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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 233 - Feedback For Caregivers

We're linked with Messy Marriage's From Messes To Messages. Please visit beth's site for some great marriage wisdom. And we are also linked to Lyli Dunbar's Thought-Provoking Thursdays.

As a caregiver, you want to do your best, but do you have a standard by which to measure your effort?

Well, yes. You can ask your patient-spouse. But be warned; you may not like the answers you get. Don't ask unless you really want to know.

Caregiving is something of a tightrope; you have to try to anticipate the needs of someone who's going through something that's probably out of your experience. Pain and fatigue are the beginning; the dread of further debility and fear of death are something which which you can probably sympathize, but can't - I hope - completely empathize.

And this affects almost all facets of life. Your husband our wife may have been very much on the same page, but now he or she lives life from a very different perspective.

And the things you do, as a caregiver, to make life easier may seem right, but may be very wrong. You do things you think you would like under the circumstances, but the fact is that those are not your circumstances.

There's also the factor of past experience. You may have taken care of your parents, or your grandparents or other relatives (usually older). But a spouse is quite different; an equal, and not an elder.

As an example, it seems to behooves me to do as much as possible myself, even though my abilities have faded a lot, to keep some level of strength, competence, and self-respect.

It hurts, and it obviously hurts. Barbara hates to see me trying to do the things she could do easily for me, seeing me bent over and wincing - or worse - in pain.

Unless I really can't do it, I tell her I'm OK. Sometimes in a sharper voice than I would like, and for that I'm sorry.

It's something I've tried to explain - I have tried to give the feedback - but the care for parents and grandparents in her memory is too ingrained. We've achieved a modus vivendi in which I give her the opportunity to help more than I'd really prefer, from the standpoint of independence, and she gets a bit more insight into what I can - and can't do. But she'd still like to do more.

So, dear caregiver...work up the nerve and ask. And listen with an open heart. It's never that you haven't done your best. It may just be that your focus has to be adjusted, just a bit.

Much to my surprise, I decided to participate in a '31 Days' blogging exercise; rather than interrupt the flow of this post, I have another blog established, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Ariel Sharon) and a short commentary.

And now that October's over...I'm going to keep it going.  I hope you'll join me.

Marley update...he's probably going to be moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.


He's up over 200,000 signatures, but PLEASE keep the pressure on. If you haven't signed, please do! Please click o his name in the paragraph below.

If you have a moment, 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.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.


  1. Oh yes, it's always best to address and try to talk about these things. I know how "messy" the process can be to get there--to better understanding--but it's an important connection to be made. I'm sure it makes the patient feel cared for in a way that doing something for them can never do. I hope you are doing better, Andrew. You're always in my prayers. My shingles/PHN is still healing but I'm in a much better place than I was last month! Oh boy!

  2. Insightful words, Andrew. At times, though, it takes infinite patience for the caregiver. We have our own set of r sponsibilities to get accomplished, and it is hard to wait. However, a person's self worth is implied by the caregiver's actions. When we as caregivers are impatient or frustrated with the situation, then we are sending a wrong message to the loved one in our care. I keep the phrase "Extend grace" like a carrot in front of me, guiding me into right behaviors. Not always easy, but worth it.

  3. Andrew,
    so a potential guideline for discussion could follow like this?
    "What can you do for yourself?"
    "What do you want to do for yourself but can't?"
    "What am I doing for you that you don't want help with?"
    "What can I help with that I'm not currently doing?"
    (Tell me what I'm doing right and what I'm not, but the feedback will be balanced so it doesn't all feel like criticism)

    Also, maybe discussing needs vs. wants?
    Great great post. Especially the spouse being an equal and treating them differently than an elder.

    I want to meet Barbara!

  4. I can imagine!!
    But I think I will also like to meet Barbie😉
    With much love and prayers from Nigeria
    God bless Andrew

  5. Good point, Andrew, about the way we often invite our past experiences to call the shots ... when we really need to let them go and focus on the here and now.