Such a common expression, and one used often to explain one's actions.
It's an expression I can never use, because illness has taken so much that I'm not sure of what me is.
My career is gone, and the avocations which used to define me are sliding out of reach. Some days, all I can do is rest, between feeding the dogs and letting them out. I watch a lot of DVDs; I read a lot. And these days concentration is so hard (along with the physical act of typing) that it's all I can do to maintain this blog.
I'm not who I was; I am who I am. And I don't know who that is.
If you're a caregiver for a terminally ill spouse, especially one who is no longer in the workforce and is simply existing between medical treatments and pain, it's something you'll have to address, because you're the only one who can help.
But how can you help? Here are some suggestions; they may not work for everyone but I'm pretty sure some may be useful.
- First and foremost, observe. Has a driven and purposeful spouse become suddenly listless, using expressions like "It doesn't matter" and "Whatever"? If so, you can be pretty sure that there's a problem.
- Encourage identity-building activities - For an athlete, rugby or tennis or even golf may be out, but if there's any indication that your mate still wants to participate vicariously, try to find a way to make it happen, if only getting a cable subscription to ESPN. I'e lately been watching the Ken Burns documentary on baseball, and it's lifted my spirits far more than I might have guessed.
- Be interested in what your husband or wife can still do - if your spouse has enjoyed scrapbooking, make sure he or she still has the supplies to continue, and ask about it. Be involved, and interest...and, if needed, offer help.
- Keep sex on the table - I was reluctant to include this, but being physically desirable to one's spouse is a basic need for every man and woman. You may have to modify what can be done, but that does leave open a lot of things that are sexual in nature, and that give the right message. Letting the marriage relationship become a formal 'caregiving' one, in which physical intimacy isn't encouraged, can be devastating for the patient.
- Participate in activities that your mate still can enjoy - If your husband was an avid hunter, go to a rifle range (and perhaps let him teach you to shoot better). If your wife was restoring a n antique car, go with her to a car show, even if you're not that fired up about automobiles.
- Don't schedule social events with other caregiving spouses with only a shared 'caregiver' status - it's kind of dehumanizing for the patient to be placed into a situation of making small-talk with another person on the basis of a shared terminal diagnosis.
- Don't push the thought that there is Identity In Christ - your spouse nows this, and if that's not currently helping, you're adding lack of faith to their other burdens.
- If your spouse admits to feeling lost, don't try to fix it immediately by pointing out what he or she still does - the grieving process is needed; your spouse needs to grieve the loss of his or her old life. Listen first, and then gently point out some of the positives that remain. If you get pushback, stop - they're not ready to hear it. Wait bit, and then try again.
What do you think? Are these good strategies? Can you offer some others?
We're linked with Messy Marriage's From Messes To Messages - please drop by for some great marriage resources!
A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.
I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.
Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.
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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.