The Seven Sorrows: A Rosary for Caregivers

Theresa Kiser’s new book, Caring for a Loved One with Mary: A Seven Sorrows Prayer Companion, was written by a mother whose child faced a complex medical diagnosis. But we all face times when we’re cast into the role of caregiver, and who better than Mary to run to with our concerns?

More than a decade ago, I first ran to the Rosary when someone in my immediate family faced a health crisis. At that time, I didn’t know all the Mysteries, but keeping that knotted-twine rosary in my pocket was a comfort, a reminder that Mary is a mother to us all, a caring mother who understands what it’s like when our loved ones suffer.

In the fall, when we once again faced news of a difficult diagnosis, I decided I wanted to specifically pray the Seven Sorrows devotion. I ordered a Seven Sorrows chaplet from the Mary Devotions shop on Etsy; Barbara made one specifically for me. It’s a little too large to keep in my pocket, but when I hold these beads, they’re solid in my hands, and have a lot of facets for my fiddling, anxious fingers.

I found that this book, Caring for a Loved One with Mary, has helped me to go deeper with the Seven Sorrows devotion. I’ve been going through it slowly, a chapter at a time, really concentrating on each particular Sorrow. The meditations on the Sorrows, and each prayer, are truly written for the caregiver:

Her sorrows remind me that my own sufferings are part of God’s loving plan. When I try (unsuccessfully, I might add) to avoid the difficulties of my circumstances, I may be closing myself off to the grace he generously offers within them. When I struggle to find the strength, I am comforted to know—at the very least—that Mary walked this road before me. There is no reason why she would abandon me when she knows so deeply how my heart aches. (32)


So many prayer books about suffering focus on the person who is enduring a particular trial. This book is for the ones who love them; they are suffering too, in their own way, just as Mary suffered along with her Son. It is a comfort to read and pray along with Caring for a Loved One with MaryI’ve already purchased an extra copy to give to a friend who is in the thick of an intensive caregiving season.

At the end of this book, you will find tips for starting a support group; questions for reflection, discussion, or journaling; and a way to quickly pray the Seven Sorrows Devotion, as well as St. Alphonsus Liguori’s “Little Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.”

Ask for Caring for a Loved One with Mary at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from or the publisher, Our Sunday Visitor.




Copyright 2023 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Photos copyright 2023 Barb Szyszkiewicz

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The Only Bag I Need Today

I dug my trusty tote bag out of the closet yesterday.

I have other totes. Several of them, in all shapes and sizes. Most of them are fancy and professional-looking, and some even have a special place for my water bottle. Most of them aren’t stained in places, and their handles aren’t frayed.

But this is the tote I dug out of the closet yesterday, because today I’m going to need it.




I’m going to need my Caregiver Bag.

This bag has gone with me to medical visits for at least a decade. It has room for my water bottle. And tissues. And waiting-room snacks. And the book I’ll bring, but definitely won’t read, in the waiting room. And whatever papers we’re handed, with instructions and arrangements and marching orders.

(And a rosary, though there are already 3 of those in my handbag.)

It’s been a decade, and this bag and I are in it for the long haul. Maybe that’s why, every time I get a shiny new bag, I hang onto this one despite the stains and the frayed handle.

I’ve hung onto that handle on some very dark days. And I’ve held it on the days when we heard good news, when we walked out of hospitals breathing a sigh of relief, because this time we were sure we were done with this.

So today, I’ll pack up that bag again with the snacks and the water bottle and the tissues and the extra rosary and the book I won’t read. I’ll grab onto those fraying straps and walk confidently through that familiar parking garage and into those halls I’ve walked so many times before, and I’ll remember that this is not a burden I have to carry alone.

Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photos copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.


There’s a song in TheKid’s favorite musical, Hamilton, called “Non-Stop.”

That’s what it’s like to be a caregiver. Non-stop. As the song says, “every second you’re alive, every second you’re alive…”

But as the song also says, “Look around, look around! How lucky we are to be alive right now.” 10 years ago the fight was very different. 100 years ago, there wasn’t a fight at all. Insulin wasn’t discovered for use in diabetics until the 1920s.

There’s always that underlying worry about diabetes. A diabetic (and those who care for him) doesn’t get time off. Every meal, every snack, every physical activity, even the timing of a bath or shower: diabetes factors in for all of these.

When I wake up in the middle of the night, I check my phone to see how his blood sugar is. When I’m out and about during the day, I do the same–before I get into the car to go somewhere, I make sure everything is OK. Because if it’s not, I might have to be ready to drop everything and pick him up at school. It takes a lot for me to go somewhere if it’s over 20 minutes away from school.

Copyright 2016 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2016 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

About once a week I sit down at the kitchen table and fill insulin cartridges. I call myself the Equipment Manager. I rotate the inventory when new test strips, infusion sets and CGM sensors are delivered, because all these things have expiration dates.

I don’t just pack his lunch on school days; I check inventory in his bag of tricks: extra pump cartridge and infusion set, insulin pen with needles just in case, extra meter, Smarties, juice box, Skittles, peanut butter crackers, Gatorade for soccer.

TheKid invited a couple of friends to sleep over last night. I don’t know what he ate, but I’ve been up since before 5 (again) battling the high blood sugar that resulted. Or maybe the pump site is going bad. Who knows?

It’s always something. Even for a kid with generally good diabetes control and an awesome A1C.

But we do what we can do keep him healthy.



This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.

Blessings for Caregivers

I’m pretty sure that God puts certain people in our paths for two reasons:

  • He wants us to bless them
  • He wants them to bless us

Sometimes, it’s both.

Until I “met” Jeannie Ewing through her blog, Love Alone Creates, and her work at, I never considered myself a caregiver.

What was I thinking? I have a teenager with Type 1 Diabetes. While he’s quite independent and generally adept at handling most of his own care, Hubs and I are still, most definitely, his caregivers.

That means we wake him up in the night to give him juice when he sleeps through his continuous glucose monitor’s alarm. (Last night, 5 times. That’s unusual. But it can definitely be frustrating and exhausting.) It means we measure his food and calculate the carbs on every recipe. It means we cannot let him leave the house without his backpack containing insulin, a juice box, and emergency glucose supplies. Ever. It means every-3-months visits to the endocrinologist and the dread of ever having to repeat the emergency-room episode just before Thanksgiving 2013 when we learned his diagnosis and just how sick he was.

navigating deep watersJeannie has written the book on caregiving–more accurately, the workbook on caregiving, and I’m going to be working through that book. It’s called Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. She speaks from her own experience as a mom of two young daughters with special needs: one child on the autism spectrum and one with a craniofacial disorder called Apert Syndrome.

Jeannie is wise beyond her years and she has a lot to teach me. She recently shared one of her articles I’m going to keep handy and reread often: 5 Ways I’ve Changed Since Becoming a Special Needs Mom.

You don’t have to be a caregiver, or a special-needs mom, to appreciate the wisdom in that article. But if you are, you’ll understand just how priceless a gift Jeannie has given you by taking the time to write and share from her experience.

Please note that the link to Jeannie’s book at Amazon is an affiliate link. Your purchase of this book through my Amazon link costs you nothing extra but helps support expenses associated with this website.