Resentment seems to be a regular companion for caregivers. It comes in flash points when we feel presumed upon, undervalued, and unappreciated. That resentment, however, cripples us as caregivers far more than it negatively affects others.
A pianist for even longer than my three decades as a caregiver, I often find myself at the piano working out the kinks in my soul. The music won’t come, however, if my fists remain clenched with resentment. Something beautiful flowing from my hands and heart requires opening both, along with a willingness to let go of resentment.
Each time my hands open to play the piano, it signals to my heart that it’s okay to release grudges, slights, or bitterness. It’s not easy, but the music flowing from that decision is soothing and healing to my soul—as well as listeners. We all possess the ability to make and enjoy beautiful music and art in our own ways. As caregivers, that beauty is not limited by the harsh circumstances we face and carry, but rather limited only by our unwillingness let go of resentment.
A goal I’ve set for myself as a caregiver is to one day stand at a grave. While I can’t guarantee outliving my wife and ensuring she and our sons aren’t left to deal with her massive medical challenges without me, I can, however, guarantee a better chance of doing so if I live a healthier life. Part of living a healthier life is avoiding carrying resentment. I don’t want to stand at that grave with clenched fists resentful at her, others who didn’t help the way I wanted, myself, or at God.
Letting go often starts with the simple act of opening one’s hand.
The heart will follow.