(The post below is also a chapter from my book Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers. Consider ordering a copy for yourself or someone you love. Also check out Matthew 11:28-30 in the Bible.)
The emotional burdens that accompany caring for loved one can be heavy at times. This is especially true, if the loved one has a terminal illness. Turning to the Lord is really the only resource for these kind of emotional burdens. On July 12, 2010 in the midst of my days caring for my husband I wrote the following:
“I am seeking this month to replace carrying around my emotional burdens with consciously seeking to release them to God in prayer. Every time a negative emotion comes up and they have continued to come up, I have resolved to take a deep breath and release it or give it to God. Like one releases a balloon I want to continually release these feelings to God.
I am serious enough about this that I have even made a visual of this with my computer print program. My picture is of a kite floating in the air and also of a hot air balloon. I also have the names of emotionally negative feelings I want released from my life. So how well am I doing? I think it is helpful to have this resolve and word picture in my mind. I am consciously trying to release the negative emotions as they come up. I also realize, however that this will be a continual battle, because the negative emotions come up so easily and without warning.
When I think too frequently about how far down my husband has declined in the last four years it is still easy to become sad. When I think about his latest transition downward, so that he requires my help every time he needs to use the bathroom and all the ramifications of that, it is easy to feel discouraged. When my husband’s spends many hours some days sleeping it is easy to feel lonely, trapped, and frustrated. When I wonder how long I can take care of him before he needs to go to a nursing home, I feel frightened and a host of other emotions. Care-giving is demanding enough, however, without carrying around the extra negative emotions. Moreover my God wants me to release them to Him. He wants me to trust Him
As I think about my picture I wonder if the kite or the hot air balloon is a better picture. It would seem the hot air balloon is a better word picture. With the kite I am still hanging on to the string trying to maintain control. Perhaps both are good word pictures. There are things I can and must do as an instrument in God’s hands in regards to my husband’s health care. Negative emotions and things beyond my control have to be completely released, however.
There are still many negative emotions and sad moments, but I am fighting the fight. I am seeking to release. I call that victory moment by moment. I call that falling down and then getting up again. I call that being a weak human with supernatural help from above, if I just avail myself of it."
Dear Christian Caregiver, What emotional burden can you release today? With what can you replace that emotion? Give it to the Lord, dear caregiver.