Becoming My Mother’s Caregiver

“Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.” –Albert Camus

We all have certain family dynamics. Maybe your husband loves to kick off Memorial Day with hamburgers on the grill, or your middle child is carving a niche for herself as the “class clown.”

Perhaps your mother has always been your source of support during stress or heartache.

I know mine has. She was the bedrock of our family. But the tables turned in 2010, as my beloved mom fought her final battle with breast cancer and as I became her caregiver for the last eight months of her life.

Until I cared for Mom, I’d never administered nutrition through an IV. I had never considered how many nurse and doctor visits, treatments, and checkups would be needed to help with her care, not to mention how I would juggle all of this while caring for my own two children, who were 7 and 3 at the time, as well as being a wife and running our home.

Before I could take on the role of full-time caregiver, there were activities and tasks I had to set aside. Though I enjoyed taking my children on playdates to the beach and going out with my husband and our friends, I learned that these things would need to be put on hold. Juggling relationships and continuing to create joy and normalcy in our home was very important to me. I wanted to serve well and have good come out of something that was incredibly painful. Fortunately, many of our friends understood and even brought dinners to us several times that year.

Even if it was exhausting and trying, the reality was what I call “a beautiful mess.”

Caring for my mother forced me to focus on the important things in life, the things that matter most. Once I adapted to a more homebound schedule, I was able to appreciate the simplicity of slowing down, playing outside and having picnics with our children, reading the children’s books with Mom. During the day, I sat with her, watching the birds outside her window dance and sing. At night, everyone piled into her bed to watch TV shows together, and after everyone else was asleep, at-home dinner dates with my husband helped us connect even more.

There were purely positive moments, too. I remember one perfect day towards the end of my mother’s life. By this time, Mom was bedridden. We decided to lift her spirits and have the kids put on a parade for her in her room. They found old dress-up costumes, pulled out their toy instruments, put on goofy hats, and marched through her room repeatedly, singing and dancing to music. The laughter filled the room to the bursting, and as my children lifted their hearts to hers, she met them there.

I remember thinking, “Can we just freeze time? Right in this moment?” I knew this was my calling until the end: to love her unconditionally and embrace the mess with grace.

If I could encourage caregivers with a few things that helped me tremendously, it would be this:

Reach out for support. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the community of friends and family around you. We can sometimes turn inward during times of tragedy; we want to be strong in our own right. But the beautiful gift of humility is receiving love and encouragement from those around us. The sweet exchange of the giver and the receiver is designed to impact both sides, leaving us better and stronger than we started.

Be open to the way your loved one is changing. Be flexible when it comes to the chemistry of your relationship with the one you are caring for. My mom was a strong leader in our family and a rock to so many. To have her rely on me was no easy process. But putting respect for her first and continuing to treat her the same in respect to her opinions and requests were key.

She didn’t want to be a burden, and it was hard for her to be in this situation of needing care from her daughter. I would never talk as though she was not in the room, even if she didn’t respond to conversation sometimes. I constantly encouraged my mom and told her there was no other place I would rather be than with her. That helped to remind her she was not a burden and that I loved her very much.

Take a little time for yourself. Balancing responsibilities and time for yourself is important. I felt like I was a machine most days, going through the motions of what I needed to do. You may feel exhausted and put through the wringer at times, but to be honest, this is just reality when you are a caregiver.

The things that kept my heart and mind strong was being grounded in my faith. I had to take at least 10 minutes each day to pause and pray, listen to positive music, and reflect on verses that meant something to me. If I could have extra time, some days I would take it. Other days, strength and encouragement simply meant reading the Scriptures I had copied into my phone.

For some, this personal time might mean journaling, quieting your mind, or lighting a candle. Enjoying the simple things and removing things that are too demanding of your time may be necessary to have more peace.

As I close, I would like to share that charity also means love. When we understand how much we are loved, we can give that love selflessly to others. When love is unconditional and healthy, we experience the greatest fulfillment in this life. If we are able, it is an honor to help fill the days of someone who is going before us into eternity.

About the Author

Corrine Sharpe is the author of the Florida Authors and Publishers Association award-winning memoir, A Royal Love Revealed. After her mother passed away in 2011, Corrine began to see hearts everywhere: in clouds, shells on the beach, even in her children’s French fries. Since then, the “heart movement” has grown to feature contributors as far flung as South America. Learn more at


  1. Beautifully written Corrine. You are an incredible inspiration and my life is truly blessed having you in it. Love you so much!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here