Monday, October 10, 2011

The Sunshine and the Rain of Caregiving

I remember my caregiving days. They had a profound effect on my life, and they changed who I was and am today. Caregiving like the weather always had its ups and downs. As a caregiver some days felt stormy, and on those days I felt that I couldn’t do it anymore. On other days life tended to take on a certain rhythm and pattern, and was workable.

In 2009 in the midst of my caregiving days I journaled the following:
“It is a rather cold dreary day outside, as I write my blog post. We have been having some rainy days of late also. I guess we all prefer the warm sunny days, but we need the rain also. What a picture of our lives also. The plants would shrivel up and die, if they received only sunshine and no rain. So we also would shrivel up into something undesirable, if we did not have the rain and the storms in our lives.

Caregiving with its responsibilities certainly sometimes brings on a storm of emotions and/or dreariness of spirit in my life. Sometimes I long for the way things used to be before my husband was diagnosed with his neurological disease. Then, however, there would have been lessons in character building and faith building in my life that would have gone untaught; if things had remained the same. Then some of the direct blessings which have resulted because of the events of the past three years would not have come into fruition.”

Life always tends to be a mixture of joys and sorrows, but I think the experiences of caregiving tends to highlight these swings back and forth in one’s emotions. As a caregiver I was joyful in my faith and in my relationship with my Lord. I was thankful that I knew He was always with me. It was difficult living with the reality of my husband’s disease, however. I was happy that the struggles of life were making me stronger in my character, in my faith, and as a person. I struggled with the fact, however, that caregiving sometimes had to be so emotionally exhausting, and I wondered why life had to be so difficult.

I mourned the fact that my husband’s balance issues, mobility, speech, and a host of issues continued to decline. I mourned the flatness of his personality and the changes in his personality from what I had known for so many years previously. I mourned the fact that he was beginning to hang to the side more when sitting in his wheelchair.

I, however, found joy in the times we spent with our grandchildren and in our pleasant times with family. I found joy in my faith and in the comfort and strength my Lord gave me. I found joy in the promises of God’s Word. I found joy in the beauties of creation all around me. The caregiving years were very difficult years in my life. I realized that I had to cling tightly to my faith in order to survive. I also learned that I had to look for the blessings in my life. Finally, I discovered that the joyful things in my life were definitely better because of the sorrows.

Dear Caregiver, life is a mixture of joys and sorrows. There are a number of deep heartaches in caring for a loved one with a terminal illness. In spite of all this look for the joys and blessings in the midst of the storms in your life. It will help you persevere.

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