Monday, April 12, 2021

In Grief and Caregiving: Finding Inspiration to Go On

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.     
~ Lao Tzu

A reader writes: I lost my dad four months ago. It has been a very difficult time for me. We were very close and our relationship grew even stronger 5 years ago when my mom underwent bypass surgery and suffered complications. As a result she developed what they call infarct dementia. Since my dad (who wasn't in the best of health) could not possibly care for her on his own, my wonderful husband  decided it was time for them to move in with us. I helped my dad nurse my mom back to a state where she could walk again and be in the world again. Although her recovery was miraculous in itself she was never again to be the same mentally. But that was o.k. we were just happy to have her back again. And for me it was a true lesson of how the power of love can get  you through your most difficult times. It certainly restored my faith. It was something that father and daughter did together as a true act of love.

The point of all of this is that my dad's passing left me feeling alone and hopeless. I silently asked myself how can I possibly care for my mom by myself?

Friends told me I was crazy and it was time to put her in a nursing home. That only made me angry inside. I kept asking myself how can I do this to her? She still knows me and is able to function somewhat in life. I kept thinking my life will never be the same. I won't have any time for myself. And then I stopped feeling sorry for myself and realized that it was she who comforted me in my most trying times. She loved me unconditionally. And now is my time to return that same love unconditionally. 

I knew in my heart that it is not time to let her go. She still knows me and I am her security. When she looks at me her face lights up so that it brings me such comfort,strength and joy. I know that someday soon that smile will be replaced with that other look I often see: confusion. When she no longer recognizes me as her daughter. So for now I am learning to treasure whatever time we have.    

I found your website and was so truly inspired. When I read the following quote I knew that I could do what we set out to do, father and daughter, but only now it is my time to finish the journey wherever it may lead.

If I should die and leave you here awhile,

Be not like others, sore undone, who keep

Long vigils by the silent dust, and weep.

For my sake turn again to life and smile,

Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do

Something to comfort other hearts than thine.

Complete those dear unfinished tasks of mine

And I, perchance, may therein comfort you.

— A. Price Hughes

I know that my dad was trying to tell me this in his own silent way as he lay dying with me by his side. I am ever so grateful for finding your web site. It is a labor of love for all to share. 

Now I would like to share something with you. I was reading a book recently titled Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate and it starts off with the following:
Indian wisdom says our lives are rivers. We are born somewhere small and quiet and we move toward a place we cannot see, but only imagine. Along our journey, people and events flow into us, and we are created of everywhere and everyone we have passed. Each event, each person, changes us in some way. Even in times of drought we are still moving and growing, but it is during the season of rain that we expand the most -- when water flows from all directions, sweeping at terrifying speed, chasing against rocks, spilling over boundaries. These are painful times, but they enable us to carry burdens we could never have thought possible.

 As I end this letter I know in my heart that floods do bring clarity as they move our lives onto new paths. They help us see things more clearly and make us ever so strong. God Bless you.

My response: Dear one, I am overcome with emotion as I read and read again your beautiful and touching letter. I simply have no words to tell you how much you have warmed my heart and touched my soul. Thank you for writing to me. You sound like an incredibly wise and wonderful woman, and a very loving daughter. I'm sure your dear father must be smiling down upon you from his special place in Heaven, and I know your mother is truly blessed to have an earthly angel like you in her life. Both your parents must be very, very proud of you. From my heart to yours, again I thank you for your lovely, inspiring letter. 

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Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

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