Monday 8 April 2013


How to be loving caregivers without pushing yourself over the edge

While God has not called us to be insensitive or uncaring, we should be cautious in bending over backwards to please “needy” peopleespecially those who are perpetually dissatisfied. Otherwise we could easily be pushed over the edge and become victims of compassion fatigue.

Many caregivers experience burnout because they have not identified their own needs and learnt to address them. How can they love others unless they love themselves as well? They must recognise their own emotional threshold of tolerance beyond which they won’t be able to lovingly serve others.

No one can continually give of themselves emotionally and spiritually. Offering comfort and succour can be draining. Caregivers need not feel guilty when they allow others to relieve them of their duties so that they can have a brief respite.

Everyoneand that includes the caregiverneeds to periodically refill their emotional and spiritual tanks. This can be in the form of physical rest, recreation, going on a vacation, spending time with close friends, and indulging in culinary delights or hobbies such as music and movies.

Above all, caregivers should not neglect spending time with God in prayer, meditation on the Word and worship.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
    As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools” (Psalm 84:5).

If possible, caregivers should encourage the needy to be more self-reliant. While those in need deserve help for a season, they should not continually lean on others. This is unhealthy as it encourages passivity and perpetuates a “dependency syndrome.


A honest look at the realities of caring for the agedwithout forgetting the caregivers. The Chinese have a saying, “Long illness breeds unfilial children.” How true! Children these days are finding their filial piety stretched to the limits with all kinds of complex situations arising from caring for their aged parents.

Loving requires energy as it involves giving of ourselves. As such, it’s people with big hearts who suffer. Many caregivers and counsellors get burnt out giving love and care without realising it.
“We do not want people to perish before their time. We want caregivers to conserve their energy so that they can serve for many more years.” 

Are you getting worn out by people who won’t be satisfied no matter what you do for them? Have you established boundaries beyond which you know God doesn’t want you to continue helping people who won’t be helped?

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