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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 30 - Caregiver Meltdown

It's going to happen.

Being a caregiver, especially in the long term, is just plain hard.

It saps your strength, your energy, and even your faith. And you will, I promise, reach a point where your heart simply can't go on, and it will rebel.

There's nothing abnormal or wrong about it...we all have a plan for our lives, and that plan does not include caring for the person you picked to love, dying before his or her time.

It's always before his or her time. It's always too soon.

And sometimes, Scripture doesn't help...when someone says that God means good for you, and not harm, your response will be, on this bleak day, OH, YEAH????

And thus, the meltdown. Outside you may look normal...and God knows, you're trying to keep a brave face.

But inside, you're coming apart. Soundless weeping, quiet screams of pain and rage, calmly disguised agony...just don't take your blood pressure. It'll scare you.

Your heart will cry out...It' not FAIR!

And you're right. It isn't. You see couples planning for a future your ccouplehood will not see. You see confident assurance that there will be a next year, when you know that next year, for you, will be a barren desert through which you wander alone.

Alone. That's the real basis...you don't want to face the world alone...and you're scared.

But that's reality, and reality is often ugly. There is no comfort in those words, I know, not even the chilliest of cold comforts.

So, what to do?

  • Know you're not alone. Appreciate the friends, both in-person and virtual, who will be happy to help you bear this burden. And they can help, if you'll let them. They can help you feel that you are worthwhile, that you're not failing, that your world will not go spinning off its orbit, into solitary space.
  • Find a Meltdown Buddy...someone (same sex, please) with whom you can cry and sceam and vent...even blaming the person who's dying (and you will) for your royally screwed-up life. Someone who'll listen to the transient thought...If I had married my high-school sweetheart  be going through this NOW...and who won't be judgemental, and make you feel horrible for even thinking it.
  • Journal, if you can express yourself through writing, but in a secure location, away from the eyes of your spouse.
  • Be disappointed in God, be mad at Him, call Him every name in the book. Don't feel bad; it's not going to condemn you to hell. God's pretty big, big enough to soak up your anger and sorrow. Remember, His own Son asked why He, Jesus, had been forsaken.
  • Give yourself the gift of a small (and within-budget) comfort purchase...a book you've wanted, an article of clothing that seemed frivolous..something. We're all kids at heart, and the child inside you is scared, and hurting.
  • Talk to a professional counselor; they've seen it all, and can offer insights and strategies, specific to you, that friends may not see. They have training...make use of it. The degree and the letters after the name do mean something.
Finally, don't have a meltdown in front of your spouse. He or she didn't ask to be sick, but there's always a touch of guilt in the back of what is now a vulnerable heart...did I do something that brought this on...something in my lifestyle, my diet?

You can't ask them to carry that burden for you. Dying does not mean a pass from real life, but there are some things that will add to the heartache of impeding death.

And above all...this has been a recurring theme...care for yourself. A lifeguard does no good if she's drowning while trying to hold a victim's head above water. Get yourself solidly grounded again.

But it's not only for the job, the caregiving, not only to succor the dying.

It's for YOU.


What can you add? What did I miss?

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  1. I haven't tried taking care of someone full time and I have I respect for those who have. It's never easy for sure. I've helping raising younger siblings and cousins and it can get tiring.

    Salute to generous and selfless caregivers.

    1. Sorry for the delay in responding...been quite ill, and my wife has the flu...so right now I am the caregiver.

      Sometimes dealing with younger siblings can be just as challenging, and cousins...I remember mine. It was like herding cats.

      Thanks for being here!

  2. You've experienced the bitterest parts of life, you and your wife, Andrew. The only redeeming aspect is that you provide such insight into the valley of death for all of us. I'm grateful for your wisdom and your vulnerability in sharing with others and offering help. You said back at my place that you struggle with vulnerability, but you don't here in this place of yours. I hope your words and posts will be a huge comfort to your wife moving forward, my friend.

    1. Bitter, yes, but sometimes I wonder if we have to know the bitter herbs so that we can know the sweetness of honey, and appreciate it? Perhaps.

      It is hard to be vulnerable and open, but here...I've been handed a message, the Song of Joy, and it's both my duty and my delight to pass it on.

      Knowing that I have helped people with all this, I would not wish it away.

      (Sorry for the late reply...rough week for me, Barb has the flu, and I am the caregiver of the moment.)

  3. WOW!! Once again Andrew you speak from your heart to mine...these are words I need to read, especially after the past few days when I have been sick and certainly not at my best...and HE certainly doesn't seem to see or care (my spouse HE; I KNOW that GOD sees and cares! This was my Tues. @ Ten post...)

    This one goes in my "SAVE" file, where I wish I had put so many of your posts!

    Thanks again for sharing with us; prayers continue for you and Barb...please pray that these allergies, itcy eyes, cough and sleepness nights will END SOON!!

    1. My prayers are with you, Barbara...my Barbara has allergy problems too (right now she has the flu!), and I know how miserable they can be.

      I think - and hope - that deep down he really does care, but that his current circumstances have darkened the eyes of empathy for the moment.

      Again...prayers are with you.

  4. There is a lot of compassion and wisdom in your post.

    1. Thank you so much, Elizabeth, and thank you for being here!

  5. I agree. It is important for caregivers that they have some means to let out their frustrations, but they must be careful and cautious about it as well. Caregiving is a tough job, and it would be nice to have a support for yourself, even as you support the person you are taking care of. Thanks for being honest about this.

    Rochel Badger @ Home Watch Caregivers