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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 133 - Fatigue

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

Compassion fatigue?

That's a common buzz-phrase these days, and it's used by people who get oh-so-tired of the tragedies that are aired on the news and social media.

"I just can't stand seeing another story about refugees. I have compassion fatigue."

Actually, no, You're just tired of looking.

Compassion fatigue is pretty specific to first responders and trauma-care personnel who are in a situation in which they are overwhelmed by numbers and scope of casualties, and have to retreat within themselves to survive. They are the ones who are there, and they know what blood, in large spilled quantities, smells like.

And it can apply to caregivers, as well.

There may or may not be blood, and the overwhelming part of the situation is concentrated around one patient...but seeing a relentless decline, seeing more and more pain and debility, seeing how hopeless it gets...that can put you into a position in which you have to be numb to endure it. Cold and distant, and you'll hate yourself for it.

Because the other alternative may be a kind of breakdown, a place in which your emotions are so raw that you go on crying jags, triggered by absurd things.

Or you become easily angered, and feel - often - like throwing at dish across the room...or at the person you're caring for.

Don't flinch. You may some day feel like doing just that.

And it's OK.

This road may not be easy; it may be the hardest and most soul-scarring experience you'll ever have, caring for a dying husband or wife.

It's important how you get through it, but even more important that you get through it.

Some days will be ugly, and you'll feel ugly.

Just keep breathing. You're OK. The bad feelings are OK.

You have the right to be tired.

Just don't throw the plate at the person.

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. Forgiveness is gold, isn't it? Loving each other through the very hard.

    1. It surely is, Shelli...it surely is. And it starts with being able to forgive oneself for one's own failings.

      Thank you so much for being here!

  2. Yes, so sadly true, Andrew. I know that this is the reality of death that you and Barbara are living each day. I pray that the pain of this process does not wear either of you down to the point of being angry and hateful. But I know that if it does occur, it is only natural--still so painful, but natural. Prays are being lifted each day, my friend! And you are often in my thoughts and conversations with others--telling them of your struggle.

    1. In a way, Beth, it's like living Ecclesiastes 3...there is a time for all things on this part of the trip, and some of them are neither pleasant nor easy to accept in oneself.

      The saving grace is that if a gauntlet of hostility or coldness from either side is thrown down, and not picked up...the moment passes.

      There's a lot of opportunity to just let it go.

      I so appreciate the prayers and the sharing, Beth...it keeps me part of the world, when it would be so easy to slip into an isolation from which return would be difficult or impossible.

  3. Your words are pure grace, Andrew. I can only begin to imagine how God will use your words to bless and encourage others. God bless you.

  4. This one made me smile, Andrew! There ARE days I want to scream and yell at him (or maybe at God?!); and there ARE certainly days I'd love to throw a plate or something at hime...or pound my fist into the counter or door or something! But, I don't...I try to keep my mouth shut; I try not to let it all get to me. But, of course it does! The thing is, I'm not dealing with "death", but the "death" of sorts - of memory, hearing, a person who once was different and able to "lead" and be the "bread-winner" and the one to take the reins. But, that person no longer exists; that person relies on this person to "take care of" him...

    Thank you for your words; for giving permission to be "tired", as I seem to be most of the time. The thing is, I have health issues, too and pray they don't over-take me before I can finish this task of care-giving.

    Prayers and God's blessings, Andrew and Barb!