Monday, October 27, 2014

Loving Care

by Betty Jackson

Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle...(Job 7:6). That is the pace with which life passes. There are so many things we want to accomplish, and so little time.

Life brings challenges at each stage. 
For most of us the last stage may be the most frightening. As I watched my mother during those “dying days” my heart ached for her, knowing that she was facing that battle of pain and terror on her own; though we did the best we could to provide gentle assistance for the daily rigors. How will the rest of us face those last days—those evil days? (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

What can we do to encourage those we love who are facing those days of rapid decline? 
Poor health often hinders worship attendance, but spiritual food is so needful, more than ever. How can we have the strength for the significant demands we must meet in caring for those we love, whether our babies, an afflicted child, or elderly parent. How can we spiritually encourage the one for whom we provide care?

It would be wise to establish a habit for short devotionals with your ill loved one, if that is possible. The caregiver, as well as the "patient," needs spiritual strength to cope with the significant challenges, frustrations and fatigue. 

Your adult loved one may resent your efforts at a formal devotional. It may be helpful to simply share your own study conversationally, rather than in a formal study format. That will lessen the appearance of your “preaching at” the “patient.” Pray together on a regular basis—at meal time, and bedtime. One of the most meaningful prayers I shared with my mother was the last one. We asked God for forgiveness in the ways we had offended one another. And we did do that!  

There will be regrets. 
Recognize that you are human. You will wear down, and say or do things, inadvertently, that will irritate your dear one. There may be times you must rebuke for unseemly behavior. That is so uncomfortable, if you are overseeing the care of a parent. Seek how to do this in a way that is not condescending.  You may err. You need to ask for forgiveness, not only from God, but from your loved one. Unless the patient is mentally incapacitated, this will help as you deal with regrets after that person’s death. You will need to learn to forgive yourself.

Caretaker support is a must.
Support is needed so badly for the caretaker during these difficult days. An understanding and patient mate is such a help in keeping things in perspective, listening as you vent, giving you opportunity to attend worship at least once on Sunday, or grocery shop. Allow others to help you by giving you time off. If possible, hire some help. Take advantage of every aid you can to help yourself. If you can afford it, use a housekeeping service. Even teenaged youngsters can help with chores.

It is common for one family member to be the caretaker.
Siblings commonly neglect their duties. Some cannot help because of health matters or job restrictions. You will need to accept the reality of what it is, and not let it fester. Whenever you are desperate for a break, call a sibling to see if there is any way he or she could give you respite for even a few days. If you don't ask, you may not get the help you really need.

Towards the end...
Towards the end you may suffer severe sleep deprivation. Nap or rest if you possibly can; try to protect your health. It is a given that you sacrifice some well-being over the months of caregiving. However, after the end, you will be rewarded, knowing that you have done all that you could (Mark 14:8). 

You will grieve.
You will grieve, forgiving yourself and others for their lack of support. You will be able to look back at the difficult times, knowing that neither you nor your loved one wanted to hurt the other. So on that dying day, you can let go of the past, and look forward to serving in other ways that the Lord may have in store. And if both of you are faithful Christians, you will find comfort in knowing you will be reunited, without all the sorrows of the flesh (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). You will rejoice together in the light of God's throne.

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Wayne. What is the Meaning of Corban?

Picture Copyright: <a href=''>victor69 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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