Mary Contini column: Who cares for those who care?

Mary Contini column: Who cares for those who care?

LIKE many of you, in our family we have recently experienced sad news – not unexpected, but still shocking.

We have lost three elderly friends and, most recently, our darling aunt, who passed away at the age of 96.

There is no accounting for grief. It hits when you least expect it and can be overpowering.

My dear friend Clarissa Dickson Wright – who chose to be buried in the Inveresk Cemetery, ‘looking down on Tesco’ – told me to embrace tears of grief. They are different from our usual tears and form part of the healing process.

Our aunt, Gloria Crolla, having managed to live independently until the last two years of her life, spent her final months in a nursing care home. Her experience there was an enrichment rather than a sacrifice.

She had plenty of visits from friends and family who said they felt more free to visit in a care home rather than intruding on her privacy in her own home.

Bright as a button to the end, she forged strong relationships with the nurses, carers and volunteers, who did everything to make her feel at home. Knowing she was probably one of the original ‘foodies’ of Edinburgh, they made sure they engaged with her and to prepare food that she enjoyed (her final request was for Luca’s vanilla ice cream!).

When she passed away, early in the morning, her night duty care home family were with her, not her own; it was they who held her hand and watched over her.

These days, how many of our frail and elderly do our nurses and carers look after, day in, month out; become attached to, worry about, even love? These people whose life’s work is a vocation must set aside their own emotions as they offer condolences to the bereaved.

I reflect as I grieve. Who cares for those who care?

As a society, as a family, do we value them enough? Do we recognise their skills and the critical role they play?

Minimum rate per hour. Really?

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East Lothian Courier
Mary Contini

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