I am caring for a family member who is dying. If it were listed in DSM, her condition could be labeled as a fatal life disorder, not depression, but cancer. This is no noble battle, her opponent made an insidious surprise attack, the condition is, incurable. Game over.
I am revisiting the carer role as it’s my focus right now. I have pressed the ‘pause’ button on everything else. I am caring and I am ragged with the effort, this is a labour of love. I notice a rising resentment of general expectations on carers to be chirpy and capable, to keep it together, and carry on – without any carry on that is… I expect that of myself.
In a world of equal and opposite reactions it is the doctors, nurses, and specialists, who have maintained their composure – controlled. For me emotions are on the surface, frustration, grief, helplessness in the face of mortality, and a deep felt heartache.
I am a sleep deprived weepy carer and I imagine Florence Nightingale would smile on me. There’s nothing to do but care some more, again and through another day.
I can see the professionals are softened by my visible distress and seeping tears. Their job seems to require only a little shrug to acknowledge the limits of what they can do. A shrug, a half smile and they leave.
I sit at her bedside thinking how this is not a for better or for worse situation, but more of a through thick and thin thing. We look at each other, weeping. “It’s too much” she says “…too much for you.” “It’s too much” I say “…too much for you”, we smile and a little loving laugh tainted with resignation turns up – I am not the only carer in the room.