When One End Means Two

Denise
rugby-596747_640Our community experienced a difficult loss last week. One of our members, Golden, shot himself twice and died Friday morning. Golden cared for his mom, who had recently died.

We first met Golden in our chatroom. He joined our evening chat in a bit of a bad mood, which we understand. He shared his story, we shared our support. We talked about how helpful an organization like hospice can be, especially because of the organization's bereavement support for the family caregiver after the caree's death. Golden told us he respected hospice's mission and services but would choose something different.

Golden returned to our evening chat the next day. We welcomed him back. "I want to apologize for my behavior last night," he said. "That's not me. My name is (he shared his first name) and I'm happy to be here." He shared a bit of his life, including that he played football in college.

He was a young man who cared for his mom for 18 months. He had cared for other family members so told us he understood what his mom's final days would be like. As her end neared, he hired help so his mom would receive the best care possible.

After his mom's death, he spent time with Sally, one of our members, in our After Caregiving chatroom. He told a colleague how much he appreciated Sally's presence and her ear.

So, when we heard the news, through Golden's colleague, we couldn't help but think we didn't do enough. Sally, especially, took the news hard.

Before his death, Golden isolated himself in his mom's office at their place of work. I suppose the office, probably the place his mom spent most of her time, felt safe. The world outside her office must have felt too big, too noisy, too overwhelming. I suppose it felt too difficult to navigate a world that feels so intimidating, especially when you don't have time to visit that outside world during a caregiving experience. So much can change in that outside world in 18 months.

Golden died on Friday morning. On Friday evening, a young man who cares for his parents joined our community and shared in his profile that he plays football. When I read that young man's profile, I felt a tug in my heart. I so wished I could have asked Golden to connect with that young man to help him find his way. In that moment, I felt Golden's loss in a new, more profound way. What a gift it could have been for that young man to connect with someone like Golden -- a football player who cared for his mom.

I think during a time like caregiving, which is so full of loss and death, we can lose our way and think our death provides us a way out. I guess I just need to remind all of us that we're needed, that we're important and that our life can be meaningful after our caregiving experience ends.

Just like the young man who joined us Friday night, another family caregiver will need just what you have. He or she can only receive it when you stay with us.

(If you have suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-8255 at any time. Help is available for you 24/7.)

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