The cost of caring
Sometimes “the cost of caring” for others and even animals can leave you physically, emotionally and financially drained.
I know the “cost of caring” because I moved my dad and my grandmother into my home during their last years. Just a few years prior, my mother and I had also been taking care of her parents in their home in Yukon until they passed away. Then my mom and I took care of my great grandmother and great aunt in Bethany until they passed away. Although my mother was the main caregiver for the most part, I would drive up to relieve her every other weekend while I was still teaching school. So many weeks there were zero days off and even if you were off work, your brain couldn’t switch off to rest and relax anyways. It seemed like an endless cycle which now I understand to be called “compassion fatigue.” This kind of fatigue takes you to sheer exhaustion and actually “secondary trauma” because your compassion cannot stop. Oftentimes you feel powerless because you cannot stop the suffering. You also start to feel numb and detached to everything else and emotionally disconnected. This is the real “cost of caring.”
Even caring for animals, especially “rescues” can cause this compassionate fatigue. I have always gone out of my way to help others and animals. In fact, I currently have three rescue babies that were found in an abandoned house. These three little kitties were skin and bones when we started fostering them. They were infested with fleas, needed to be wormed and their eyes were matted over with infections. Some may have looked at them and thought what’s the point of saving them? But not my daughter or I, we both seem to have that undeniable soft spot for all of God’s creatures. We will be the ones up bathing them and combing them for hours to rid them of fleas. We will be the ones putting together boxes and blankets for makeshift beds and feeding them round-the-clock at crazy hours. We will also be the ones doing without our own personal items so the rest of the crew can keep getting their meals on a daily basis until they find their fur-ever homes.
Surprisingly in just six years of living in Muskogee, we have rescued over 30 kitties plus several puppies and dogs. In my lifetime I’ve probably rescued over a hundred. Some have gone to fur-ever homes and others we have brought back home after having them fixed at Happy Paws. Many have been part of the TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) program in our neighborhood. This simple program alone helps cut down on the overpopulation of so many unwanted litters within just a few years and is being implemented in many places.
However, caring for all these animals is very costly, again physically, emotionally and financially. On almost any given day, I feed not only our five inside kitties and a Pitbull which were all rescues, but also around 7-10 semi feral kitties outside. Though there are many times this “cost of caring” feels daunting, I know in the end it will be worth it all. Just like caring for all my family members who have gone on before me. I know I cannot save them all, but I will completely exhaust myself and every resource I have to make sure they have a better life because I believe it’s the right thing to do. The “cost of caring” is great, but the “call to care” is greater.