The Hard Places


An excerpt from a newsletter I wrote:

“In a caregiver support group meeting, I shared how miserable it is to be with my grandma on her worst days of pain and disorientation. I confessed: “I don’t want to be a caregiver.” I don’t want her to have dementia, and I certainly don’t want to be on the receiving end of it. But here I am. And it’s the right place to be.”

This is what I emailed out to about 200 of my “closest” friends, people who receive my monthly newsletter. I challenged them to respond with their own “hard place.” (The challenge was really just a ploy to get them to open the attachment and read my newsletter!) I was overwhelmed by the responses that I received. Their hard places included:

  • failure as a wife and mother
  • being single at 40
  • a guy pulling a muscle during marathon training, reminding him of his shortcomings as a pastor
  • a daughter-in-law/caregiver’s hurt over her mother-in-law’s criticism
  • a married theology student comparing himself to his friends who have houses and kids (of which he has neither)
  • a mother’s loss of her daughter to suicide
  • a mom struggling to like her difficult adopted child
  • unemployment, financial hardship, and feeling far from God

While the hard places varied, there was a common denominator—unfulfilled expectations. One friend writes this about the house they didn’t get: “We wanted bigger. We deserved bigger.” I thought about how much that applies to my life, my caregiving situation. How did I end up in this place of living with my grandmother, sleeping on the bed my uncle used when he got out of Vietnam, and embracing an uncertain future of caregiving? I wanted bigger. I deserved better.

This is the voice that screams at me in the middle of the night. But then I remember what my caregiving support group leader said: You don’t have to believe all your thoughts.

Wait, hold up. Where is this voice coming from? It’s certainly not from the Divine, who is the Author of my life. No circumstance befalls me that is not first filtered through His fingers. So if this is the deck of cards He’s handed me, can I trust that He knows what He’s doing?

I talked with my family. We’re applying for Home Care Medicaid instead of putting Grandma in a nursing home. But she can’t live alone. She’s in good health physically, but lacks judgment. And we certainly don’t want a stranger to move in with her. So….you see where I’m going with this. Well, here I am. Here I will be. And it’s the right place to be.

Avatar of Denine

About Denine

I take care of my super-sweet, always feisty grandmother. Her early stage dementia doesn't stop her from commenting, "Are you still eating??" after hearing me sneak my third piece of cake, or being concerned about the tummy-ache that I had the night before. I love hip hop dancing, pistachio ice cream, and Jesus. Yup...that's me!

3 thoughts on “The Hard Places

  1. Avatar of ThedogmamaThedogmama

    Denine, you are God’s gift to your Grandmother. Yes, we all have expectations that don’t line up with reality, but enabling your Grandmother to live at home is so wonderful. I have struggled with that this week too, and you know what? Having my Mom live with me is our “right place to be.”

  2. Gail Kroll

    Dear Denine,
    Today when we went to my Mom’s oncologist they give us a list of symptoms she is suppose to circle if she has them each time we go. Today the first thing she circled was “memory and lack of ability to concentrate.” I thought it was only me who had been doing the check book for six months now who noticed this but my Mom is fully aware that she is failing. Sad but true. My expectations are not being met anymore. I have to change and it is hard? But? I want to do it. It is where God has put me on earth and I really want to try to live up to it.
    You’re doing great, friend!
    Gail Kroll


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