Hope is heavy. It can sometimes become unbearable for the person going through a crisis to hold their own hope. Keeping focused on the goal, thinking positive thoughts, and cheering on the other person are all places where caregivers can be invaluable.
Joe Biden talks about holding hope in his book, Promise Me, Dad, which is the latest installment of our online book club. We are focusing solely on the parts of the book that cover aphasia and caregiving.
Keeping the Flame Alive
Biden describes one of the most important tasks he did as a caregiver for his son, Beau, during cancer treatments and aphasia. On page 154, he writes, “Our job was to keep that flame alive, and to make sure Beau felt it.”
Sometimes holding hope or keeping the flame alive is all you can do as a caregiver. But it is an important, necessary job. Without hope, the other person may not have the energy to keep attending speech therapy or plugging away at regaining language.
Additionally, caregivers can act like a sponge, absorbing some of the pain. It’s not that they can remove the pain entirely from the other person, but it’s important for the person with aphasia to feel supported along a shared journey. Aphasia — like any major life change — can be isolating. Knowing another person is there beside you can make the struggle feel more manageable.
Biden writes on page 197, “It is a blessing to be able to share the feeling of enveloping grief, to have people you love nearby to absorb some of the worst pain.” Whether it is the caregiver absorbing the emotional pain of their loved one with aphasia or a supportive figure absorbing the pain of the caregiver, in all cases, the support is deeply felt by the receiver.
Holding hope may become a caregiver’s most important job, and focusing on this role can go a long way in making the experience easier for a loved one.
Tell us about a time you held hope for another person.
Image: Mike Labrum via Unsplash