Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Care Partner Wednesday--"How Are You Doing?"

"Nobody's asked me how I'm doing."

The poignant words lingered in my mind long after the evening ended. I spoke to a group at church about self-care in ministry, but because I used examples from my life and work, the topic of elders in long-term care naturally rose to the surface. A lovely lady, an elder herself, told how she and her husband used to visit her sister-in-law every week in her care home. For years this was their life each week, and they came to know staff and other residents. This past Christmas, their loved one died at 94.

"People say, 'She lived a good life' or 'she had a long, full life and she was ready.' Is that supposed to make me feel better? I know those things, but she's still gone, and I miss her. Don't I get to grieve because she was old?"

There is no expiry date on grief.

I sat with a family member whose mother was dying. I held her mom's hand and talked with her. We shared stories of her mom, who was a character in every sense of the word. At one point, she teared up, and then chastised herself. Her mother had reached the incredible age of 105!

"It's silly to be upset."

No, it isn't. Your mother is still your mother, and you have all those years of history, funny stories and love. A relationship is coming to an end. There's a tearing away and jagged edges. Things will never be the same again. You need to grieve.

I confess: I've said those phrases. I never will again. Instead, I will focus on the one left behind.

"Tell me one of your favourite stories about your mother.. What were some of the things you did together when you were younger? Did she have wise sayings that impacted you?"

And most importantly--

"How are you doing?"

Care Partner Wednesday--"How Are You Doing?"