Caring for a Husband with Parkinson’s Disease for 16 Years

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Carol and Jim were married for 66 years, and it was a true love story. However, the last 16 years were difficult since Jim suffered from Parkinson’s, and Carol was his primary caregiver. She cared for Jim with constant love during all those years. She says, “Jim was easy to care for. He was always upbeat and funny, and drew people to him. Plus, he had always taken such incredible care of our family, so I just returned the care.”

She says routine was the most important piece of the puzzle. Since she was an occupational therapist, she helped Jim exercise each morning before he got out of bed. Jim was always compliant and came to expect the stretches and the machine that helped him move his arms and feet. Carol also helped him practice writing and used the calendar to show him the passing of time each day.

Carol tried to make each day special. She planned frequent outings for him so he had something to look forward to. They also spent time outside relaxing as they had a lovely lake behind their house.  Carol was a fabulous cook and always made special meals along with Jim’s favorite desserts. Another thing that helped was their precious dog, who brought them joy.

She had a wonderful helper during the day, but Carol took over when the aide left. Of course, the nighttime wasn’t easy. One of the issues they faced was that some of his medications gave him hallucinations, but Carol could always console him and bring him back to reality.

She stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning, so she could turn him to prevent bed sores, and she slept on a small sofa near him so that he could have the bed to himself. Simply put, Carol was not a complainer despite all the difficulties they faced. Although caregiving was exhausting, she focused on her love for Jim and worked to remain positive.

Jim and Carol were staunch Catholics and prayed together each night saying the rosary and other prayers. They had an extremely strong faith that God was with them. Their church was an important part of their lives. Their friends at church helped build a shower for Jim on the main floor, since they had a two story home. Their priest was very helpful too.

Carol had a cousin in Dallas, who was very dear to them. Her cousin, George, helped them find a good doctor in Michigan, who specialized in Parkinson’s disease. George found him through the Veterans Association since Jim was a WWII veteran. They made many trips to Dallas, and George and his wife travelled to Michigan. The last time the two couples were together, Jim broke down and cried as if he knew it would be the last time.

Jim passed away two years ago, and Carol, at 90 years of age, is still living in their home and misses him deeply. She still feels fortunate that she was able to care for him for all those years.

What Helped:

  • The prayers that they said each evening along with the rosary.
  • Jim’s sense of humor – they laughed easily together.
  • Their church, including the priest and friends.
  • The wonderful aide who was there during the day.
  • Their precious dog.

Scripture Verse

John 13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.

Prayer

Help us to remain steadfast in our love and care for others. Let us see Carol as an example of true love. She didn’t complain and always looked at the positive. As we approach Thanksgiving, we see that Carol had the true gift of gratitude for the blessing of Jim. Help us to thank you Lord, even for our trials as You carry them with us.

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Raising a Precious, Special Child with Autism

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Chase is a beautiful and loving child, who was diagnosed with autism at 20 months of age by a neuropsychologist. But his mother, Tania, knew that something was different much earlier as he wasn’t speaking and had atypical physical behaviors, such as being fascinated by the pattern of light and shadow in a play area rather than the play equipment. Tania was not surprised or devastated by the diagnosis. Instead, she immersed herself into the flood of literature about autism, its theories, and therapies. Tania is a very proactive person who looks for answers. She quit her corporate job as she also had a seven year old child and a one year old child at home at the time. She considers herself very fortunate to have been able to stay at home with all of them, and she credits Chase for that decision.

Simultaneously, through family, she was blessed to connect with a graduate professor at the University of North Texas who specialized in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to treat autism, particularly in early childhood. Chase’s program over the next three years consisted of one-on-one therapy for up to 40 hours a week. Tania calls these teachers “angels” as their commitment to Chase and the family was life-changing. Tania believed that the development of language must be pursued relentlessly. Windows of opportunity exist for language development, and the first of these closes by the age of five or six.

As Chase has matured, Tania has witnessed how important it is for him to be able to express himself. She says, “Not only does language allow for further learning in all realms of life, but when a child understands his emotions and can express him or herself, the child can avoid frustration and tantrums.  As a family, we experience the positive impact of his continuing development of language on a daily basis.”

