Opportunities for respite, relief, short periods of rest

by | Feb 26, 2024 | Faith, Family, Nature | 10 comments |

Respite, that’s what I needed this morning, as I looked at the gooey mess on the basement floor and muttered, “Give me a break.” Relief, a short period of rest before I tackled my to-do list. So, after cleaning up the molasses and glass from the jar that had rolled out of the grocery bag and splatted on the pantry floor, I went for a walk with Mac—Cato had already been out. While Mac ran up and down the mountain, I cleared sticks and leaves from the trails behind our house, took in the views, and breathed in the chill, fresh air.

When we say the word respite, we’re often thinking about the weather in a negative way: respite from heat, cold, rain, snow, wind, drought, high or low humidity. I grew up in New England then lived in the Dallas, Texas area for 27 years. Believe me, rain was always a welcome respite. Now living in Virginia, I see opportunities for positive respite everywhere.

Vanaprastha’s respite

Vanaprastha, the third stage of life after the student and householder stages, is respite from the demands of raising a family, earning a living, and chasing fame and fortune. But that doesn’t mean third-stagers are responsibility-free. For instance, today is laundry day; I’ll also check on our neighbor, walk his dogs, sing, and practice my flute; the car’s low tire pressure light is on, so I’ll tend to that and mail at package at the post office before heading to town for a hand appointment—my arthritis is kicking up again—and get cash at a branch of our bank, since our local ATM was out yesterday. Of course, there’s always writing, critiquing, and reading.

So yes, I needed a little respite this morning after the molasses went splat. But my to-do list is nothing compared to caregivers’ responsibilities.

Respite for caregivers

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been working on a presentation titled “Called to Care” for the Women’s Spring Retreat for our church. What an eye-opener! More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care. Approximately 66% of family caregivers are women. 51% of care recipients live in their own home, 29% live with family caregiver, 4% live in nursing homes or assisted living. 14% of family caregivers care for a special-needs child. 78% of adults living in the community and in need of long-term care depend on family and friends solely for help. Six in 10 family caregivers are employed. The average length of time for caregiving is 5.5 years. Caregiving impacts everything: physical, financial, social, and emotional health.

I raised two children but have never been a full-time caregiver for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged person, though I’ve had short-term experiences. After my father’s disabling stroke, my children and I spent Christmases and summer vacations with my parents to share their burden. That lasted ten years. One summer, my sisters and I moved our father into a nursing home for a week and, along with our children, took Mother to the coast of Maine for much needed respite.

After my father died, we continued to visit every Christmas and summer, because Mother now lived alone. Years later, when she could no longer take care of herself, we moved her to a care facility near my older sister, a three-hour drive from our home at Vanaprastha. I made the trip many times in the next eight years and came to view those hours spent driving by myself as time to think and pray, a spiritual respite of sorts.

Spiritual respite

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Mark 6:30-32 ESV

After feeding the five thousand, Jesus went away to a quiet place and rested—respite. I think all of us need time to ponder and pray, even re-set, like a sabbatical or hiatus, as I did between the second and third stages of life.

As I do every morning, asking God what He wants of me before making my to-do list. 

Linkup with Five Minute Friday: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2024/02/22/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-respite/



    This was a very interesting read. I had never heard of Vanaprastha. Thanks for the great read.

    • Carole Duff

      Nice to “meet” you, Laurie! Thank you for reading and commenting. -C.D.

  2. K.L. Hale

    C.D., so much of this post hit “home in my heart”. Yes, a respite was needed and spilled molasses is a gooey mess! The numbers for your presentation should shock me–however, just in my world here in SW MO, I know that percentage well in my number of friends. In my cancer journey, I worried of being along if I were to take a sudden turn downhill. Feeling guilty because my own parents have raised a disabled granddaughter (my oldest sister is disabled, but lives in a senior housing and can physically take care of herself; just not her daughter). They will need me! God is SO good to restore me and ensure me I’m NEVER alone. I checked on my 87 year old neighbor, Edward, yesterday. He lives alone and has decided to sell his house and move to a resident’s facility (he lost his wife of 64 years two years ago). I had never heard of Vanaprastha, either! Your walk looks beautiful and I’m so happy you can find respite. The picture is beautiful, too. Thank you for sharing, C.D. I always enjoy your words and wisdom! God bless you!

    • Carole Duff

      God bless you, Karla, for sharing your caregiving with others—and for your encouragement. -C.D.

      • K.L. Hale

        That’s so sweet to say, C.D. I feel that about you! It’s a blessing to be here and encourage you as you do me!

        • Carole Duff


  3. Gary Fultz

    Respite is a big word to those who need it. We are in the 14% category with our bed-ridden (much of the time) daughter who needs 24/7 care. I think it’s been 4+ years since my wife and I got away for an overnight at the same time. My wife and I talk about growing lopsided. Strong in some areas and weak in others. Balance is needed in all areas of life, not the least our gimp with God

    • Carole Duff

      Dear Gary,

      God bless you and your wife for your endurance in caring for your daughter. And thank you for your sharing how I can pray for you.

      With humility, Carole

  4. bigskybuckeye

    No matter what stage of life or the circumstances we face, a welcome respite from life’s daily chores is welcome. One of my brothers, who lives closer to my mother, helps her with what she needs since she is homebound without assistance. He will receive a respite when our sister visits this week.

    • Carole Duff

      Caregiving respites are so important, just a little time away to rest and refuel. God bless your caregiving brother and your sister.


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