Uplift Blog

How does a martyr ask for help? She doesn’t.

Caregivers should realize that there’s a whole network of people willing to help them.

Back to my status as martyr. For some history on this, read my first blog post, Top 3 reasons why I’m a martyr…not a caregiver. In dealing with cancer in my family, these unexpected people began to pop up in my life in roles I never would’ve assigned to them. Some people I knew well, but there were some people I didn’t know at all.

Since I’m not casserole caregiver, nor would I ever confess to being underwater or failing in this role, I had to rely on the small miracles of people who stepped in. As a classic martyr, I suffered in silence and squashed all emotion surrounding the situation. I call this the “fine” syndrome.

As in: How is everything going? How are you doing?…Fine, fine.

However, lucky for me, there were those who broke through the martyr wall with inexplicable acts of caring.

Miracle 1:

One was a colleague of my mother’s named Mary. I might have met her before, but I don’t recall it. She swooped in and rescued me from the documentation nightmare that is employment law and insurance. She filed and brought me step by step through the securing of my mother’s retirement and FMLA. She navigated the insurance battles for us and eliminated any financial trouble by dealing with which provider one could select and what was covered.

Miracle 2:

My best friend Kris began coming over to my parent’s house during the long hours of care. She would rub my mom’s feet and legs, talk with her, my father and me. These bi-weekly visits weren’t requested, they were asserted. She gave us the gift of additional patience and caring when we had used all of ours up. Like me, she was 26—but she was pregnant.

Miracle 3:

This one came from all sides. It was my father’s and mother’s family, our neighbors and friends, who would stop over and force my father out of the house, or take care of some inconsequential chore that needed attending, or just listen without fear. It got the lawn mowed, the groceries purchased, and the endless medicine mother needed from the pharmacy. Since she was bed-ridden, we needed to be there at all times.

These people and their actions penetrated the fog and made something unbearable at least seem possible. When I meet or find others labeled as caregiver, I do only one thing—look for and take that action that will alleviate some small measure of stress in their situation.

I don’t ask to step in. I just do it.

I do it because I know all good martyrs suffer in silence. And because I know they don’t even know what to ask for when I say, “How can I help?”

Who were the miracle people who made a difference in your life? Celebrate them!

About the Author:

Melissa Bear is Director of Customer Relationship Marketing with CaringBridge. She is a mom of two, one a little diva and the other managing ADHD. She is dedicated to making the world a better place. Topics close to her heart: health support management, early childhood education and caregiver stress.


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4 Replies

  • By Karin Gelschus

    I was on the other end of the caregiving experience when I got lupus at 23. My mom helped me with everything – laundry, dishes, cooking, errands. She never asked for help and certainly never said a word. It can be hard to “delegate” during a strenuous time, so it was our friends and family who jumped in without asking that were our miracles.

  • By Sally Daly

    My husband battled a brain tumor when he was twenty two. He did chemo and radiation the next year, and I was right along side him for all of it. I became a caregiver, but I never would have labeled myself as such.

    This fall, when unbeknownst to us his tumor returned, I slipped into being a serious caregiver. Again, I didn’t even notice. This was just the way things were. I took care of him and me without breaking a sweat.

    When I became his widow this spring, everything changed. All of a sudden, I couldn’t focus long enough to take care of me. When you’re in a situation like that, everyone becomes your caregiver. I think I may not have eaten had my dad not put dinner on the table. I would have gone without shampoo had my friends not taken me shopping.

    When you can’t think of ANYTHING, it is amazing to have those miracle people in your life that will just help you without being asked, and without looking for anything in return.

  • By Patricia Schneider

    I just read Melissa Bear’s article, ‘How does a martyr ask for help? She doesn’t.’ Oh, could I relate to what she wrote! When my hubby & I were caring for both our Moms years ago, I, too, felt like a ‘martyr.’ Unfortunately, most family members lived in other states, so they couldn’t help on hand. But, all DID turn out surprisingly well.
    May the Good Lord bless all Caregivers!

  • By Saulo

    LillieDecember 9, 2009I fit. I was going to say I never cared for a child with special needs but I guess I did, I risaed my stepdaughter from age 6 to 18 who was bipolar and now that I think about it, she required a ton of attention. Although she could take care of herself, life was a constant battle. With my dad, who was Parkinsons and Dementia, he had to be watched around the clock. So, I’m gonna say I think it evens out. I don’t think one requires more than the other, it just depends on the situation.