If you follow my blog you know that I am a 40-something, sandwich generation caregiver to my mom, Grace, who suffers from mixed I have mentioned before, her old church friends still visit her on Sundays and the deacons from her church bring her is a nice gesture because nowadays the elderly are forgotten and written off and in some countries euthanized.
I joke about me being a Vulcan like Spock (RIP Leonard Nimoy). Like Spock, I tend to rationalize situations because you can not argue with dementia patients. Their reasoning is gone. If you argue, like I use to do early on in the caregiving game, you’ll get chronic migraines and submit to stress my case, stress cooking.
The past two Sundays, Mom’s friends didn’t stop by. They are both elderly gentlemen and I was hoping they hadn’t taken ill or worse.
I called their church today, and I learned that one of them had lost his wife to illness and he hadn’t even had her memorial service yet. I was so glad that I had saved his number on my phone. I called and he answered right away. At first he said I had the wrong number then I reminded him that I’m Grace’s daughter, the one who cooks and gives him gumbo or BBQ to take home. He surprised me by saying that he had been wanting to call me and my husband because we are always so nice when he comes by and he felt like we were part of his family. I was surprised by that.
I was even more surprised that he said he was alone and his kids bring food by but no one was staying with him during this time. I was shocked because he has many children and grandchildren who he raised and supported financially and not one of them could stay with him at least until he had the memorial next week? My daughter, who is a young adult, was shocked and told me she would visit him and go with me to his wife’s memorial. He asked if we would come to the memorial and to please stay for the family dinner because we are his family too. He said he felt alone and couldn’t believe how much he had to do as far as planning by himself.
Enter aftergiving. When caregiving ends the hospice nurses are gone and your relatives don’t understand the stages of grief. I explained to the deacon that I went down that road in my 30’s when my grandma died. The only comment I got from one of my siblings was “At least she left YOU a house.” Well yeah I took care of her and you visited like twice a year. I cursed her out, repented later and went on planning the mom was diagnosed with dementia while grandma was sick so I really planned everything alone with the exception of one cousin who helped out. The deacon knew my grandma and said he had no idea I went through that.
See sharing your past hurts when others are in similar situations helps. They know you aren’t blowing smoke; you really can relate to them. I don’t want sugary talk and hugs when I hurt--I want the real deal and some comfort from a sincere person.
As a Christian, this is so cool to me about Jesus. He experienced hurt, suffering and rejection. I can relate to him because when I pray he understands. He’s not floating on a cloud somewhere untouched by my pain; he gets it.
The deacon said he was glad that God put it on my heart to call him and I made his morning. I was having a bad morning myself but I felt better after I called him. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
(Reprinted from my personal blog.)