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?
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