Coping With Caregiving

Josephine - Cleveland, Ohio
Entered on May 2, 2008
Age Group: 65+
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The neurologist’s office echoed the gray March day tinting the outdoor world. Sitting on uncomfortable, hard chairs, we listened to the diagnosis. The words exploded in my brain like a shower of sparks spewing from a faulty cable. Now we knew John, my husband, for sixty years, had an incurable, degenerative disease.

My comfortable life crashed and the future was filled with frightening threats. Like a stunned tornado victim who rummages through the rubble looking for something meaningful, I began searching for answers to tormenting questions. They dominated my thoughts with the persistence of Styrofoam peanuts clinging to a wool skirt. How would I cope with a situation over which I had little control? Would my ninth decade energy level be sufficient to handle the care-giving load? Where to find help?

For the next six and a half years John quietly accepted his downward spiraling physical condition. As he went from using a cane to a walker to a wheelchair and finally to bed, help came from competent, caring professionals, supportive friends and loving family members. I tried to meet the care giving challenges and respond to advice to “take care of yourself”. I walked, I prayed, wrote in my journal and devoured “how to cope” articles and books. However, as helpful as they were I needed more. I wanted to balance the negatives that like heavy fog clouded every aspect of my life and, to escape from my constant companions of fear, frustration and fatigue.

Fortunately, I found what I needed. I began to balance the negatives with a nightly ritual of recalling the positives, or “blessings” encountered during the day. They included smiles, sunsets, birds, a rose still blooming in late November, a delectable morsel—the list was endless. Like shafts of sunlight they pierced the fog shrouded negatives and gave me perspective as I rode an emotional roller coaster

My quest for relief from the stress of heart rending reality was found during “God’s Time”. Those were the moments when racing thoughts and activities were laid aside, and I turned inward. There in that quiet, still place I could just “be” and not “do”.

It was a time to be open, for listening and finding peace that I believe came from God. This peace or serenity refreshed and was of such importance that I depended on it to sustain me

Those problem filled years are now in the past, but the lessons learned remain. I have not

forgotten the sense of mystery, serenity and benefits that are associated with “God’s Time”. And before sleep each night, I continue to recall and say “thank you” for the blessings that came my way that day. Now when worldly or personal problems threaten or disturb I turn to these trusted aids to find what I need, and then I am able to live in peace.