Monday, February 27, 2012

A Different Kind of Caregiving

Three years ago this past Friday on February 24 my grandson was born. On the day he was born I spent part of that day and also the next couple days babysitting our new grandson’s three sisters. Their daddy (my son) would take them to see their Mom and little brother at the hospital in the evening, and then he would take them home to bed.

I enjoyed taking care of my granddaughters very much during that time. Taking care of my granddaughters was a time of caregiving, but to be honest this was a much more enjoyable type of caregiving than what I was doing with my husband.

This is because my granddaughters were so open and full of love and the joy of life. They were 6 years, 5 years, and 2 years old at the time. I was very tired at night after a day of taking care of three energetic children, but it is a good tiredness.

Caregiving for a loved one with a terminal illness is so different than the type of caregiving I described above, is it not, dear caregiver? The one describes life and potential. The other describes declines and often heartaches.

With both, however, dear Christian caregiver, there is hope. First of all, this life we live on this earth is not all that there is. We have eternity ahead. Secondly, the Lord has promised to be with us each step of the way. Finally, even though we can not figure out the “whys?” of our loved ones declines, God has promised to somehow bring beauty out of the chaos which so often is a part of our lives. Trust Him, dear caregiver.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Joy and Sadness

Life is such a mixture of joy and sorrows, is it not? This was especially evident to me on February 24, 2009. On that day my little grandson was born. That day was also the day of cancer surgery for my mother-in-law. Furthermore, at that time I was right in the middle of my caregiving days with my husband, Wayne. It was a time of constant declines in his health. Below is what I journaled on that day:

“Our new grandson was born this morning! He weighed 9 pound, 9 ounces and is 21 1/2 inches. His name is William Wayne, William for his great-grandpa and Wayne for his grandpa (my husband.) I took care of William’s sisters while my son and his wife were at the hospital. This is our first grandson after 6 granddaughters from our three sons.

On a sad note my mother-in-law had her cancer surgery also today. They were able to get much of her large tumor, but there are many little tumors that they could not get. Chemo will follow later which will hopefully suppress but not cure the cancer. Even with all this they say she most likely has 18 months to 2 years of good life before it will come back.

So today is such a mixture of emotions-joy over our new grandson and sadness about my mother-in-law. Lord, thank you for my precious new grandson born today! Please be with my mother-in-law tonight and in the difficult days that lie ahead. Give her Your peace, Lord. Give me peace too, Lord, as I see my husband continue to deteriorate. Grant me patience also, and help me to concentrate on the many blessings and joys in my life and not on the difficulties.”

My mother-in-law passed away on September 2, 2010 from her cancer, and my husband passed away on January 2, 2011 from his disease. My grandson, however, is a healthy delightful nearly three year old child. Yes, life is a mixture of joy and sadness.

Dear Christian caregiver, caregiving challenges and life in general can sometimes be very overwhelming. Remember, however, that even in the sadness of caregiving there are many joys. Look for these blessings Also remember that life on this earth will always be a mixture of joys and sadness. Know, however, that God will be with you each step of the way.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Your Divine Valentine

I journaled the following words on February 14, 2009:

“I just got back from babysitting three of my little granddaughters at their house. That way my son and his wife could go out for Valentine’s day. It was fun doing this for them. It was also nice that my son and his wife could go out together, as baby number four is coming on Feb 24. The last years especially my husband and I would often go out to eat on Valentine’s Day, and we would exchange cards. This year there was nothing. I miss that. I gave him a card, but that was it. My husband’s disease has changed so many things in our lives. My Lord expresses His love to me in many ways every day, however. When one has that one has everything.”

Dear Caregiver, do you ever feel the sorrow of things lost? Do you ever miss the way things were in the past with your loved for whom you are caring? Does the approach of holidays such as Valentine’s day make you feel melancholy and sad?

During those moments of sadness remember that the Lord loves you with an infinite love. He in effect is your Divine Valentine. He is sufficient. He alone can give you all that you need. Below is a poem called Your Divine Valentine:

Your Divine Valentine
A Valentine may play a love song for you, but God sings you the sweetest love song in the universe. (Zephaniah 3:17)

A Valentine may give you flowers, but God sent you the most beautiful rose of all, Jesus. (Song of Solomon 2:1)

A Valentine may bring you chocolate, but God provides you with something even sweeter, His Word. (Psalm 119:103)

A Valentine may love you for a lifetime, but God loved you before you were born and will love you for all eternity. (Jeremiah 31:3)

I am praying, dear Christian caregiver that you are blessed by the wonderful love of God this Valentine's Day and always! Be sure to check out the Bible references so you can unwrap evidences of God’s wonderful love for you.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Subject We Like to Avoid

Dear Christian caregiver, I am going to talk today about something we often do not like to discuss. In fact it is subject we like to avoid. It is a topic, however, that would be wise to discuss with your loved one for whom you are caring. It would be especially wise to discuss this topic with your loved one, if she or he is terminally ill. That topic is death.

My husband was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy Type C in 2006. At the time of his diagnosis a time frame of 6-10 years until death was thrown out. Any internet site I visited suggested the same time frame. In actuality my husband only lived four and a half years after diagnosis.

A few times during his illness my husband would say that he did not think he had long to live. I at the time thought that those statements of my husband were merely depression speaking. This was logical in my mind, because depression can accompany neurological disease. I felt as if I did not want to feed into that depression. I would often say, “You don’t know that. You could outlive me.”

Now I believe that was a wrong approach. I believe I should have openly discussed with my husband about his feelings about death. It most likely would have been helpful to him on an emotional level to have talked about this with me. It also could have been the source of some deep spiritual discussions, as my husband was a believer and child of God. It further would have helped me to better know his wishes for the funeral and other matters.

I think my husband may have been more in tune with reality at that time than I. Perhaps I was in denial about how close to death he must be, because of his constant declines.

Dear Christian Caregiver, death is never a pleasant subject to discuss, but its reality is not going to go away by not discussing it. Consider discussing these matters with your loved one especially if they bring up the subject. Their eventual death is not going to be hastened by your discussion of it. The date of that death is in God’s hands.

Unless dementia prevents it I would strongly suggest discussing his or her eventual death honestly and openly with your loved one for whom you are caring. Remind your loved one that the process of dieing is not something anyone would chose, but we will all experience it unless Jesus returns first. Also remind him or her, however, that death for the Christian is merely a gateway to heaven and being with the Lord.