Friday, June 11, 2010



The masks we wear...
Comedy and tragedy...
Concealing that which is truth...

Is caregiving like a Greek play...
Do we play multiple roles...
Do we change our masks, as we change our moods...
Humor, not always humorous to those who hear it, sometimes is actually shocking or appalling.  Such humor is needed to vent, to unleash a multitude of negative emotions from inside you, that if allowed to fester and multiply could cause a messy and noisy explosion!
Caregivers need to express and embrace humor.  Some instances of humor may only be funny to the one who is speaking it because it is their way of venting.  Other instances of humor may be able to be shared and understood by many.

Non-caregivers or the general public, are often shocked or appalled at certain humorous statements that might be made by a caregiver.  They may encounter such a statement with, "How can you say that about your mother?!"  At which we might respond with,  "I am not serious, obviously!"  Possibly a few more statements thrown in like, "Ease up!" or "Chill out!"

A few examples from my own personal "joke" files...
"Going to put mother up for sale!"

"Going to put her on the curb!"
"I'll help you pack!"  (After she has informed us she is moving out.)
Now really, am I going to put mom up for sale?  No.
Am I going to put mom on the curb?  No.

Are we going to help her pack?  Welll...I'll have to think about that one.  No, of course not!

These are statements that help to alleviate moments of frustration, blow off some steam.

As my husband said the other day, these kinds of comments, "Soften the blow."

Caregivers who deal with the blow everyday, will understand this.

In her blog, Mothering Mother and More, author/speaker, Carol O'Dell states,  "Laugh whenever you can at whatever you can.  Be irreverent, be snarky, other than downright cruelty, laughter is so good for you that you need to see the humor and craziness of your situation.

Irreverent, snarky, (I like that word!)  That is what caregiver humor is at times, it is not meant to be cruel or disrespectful.

Carol has a funny video on youtube called Humor Caregiving  

Elaine Sanchez, another author/speaker, talks about the need for humor in her article,  How to Stay Positive - Three Tips for Caregivers
"We talked about how we had changed because of the illnesses.  He said he and his wife have developed a greater sense of  humor.  They see things funny that I guess most people wouldn't. I told him I had developed a detached attitude. He calls it creative indifference and he has developed it too.  I like that better, as detached seems cold.  Whatever you call it, it means not allowing yourself to become emotionally ravaged by the progression of events."

This paragraph says many things that pertain to any of us who are caregivers.  We have changed due to the illness of the one we care for.  Some of us have developed that sense of humor, some of us are working on it, some have not found it yet.  We do find things amusing that the average person would not that is for sure.  The term creative indifference if very interesting, it can be used to describe ways in which we turn off the emotions that cause us pain in the carrying out of our caregiving duties. Henny Youngman said for many years,  "Take my wife, please!"  we say, "Take our caree, please!"  He became rich and famous for his irreverent humor, we not so much, but what kind of wealth do we really walk away with when our caregiving journey has reached it's destination?  Guess it might be up to us, but let's hope we can all get there will a smile and a giggle!



  1. So sorry I didn't get back to you on comments.... Gosh time flew.
    Ha! I'm pretty sure I've said the "help you pack" comment as an answer for the very same statement! LOL.

  2. Hi Donna..... This is a great post; and oh so true!! A caregiver must have a sense of humor or try and develop one, to get through this awful disease.

    When David tries to dress himself, we always laugh when he puts his underwear on backwards....sure better to laugh than cry.

    Have a great weekend!

  3. lol yes Dolores, I remember there were times mom put different clothing items on backwards too!

    Thanks beka, once we help them pack, where shall we send them?? lol

  4. Oh how true this is; I have many strange looks when I talk about my husband "throwing himself down the stairs". He fell --- but some days I need to be dramatic!!
    We love them dearly but are allowed to be frustrated by life the same as anyone else.

    I am also a bereavement counsellor and we have our own version of black humour; it helps us to cope with our task; just the same as the funeral directors I am sure. No disrespect is ever meant.

    If we really meant what we say then we would not be doing what we are doing would we????

    I will come back and look at those links Donna- have to go and clear my head ready for a Sunday with himself x

  5. The early years of caring for Chrissy - I wouldn't have ever dreamed of entertaining laughter. I was too pressured and stressed, making sure I did everything - and everything just right. I'm so thankful I moved out of that unhealthy and unrealistic state!

  6. A.C. and Judy, thanks for sharing, sometimes I am a bit leery about some of the things I spout out about. I don't want to offend anyone, but I want and need to be gut level honest about what I deal with as a caregiver. I have been encouraged to do so and be as "messy" as I need to be!