Many times I called it my time out bench, then it became my break away seat, eventually it was just a place I could breathe.
Usually hospitals are not where you think of for respite but when you are caring for someone in a facility you need to take moments of self-care where you can find it. In March of 2015, I found myself with both parents in the hospital. My mother had just learned she had metastatic kidney cancer which had progressed rapidly. My father was in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital with severe congestive heart failure. Both parents were very medically fragile. When your loved one is in the hospital it does not necessarily mean it is a break for you as a caregiver. It may be a time, as it was for me, when life becomes more stressful and emotionally exhausting. While you are worried about your loved one, there are often many more things added to your “to do” list. When you are trying to care for someone in the hospital; you often become the contact for numerous doctors, nurses, administrators and social workers. Friends and family will rely on you for daily updates and sometimes add their own advice. You become responsible for your loved ones home, bills and pets. These added tasks quickly can become overwhelming when you are also trying to manage your own life, family and employment. The idea of trying to care for you or even take a moment to breathe often gets pushed aside.
I first started sitting at “my bench” to get organized during this turbulent, emotional, stressful time. I would love to tell you this bench was in a beautiful garden or a sandy beach but it was not. It was in a busy passageway between the parking garage and the hospital. I first started sitting there to get organized with my “to do” list. Then I started to realize I needed to stop at “my bench” to take a moment for myself. I would usually only sit for five minutes but to me it started to become the five minutes I needed to have to gain strength to continue.
As we change seasons into spring, be sure that whether you are caring for someone at home or in a facility you find your breathing bench whether it be a flower garden, a sandy beach or a hospital hallway. Your loved one needs you to breathe.