A Tribute to Social Work and My Second Family

Life has been a whirlwind these last two months. We put our home up for sale at the beginning of August and moved to our new place almost one month ago. We’re mostly settled, save for some finishing touches. Aside from moving, a significant life change happens tomorrow: I will be leaving my job after five years.

This change is bittersweet. It's more than leaving a job—it's like leaving a family. I have been working in a long-term memory care community, where I’ve been surrounded every day by residents who have memory impairment, their loved ones who visit them and cope with the inevitable, and the associates who work tirelessly to care for them. My role as their social worker has been to provide emotional support, education, and resources throughout this devastating process. As draining as it has been at times, it has also been immensely rewarding.

I have said this countless times to families: while we wish that we could have known their loved one before their memory impairment, we love them as they are. We love them when they are angry, joyful, tearful, irritable, humorous, aggressive, and loving. We dance with them when they hear their favorite song, and we hold their hand as they are dying. I have learned so much from these residents, families, and associates, and I am a better person and a better social worker because of them.

After tomorrow, I will begin working from home and truly building my editing business. As much as I will miss being part of these residents’ lives, I know I am making this change for myself and my future. It will be a drastic shift in my career path and identity, and at times I have questioned if I’ll still be a social worker once I leave, like I wrote about in a previous post. (On a side note, I will be doing some hospice social work as well, so I know I’m not leaving the field completely.) I don’t know what the future will bring with editing. All I know is that I will work hard and carry all the lessons I have learned and the memories I have made with me as I go.

One of my favorite poems about social work is as follows (author unknown):

BEING A SOCIAL WORKER MEANS…

You will never be bored.

You will always be frustrated.

You will always be surrounded by challenges.

So much to do and so little time.

You will carry immense responsibility

and very little authority.

You will step into people’s lives

and you will make a difference.

Some will bless you.

Some will curse you.

You will see people at their worst

and their best.

You will never cease to be amazed

at people’s capacity for

love, courage, and endurance.

You will see life begin and end.

You will experience resounding triumphs

and devastating failures.

You will cry a lot.

You will laugh a lot.

You will know what it is to be human

and to be humane.

Crystal Shelley4 Comments