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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 183 - Choices: Parent and Caregiver

We're linked with Messy Marriage's From Messes To Messages...please stop by for some great resources!

The choices involved in caregiving can be hard. Perhaps the hardest is choosing where to put the bulk of your effort when you're needed in two places at once.

The situation that probably comes to mind is having a relatively young spouse develop a terminal illness when you've still got children living at home. The kids need care and attention for their development and their future, but where do you make the choices on what you can't fulfill?

It's easy to point to the almost cliched 'sense of entitlement' that American kids are supposed to have, being driven from music lessons to soccer practice to church youth groups by harassed parents. I mean, kids didn't have all this fifty years ago!

True, but our society's changed, and children need something like a resume to be able to get the best path through even high school. In sports, for instance, a child who wasn't involved in Pop Warner football in grade school will have no chance of making a high-school team. None.

Choices have to be made, but they have to be the best possible compromise for everyone...and they have to be choices that you, the caregiver, can live with when death ends your duty.

Some suggestions -

  • Talk about the situation as a family. Kids can surprise you by actively jumping at the chance to take responsibility, and to be part of the caregiving team. Give them a chance to give you 'respite time', and the opportunity to help their siblings. (Obviously, this bespeaks a level of maturity and does require some supervision and accountability.)
  • Reach out for help. Many churches have support groups that can help you not only cope with the emotional stresses of caregiving, but also the practical aspects, such as getting kids to activities when you can't.
  • Involve your ill spouse. Your husband may not be able to drive your son to football practice, but your son may be tickled pink to run his wheelchair to the bleachers so he can be at least a spectating participant.
  • Learn to say no in a compassionate way. Some needs and wants, you just can't meet. You have to be able to protect your spouse's interests, and your own, by not taking on more than you can handle. Everyone has a limit.
What do you think? What are some other ways to merge caregiving and your kids' upbringing?

If you have a mment, I'd like to ask you to visit Change.org to consider a petition to free a 'death row dog' who has been separated from his family for ten months over a misunderstanding. Marley was saved from Afghanistan by a US serviceman; please help make sure this story doesn't end in needless tragedy! Marley's gotten a lot of support...but he still needs our help.

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, Your hard-earned experiences bring wisdom to us all...
    "Learn to say no in a compassionate way. Some needs and wants, you just can't meet.... Everyone has a limit." - I'm living through this one right now, albeit not nearly to the extent that I imagine you and Barbara are.
    No worries to reply, friend, but know that you continue to be in my prayers!
    Thanks for making it over to Coffee and Conversation this morning :-)

  2. Thinking of and praying for you, Barb, Barb's dad. xoxo

  3. Interesting topic, Andrew. My husband and I always worked on trying to bring balance to our children's lives as well as our own, all the while letting them choose at least one sport (if they wanted) to participate in. With three boys each choosing one sport and those sports overlapping at times was still a challenge. But it helped to bring some level of family time as well as allowing room for other priorities. That can be so much harder in a family with a terminally ill parent! So being thoughtful and resourceful about it, like you've outlined here, is absolutely necessary! Thanks for another practical view of the challenges terminal illness brings.

    I hope you are feeling better! I am praying for you daily!

  4. There are many aspects to this. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Yes, Andrew...everyone has a limit! And as a caregiver, we must learn to not only look out for our spouse (or person caring for), but ourselves as well. I couldn't imagine how my time would be stretched if I still had children at home! But, it would have to be juggled to include what needs they would have.

    Thank you for these great tips! And, as always, thank you for sharing your words; they are helpful!