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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 139 - Family Gatherings

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

The season of family gatherings is coming...graduations, weddings, the Fourth of July, :Labour Day...and having a terminally ill spouse can really put a damper on the fun.

Sometimes the question's already answered, and you simply have to send regrets. You can't go, and you can't leave your husband or wife...or don't feel right doing so.

But you can participate through the telephone, or Skype, or Facebook...and you should. Stay involved, and help your mate be a part of a larger whole for as long as possible.

Then there's the gray area...your mate may be encouraging you to go, to get some time away, and he or she seems able to handle things...but you're worried.

If your husband or wife can realistically stay alone for a bit, by all means, arrange to go. Just set some things in place, first.

  • Have a support system in place, so that in case of emergency, your mate will have help on call. An emergency may not be a rush to the hospital; it could be an attack of severe loneliness, or fear.
  • Shop ahead, and get bills paid. Take off pressure and chores to the degree that you can (but don't do everything, because even the dying need to be useful
  • Keep your cell phone on, and be mindful. This may seem to encourage 'clinginess', and perhaps in some people it will, but be that as it may, you've got a responsibility that transcends social etiquette.
If your spouse can accompany you, great! Enjoy the trip.

But be ready for questions...
  • The super-concerned How are you may be genuine, but don't take over from your mate and give a rundown of test results and prognoses. Those who need to know, you can tell under other circumstances.
  • Gauge your activities to your mate's level of energy, and be watchful. Don't push someone who's ill to the point of exhaustion, and don't let them do it to themselves
  • When answering the questions of children, be careful. Parents have the ultimate say, and teling a kid, "Yes, Uncle Andrew is going to die soon" can result in emotional issues that the parents will have to deal with down the road, especially if Uncle Andrew is well-liked.
There's no reason that the Season of gatherings can't be a pleasant time, for both spouse and caregiver...even if both can't go.

Just plan ahead, and be realistic about what the situation is.

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. Andrew, when my hubs broke his neck in 2003 he leaned toward the "TMI" side (TOO MUCH INFORMATION). I would give him the cut throat signal and help move him on from himself. Drove me nuts. Honestly? It's a very few, if any at all, that want to know the gory details. Great post. Great counsel. Great friend - YOU! xo Body rubs to Sylvia.

  2. Just plain good stuff here, Andrew. As ever. And I've just featured you on my Scads of Marriage Resources post ...


  3. Very practical and insightful post, Andrew. I would not have thought about all of these potential implications as a caregiver, so, as usual, you bring light to something the rest of us are clueless about. Thanks so much for sharing what not only helps those who are caregivers but helps those in marriage. These are collaborative questions we all need to consider with our spouses in every area of life. Too often we operate independently of one another. I'll be sharing this, my friend! Hope you are doing okay today.