The Caregivers’ Journey
Navigating the Path – Preface

By Kathryn R. Burke

Caregiver? Who, me? Caregiver’s Journey? What’s that? Sounds like a trip I’d rather skip. My kids are grown, my life is finally my own. Why would I want to be somebody’s life preserver when their boat starts sinking?

Caregiving—it’s certainly not a journey most of us would anticipate, much less prepare for. We’ve been too busy living to think about dying.

Think back. When you’re young, you are invincible. You do crazy things and get away with it. You rarely get sick, take chances you shouldn’t. If you break a bone, it heals quickly. You eat fast food and don’t think about gluten or lactose. Sugar is still your friend. You text while driving—yeah, not supposed to do that, and manage to swerve just in time and miss the truck in the oncoming lane.

You don’t think about mortality.

It’s there of course, a specter looming in the background—but way in the background. You don’t really identify with death. You may lose grandparents, but they’re ‘old.’ Parents can get sick, but they usually hang on at least until you grow up. A classmate might get killed in a freak accident—but most kids you know are planning their future. With a few exceptions, the idea of ‘Caregiving’ is rarely on your horizon. And if there is a sighting, it’s brief, soon forgotten as you get on with getting on with your life.

In the youthful years, age is something to be attained, not to be afraid of. It’s a goal to strive for, not something you want to avoid. Time can’t move fast enough. You can hardly wait to reach the next plateau: getting your driver’s license, first car, going off to college, graduation, first job, first apartment, true love, marriage, new job, children, new house, promotion, vacations.

So, it’s hardly surprising that when faced with the crisis that calls for a Caregiver, you’re in shock. It’s scary. You are feeling grief, maybe hopelessness, perhaps guilt that you didn’t recognize the problem sooner and do something about it. You haven’t a clue what to do.

Clueless or not, you’ve got a foot on the road. The path stretches ahead, twisting and turning and winding out of sight. You must learn how to navigate it, sometimes rather quickly.

This book is your road map.

The Caregiver’s Journey, Navigating the Path by Kathryn R. Burke. Available from San Juan Publishing.