There is a reason why plaques with the Serenity Prayer — which implores us to “Accept the things we cannot change” — hang in many hospital rooms and health care facilities. They are reminders to individuals suffering illness and their family members that medical science may be limited in producing a cure. Health care providers, too, need to be reminded that their healing powers are formidable but have bounds.
As the front-line care providers for millions of Americans with serious and chronic illnesses, family caregivers must also remember the admonitions of the Serenity Prayer. Tender loving care, painstakingly organized and devotedly practiced, matters greatly to their loved ones’ comfort and quality of lives but may not change their medical outcomes. This is especially so when conditions get worse and support services are harder to come by. Like the finest physicians and nurses who provide the best care they can even without proper equipment, family caregivers must strive courageously but accept that the best they can do during this pandemic may be to muddle through.