A Love That Shines
My brothers and I had no idea! And once we knew…we still didn’t see the depth of it all. Taking care of Mom. She had a progressively debilitating disease, and my Dad was her caregiver. Not until later would we understand just how remarkable all he had done was.
In the early stages, Mom just needed some help. But as the disease robbed her of living a normal life, simple things like dressing herself became frustrating. Every day she grew more dependent on Dad, and he took on more and more.
Then Dad passed away from a very aggressive cancer. My brothers and I were suddenly thrust into caring for Mom. And we were not ready. What had we not understood? Well, a few things really. The most important was the ever-growing difficulty of the task.
Long days and raw emotion take their toll.
Dad had done almost everything…cooking, cleaning, shopping, washing. He picked out Mom’s clothes and helped her get dressed. He gave her his loving attention…all day, every day…month after month. It was so exhausting and time consuming that Dad had little time for himself.
There was something else. As my brothers and I came to understand, the emotional side of all this made everything worse. The constant wondering and worrying if you are making the right decisions. Wishing, hoping, and praying that the incurable becomes curable.
Dreading all the hours, feeling helpless…and angry…and guilty that you aren’t doing enough. Hurting as you watch your loved one suffer. And sometimes, dealing with the emotions, frustrations and anger of the one you love as they lose ground to the disease.
But God is with you and He will lift you up.
Over time the physical and emotional demands seem so constant, so unrelenting, so hopeless, they physically, mentally and spiritually wore us out. How could we have been so blind to what Dad was going through? To what caregivers around the world go through?
To you, Caregivers: You are amazing! Your work is more demanding, more exhausting, and more difficult than others can imagine. I encourage you is to keep going. Your love shines for all to see. You honor God. Have faith in Christ for strength. He is with you.
Also, be brave! Tell those who love you how you feel and what you need. Let them have the blessing of helping you…of standing with you…of honoring your commitment. And Lean on God. He loves you.
When you go through deep waters, I am with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God and Savior…you are precious to me…and I love you. 1
Take care and be God’s,
Next week…Caring for the Caregiver, Part 2…”The Extraordinary Encouragement”
Hal Harris is a member of the Board of Directors of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to encouraging others and teaching them how to encourage one another. He is also a past Chairman of the Board and contributor to the Notes of Encouragement. Hal and his wife, Brenda, live in Buford, Georgia, USA. You can learn more about Hal and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
Footnotes: The original of this Note, Care for the Caregiver, was published on May 4, 2009. (1) Read Isaiah 43:2-4.
Pictures: Banner Photo: By Obencem/Getty Images. 1st Photo: Getty Images. 2nd Photo: From the American Stroke Association. 3rd Photo: From VisitingAngels.com.