Caregiver Poetry and Prose

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next. Amen.

Atrributed to Reinhold Neibuhr


Blessed are they who understand
my faltering step and shaking hand.

Blessed, who know my ears today
must strain to catch the things they say.

Blessed are they who seem to know
my eyes are dim and my mind is slow.

Blessed are they who looked away,
I spilled my tea on the cloth that day!

Blessed are they who, with cheery smile,
stopped to chat for a little while.

Blessed are they who know the way
to bring back memories of yesterday.

Blessed are they who never say,
“You’ve told that story twice today!”

Blessed are they who make it known
that I’m loved, respected and not alone.

And blessed are they who will ease the days
of my journey home, in loving ways.

Another Beatitude

By Elizabeth Clark


I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

Attributed to Stephen Grellet, but others have expressed the same thoughts through poetry.

To My Children

An Anonymous Poem

When I spill some food on my nice clean dress
Or maybe forget to tie my shoe,
Please be patient and perhaps reminisce
About the many hours I spent with you.

When I taught you how to eat with care,
Plus tying laces and your numbers, too,
Dressing yourself and combing your hair,
Those were precious hours spent with you.

So when I forget what I was about to say,
Just give me a minute - or maybe two.
It probably wasn't important anyway,
And I would much rather listen just to you.

If I tell the story one more time,
And you know the ending through and through,
Please remember your first nursery rhyme
When I rehearsed it a hundred times with you.

When my legs are tired and it's hard to stand
Or walk the steady pace that I would like to do,
Please take me carefully by my hand,
And guide me now as I once did for you.


It's A Long Goodbye

She's leaving me, little by little, I wish she wouldn't go.
I will be there as long as she needs me. How do I let her know?
I'd like to hold on to the memories, I'd also like to share.
But she's further away, getting further away.
And yet, she's always there.

It's a long good-bye, and yet I believe that she can sense us.
So much time between now and then, when it's time against us.
There are times she almost seems like herself.
Sometimes it's just a phase.
A part of the person I once knew,
and sometimes just a trace.

It's a long good-bye and still I don't know just what to say.
There's so much time between now and then,
because she goes away, a long good-bye.
Tell me how do all the others do it? There's so much time between now and then.
How do we get through it? It's a long good-bye.

Author Unknown
Cited in Midlife Orphan by Jane Brooks,
Berkley Trade, 1999, pgs. 47 – 48.


Walking, working, barely breathing
My thoughts, far away
Heart aching, mind racing
Sleep does not come easily, nor last long....

Peter Winstanley


If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Emily Dickinson

Your life was full of loving deeds,
Forever thoughtful of our special needs,
Today and tomorrow, my whole life through,
I will always love and cherish you.

Author Unknown 

Will you love me in December as you do in May,
Will you love me in the good old fashioned way?
When my hair has all turned gray,
Will you kiss me then and say,
That you love me in December as you do in May?

James J. Walker


Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850) English Poet


Then, sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young lambs bound
As to the tabor's sound!
We, in thought, will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

Holding Opposites


As I have written in other places on this web site, I have a love-hate relationship with poetry. Saccharine poetry rings insincere to me yet I have found comfort in some verses. Taking care of a loved one is rewarding and challenging. Both of these statements demonstrate the emotional roller coaster ride of family care giving: joy and sorrow, passion and indifference, faith and despair, or loving the family member while hating the situation.

The word ‘ambivalent’ comes from two Latin words: ambi (both) and valens (strong or with vigor). Ambivalence does not mean apathy. Quite the contrary, it describes being pulled in opposite directions with strong and equal force. As caregivers, we can be ambivalent about our circumstances in the truest sense of the word. Our responsibilities are pulled in opposite directions with equal force between work and family obligations or children and aging parents. The questions and conflicts surrounding our plight loom large.

For me, the experience of care giving required me to practice holding opposites: A gray neutral area was born that gave me the capacity to tolerate ambivalence and uncertainty about my feelings and my loved one's condition. When we accept that we are imperfect, we realize that we are capable of both positive and negative thinking about the same person or situation. We also understand that we can't do everything. This allows us to ask for help. By acknowledging the natural light side/dark side of our dual natures, we stop sabotaging our own efforts and learn to be compassionate with others and with ourselves. We are only human after all.



To read more caregiver poetry, please visit The Ribbon.com.

Go to next page: Reflections for Caregivers 


Summer  2015


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How complicated and individual mending is, the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
. Mary Jane Moffat
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