When Chase became school age, she and her devoted husband, Philip, explored the special education program their school district had to offer. They quickly discovered that the quality of services provided by the state isn’t consistent. Tania says, “I know of many families who moved their households, even out of state, to receive adequate support from the system.” She and her husband moved locally to Northwest Independent School District. It was there that they were blessed to make another wonderful connection – Chase’s lead teacher for the next few years was highly effective in the classroom and became one of Tania’s best friends.

Tania admits that she was fearful of Chase being teased or harassed by other children. Personally, she certainly experienced dirty looks from other parents and adults when Chase was undergoing a major meltdown out in public. These meltdowns would consist of screaming, running, jumping, hitting, sometimes cussing, and fortunately no longer, spitting.

Interestingly, when Chase was younger, negative responses from members in the community were more frequent and seemingly more judgmental.  Partially, she attributes this to Chase’s appearance, for his appearance alone does not reveal his developmental disorder. She thinks others might have wondered, “What is wrong with that kid? Why can’t those parents get their kid under control? Geez, get that kid out of here so I can enjoy my dinner out.”

She explains, “But for us, as well as others who have a special needs family member, we don’t want to have to hide at home.  We believe that our family as a whole, as well as the special needs person, deserve the opportunity to be members of our communities.”

Chase is now a sophomore in high school.  The staff and students at his current school are quite supportive.  Last year at Byron Nelson High School, the Senior Prom King and Queen were two members from his special needs class.  Tania believes the culture has changed.  In her high school experience, this would have never happened.  She stresses the importance of inclusion for persons of special needs in our communities and schools.  And she believes in a reciprocal benefit for typical children and adults from their exposure to and experience of what atypical persons can offer.   

For the most part, these days, the community does seem welcoming of Chase’s differences. For example, Chase’s odd behavior includes asking a stranger if they have a Wii, a PlayStation 2, a PlayStation 3, a PlayStation 4, an Xbox, and DVD player, consecutively. At first, the stranger may raise their eyebrow with confusion, but then they do have an “aha” moment and play the game, answering in succession, “No, I don’t have a Wii, no PlayStation. Yes, I do have a DVD player. It’s in my living room.”

Tania says, “Experiences like these make us laugh.  And truly, the emotions we experience as we parent Chase are quite similar to those we have with our now other three children.  Yet, the circumstances themselves are decidedly different and perhaps atypical.  Then again, each of our children, in fact, all children are very different from one another.”

Undeniably and as with all families, challenges exist. Tania’s fears include the possible negative effects her other children have endured surrounding the difficulties of having a special needs brother.  And sometimes she fears for the future of Chase’s well-being, knowing she and Philip will age and will no longer be capable of caring for him.

She says, “Nonetheless, when I consider the impact of having a special needs child, I face that much in life is relative, and one’s experience is hugely dependent on one’s perspective.  I choose to focus on the positives of life whenever possible.  Chase’s birth allowed me to be a “stay at home mom” for all of my children.  Chase has experienced loving and highly effective educational support that has brought friends and families together.  The experiences Chase brings to our family, just as what each family member offers, define us.  I have always wished for my children to be happy and healthy.  And through our combined experiences, I believe this ideal is achieved.”

What Helped:

  • This family’s beautiful perspective on caring for a special needs child.
  • The book, Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth and Everyday Magic, by Martha Beck.
  • ABA therapy and a good school environment.
  • Teachers who were like angels to this family.

Scripture Verse:

1 John 4:11-12. Beloved, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help us to remember we are all your children regardless of our differences. You love all of us equally. Help us to embrace our differences and live together with love and gratitude every day.

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Priest Cares for Parents Joyfully

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Father Ferrnando Carranza, Rector of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Dallas, provides care for his elderly parents there in the Seminary. While he has a team of caregivers working 24/7, he is still ultimately the primary caregiver. The Seminarians also enjoy contributing to their care. Although caregiving and his work can be stressful, he says the Lord sustains him.

His 86 year old father, Daniel, has Parkinson’s disease and has had a stroke. His 87 year old mother, Maria, is in the last stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite Daniel’s medical condition, Father Carranza says that his father is at peace. Daniel’s mind is still working, and he is happy. Father says, “God has made Himself known to him, and peace is one of God’s gifts to him.” He continues, “It is amazing the love God has for us, especially for those who are suffering, and how God provides for us.” In many ways, he has never seen his father happier – he has the joy of a child and a heart as simple.

