It’s not always easy for caregivers to know if their work has made a difference. Feeling helpless is a common feeling for caregivers, and a sign of caregiver burnout.1 This story comes from a musician caregiver Nicholas Stirling, who runs drumming and storytelling workshops at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Nicholas recently participated in the pilot MCCP Level 2 course, where he shared this story.
Her weeping was often spontaneous.
Neither the nurses nor myself could know when or why “Christine” would suddenly empty into sadness and tears during a seemingly joyous drum circle.
Each week as I hosted this drumming storytelling circle in the schizophrenia unit, I was constantly enlightened by the unplanned improvised and emotional nature of our client personalities. Happy, sad, silent and vocal.
I remember Christine to this day, because after an entire year of weekly drumming sessions, during which she seldom appeared happy or content, it came to Christmas time. Amongst several cards I received thanking me for my work, was one from her. A flower on front, and inside was written:
“Thank you for being born.”
Many of us, I’m sure, can relate to the magnitude of this moment of validation in a caregiver’s life. Learning that our care is making an impact in the lives of others is what keeps many caregivers going. This story can serve as a reminder to caregivers to never underestimate the power of presence, of relationship, and of caring through music.
1Van Dernoot Lipsky, L. (2009). Trauma Stewardship. San Francisco: Berret-Koehler Publishers, p. 49.