Today is the last day of 2012. Christmas has come and gone for another year, and we are again approaching a new year. Perhaps this year has been a good year for you, dear caregiver. Perhaps, however, this past year has not been a good one for you. Perhaps you have seen a severe decline in your loved one’s health; and you are grieving the fact that outside of a miracle your loved one will never be the person he or she once was.
Two years ago at this time my husband’s health had taken some severe nose dives downward. As I mentioned on a previous blog post we were able to all celebrate Christmas two years ago with our entire family. All three of our sons and their wives and all of our grandchildren were together that year for Christmas.
On Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 about a week later my husband, Wayne, turned 65. We spent a quiet day at home. I fixed him his favorite meal. Also he received phone calls from his sons who live far away and his grandchildren sang “Happy Birthday” to him on the phone. Later our local son’s family came briefly and those grandchildren sang “Happy Birthday” to him. I put him to bed like normal that evening. But sadly, on Sunday morning, January 2, 2011 my son and I discovered my husband had passed away during the night when we went to get him out of bed for the day.Even though my husband’s health had declined significantly, I had no clue that I would find on that Sunday morning that my husband had passed away during the night. The process of the disease was supposed to take 6-10 years after diagnosis. Wayne lived only 4 ½ years after diagnosis. I knew that he would pass away some day, however; and I anticipated that the his eventual death would be somewhat easier because of the grieving I had already done. I had been slowly losing him for a long time. I found out, however, that certainly was not true. Death is so final on this earth. He was the love of my life for so many years.
My body reacted to the shock with chills, nausea, by feeling tired and wired at the same time, and by feelings of operating on auto pilot. I also found, however, that now I was beginning to release some tears which I could not release during all those years of having to remain strong in my role as caregiver.
I was so happy for my husband. He was released from a body which trapped him, and he was now in heaven. I was sad for myself and my family, as we would miss him. I also wondered what next? As difficult as caregiving truly was, it was my purpose for being on this earth for so long. I would have to rediscover a new purpose in the days ahead.
Dear caregiver, you may find this post more discouraging than helpful. If so I apologize. Death, however, may come some day for your loved one. Know, however, that your loved one as well as you, dear Christian caregiver, are in the hands of the Lord. God says all the days that we and our loved ones are meant to live on this earth are ordained by the Lord God. (Psalm 139:16) Hence, I plead with you to not engage in caregiver false guilt during your caregiving days or in the possible eventual death of your loved one. It is the devil’s trick to discourage you. Also caregiving for a family member can be all consuming. Hence, when it ends a caregiver can have a sense of loss of purpose. I know I did. Be assured that God will use even that to refine you and mature you. Eventually the Lord will slowly reveal His new purpose for your life, begin to heal you, and begin to add new joy to your life. What will this new year bring for you, dear Christian caregiver? No matter what is brings trust that the Lord will be with you each step of the way.