Even his mother with Alzheimer’s has moments of happiness, and Father treasure those times. While her illness causes her to be been confused, angry, and violent, she has moments of peace. At one point she stopped eating and sleeping and had a psychotic episode. After a trip to the Emergency Room, they were able to balance her medication. So now there is a new normal. While she doesn’t speak English, she loves to sing along during the Masses at the Seminary, and that is encouraging to Father.

While the doctors recommended Hospice several years ago, Father has let nature take its course. “It is amazing what love can do,” says Father. His deep faith brings him peace and gratitude.

What Helps:

  • His profound faith.
  • Having people to talk to and confide in.
  • His team of caregivers.

Scripture Verses

The chorus of the song “You are Mine” by David Haas seemed appropriate for this situation:

“Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow Me. I will bring you home. I love you, and you are mine.” The following Bible verses fit with the theme of this song:

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.

Isaiah 43:1 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Jeremiah 29:10 Then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.

Prayer

Dear Father, help us to appreciate how well You take care of us. Your peace and love surround us. Help us to appreciate the joys and blessings of old age as they are part of life and be grateful for the time we have with our loved ones.

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Allegiance to Family

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Raul says the word “allegiance” is an important word to him as it is a pledge to care for family and each other. Raul is very grateful to his parents for teaching him the meaning of this word. It is part of his Hispanic heritage to care for aging parents, but for Raul it goes far beyond that. He truly wants to care for them just as they cared for him. The role of caregiver just comes naturally. He says, “Without a doubt, here I am.”

As is typically the case, all five children in his family have different views about their childhood. Raul’s story is overwhelmingly positive. He has tremendous admiration for his parents and the way they raised him. Whenever anything difficult came up, his Dad’s mantra was “no big deal – we can do it.”  His parents always put family first. His father worked hard, went to night school, and cared for the family while never complaining. Instead, his parents were always giving, and Raul learned all about gratitude from them.

Both parents have numerous health issues, and his father has dementia.  Currently, they are in their own home. Raul is there daily, and if there is an emergency, he drops everything to go and be with them. Raul is a kind and spiritual man, who blesses his parents each night just as they once blessed him as a child.

Raul says it is physically very demanding, and certain physical tasks can be demeaning for his parents, especially for his father. Raul says, “He cleaned me as a baby, and now I’m cleaning him as a man.” Of course it is stressful at times, but Raul doesn’t dwell on the negatives.

Raul and his wife also cared for his father-in-law in their home for 20 years. He is a “tried and true” caregiver. He credits his parents for teaching him that caring for elders is part of life, and he doesn’t regret or resent any of it. Instead, he is happy to do it.

What Has Helped:

  • Constant prayer.
  • Meditation.
  • His deep belief in family.

Scripture Verse

1Timothy 1:12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service.

Prayer

Father, thank You for giving me the desire, strength, and energy to care for my family. Help me to care for my parents as they cared for me. Let that be my pledge to You.

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The Lessons of Caregiving for a Family Member with Alzheimer’s Disease

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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Happy Father’s Day to Our Special Caregiving Fathers!

The Lessons of Caregiving for a Family Member with Alzheimer’s Disease

Cathy’s mother-in-law, Clara, who came to live with the family in June 2015, just turned 80 years-old and has dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease.  Cathy and her husband, Fox, had just celebrated their 30th anniversary and were enjoying an idyllic life as a couple with their college-graduated son, Reggie. They learned that being openly available to God’s will in their lives is more than just lip service. They were planners and busy people, who didn’t like to sit still. At first it was very difficult as it greatly changed their family dynamics and limited their regular activities.

Over the past 25 years, sweet Clara had suffered many losses, including her parents, two of her sons, and then her husband. Fox is her only remaining son. The stress and pain of these losses surely contributed to the rapid decline of her mental health, as she is very healthy physically.

Since Clara had always been a very social person and a consummate hostess, they decided to enroll her in a day care center where she has activities throughout the day. Clara has improved greatly – she is much more alert and excited about life since they made that decision. She just celebrated her birthday with her family and friends there.

They are always looking for ways to bring Clara into family activities more often. For example, Clara loves gospel songs, so on Sundays they tune into Gospel music and sing. Cathy even bought Clara a headset for Christmas. Clara truly enjoys this activity, and it is fun for the family.

