Thanksgiving: Heartfelt Messages For Caregivers & The Cared For

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I’m sorry for the delay posting a new entry on 1 Day 1 Week. One reason was because I focused on launching our new podcast series, Caregiving Insights. The first episode that went up on November 8th is with Pat Samples, an awesome author and thought leader on various topics, including caregivers finding peace of mind along their journeys. I’ve also recorded an additional four episodes, with one to be posted on our Podcast page and new YouTube channel every other week through the end of the year.

Another part of the delay has been life – it’s been a heavy two weeks. Not so much from the physical caregiving perspective, although that’s coming again. More so from a healthcare standpoint. We learned last week that my dad’s cancer has further spread. Subsequent tests and doctor visits confirmed the news and baring any new information the treatment will begin shortly after Thanksgiving.

As the caregiver and patient advocate for my dad and mom, care and concern for their well-being are ever-present. Aside from my instinctual proactive and reactive assistance, each week I put together a “to do” list of follow up items. From appointments to schedule, to supplies to order, to lab work to assess, and so on, there’s a lot to juggle combined with the ever-changing bandwidth of life outside of their needs. 

The point isn’t to pat myself on the back. I receive that kindness from family, friends, healthcare providers, and strangers. The point IS to bring awareness that for as hard as it is sometimes, two things always come to my mind:

  1. There are tens of millions of other caregivers in the U.S. and around the world whose situations – for various reasons – are much more difficult than mine. In addition to the challenges of healthcare system access, quality of care, socio-economic disparities, and living environments (to name just some), other caregivers are simultaneously having to feed, bathe, dress, and help with many ADLs – Activities of Daily Living. This may be for people they’ve been hired to take care of, or more often for spouses, partners, parents, friends, or children.
  2. Although it can be incredibly difficult for caregivers to handle so much, it can’t be compared to what the “cared for” have to deal with on an ongoing basis. This is not to diminish in any way caregivers, for I hold them in the highest regard and know the job’s challenges first-hand. It’s meant to acknowledge that for people with illness, especially those that are dealing with life-threatening or end-of-life situations, the mental and emotional anguish (whether expressed or not) is different than for caregivers because it’s compounded by the imminent reality of mortality.

To paraphrase an often-used quote, “No one knows what it’s truly like to walk in someone else’s shoes.” To the extent we can step out of our own inner worlds for a moment, we can do our best to conceptualize other’s situations and have empathy based on our experiences – what we’ve read, seen, heard, and lived.

This isn’t just related to caregivers, patient advocates, and those who are ill. It’s about all of us. As distinctive as our DNA, each of us have our own unique situations and challenges in life. We each have opportunities to draw on those and especially with regard to what I’m about to express.

In the light of all I’ve shared above, my wish is that everyone takes a moment this week (and hopefully ongoing) to give thanks to a caregiver and/or patient advocate they know. Let’s step out of our own situations and inner worlds – even us caregivers – to acknowledge someone we know that is caring for another human being. A phone call is all it takes. Even if you don’t reach them, leaving a message will likely mean so much to who you called. In fact, sometimes that works out even better, because the person can go back to that message anytime – especially as they are going through difficult times. Your message can possibly be what lifts them up – in a time of need.

Not sure what to say? That’s understandable and often the case, no matter what age we are. When I’m in that situation, I try not to overthink it. (Often easier said than done, I know.) Taking a calm, deep breath, I say to myself, “Keep it simple, Todd.” When I dial the phone, get on that Zoom/Facetime or begin walking in the room, I take another deep breath. Then I focus on coming from my heart, as if I was talking to someone that means the world to me…which may be this person.

If this approach sounds good, you can try it…or another that you feel is more “you.” Whatever approach, I hope you try.

As for what to say, your comfort level and the dynamics of the relationship with the person can be a guide. Along with wishing them a happy holiday, there is a myriad of thoughts you can possibly share. Here are some that I’ve expressed over time.

“Thanks so much for all the care you give to _____________. How are you?”

“I respect you for everything you do for, and mean to, _____________. How are you?”

“You’re such a special, kind, and caring person. While I haven’t walked in your shoes, I can see how much you give and understand how much that means to ___________.”

“You do so much for ______________. Is there something I can do for you?”

“I think of you often. You’re wonderful to _______________. How are you? What can I do for you?”

(Note: the ____________ can be a specific individual’s name or “others” to reflect a wider acknowledgement.)

While I can’t tell you what to say or how someone will receive/respond, I imagine in most cases the person will feel “seen” and appreciated. Plus, there’s a good chance you will feel good for having shared.

Now, I want to refer to #2 above. While 1 Day 1 Week is focused very much on caregivers and patient advocates, it’s also important we acknowledge those people they care for. Whether it’s someone who is dealing with chronic issues that will challenge them for years/decades or someone who may not have a lot of time remaining, I hope you will let them know this Thanksgiving (and ongoing) how much you care.

Calls/Zooms/Facetimes are great. Cards are great. Safe visits are great. Similar to above with caregivers, you may not be sure what to say. This is especially true if you know, or are unsure, how much life that person has remaining. It’s understandably difficult and can have you/anyone shy away from saying anything. Heck, I spoke with someone this week in their 50s – one of the loveliest people I know – who expressed not knowing what to say when I told her about my dad.

We are often paralyzed by the fear of saying something wrong and/or worrying how someone will feel and react. There are other reasons, too. While nothing is guaranteed in terms of a person’s feelings or responses, as above…

Try not to overthink it. Breathe. Try to come from your heart, as if you were talking to someone that means the world to you…which may be this person.

As with caregivers noted above, along with wishing a happy holiday, there is a myriad of things you can possibly say. Below are some simple ones that I’ve expressed.

“I just want to let you know I’m thinking of you, and you are often on my mind.”

“I just want to let you know I’m thinking of you, and you are always in my heart.”  

“I think of you often. Is there anything I can do for you to make things easier?”

And, possibly nothing more meaningful than from the heart saying…

“I love you.”

Doesn’t matter if you hear it back. It’s a beautiful gift you’ve given.

On that note, before signing off, I wish you two things:

A wonderful Thanksgiving, however, and with whomever you celebrate!


The greatest wealth for you and your loved ones, which is good health!!


Caregiver/Advocate Takeaways

This week it’s more about “receiving” from others, rather than takeaways. With that in mind, I hope everyone gives some thought to:

  • Letting caregivers and patient advocates know how much they are appreciated.
  • Letting loved ones dealing with illness know how much they are cared for and loved.

Thanks for reading Thanksgiving: Heartfelt Messages For Caregivers…And The Cared For. As with other 1 Day 1 Week posts, you’re welcome to share your thoughts below and/or share a story as a full blog post of your own. Whether you’re a caregiver, patient advocate, or involved in caregiving/patient advocacy in some way, the worldwide community of caregivers and patient advocates can benefit individually and collectively from “hearing” what you share about your experiences.

One Comment

  • Aunt Sharon

    We can’t always know what life is going to throw our way. What we can know are the people who walk along side us and how much we need them to be there. You my dear are one of those people who grace our lives everyday. Love always, Aunt Sharon and Uncle Ed