For some caregivers, it is difficult to feel gratitude, to have a thankful spirit during the journey of Alzheimer’s disease with a loved one.
Combined with the seemingly endless pandemic, disasters and devastations, life’s difficulties make it nearly impossible to see how we’re supposed to have feelings of gratefulness as Thanksgiving nears.
It is normal to have some guilt or shame for not feeling thankful. The day-to-day responsibilities of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is overwhelming and stressful, and feelings of gratitude are often the last thoughts on a caregiver’s mind at the end of the day.
Acknowledging and putting these feeling down in a journal will help your emotions flow and also help identify areas that need healing.
Additionally, writing, naming and embracing all of these emotions can bring new perspectives, and the caregiver might see many aspects of his or her situation that are blessings to be thankful for.
Hope and gratitude can spring through the recognition of these blessings in addition to providing the endurance and encouragement through the worst of caregiving times.
Great blessings are often released through acceptance of the loved one’s disease and its progression, and acceptance that life will never be the same, though still purposeful.
Finding meaning in caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and then appreciating the personal growth that comes from being strong in the wake of this difficult journey can help the caregiver on the road to feeling grateful and offering thanks for each moment of the day with his or her loved one.
Gratitude happens in the joy of the present moment. Yes, life is not the same, but have you noticed your loved one's smile lately? Have you cherished that touch, a glimmer in the eyes, the spontaneous laughter or perhaps a familiar melody sung together?
Finding those small moments in everyday life and meaningful activities can create new relationships with family members and friends and generate a lasting bond between the caregiver and the person being cared for. And those moments that seemed so completely insignificant a few months ago can suddenly become simple joys. Little things can emerge that offer hope and a spirit of gratefulness.
Perhaps American poet Maya Angelou sums gratitude up best: “The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.”