The Christmas season is often associated with the word rejoice. At first glance it would seem ridiculous to associate rejoicing with family caregiving. The four and one half years from my husband’s diagnosis of his neurological disease to his death on January 2, 2011 were very difficult years for my husband and I. In that time my husband, Wayne, went from still working, to walking with a cane, to a walker, and then to a wheelchair and a sit to stand lift. Wayne’s disease affected everything. It affected his mobility, his balance, his speech, his eating habits, and even his personality.
Yet when I look back there was so much for which to be thankful even then. There was so much for which I could rejoice. What about you dear Christian caregiver, can you rejoice this Christmas in spite of the heartaches of caregiving?
The emotional feelings that surface with caregiving can be intense at times. I missed the way things used to be. Every change downward in my husband’s health was emotionally draining and scary. Also the physical demands of caregiving were heavy, and most of the decisions fell on me those last years.
So what was there to rejoice about in this situation? For one thing I knew that I was becoming a much stronger person through all those caregiving experiences. I was having to do things which I had never done before. This was good, as it strengthened my character and confidence.
More importantly it strengthened my faith and my love for my God. Over and over I saw things fall into place when I felt I could no longer hold up. Right when I was at my lowest point of despair in the last months of my husband’s disease, my prayers were answered by the ability of my son to step up and help. Also I was able to procure a sit to stand lift. I saw over and over again this kind of answer to prayer. So I was sad about my husband’s illness. It was the heartbreak of my life. But I rejoiced in God’s provisions from above.
I also rejoiced in my three sons and their wives. I rejoiced in my then seven wonderful grandchildren. I rejoiced in their beautiful and sweet spirits and in their love for their Grandpa and I. I rejoiced that I was a breast cancer survivor. I rejoiced in the daily blessings such as the sun shining. I rejoiced in my salvation through Jesus Christ. My prayer at the time was “Lord, help me to remember these blessings when I become sad or overwhelmed with the challenges of caregiving.”
Dear Christian caregiver, the challenges of family caregiving are often discouraging and overwhelming, but the Lord is with you today and every day. His blessings are with you every day also. In what will you rejoice this Christmas season, dear caregiver?