An open letter to caregivers everywhere …
I founded Marymac Missions LLC after a significant life experience changed my priorities. I journeyed for two years as an unpaid family caregiver to my mom, who in her 60’s was diagnosed with a little known neurodegenerative disease that quickly disabled her cognitively, emotionally and physically. The extended illness experience was completely unpredictable and disorienting, and I sustained several losses throughout the two years that left me in a state of personal devastation at the end. As mom’s life slowly became less functional in every way, so did mine.
I lost a steady job and associated income, a stable home life, a personal routine, personal goals, friendships, professional connections, aspects of my personal health and wellness; my wedding plans with my significant other were put on hold due to the unhappy situation and our relationship became one of “crisis management”; my ability to connect with family and friends became limited to the extent that I felt very much alone and unsupported throughout the experience. All of this occurred while I regularly practiced brief self-care respites demanded by my limited body awareness which consisted of repeating the mantra, “Rest…. Stop…. Breathe….” and taking frequent walks outdoors.
After the extended illness experience, and a year of recovery, I knew I could not go back to my former career designing solutions for large companies. I understood that the experience that I had with my mom was not unique in the world of extended illnesses: caregivers, families, friendships and communities around the world are experiencing many of the same deleterious effects. marymac missions is my answer to taking some first steps towards: making meaning of the extended illness experience for myself; being a compassionate and empowering presence to caregivers who find themselves alone in “the woods,” “the storm,” “the desert,” “winter…”; teaching sustainable life skills to caregivers at risk for significant health problems; teaching meaningful connections between caregivers and receivers, caregivers and significant others, caregivers and community; providing community organizations with a profile of caregivers and receivers who might be candidates for outreach and services; providing employers with wellness programs and resources that deliver stress-reduction strategies and resources and advocating for their provision of flexible work schedules and time off when employees need to file for leave due to family illness.
Moving forward with a listening heart,
vision, inquiry, and action,