Tired Angels

The thin, nearly invisible line between helping and hating is easy to cross. It is a tiny step from being “available” to power distancing.  A small dose of burnout transforms chronic pleasing into a habitual resenting.

I recognize the slippery slope when I am thinking or saying things like,  “I guess she didn’t even notice that I…”.

Last night I heard the ultimate from my friend who is a caregiver, “Good Lord, she’s the only one there who doesn’t get that she’s dying.”  Her client has fooled everyone and stretched hospice to the end of its elasticity.   But how does a person who would give the shirt off of her back resent the time it takes for an old woman to die?

My first thought was that I wouldn’t want her at my deathbed.  Then my inappropriate laughter bubbled up.  She was mad because her charge was dying on her own schedule.  It was so ridiculous it was funny in a macabre way.

I recognized the exhaustion turned to irritation.  She has been accommodating the gravity of the event for too long.  She’s worked extra shifts.  She’s been there for the daughter.  She gave up her Thanksgiving and her Christmas so that other helpers could be with their families.  Then she gave up her 4th of July.  What’s up with that?  When is enough, enough?  Die already!

My friend isn’t a bad person.  She is just too good.  She’s the one who will buy a week’s groceries and then fix most of the food for a potluck dinner and leave it with the hostess.  She’s the one who will pick up your mail, take care of your cat, bring the wine, and come early to help clean the house when friends are coming over.  She’s also the one who never needs help.

She takes care of everyone but herself. And she’s tired.

I hope my friend can get herself to the head of the line.  Perhaps she can rejuvenate herself in her garden, or with her own family, or with friends.  I hope she can take some time off, or change jobs if this one has taken too much of her.  I look forward to hearing her raucous laughter again, yet allowing that it will be a struggle for her.

I know that we can’t be kind to others if we don’t accept some kindness to ourselves.  Any one of us can become mean-spirited and critical if we don’t feed our own heart and soul.  My loving instructions for her are what I tell myself every day: say no often enough that it is a pleasure to say yes. Do what you do with a glad heart.


P. S.  I love you, girl!

One comment

  1. Do what you do with a cheerful heart knowing that it is the Lord you are doing it for!
    Remember a diamond is created by enormous friction of earth (others) against US diamonds in the rough!


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