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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 130 - What's The Use?

We're linked with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday.

As a caregiver, the attitude of "what's the use?" is something you are very likely to see in your terminally ill husband or wife, from time to time, or consistently.

It's not unexpected...I mean, if there is a sundown on life coming, a person can be expected to take some strong blows to morale. I know I have.

But what can you, as a caregiver, do to help...and how can you get through this difficult time yourself?

First, realize that it's not a failure on your part. You're not responsible for your spouse's feelings, sick or well. You can and should offer help, and you should be supportive, but you don't have the master key to someone else's morale.

Morale is, to a large degree, an individual choice.

Second, be interested. One of the hardest parts of terminal illness is the gradual detachment from life, and the feeling that one is no longer making a contribution. If one can't contribute meaningful to the shared life the community, something is lost.

The community may shrink down to the family circle, and in that case it's really vital for the caregiver to maintain an active interest in what his or her dying mate is doing, and thinking.

Third, encourage outside involvement. Do fun stuff together. Set up dates, something for your your husband or wife to look forward to. Give them a hook to pull themselves into tomorrow.

Fourth, try to steer clear of 'downers'; you know the kind, the breakfast groups that meet at McDonald's and turn into 'organ recitals' of illnesses and misfortune.

FIfth, if a new interest is shown, nurture it but don't overwhelm. If your spouse starts writing, ask to read what's been produced, but don't quiz on how many words or pages were written, and don't bring home books on writing craft and sales unless asked (you can offer to pick something up when you're shopping, but leave control in your spouse's hands). As one weakens, there is the tendency to have things fall from one's control; ypu don't want to hint at taking over a new interest. Let it grow.

Finally, dear caregiver, take care of yourself. Do what you need to do to keep meaning in your life, because the best way to care for someone in desperate straits is to remain strong and positive. Don't be distant, be be firm in your own resolve to carry yourself through this ark passage with courage, optimism, hope, faith...and love. Love for your spouse, and for yourself.

You can't hold up a drowning man if you allow yourself to be pulled under.

What do you think? Is there anything you'd add?

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

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  1. Words born out of painful experience, no doubt...Thank you for sharing them, Andrew. You may have no idea how you are blessing people, but your honesty and grit and persistence in sharing your story is truly inspirational.
    Thank you!

  2. I often think I'd be a lousy caregiver but you, Andrew, have taught me what to do and what not to do. You and Barb are precious in His sight and I pray for you both a lot. xoxo

  3. So true ... you must take "care" of yourself if you are a "caretaker," Andrew. I love the practicality that you can offer us from your own vantage point. It is so helpful and inspiring that you keep your eye on helping others. Great words, my friend!

  4. Well, this I loved, Andrew -->'you don't have the master key to someone else's morale.'

    If anything, this takes a huge pressure off {often self-imposed} to somehow make everything right again.

    And that leaves the spouse some measure of energy ... and allows maybe a bit of hope or peace to flow unhindered.