that someone with such a debilitating disease can still be so grateful every day. The evidence that you have to live with gratitude each and every day and when you do it will be ingrained into your DNA no matter what challenges life brings you. This has been the biggest lesson for me in being in this caregiver role. The things we can find to be grateful for while going through such a difficult situation. Find the beauty everywhere.

Being a caregiver is a rewarding role, although at times it can feel like no one appreciates what you are doing. It is a balancing act between your own life and that of the one you are caring for and your own nuclear unit. But it is also an inspiring role and to know that you will have no regrets leaves you with peace of mind.

So if you are in a caregiver role, my arms reach out to you in a gigantic hug and a wave of gratitude for everything that you do everyday both silent and vocal, every act of kindness and selfless behaviour. I shout out to the sky a loud THANK YOU for everything that you do.

Now embrace yourself and venture outside into the forest and see the beauty that surrounds you along that journey. Take in the birds, the smells, the sunshine peeking through the trees and let it heal you in the way that only nature can, and live life with daily gratitude.