Susan had her hands full raising three children, running her own business, and caring for her aging mother when her widowed aunt moved back to Pittsburgh from Manhattan. Like all true New Yorkers her aunt didn’t drive, so Susan willingly taxied her elderly aunt around town, with no idea that it was the start of more than a decade of caregiving.

Susan’s Need for Caregiving Support

Since Susan’s mother and aunt were so close in age, just 16 months apart, they both started to have medical issues at the same time. They were in and out of hospitals and medical rehab facilities and needed help at home, too. Eventually it became all-consuming and took over Susan’s life.  “When you’re doing things for family members you don’t think twice about it, but then it morphs from just helping, to being solely responsible for their care.  You don’t realize until the switch has already occurred.  You don’t even call yourself a caregiver until you are in the thick of it.”

In the midst of Susan’s caregiving juggling act, she had a chance encounter with a Hope Grows board member at a professional training workshop.  As they went around the room introducing themselves, Susan talked about her caregiving situation.  After the class the board member gave her a Hope Grows business card, saying she might find it helpful. 

The Natural Healing of Hope Grows

Shortly thereafter, Susan attended the Uncorked and Skewered event at Hope Grows.  “I was blown away by the beauty of the gardens.”  Susan says being in nature gave her an inner peace and allowed her to see the declining health of her loved ones in a new light. “I didn’t think there was anyone else in the world who understood me, but those people really get it. If I had known Hope Grows existed, I would have sought out their help much sooner than I did.”

Susan explains how the counseling and caregiver support gave her the ability to remain calm and find gratitude and inspiration.  “I know the care they need is only going to increase, but Hope Grows has enabled me to prepare and handle whatever may come.”  Susan no longer feels isolated since she found people who understand what she’s been through. “Hope Grows is a real place of comfort.”

The Garden of Life

The counseling and caregiver support Susan received from Hope Grows allowed her to envision her life again, and set goals, while recognizing the natural phases her mother and aunt were experiencing. “Things in nature are hard, but they happen for a reason.  Trees shade you in summer, transform in fall, then in winter are dormant.  Life is like that, full of cycles.” Learning to understand and appreciate the beauty in each season of life, within the gardens of Hope Grows, allowed Susan to find renewed compassion to continue her caregiving responsibilities, and provided her with the tools necessary to continue her own personal journey in the garden of life.

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