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Let’s Not Forget the Caregivers

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Let’s Not Forget the Caregivers

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I went through this time nearly eight years ago when my mother took her last breath. I was living in California and my mother was in Michigan so I was in daily contact with my stepdad and hospice. When the time drew near, they told me I should come and see her.

My sister and I flew to Michigan the next day. We arrived at Mom’s midday to a very difficult sight that would change our lives forever. Seeing Mom in this state was truly difficult, but that’s another story. We walked to her bedside (the hospice bed was set up in the living room) and briefly said our hellos to her. As we turned to look at our stepdad, he had fallen asleep in a chair a few steps away. It was as if he knew we were there, mother was being cared for, and he could close his eyes for a minute. He slept for about 20 minutes and woke with a start saying, “I fell asleep! I am so sorry! Is she OK?” We assured him that all was fine and he looked so relieved. He then walked to a corner of the room, sat in a recliner and fell asleep for about two hours. 

He was exhausted! He had lovingly taken care of my mother for over a year as her physical health failed her. He had washed her face when she woke in the morning and again when she was falling asleep at night, made her nutritious foods until she couldn’t eat any longer, combed (and styled I might add) her hair each day, cleaned her glasses as needed and had tended to her every physical need throughout each day.  And he had done it all alone.

Not all caregiving tasks are so inclusive but his was. You may know of someone who is going through this challenging time, either facing the end of his or her life or who is caring for someone else going through this time. It is a truly difficult period for everyone involved. It is easier to do for a day or two, but for a year? And some do it longer.

Perhaps you have wanted to help someone who you know is in these circumstances but don’t know how. Send a card. Call or visit! See a need and fill it. Ask the caregiver if they need a break, even if it is just to sit for a certain amount of time each day or week with the sick to give a caregiver a chance to take a shower, take a walk, even do some grocery shopping without worrying about their loved one. Our caregivers need our help. They are trusted by those who are ill so they need to be there, but sometimes they need a break. Sometimes they don’t realize how tired they are. And we can help them. 

It’s a difficult time of life, but we all face it to some extent at some point in time. Serving each other comes in many forms and ways. Remember Matthew 25:40: “…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” There are so many ways we can live this scripture. This is only one.