"You can talk to your friends, your family, but it's not the same as talking to people who are going through the same thing."
Gail, caregiver to her husband : Autumn 2023
Through her long journey as a caregiver, Gail has felt a big realm of emotions and faced many transitions and challenges. She surely has a lot to offer us, in this touching testimony where learning and adaptation are at the heart of Gail’s experience.
When Gail married her second husband, Bryan, 25 years ago, she had no idea that she would become his caregiver. Indeed, the couple had dreams and other plans for their retirement. Unfortunately, Bryan became ill, and Gail has been caring for him for the past 8 years.
As time went by, Bryan's condition deteriorated. A year and a half ago, he had to leave home and move into a long-term care facility (CHSLD). Having always had a busy home with her husband and three daughters from her first marriage, Gail must now learn to live alone for the first time. Although she has begun some activities for herself, caregiving is a big part of her daily routine. Her schedule is mostly organized around visits to her husband at the CHSLD.
When she thinks about the last 8 years, she realizes that caregiving has brought a significant change in roles within her couple, which she is trying to accept and constantly adapt to. The relationship with her husband, her best friend, has changed, and this is still painful for Gail. She realizes that she has come a long way since she began her journey as a caregiver, even if she still feels sad. She likes to repeat to herself that "life is meant to be lived" and tries to continue enjoying life as best as she can.
Her close friends, family and the help provided by the CLSC have helped Gail cope as a caregiver to this day. Through her experience as a caregiver, Gail has learned to become more patient, understanding, caring and, above all, to take nothing for granted: "If you want to say something to someone, say it, because you never know what life has planned for you!" She also understands the importance of living one day at a time, because she can't predict what will happen tomorrow.
Gail's advice to people starting out on their caregiving journey: "You're going to go through a lot of emotions, so get help, because it's impossible to do this alone." She also suggests talking to other caregivers who understand what you're going through, such as in a support group: "You can talk to your friends, your family, but it's not the same as talking to people who are going through the same thing."