Archive for the ‘Caregiving’ Category

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 48 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been hearing a lot about, and experiencing triggers in grief lately…that sudden and unexpected transition into yesteryear. You’re going along doing ok and something happens to set off your grief.

Inevitably, if we look for a connection, there is something about the event which hits a sore spot.

For me, my most recent experience was when my sister could have died in a house fire, (she’s fine), but it immediately brought me back to the first year after Bill died, along with the fear and reminder of how life can change in the blink of an eye.

I like Jenny Lee’s kind attitude towards herself, as she deals with triggers after the death of her fiance’. She says, “I am normal. I am moving forward in the best way I know how with God’s guidance and love. I am where I am supposed to be and moving at the pace I am supposed to be moving…there’s no rush and no “moving on” or “getting over” grief…it’s part of me and I am growing into a stronger woman.” (to read her full post, click on GriefTalk at the top of this page).

What triggers your grief? How do you take care of yourself in the midst of it?

Read Full Post »

Several Sundays ago, my “forever” pastor*, Bob Myers (http://www.covenant-church.org) preached on the difference between a metaphor often quoted to the dying (Make peace with dying), and Jesus Himself, the author and enabler of our peace.

Bob questioned whether my husband, Bill would have wanted to hear this metaphor as he lay dying eleven years ago. He claimed that Bill, if he had been told he needed to make peace with dying, would have responded with an indignant, “Don’t give me a metaphor, give me Jesus!”

I agree. Bill knew first hand, what would bring him true peace, because he experienced this when…paralyzed and with tangled speech…all odds were against him.

When he had nothing left, he learned Jesus was enough.

God’s Son saw Bill through with His peace to his very last breath on this earth. For in Philippians 4:6 & 7 we are given this direction and promise, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The closer Bill came to his death, the more I witnessed this peace in his face and demeanor.

Of course the peace of Jesus is available to those of us left to grieve on earth too. For these verses in Philippians end with this peace being for all those “in Christ Jesus.”

Who or what brings you peace in your grief?

*Bob Myers is the pastor who loved us through Bill’s illness with his near-constant presence and reassurance.

Read Full Post »

Recently, I came across the verses our pastor used to bring comfort to my husband while he was ill. What refreshment these must have been for his parched soul, since  Bill was paralyzed and could no longer read the Bible for himself.

All he could do was look Pastor Bob straight in the eye and say,  “I’m dyin…”

The next day, Bob came back to the hospital & shared these words with him:

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 5:1

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little whle you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials…for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  I Peter 1:6 & 9.

“Never again will (you) hunger; never again will (you) thirst…And God will wipe away every tear from (your) eyes.” Revelation 7:16 &17b.

Living water which brought radiance to Bill’s face and hope for his future.

And ours.

Read Full Post »

One of the doctors who cared for my husband during his final illness, has died.

As head of the medical team, this doctor spent a lot of time at Bill’s bedside in the hospital, diagnosing  his illness. She also took the time to talk with him about their mutual love for running and oh yes…as I ran around like a crazy hen caring for Bill 24/7, she took the time to make sure I was okay.

After Bill died, she and I kept in touch.  Now she too is gone and this loss takes me back to those difficult hospital days.  But more important, I am brought back once again, to the care and comfort God lavished on Bill and me, through this doctor-turned friend.

I will always be grateful for her care. May God bring comfort now to her family in their grief.

A question for my readers: In your loss, in what way(s) does God bring comfort to you?

Read Full Post »

Grief Weary?

Today I have no desire to look at the battered helm of grief in my life; those shards of glass imbedding themselves in my skin for all time, on the day Bill died.

During the early days of my loss, I went numb when I could no longer handle the grief. No sorrow, but no joy either.

There has to be a better way.

I am reminded of the 1991 movie, “What About Bob”, where the psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marvin (played by Richard Dreyfuss) gives a prescription to his multi-phobic client, Bob Wiley (Bill Murray): “Take a vacation from your problems.”

So today I rest…distract myself with a frivolous book, a good friend and a browse through my favorite cottage shop…to give my mind, soul and body a reprieve.

Just for today.

Are you grief weary? How do you care for yourself on the days when it’s all just too much?

Read Full Post »

I was never her daughter-in-law; always her daugher-in-love.

Last Sunday, “mom” would have turned 98, had she lived that long. As it was, she died five years after her second born son…my husband.

When she was told of Bill’s imminent death, she laid her head on the dining room table and cried, “Oh, why couldn’t it be me!”

Within a few short years, her body became frail and weary of this earth. She was forgetful and knew it.

I sat on the edge of her bed. “You’ll soon be with your son, mom. In Heaven.”

“But, how can I be sure,” she looked up at me; her eyes pools of worry.

“Do you believe in Jesus?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Then even if you forget Him, He’ll never forget you.”

She drifted off to sleep; her face creased in peace.

They’re together now…mother and son…for all eternity. Someday, this daughter-in-love will join them.

Read Full Post »

An Interview With Shelly Beach

Many of us in grief have taken care of a loved one before his or her death. How does this impact us in our loss?

Shelly Beach, author of five published books including Hallie’s Heart, Christy Award winner in the Lit Category for 2008, has written two of her books on caregiving. One, Precious Lord, Take My Hand, was a 2008 finalist for ECPA’s Christian Book Awards.

