Thursday, October 18, 2012

Abiding Love

I met with someone yesterday who is still mourning the loss of her mother who died nearly ten months ago. She was a loving, caring daughter who helped her mom stay in her apartment well into her eighties even though she was blind, diabetic, and had a number of other health problems. I visited her mother and she had a wonderfully positive spirit despite her woes. Eventually the daughter and another caring sibling convinced their mother that a nursing home was the best option. Sadly, she didn't last long in the new environment, for a number of reasons.

The daughter is struggling with two Big G's, grief and guilt. Even though her mother could not have stayed in her place that long without her daughter, she wonders if her determination to move her led to her demise.

I responded by saying that she could just as easily be sitting with me wracked by guilt because her mother was found dead in her apartment when she knew that she should be in a nursing home. And it might have been that her mother flourished in a setting where there was an opportunity converse with others and where she was receiving regular meals and health care. I see that improvement all the time.

There is nothing straightforward about being a caregiver. My experience is that those who mourn the deepest are often those who have done the most. The decisions about care are not straightforward and there are no guarantees. I encouraged her to grieve as long as she needs to do so, and let God's grace wash away the guilt. She really deserves better than to feel badly about what happened.

If you are a caregiver, thank you. You are an unsung hero in my estimation. I hope that you aren't lonely in your role, or feeling guilty.

Have you found yourself making this sort of tough decision for a loved one? Are you wearied by the role of caregiving? Do you wonder sometimes why life isn't clearer and fairer?

Take a look at the latest Groundling blog entry -- there will be cartoons!


janet.rice said...

I have experienced this role reversal several times, and it is never easy to make decisions for a respected elder- especially if the elder is not happy, and there is not a good outcome. Caregiving is fraught with opportunities for both guilt and grief. Logic doesn't necessarily prevail..
Our present Queen was quoted as saying "Grief is the price we pay love." And caregivers love.

Laura said...

And I think our guilt can stem from that sense of unfairness, if we did more, we could make their life a little better, a little less unfair. There is always a feeling we could do more as caregivers.
It is a lonely time, especially for primary caergivers, as life on the outside carries on but you aren't able to join in.
Church families are great companions for this journey. They ask, they listen, they do,they affirm and they pray offering strength and company to weary souls.

Stacey said...

I have so much compassion for the caregivers of this world. They are often the voices and advocates for those who are not able to advocate for themselves. But so often the caregivers have no one to care for them. It is exhausting and many times, isolating and thankless. I think that our efforts in pastoral care need to be directed to these caregivers as well.