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Questions and Answers | Help for Caregivers

I am the primary caregiver for my family member who has struggled with mental illness for many years. How can I show Christ's love when I am tired and need a break?

I want to encourage you for doing this important work. I also want you to know that you are not alone. It is easy to feel isolated in caregiving, but more than one in five Americans are in a similar situation. As many as 8.4 million Americans provide care to an adult with an emotional or mental health issue (Family Caregiver Alliance, 2022).

Here are a few suggestions. First, be sure to take time for yourself. As a caregiver, you may find it difficult to balance your time between their care and your own responsibilities. God designed us for work and for rest (see Heb. 4:9–11, Mark 6:31). When you don’t get a break, it will lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. You may experience anger, irritability, boredom, lack of appreciation, loneliness, and tiredness or fatigue.

Create a plan to engage in mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually nourishing activities. Scripture calls your body the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19). You need to make sure you are caring for yourself so you can care for others. It may be tempting to stop going to church or take walks, but that may be exactly what you need to stay healthy and whole.

Second, acknowledge your grief. Caregivers experience grief as they navigate changes in the relationship with their loved one due to the mental or physical health challenge. You may be grieving a loss of community or even grief with the shifting nature of your relationship with your loved one.

Next, find support through your local church and professional social services; people who can share your burden (Gal. 6:2). Many offer resources for caregivers. Professional counseling can also help with your own emotional well-being during this stressful season.

I am reminded of Psalm 42. Here we see David who was feeling forgotten yet continued to place his hope in God (v. 11). Know that God sees you and your situation. Keep looking to Him.

BY Dr. Valencia Wiggins, PhD, L.P.C.

Valencia Wiggins grew up in Ohio and graduated from Wheaton College. She earned a Masters in Clinical Psychology at Wheaton Graduate School, and PhD in Clinical Psychology at Walden University. She has taught at Moody Seminary for four years. In addition, Dr. Wiggins works in private practice as a clinical psychologist. Her clinical work includes sexual abuse, trauma, grief and loss, eating disorders, family issues, depression, adolescents, and women’s issues.

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