Recently, I spoke with her about grief in caregiving.

Shelly, for a total of eight years, you cared for your mom with her Alzheimer’s, along with your father-in-law with his many physical and mental health issues. In your books, Precious Lord, Take My Hand (Discovery House Publisher, 2007) and Ambushed by Grace, (Discovery House Publisher, 2008), you speak openly about the trials you went through caring for them. Tell me about your mom in particular. Watching her disappear into Alzheimer’s must have been a grief in itself. What was that like for you?

First of all, it was difficult to even admit Mom had Alzheimer’s. I didn’t want to say the word at first, knowing what would lie ahead for Mom and for us as her family. We all faced a thousand emotional adjustments along the way. Losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s means watching the erosion of not only their physical body, but also their emotional and mental state. The most difficult part for me was that my mom was often in a state of emotional torment. I longed for her to be at peace as we sought the best doctors available to pursue the best medications to bring Mom to a state of tranquility. It was grueling to struggle with her violent outbursts, knowing she was in a horrible state of confusion and often, torment. It was important for my husband and me to get respite and take breaks as often as possible. I joke about the fact that Dan and I rode our Harley to help maintain our marriage, but it was true. We needed to find places to unwind and relax outside our home. Our Harley was that place for us. We also used every service available to us through our community. We took frequent short vacations and called upon friends and loved ones to help lighten the load for us.

During the height of your caregiving years, you had your own immobilizing health issues in the form of a non-cancerous brain lesion and had to relearn walking, seeing and reading. What kept you sane?

I am blessed to be married to the most selfless and patient man in the world. He supported me in every way possible. Without Dan’s consistent love and encouragement, I’m sure I would have crumbled. He stayed by my side at the hospital, nursed and nurtured me whan I came home, and has supported me through the neurological complications in the years since. I am so grateful for his devotion.

In Precious Lord, Take My Hand, you tell the story of coming home to rest after an exhausting vigil at your father-in-law’s side during his final days on earth. You found your mother clothed in great disarray, salsa music blaring from the radio and TV’s Animal Planet declaring giraffes as having the loudest burp in the animal kingdom. You turned to Dan and said, “No one has my life. No one even believes me when I tell them about it.” Your solution was to take your mother in your arms and dance around the room…creating a golden memory. How has this attitude of  ‘finding  joy in the moment’ helped you?

In the everyday struggles of life, we can choose to go to gratitude or grumbling–to the God of the Universe or the god of ourselves. Alzheimer’s will offer a hundred reasons every day to choose despair. I chose instead, to create memories, to look at each moment with my mother as an opportunity I couldn’t afford to waste. I have never regretted that decision.

What was it like for you after your mom died?

My mother’s pink bathrobe still hangs in the closet of the room in my house she and my dad stayed in. I often found myself caught off-guard and crying at small things. I missed my mom a lot. After all, she’d lived with me and had been part of my daily routine. I’d quit my job and devoted my life to caring for her, and I loved her dearly. I expected the grief to comes in waves, and it did. It’s still coming after two years.

What was your ultimate source of comfort during caregiving and now, in your grief over the deaths of both your mother and your father-in-law?

 My ultimate comfort is knowing their lives are not over. They are enjoying  eternity in Heaven and I will be with them. Their lives had eternal purpose and suffering is serving a purpose in the lives of others through the books I’ve written.

What is the most important thing you’d like to say to my readers about caregiving grief?

When I considered a title for my first caregiving book, I wanted to title it “Aaaaaaaagggggggghhhhhhhh! But God Is Good.” I think that summarizes my thoughts on grief, as crazy as that might seem. It is a difficult journey, but God is always sufficient; always good. He provided a way to overcome our grief with life and joy through redemption through His Son, Jesus.

You’re now involved in some new caregiving ministries. What are they?

I’m blessed to serve on the board of Music for the Soul (http://musicforthesoul.org) with Dove Award winner, Steve Siler and to be involved in the creation of the Dignity project for caregivers. I’m also the Christian faith “expert” columnist for Caring.com, an affiliate of msn.com. (http://caring.com). Caring.com is the Internet’s most visited site for those providing care for their aging parents and receives almost three quarters of a million hits per month.

For more information on Shelly and her books, check out her website at http://shellybeachonline.com  or her Caregiving Journey page on Facebook.

Read Full Post »

Through dying, my husband taught me how to live.

While Bill lay paralyzed in a hospital bed, I watched in amazement as he lifted the one hand he could still move, in praise to God. Everything was in God’s hands. In spite of Bill’s pain, depression and sorrow, he was at peace.

Not me. I wrestled with God. I argued with the doctors: “Bill can’t be dying. He’s a Marathon runner.” I brought him food when he no longer wanted to eat. I lifted him into his wheelchair and took him to the physical therapy he could no longer do. After his death, I ignored the reality of the grass settling in over his grave and kicked against the pricks of the irreversability of my loss. I carried on with life as usual…and then some.

I wore myself out.

Finally, as Bill had done before me, I hobbled on useless knees and fell headlong into the outstretched hands of God.

And found rest.

What legacy has your loved one passed on to you? How has this brought you comfort?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: