As I continue to process what it means to be a caregiver and meet countless others who share similar experiences, I can’t help but see a badge of honor adorned on their chest. No, it is not a medal bestowed to us by other mortals, but a badge bestowed from a higher power. You will actually never see this badge, as it is tucked securely behind flesh, blood and bones; the heart.

Caregivers have a heart others wish they could obtain. An unbounded heart, spilling an endless flow of love toward the ones they care for. The terrors of caregiving are difficult for most to face, a reason why we, as caregivers, can feel shunned from the rest of the world. But we don’t turn away. We walk right into the terror with no idea why and no idea how to fix it but knowing we are called to do it.

When I meet another caregiver, a sense of solidarity overcomes me, like I have found a lost comrade in a war we cannot win. I feel connected. We share our metaphorical scars as a way to connect on this event in our lives. I can’t get enough of hearing the stories of others and sharing in the common experience we all must face.

I wish there was a way for us to identify ourselves to the world, to remove our hearts from our chests and wear them outside ourselves so that others can see what we are. As I see people in my daily life, I wish I could see this badge, flag them down, share our battle scars and embrace in a warm hug. Don’t be afraid to share your struggle because there are brothers and sisters who share in this experience and they are here to help. We are not alone in this fight, and though we may not win, we will not be defeated.

About Shane P. Larson

Shane P. Larson, CFP® has been a caregiver most of his adult life. With one semester left in college, his family received the devastating diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s for their beloved mother.

Starting his career while also being pulled back home to help care for his mother shaped Shane’s perspective of the world. Taking the skills he learned in his career as wells as the family lessons gained from caregiving, Shane started his own financial planning practice to assist other families who are facing similar situations and help guide them through the difficult task of caregiving.

Currently residing in Seattle, WA, Shane enjoys writing, reading dense books, riding his bike, obsessing over baseball, enjoying a slice of pizza and a pint of craft beer, and taking impromptu trips with his wife.

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