Written by Donna Thomson.
In 2004, the effects of our son’s disabilities spiraled into serious illness and constant pain. As a caregiver and mother, I was raw and vulnerable – it was the worst of times. I remember saying to doctors and family members, “I need you to be kind to me. I really need that.”
The problem with kindness is that it is no longer a public virtue. We assume that it will be there when we suffer and need it the most, but will it?
Today, kindness is endangered by the race towards independence and self-reliance, those old enemies of illness, babies, disability and aging. It has become synonymous with weakness in a culture that values the self over others. Reading about what constitutes winning in business, it’s easy to conclude that kindness is for losers.
Against that cultural background, it’s no wonder that natural care is not valued in our society. Caregivers are daily practitioners of kindness. We know how to comfort without calling attention to frailty. We’ve memorized recipes for favourite soups and casseroles. We reminisce, even when the dishes need clearing up or work deadlines loom. All these acts of caring kindness take time and their reward isn’t money – it’s love and satisfaction.
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