Cathy says her husband and son are similar to Martha and Mary from the Bible. Fox is the “Martha” person, doing such a great job of caregiving, making sure she is always comfortable and has all her needs met. But Reggie is the “Mary,” who walks in the room and heads straight for his grandmother giving her a big bear hug, and they giggle and hug like school children.

Instead of becoming overwhelmed, they have learned to take it day by day and find solutions that can fit into their family dynamics. They know now that Clara has been a special blessing in their lives.

What Cathy Has Found to be Helpful:

  • Reading Scripture has been a huge comfort to her.
  • An activity basket for Clara with clothes that need folding or socks that need to be matched. It helps Clara to feel useful and helps improve brain functioning.
  • Cathy’s support group.
  • Daily exercise like walking and yoga.
  • She recommends a book called, The 36 Hour Day:  A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins

Scripture verse

Cathy particularly likes this verse as it refers to sons returning hospitality to their mothers’ as Fox is so good to his mother.

1 Timothy 5:4 If a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight.

My Prayer

Thank You Lord for the gift of Clara to this family. She has taught them so many important lessons: to be still, slow down, be more patient, embrace routine, and be more attentive to the needs of others. We never know where life will lead us, so teach us to keep our eyes fixed on You as You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

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A Heart for Nurturing

A Heart for Nurturing

Suzanne is a natural born nurturer, who treasures the spiritual side of caregiving. She cared for her husband, Eric’s mother, Mary, in their home while Mary was dying. It was a very intense several months while Mary went through difficult radiation treatments as the cancer had spread to her brain and throughout her body. However, Suzanne feels that it was one of the most special times in her life. Her family shared her mission, and her son even shaved his head to show his solidarity with Mary. Suzanne relates that her children, Sabrina and Evan, were nothing short of amazing with their grandmother. Eric’s family faithfully visited and called frequently.

Then several years later, Suzanne cared for her own mother, Violet, who was in the early stages of age- related dementia. She moved Violet from her home in Florida, which angered her mother at first. Violet lived with the family for six months; however, Suzanne concluded that a retirement community would be better suited for her. Later she remained in independent living and then a memory care facility for the last six months of her life. But Suzanne was always there numerous times on a daily basis, to help with medicine, bathing, and dressing. She would often visit during lunchtime to generate conversations. Her mother was a very stylish woman, so Suzanne always made sure she was well-dressed and had her make-up on. She often took her Mom to church meetings, which Violet thoroughly enjoyed. Despite spending time with both mothers, she worked hard to maintain a normal structure and routine in her family life. She also had the support of her brother and sister.

These experiences gave Suzanne a clearer idea of what’s really important in life. It’s the time we give to our loved ones. She says now that she wishes she would have gone into nursing or social work. She truly loves caregiving and sees it as a calling. Her family and friends see her as a tremendous example of a dedicated caregiver, who happily went above and beyond what was expected of her. Her story is a testimony to a very positive caregiving experience, especially since her family and extended family were so supportive.

What Helped:

  • Her unshakable faith and optimism.
  • The families of both mothers provided incredible support.
  • Friends from church and her book club.
  • Maintaining a sense of humor.
  • Streams of visitors in her home.
  • Regular exercise.

Suzanne’s Favorite Prayer:

Suzanne’s favorite prayer is: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” -Attributed to Stephen Grellet

Prayer

Dear Father, thank You for Suzanne’s caregiver’s heart. Help us to follow her example of giving our time generously to those who are in need of Your tender care. Help us to remember that You are the ultimate caregiver.

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Double Duty – Caring for a Husband and Father

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Ryan is a lawyer and was a world class athlete, so his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease 15 years ago was a real “punch in the gut.” He also has other health issues like diabetes, as well as diseases that tend to go along with Parkinson’s, such as depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. His wife, Kathleen, says they have tried everything including deep brain surgery, which has eliminated the tremors. His voice, which used to fill a courtroom, is now a whisper. They are seeing a Speech Therapist to learn to increase the volume, but most of the damage is already done. Parkinson’s is a very complex disease, so together the couple have explored all the potential therapies.

