Sunday, August 13, 2017

Conflicting Emotions and Blessings

(This post is a chapter from my book: Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers)


I scribed the following words in early June of 2010 about seven months before my husband’s death:

“My heart is filled with so many conflicting emotions tonight. I still feel burdened by the fact that I know we have taken another step backwards in my husband’s disease. Just the fact that I have to help him every time he goes to the bathroom so we don’t endanger him of falling and that I am now helping him into bed means we are taking another step backwards.

It also means I have to get up in the middle of the night, if he has to use the bathroom. It means more fatigue for me. It further means I can’t leave him for as long of time during the daytime. This is discouraging to me. I so tire of the adjustments to new changes and seeking new solutions. Sometimes I wonder how long it will be before I can no longer take care of him-Years? Months?

I also have so many blessings all around me, however. As I am writing this I can hear the twitter of birds outside my window. I am blessed each day by the perennials around our new home which have been coming out one at a time. Since I don’t know the names of a lot of the flowers, it has been a joy seeing new beautiful flowers popping out. It is like little gifts from God assuring me of His love. He also assures me in the Bible that He will always be with me.

I was blessed the other day with my sister-in-law taking my husband out for a drive and giving me some alone time at home. I was blessed today in church. I am blessed with the fact that we will be getting some in-home therapy for my husband scheduled to start tomorrow.

Lord, help me just to trust, just to rest, just to release. Help me not to worry so much about the ending of the story, for it ultimately will be good. Help me to enjoy and revel in the daily blessings even in the midst of hard times.”

Dear caregiver, the challenges of care-giving for a loved one can be so very emotionally, physically, and even spiritually challenging. The heartaches of the declines in their health over which you have no ultimate control is so discouraging. Remember, however, dear caregiver, that the Lord is with you each step of the way. Also in the midst of the heartaches look for the wonders and blessings. They are always there, and it will help you get through the pain of the tough times.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Life's Lessons Observed

I volunteer most Tuesdays at a church which facilitates a program that serves people with beginning to moderate dementia.  It is a wonderful social program for the participants and also serves as a much needed respite for their caregivers.  It is further a huge blessing for us as volunteers to be able to serve others this way.  We gain more than we receive.

Recently we took the participants on a little outing for the morning and early afternoon. It was beautiful day for this outing.  The weather could not be more perfect.  For most of the participants and volunteers it was a very enjoyable day.  One participant, however, seemed to have gotten caught up in a negative mental loop on this occasion. She also happened to be the one I was paired with that day.

There were a few things that day for which I had to exercise patience.  They included her repetition of the same story and questions over and over. They also included her insistence that since our outing had taken us so close to her daughter's place the bus should drop her off there instead of taking her back to the church to finish off the day. She simply would not let it go, and kept arguing the point. Obviously protocol, legality, and wisdom would not allow us to honor her request, but she could not understand the wisdom of it all.

I needed to remind myself that this woman even with her beginning dementia was and is made in the image of God.  I also was thinking the next morning how much we are sometimes like that with God. We often just do not understand God's ways with us, and we do not understand His plan.  We are not always willing to trust God's wisdom in allowing what He does in our lives.  We may question the wisdom of God's ways and decisions.

Personally I think about all the indignities my husband went through because of his disease.  I think of all the heartache I experienced as his caregiver.  I think of the grief of losing him and living my life as a widow.  It is tempting to think, "Why, God?"  I do see much good which has come in my character as a result of all this.  I see how my love for the Lord has grown, and I see ministry for others which has resulted.  I see partially God's reasons and plans in it all, but I will never see the whole picture at least not before Eternity.

I simply have to trust that God knows what He is doing.  I need to trust that He loves me with an everlasting love and that He is so much wiser than I am. As one book that I read recently put it, I need to give up trying to understand God and just praise Him and thank Him for His love.

Dear caregiver, the challenges of care-giving and life in general can be overwhelming at times.  Trust that the Lord is with you through it all.  Trust in His love and wisdom. He is infinitely wiser than you are.