Sunday, 9 August 2015

Who’d Want To Be A Burden

on family, friends or even oneself?

It’s a phrase one hears a lot, usually uttered by people in good health and far off from being one themselves. Caregivers rarely use it and the one receiving care never utters it. ‘Being a burden’ is a harsh phrase, unkind and heartless. No one needing care does so for selfish reasons and should not be made to feel guilty.

Occasionally, Beloved looks at me and sighs “What a useless burden I am to you.”  I mutter something soothing and give his bony shoulders a quick hug. What else can I do? Being a caregiver is not something I find easy to do, but I (and millions of others) have no choice. If the person you love needs help, you give it freely.

“I dislike burdens, said Juan
and at my back I often hear 
Time’s winged chariot changing gear.” *

Quite so.

When you are waiting for time to pass it seems to stand still. We are in week seven of the recovery period; I could swear we’ve done several years already. And yet

Though patience be a tired mare,
yet she will plod.**

Still, half way there, if all goes well. 

Sharla came to tend to my feet. She is a relatively young woman married to a much older man, who is already retired. Last week I warned her that my current situation might easily apply to her some day. She laughed. “Oh, Tony has already said he’ll never be a burden on me. He said he would take a bottle of whiskey and disappear into the hills. ‘You'll never see me again.’ ” 

Her reply was: “Oh yes? Well and good. But tell me, when you are old and decrepit and quite useless how will you get to the hills? By taxi maybe? Or will you want me to give you a lift?” I don’t think Tony had an answer to that one.

I found time to snap this thrush in the process of demolishing a snail.

*Eric Linklater : Juan in China
** Shakespeare : Nym in Henry V


  1. "patience is a tired mare" a quote that resonates with me. Thank you.

  2. O/H sometimes says to me what your Beloved says to you. But they're NOT, no way. I would rather a million times to be with the man I have than permanently without him. Life isn't always easy but nobody said that it would be. You're in my thoughts, take care xx

  3. I hope I never need to have someone say that to me, but if I do, it will be my privilege to take care of him or her. I mean, what else could I do??

  4. Sharla sounds like a very wise lady.

  5. I worry about becoming a burden. Rather a lot.
    I have been a carer and the thought that the person I was/am caring for was a burden never entered my head. It needed doing, so I did it.
    Very different perceptions. I wonder why?
    Love Sharla's pragmatism.

  6. Friko, it's a difficult time for both of you. It was for me the years before my mom passed. It left me with the feeling that no matter what you do, it's never enough. I could have done better. And I do pray that I don't put that burden on anyone... even if they're willing to accept it.

  7. Funny how my thoughts today sing in harmony with yours, Friko. All best wishes!

  8. Endless, this time of waiting for improvement. Endless. My thoughts are with you.

  9. Sharla gets it, doesn't she? Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you both daily.

  10. Willy Dunne Wooters and I have promised that we'll find a way to take care of each other.


  11. Hopefully, the "halfway there" is true, and things will eventually turn back to normal... or a new normal.
    When you wrote "the one receiving care never utters it", I thought of my grandmother. She never let us forget how much of a burden she was for the last 11 years of her life - she mentioned it herself on a daily basis. Caring for her was very difficult and mentally draining, because it would never be enough. If you were there with her 23 out of the 24 hours of the day, she'd focus on the ONE hour you weren't there. Still - she was our Oma, and my mother's Mutter, and we loved her dearly in spite of her being so difficult.

  12. Friko, dear, I don't know what to say. You're so wise woman, that's time very difficult for you and your Beloved.

  13. "If a person you love needs help, you give it freely." And so you do dear Friko. And time plods on, but hopefully your goal will be reached soon and Beloved will be strong again.

    On a personal note and an entirely different scenario, my Handsome One was never viewed as a burden by myself for over fourteen years, that is until, after hospitalisation, social workers became involved and their ill-conceived interventions deskilled him and the entire package became a burden, and sadly Handsome One with it.

    I don't think I'll ever get over it...

    The kindest of regards
    Anna :o]

  14. Unfortunately there are people who enjoy to be "a burden" ! One of those was my own father ! He really enjoyed to make life difficult, and even asked me to move in with him and leave my husband and son alone ! So I always hope to never be a burden to anybody. But of course taking care of my husband would never be a burden to me, although it would certainly be a difficult life. I hope for you that the end of this dark tunnel is coming soon !

  15. Caregiving is a plodding thing and it was when I help my mother. I just took each day. It was lonely as all my siblings were busy with jobs and family and I had agreed to a two month shift...but I knew in the end I could return home! I remember thinking I want to be like Morrie int he book ""Tuesdays With Morrie when I am feeling I could be a burden. Hope you are finding a break now and again. That is very important.

