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Seeing the Unseen: Caregiving, Grief, and Positive Growth

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Paurvi Bhatt
Paurvi Bhatt

July 02, 2024

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The Cultivating Caregiving series, a partnership between Reimagine and the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCI), was born from a shared understanding of the balance needed between grief and growth in caregiving. Both organizations aim to explore how caregiving might lead to new perspectives, mindset shifts, or identity transformations through post-traumatic growth.

The Origin of the Series

The idea to connect caregiving and grief issues started at an AAPI Forum in 2022, which addressed self-care, balance, and boundaries in caregiving. This event, organized by Death Over Dim Sum with support from Andy Ingall of Reimagine, had attendees like Paurvi Bhatt, who shared her personal caregiving journey.

"I randomly found Reimagine via social media when I needed support. My mother died that year, and my father had died a decade prior. As an only child and a second-generation Indian immigrant, I was lost. I was grieving and needed support and community from others with similar backgrounds who were open about grief," Paurvi said.

Building Connections and Collaboration

Andy followed up with Paurvi after the forum, recognizing her potential to add nuance to discussions around caregiving, especially for underrepresented communities. Fast forward to 2024, Paurvi transitioned from board member to President and Chief Impact Officer at RCI. Reimagine, at the same time, decided to present a series on the grief and growth associated with caregiving. This seemed like the right moment for both organizations to collaborate, given their commitment to "seeing the unseen" in caregiving and cultural differences in care and bereavement.

The Three-Session Series

We kicked off the three-session series with a focus on cultural, ethnic, and racial perspectives on care and grief. Paurvi moderated the series, starting with a quote from former First Lady Rosalynn Carter:

“There are only four kinds of people in the world—those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

Session 1: Cultural Adaptations in Caregiving

The first session highlighted the need for more conversations about cultural adaptations in caregiving. Participants discussed the deep connection between care and culture and the necessity for inclusivity as care comes home, particularly in anticipatory grief and bereavement.

“Inclusion and culture are the braided threads that connect us—whether it be Rural Georgia and the Carter family or the immigrant experience as each new family comes to the US,” said Paurvi.

Session 2: Shifting Mindsets in Caregiving

The second session, led by "carefluencer" Jessica C. Guthrie and Dr. Toni P. Miles of RCI, featured personal storytelling, interactive exercises, and Q&A. Jessica, who has been caregiving for her mother with late-stage Alzheimer’s, helped participants shift their mindsets and visualize their futures.

"As someone that is both a caregiver and leader in this field, I rarely see panels led by BIPOC experts. This was one of the first times I felt seen in this experience," Jessica reflected.

Session 3: Practical Steps for Caregivers

The final session focused on providing caregivers with actionable steps towards change. Moderated by journalist Richard Lui, with insights from Jessica McGlory of Guaranteed and Neal K. Shah of CareYaya, participants were inspired by innovative caregiving approaches.

One participant shared, "I am feeling hopeful and overwhelmed with gratitude. This discussion needs to happen. I lived through 10 years of severe opioid addiction with our daughter, and there was not enough support. Finding support early on is critical."

Moving Forward

Hundreds registered for the series, with additional views on Reimagine’s YouTube channel. Moving forward, Reimagine will continue to integrate caregiver stories into upcoming series on loneliness, friendship loss, identity loss, and anticipatory loss.

Jessica Guthrie's insights remind us that effective caregiving involves self-care and strategic planning. In that spirit, we summarize her empowering tips for caregivers:

  • Challenge Self-Doubt: Reduce limiting beliefs to improve caregiving effectiveness.
  • Self-Worth Affirmation: Regularly affirm your capability.
  • Advocate for Needs: Speak up confidently.
  • Incorporate Joy: Daily include activities that bring bliss and vitality.
  • Wellness: Prioritize your health by scheduling necessary appointments and embracing emotional expressions.
  • Create Efficient Systems: Streamline tasks to save time for meaningful interactions.
  • Mindful Presence: Focus and cherish the time with those you care for.

These guidelines encourage caregivers to enhance their personal and professional lives while managing caregiving responsibilities.  We also encourage greater inclusion and open dialogue of cultural aspects of caregiving, bereavement, and positive change for future conversations.  Our conversations unlocked many moments and comments where so many participants noted how rare it is that cultural adaptation is openly discussed in this space.  We hope our focus on this approach inspires greater momentum for this effort. 

With that, please join us in cultivating caregiving and seeing the unseen in every journey. How do you connect with the themes of caregiving and grief? Share your stories with others in RCI’s 4Kinds Network  and join Reimagine’s upcoming events to find support and community.

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