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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 383 - The Caregiver Will Remain {#write31days}

This is an ugly subject, dear Caregiver. But your terminally ill spouse will die, and you're going to live.

You're going to go on into a world whose margins and dimensions have been shattered by your loss. It's going to be hard.

And it will be harder if you don't think about it now.

You will be a widow or widower.

It's tempting to draw a line after the presumed death of your spouse, and say to yourself, "I'll think about that later."

But please think about this now...would the person you're caring for want you to have a stunted,lonely life? Would they want your remaining years to be lived as some kind of memorial to the dead?

I think you will find that the answer is a resounding no, and that part of your responsibility as a caregiver is to take care of the "you that will be".

How can you do this without feeling disloyal? I mean, collecting cruise brochures - "Yeah, I'm off to Cozumel after you croak!" - is kind of tacky. But there are things that will help you, that'll also let you keep a sense of honour:
  • Check to see whether there is a bereavement group in your church, or an outreach for the recently widowed.
  • Find out what kind of counseling services are available, either pastoral or through a therapist. Make an initial appointment to talk about where you are,and where you're going.
  • Stay involved with your friends to the degree you can; caregiving does consume a lot of tie, but try to at lest stay in touch by email. Be prepared that some 'couple friends' will drift away after you're widowed; others remain loyal and do what they can to help.
  • Don't make any unnecesary major changes for at least a year after the death of your spouse. Change is a kind of escape, but this is something you can't run away from. (There are sometimes changes you can't avoid; a sudden drop in income may require selling your residence, for example. But don't do it if you on't have to.)
  • Fins an accountability partner who will, after your spouse's death, help you keep the vow to avoid major change, and who will be brave and loving enough to tell you to head for therapy when you need it.
  • Try to 'travel ina group' through your life. Loneliness is particularly dangerous in the cold light of recent widowhood, and can lead to really, really bad decisions.
What suggestions do you have?

Let's ask Celine Dion to help out with the music...My Heart WIll Go On.

My #write31days posts so far are:

October 2 - Talk To A Caregiver
October 3 -  Create A Caregiver Haven

Write 31 Days prompts - 2017

I do ask that you be patient with my slow replies to your comments (which we treasure). I'm trying to stay caught up.

Still hoping to get the new and improved version of Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart up and running in the near future. Just haven't had the energy to do it yet...but if you would like to read it, please say so in your comment and I'd be glad to send you a PDF (which should fit your Kindle).

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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  1. Andrew, these suggestions are spot on. Having just watched both my mom and mom-in-law go through this, I can vouch for each suggestion. What is impossible to do, is that piece about not losing yourself in caregiving. We have to give our all, we really do, or else how would we live with ourselves? You know I write as a caregivermom, but I cannot imagine it feeling less desperate as a spouse caregiver. The love is unconditional and the image of living without you is too foreign to understand. Do I sound like I'm arguing? I'm not. What you say is right! Almost impossible, but correct. Blessings to you for your continued thoughts for your spouse and her life...

    1. Carol, thank you so much for sharing these experiences. I know how hard it must have been to see, on top of your being a caregiving mom.

      I think you're right that you can't not lose yourself; you have to be all in, and trust that your faith is the trail of bread crumbs that will lead you back out into the light when and if the journey ends in the patient's death.

      I now I want Barbara to find the light again.

      Blessings back, Carol, and thank you so much for sharing the journey with me.

  2. Great suggestions, Andrew. One of the best support groups is GriefShare. GriefShare is unique because it has a curriculum rather than just being a group of people who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Each week there is care and support, but also a video that covers what to expect while grieving and strategies to help you cope with that part of grief. There's also a workbook to take notes (if desired) and each day there's Scripture and questions to help you process what you learn and how to keep moving forward. The lessons build on each other and also stand alone, so one can start GriefShare at any time, from week one to week thirteen. They have materials, including daily emails at griefshare.org.

    1. Debbie, I did not know about GriefShare...thank you so much for this! I will irt let Barb know, and I will work a link into my blog.

      I am so grateul for this!

    2. Debbie, meant to say, 'grateful'. No idea what 'grateul' means! :)

  3. As always, your advice and insight is spot on, Andrew! Most people do not realize how hard it is to navigate through grief on their own. And grief is so different from every other kind of emotion--dragging along with it a grab bag of other emotions that erupt like a kid's jack-in-the-box at the most inopportune moments. So seeking out counseling, friendship and a grief group are all valuable sources of support and perspective. I also like your point about not making rapid changes after your loved one dies. Again, all of those emotions blind us to sound reasoning when making decisions. I do hope there are many who benefit from this, Andrew. Great stuff, my friend! Praying you have as good a day as is possible!

    1. Beth, I love the way you put this, that grief is a grab-bag of emotions. That is so true! Some seem 'good',b ut I think they are a chimera to hide the grief that we really have to process.

      Thanks so much for the prayer. These have been hard days, and they are very much appreciated.