UP FOR DISCUSSION … Do you struggle with finding the time and energy to seek out respite from caregiving? As critical as it is for all of us, respite is difficult to come by and takes coordination … and a little encouragement to pull it off!

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As our church’s caregiver ministry is beginning the process of investigating what it would take to offer regular respite opportunities to our caregivers, the topic is top-of-mind for me these days.  Recently I had the opportunity to arrange a day of respite for myself, and not only did everything go well despite my worries, but I found the impact on me, my overall outlook, and my general well-being was way beyond what I could have imagined.

Here is the scenario.  My brother and sister-in-law were making their annual visit to Orlando to escape the chilly Midwest winter, and they were joined by my niece and her family.  I love these people dearly and in better days we would get together for a couple of days to play, visit Disney, and hang out enjoying all that Florida has to offer Northerners in February.  In the most recent years, our visits have been limited to a short day here in Sarasota doing whatever makes sense given their agenda for the week.  Last year we ran a 5K (I walked it, and I think I came in dead last – and long after they ran out of donuts – but that is another story), but this year the plan was to take in beautiful Siesta Key and its quartz sand beach.

I prepared carefully.  My loved one’s lunch was ready and waiting in the refrigerator IF he remembered and decided to eat it.  Both sets of meds were carefully laid out IF he could remember to take them.  All the usual precautions were taken, and he was dressed and ready for company when they arrived.  The car was loaded with all the beach gear we had accumulated from past adventures – most of it had not been out of the garage for several years – and I packed up all of the beach towels I could find.  My family arrived on time, we visited for a while, and then for me Respite began!

As we left for lunch in the village, I remember thinking the day is to be one of rest, enjoyment, and fun … as much as possible this is a time to walk away from caregiving and into relaxation and time to be with others I love.  RESPITE in its finest definition: “cessation for a time from anything distressing or trying; an interval of relief!”  And it was!  A grouper lunch at Captain Curt’s, a choice spot on the beach right by the yellow guard stand, a little souvenir shopping in the village, and pure joy in conversation while catching up, oohing and aahing at the shell collections being carefully assembled, and the very artistic pictures captured in the heart-shaped frames dug into the sand.  Ah, technology and my niece’s creativity!

An entire afternoon of fresh air, laughter, walking, talking, and freedom.  With one check of the cameras and one telephone call, I was able to validate that all appeared well at home.  And I gave myself permission to enjoy every minute of my time away.  As the afternoon sun gave way to twilight, we headed back but everyone was still game – and hungry -, so we secured pizza to take home for supper.  As we sat around the kitchen talking and recounting the day, I realized that it had literally been years since I had been away from home for that long of a time.  It was life-giving, God sent, and I was so thankful for my family making it all happen.  And I slept so well that night.  All that fresh air!  All that exercise!  All that joy!  I am so grateful!  Respite is just such a beautiful thing … caregivers need to build it into their routine far more often than we tend to do.




Up for Discussion:  What have you done to find “an interval of relief” from caregiving recently?  Do you give yourself permission to walk away on a regular basis?  Are you seeking ways to do it more often?  I would love to hear your thoughts below.

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