Our theme this year—The Joy of Caregiving—presents five key elements of joyfulness in the caregiving journey: hope, faith, balance, healing and strength. Along the path, we can harvest balance by setting boundaries around our needs and having faith that tomorrow will be bearable. We can maintain strength as we learn to lean on someone when the path becomes overgrown and we need help and healing. We can find hope in the midst of the demands of caregiving when we allow ourselves to believe that tomorrow will be alright.

With reflection, I feel joy in knowing that Hope Grows continues to reach out to caregivers by way of a weekly blog, social media interactions, and our available services. Finding an emotion of great delight or happiness can be difficult in the throes of providing care for someone. This is all the more the reason to incorporate ‘joy” in your life. You might ask though, how do I keep joy at the forefront? I believe it is about the importance of maintaining balance and strength along with a the other key elements mentioned above.

Recently my aunt died from a 7 year journey of Alzheimer’s. Despite the increase of care that was needed from my cousins, I noticed laughter, pleasure, and happiness. I noticed these pleasant emotions through expressions shared by comments in a text, social media posts, and through the eyes of pictures that were shared. What I later learned during the funeral services was a deep appreciation for someone who was greatly valued in their family’s life.

We all know that losing someone hurts deeply; our tangible existence with them is gone or in the case of Alzheimer’s, it is slowly taken along the journey. But what appeared to me was my cousins keeping  at the forefront of their care ‘giving’ the key elements: hope, faith, balance, healing and strength. They did reach out for support when their path was overgrown and strongly held onto their faith. They took time to balance their lives with #WalkItOffWednesday, shared care giving and taking care of ‘SELF’. I also noticed they harvested hope with the demands of care, but above all accepted the journey and walked the path that was set in front of them with grace.

While at the funeral, I saw tired and sad faces, but more than that though I saw no regret and a group of individuals able to move forward with much “JOY” in their hearts. I felt blessed to be a part of this family and to take notice that the “JOY” of care ‘giving’ is real and can be achieved; so thank you to my cousins for solidifying my hypothesis of the key elements to maintaining joy.