  16. My Mom used to say "that life wasn't a bed of roses, but someone had to take time to care for them - and because of that, they bloomed". Anyone I have ever cared for, I have never looked it as a burden - it was my way of giving back all the wonderful things done for me when I needed it most. Some people just toss em aside when they need them or ship them off to nursing homes. We, on the other hand "look after our own" and others too around us that need help. Beloved is so fortunate to have you and you - him. "Muttering something soothing and a quick hug" - that said it all. I also agree with hyperCRYPTICal's statement - "If a person you love needs help, you give it freely".

  17. So well written, Friko, with little touches of your humor still intact. I will continue to hope for strength and a good outcome for you and your beloved.

  18. Your reporting of Sharla's words actually made me laugh.

    I do hope you all are now more than half way through this horrid recovery period. My mind imagines one of those little progress icon that appears on a computer screen as some sort of upload or download is taking place. Those countdowns do try my patience.

    Love to you and yours. xo

  19. this is one of my main complaints about doctors and western medicine. many doctors are no more than pill pushers and pills are their solution to everything. treat the symptom and forget about the cause only they rarely take into consideration all the pills they have previously told you to take and how all that chemical soup might affect the mind and body. glad to hear that progress is being made if slowly.

  20. Still, the bottle of whiskey and a trip to the hills seems like such an inviting romance at times.

  21. Patience is a tired mare. I love that line. We all fear being a burden on someone else. We also hope someone will be there for us. My thoughts continue to be with you.

  22. No , of course no one would choose to be a burden ... but the choice isn't always ours to make .

  23. My poor mother worried constantly about being a burden. And, let's be truthful here -- sometimes she was. On the other hand, in a moment of inexplicable inspiration, I once said to her, "Well, here's the deal. You have to carry the burden of age and infirmity, and I have to carry the burden of caring for you, so we're even." That's kind of a weird thing to say, just flat out like that, but somehow it made both of us feel better, and we began making a joke of who had the biggest burden each day.

    Obviously, coping takes many forms!

  24. Blessings.....
    I often hear and I dare say (though hate to admit) have used the same phrase. It is the unforgiving reality helplessness, of not being able to help oneself with the simplest menial of tasks the abled body often take for granted.

    To depend on another for every moment of care from the very basics of hygiene maintenance etc., shreds the pride and wound the psyche. It is this simplisticness of one’s life once thought of as dreary and mundane that becomes most valuable and paramount to ones existence.

    The truth is, we don't know what life will bring our way, we only hope by God's grace that we are able maintain a semblance of dignity. Care givers are a blessing, to find one that give care with grace, patience and a wealth of tolerance is a treasure.

    In taking care of others please take the time to also take care of yourself.
    Thank you for caring. I hope the love you share through your care inspires the one you are caring for.

    Stay blessed.

  25. Hope all is going better for both of you

  26. I will keep your Beloved in my prayers.

    My mom's husband has been more and more of a caretaker for her, though she has done pretty well recovering from strokes and a broken hip. Still, she is not quite as she used to be. I think it's hard for him, but like you, he loves her dearly…and he is patient with her. So patient.

    I am really hoping for a full recovery for your husband. But if not, I know you will find the strength to be there for him and find a new normal together.



  27. this is a universal fear; you said it well.

  28. Well, when people think that they may be a burden to someone that means they can still “think” – what is harder is when someone cannot think anymore and does not even know what “burden” means … as in the case with Alzheimer. But summer is nice here this year, not too warm (cooler than in California or France) and not too humid with plenty of rain – plants are thriving so, life is going on well enough.

  29. Time does creep in these situations. I remember when my younger son was two and rather demanding. And when my invalid (and not very nice) mother-in-law was living with us. So many things I wanted to do and couldn't. I had to keep reminding myself "This is what I'm doing now."

  30. I agree that "being a burden" is a harsh phrase, unkind and heartless. I couldn't have said that better. I hope that the recovery will be speedier. It's hard when time seems to stand still and you want to move on. I really wish you lots of patience.
    The little thrush is very cute and I hope the snail was yummy (like escargots, eh?)

  31. I think people often speak to life situations they have no way of knowing about unless they've experienced it. It's maddening.

  32. Friko, I just caught up with your blog. I'm so sorry to hear you've had such a rough time lately. I keep you both in my thoughts and hope that things will improve more and more until they are back to what was normal. I can't believe medications would do that. I'm sending you lots of energy and strength for this difficult time.

  33. Slow and steady wins the race, that popped into my head and I'm so sorry for the cliché but hey, I know it is slow and you are steady, and he is so very blessed in having you.


  34. Being a caregiver to Buddy makes me wonder what will happen with him as time moves along. None of us has an inkling.

  35. Being a burden to others is something we do start to think of as we age. I hope to independent like my mother. She still lives on her own at 99, but in truth she is dependent on so many for so much. I'm not nearby to help. I hope I wouldn't be resentful if I were living closer to her and she called on me for everything.

    Caregiving is so hard. I think of you often.


Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.