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Lilacs & Greensleeves: Journaling

Journaling…do you do it in your daily walk as a caregiver? Whether we are professionals, family members or friends who walk this road alongside our loved ones as caregivers, I have found that  journaling can be a real asset!
For one, it can be an easy way to look back over the past days, weeks, months or years and regain the knowledge of what went on in the lives of those we are caring for at that time.
I remember one day about six years ago while I was working at home, going through organizing some of my closets, my Mom flashed across my mind. Oh I do think about both she and Dad often but this time some interesting questions entered my thoughts.
Did Mom ever have happy moments during her walk with dementia? Did she ever laugh? Did we ever laugh?
I cringed at the thought that the answer was, “no,” as memories wizzed by my mind like lightening bolts.
Sitting down in front of one of the boxes I was going through, I sighed and proceeded to open the lid. Inside was a white looseleaf notebook. I immediately remembered that this was the personal journal I kept during those many years I cared for Mom.
Being a nurse, I wrote more like ‘Nurse’s Notes.’ The kind we used to do in the good old days of caring for our patients in the hospital. Everything from activities of the day to doctor’s appointments, to test results, to yes, even bathroom results.
Now don’t laugh! Try to remember ‘that’ when the doctor asks you questions that pertain to this part of your loved one’s day. I am grinning.
I sat down on the floor and proceeded to open my journal. I read it like a book, cover to cover and oh my, the memories returned in full detail and yes, I’ll admit it…I’m a detail kind of person. Just ask anyone that knows me when I am telling them something that went on in my life. I am crinkling my nose and smiling!!
As I sat there sipping a cup of camomile tea, I continued to read and I just couldn’t put my journal down. I read with such intensity as page after page brought our past into my present. I was in anticipation of finding something, just some little thing that would say, Mom laughed! We laugherd together! Anything!!
So I continued to read and yes…tears were coming as I relived the moments that she and we endured during this time of caring for one of the dearest people I have known in my life. Someone who went from being very independent to being totally dependant. 
As I turned the pages, I saw that in between those sometimes difficult moments, we had many times of calm, of peace and oh my goodness, there it was…laughter and more laughter!!
She laughed! We laughed! Oh my goodness, can I tell you what joy I felt at that moment, reading this?!
I sighed with a smile as I looked up towards Heaven and said, “Thank you!!”
I continued to read the moments in that journal where we had those wonderful cleansings and yes, I do think that laughter is cleansing and I also believe it’s good medicine.
As days go by, we may forget those moments. In the pain, in the heartache, in the focusing seriously of helping our loved ones, laughter needs to enjoy a place in our caregiving!
And so does journaling!
Care4You recognizes how important it is to keep good care notes on our day to day walk with our clients! It’s good for all involved.
For me, journaling during that time of caring for my parents, was a blessing in so many ways! I encourage all of you who are involved in the care of your clients, your family members and your friends, please…..journal!
Not only for pertinent information that may be needed at that time but for looking back one day and remembering moments, whether difficult or joyful, that can only be described in one way….’Priceless!’ 



Written by

Deb is our own Deborah McSherry, experienced nurse and caregiver extraordinaire. Deb has been with Care4You since 2009.