Have you been the caregiver to someone who is dying? About two years ago my wife Teresa was. Her mom Pat, a widow, was given 4-6 months to live. Teresa (the oldest of three children and the only daughter) cleared her schedule, flew to Spokane, and made a plan to be there every other week for the next 4-6 months.
But during her first week, her mom became so weak that Teresa stayed for five weeks until her mom died. Day and night she cared for her. Recently Teresa reflected back to the five weeks she spent with her mom and clarified the six main lessons she learned on the journey ...
- Caring for a person you love while they are dying is the most difficult, intimate, and holy task you will ever do in your life.
- Taking time to go out of the room, the house, or the hospital ... to take a walk, to drink a cup of tea or coffee, or to get some kind of exercise will make all the difference in "going the distance" as a caregiver. Doing this will help you "listen to your life" and learn the lessons you must remain open to learning while walking this difficult, and oftentimes, lonely road.
- Let the people who offer to help you, actually help you. Let them clean your house, tend to your yard, take care of your pets, or do whatever else they can think to do for you while you're being a caregiver ... they want their love for you to be as tangible as the love you exhibiting as a caregiver ... so let them.
- Touch and spoken words are beautiful things. Acts of love and kindness are a bridge that can bond two people together. But touch and the words we speak are two other important bridges. Don't buy into the doubts you might have that your loved one is unaware of your touch and/or unable to hear and find comfort in the words you speak to them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
- If the monitor/s in your loved one's room are a distraction to you being able to focus on them, ask the nurse to turn them away from your view. This will let you center your attention more directly onto your loved one instead of on the monitors.
- Prayer is simply talking with God. Let your prayers out in conversation with God, instead of holding them in. Prayers can be spoken with actual words, or just said silently. God can handle the pain, the anger, the denial, the fears, and the questions that will no doubt all be part of your prayers. And in return, God will give you a peace and comfort that can come from nowhere else. God's presence and God's voice are gifts we all need -- especially while being a caregiver.
(THE MESSAGE / A MODERN-DAY PARAPHRASE
OF THE BIBLE BY EUGENE PETERSON)
6 Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying,
pray. Let petitions and praises shape your
worries into prayers, letting God know
7 Before you know it, a sense of God's whole-
ness, everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down. It's wonderful
what happens when Christ displaces worry at
the center of your life.