Enduring Caregiving: The Moral Transformation of Ordinary People
Central to human experience everywhere is caregiving. When carried out by family members and close friends for the most serious of illnesses, end-of-life states, and other health catastrophes, caregiving becomes a question of how ordinary people endure extraordinary conditions. This lecture will focus on what studies of caregiving (both lay and professional) tell us about this moral and emotional core of the human condition. The focus will be on the process by which caregivers “endure” the trials of caregiving as a parallel experience to the suffering experienced by care receivers, about which so much more is written. Rather than emphasize burnout, my emphasis is on how caregivers come to withstand, live through, and persist with even that which is unendurable. And by so doing, become transformed, sometimes in a detrimental way, yet often to enhance their human capabilities, gaining experiential insight into the frequently obscured way that we develop practical wisdom about the art of living and dying.