I attended the funeral of one of our long time clients last week; a wonderful lady who lived a full 90 years. Two of her three grandchildren were her Powers of Attorney for Care. All three lived out of town, two in a different country. Her bank held her Power of Attorney for Property.
This women’s children had pre-deceased her and she had no family living in Toronto; she had also sadly outlived her friends. The funeral gathering was very small, these three grandchildren and their partners and children and two of her caregivers who tended to her on a daily basis and their families.
Funerals are an emotional journey – at least for me and this one was no different. Except to say, that the loss I wanted to comment on was the loss that these caregivers were experiencing. One caregiver had been working with her for more than 7 years and one had been with her for over one year. These Personal Support Workers (employed from the same agency) called her family. They knew her likes and dislikes, they knew her particular sense of humour and they shared stories that the family had not heard, they knew what colour nail polish she liked to wear and they tended to her needs and sat by her side on a daily basis. Their children (who were adults themselves) called her grandmother. They too shared stories and their loss was felt as well.
As families grieve we may not always consider and acknowledge the grief that is experienced by these paid carers. For these ladies, the tears were not about losing their full time job, it was about losing a loved one who was more like family in many ways, than the older person’s own flesh and blood.