Kathleen says there were early signs of the disease when they were first married 38 years ago. One of her biggest worries is the falls he takes. Once when he attempted to play tennis, he fell and broke his arm. He still tries to work sometimes and loves giving legal advice – it makes him feel helpful. One thing that makes them feel better is recording stories about his legal conquests.

She says they love each other more now than ever. They enjoy the same things and still have fun together. One of their favorite outings is going to estate sales.  However, Kathleen does admit that she feels guilty sometimes doing their favorite things without him when it is just too difficult to bring him. She never leaves for long time periods, especially in the evenings.

Her husband has truly been the love of her life. She takes her wedding vows very seriously.  She feels “the for better or for worse, in sickness and in health” is not something couples can even begin to comprehend when they say them to each other. When things get difficult, Kathleen pulls out her wedding vows and reads them.

Ryan is usually in a good mood, despite feeling badly. Kathleen’s biggest fear is being without him. She admits that she suffers from “anticipatory grief.” Kathleen says, “When that happens, I compartmentalize by putting those thoughts in a place in my mind and try to ignore them. Then I plan things for us to do together now and make the most of what we are capable of doing at this stage. Most of all, I am grateful for what I have and have had with Ryan. I do feel lucky as Ryan is a good man, and I wouldn’t trade him for anyone else.”

Kathleen also cared for her father, who had dementia, in her home for four years. Even with the help of Home Health and Hospice, she definitely had a “full plate.” Her Dad was a sweet, happy man, but by the time of his death in 2007, he was a shell of the person she knew and loved. He was similar to Ryan in that he loved working when he was able and feeling needed.  Fortunately, Ryan was doing better during that period.

Caring for a parent is a whole different ball game. Kathleen says, “When you’re caring for a parent, you have to do physical things for them that can be demeaning to the parent.” But Kathleen was always mindful and respectful of her father’s needs.

She says, “God gave me good health and physical and mental strength to get through these trials of numerous illnesses with my Dad and Ryan. God gave me to Ryan, and I am always willing to help him out of love.” Friends are amazed by her happy attitude. She always has a smile on her face, even when she was pushing her father in a wheelchair at church years ago.

What has Helped:

  • She has a Girls Night Out group that meets regularly.
  • Kathleen’s attitude – she doesn’t carry resentment, but is a caregiver with a loving heart.
  • Both of her sons live in the same city and are willing to help.
  • Her ability to live in the present.

Her Favorite Prayer

Kathleen likes the prayer, “I complained because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” She says there is always someone who is worse off than we are. She truly has an “attitude for gratitude.”

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Kathleen’s caregiver’s heart filled with love, optimism, thanksgiving and strength – all given by You. Bless this special couple as they struggle with this terrible disease. Help them to know that You are right there with them carrying them through these trials each step of the way.

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Caring for a Vibrant, Young Wife and Mother Stricken by Cancer

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Stacy was a lively, fun, and outgoing young woman with terminal Merkel cell cancer. In addition to being an A+ wife, mother, sister, and daughter, she was an impish prankster who loved to play jokes on family and friends. In short, she was fun to be around. She was devoted to her husband, Mike, and to her two girls whom she considered her greatest achievements.

She had a very tight bond with her sister, Karen, as they were close in age and always looked out for each other. Both sisters and Mike loved the beach, and this picture of Stacy in the ocean is still one of their favorites.

Her journey with cancer began when she was 37 years-old with Merkel cell cancer in 1996. She was pregnant with her first child, so she couldn’t do chemotherapy, but she did have the tumor removed. She became pregnant with her second child in 1997 and gave birth in March, 1998. In mid-September of 1998, the doctors found that the cancer had metastasized to her liver.  The medical community didn’t provide any options at this point. Her family, including her parents and her brother, Jim, were distraught.

Her fight only lasted for three and one-half months, but it was a painful and exhausting time. During those months Mike, Karen, and brother-in-law, Dave, tried every kind of alternative treatment possible to cure her, flying all over the country looking for hope. Stacy went along with the trips mainly for them, as she already had a feeling that she would die.

“Stacy made it easy to care for her while she was sick,” says Mike, “she was always coherent, fluid, and good company and was never a complainer.” He says she was self-sufficient and independent as long as she could be. Mike said he always had a guarded attitude about the cancer returning, so in some small way he was prepared. Their girls were lifesavers who distracted them from the cancer issues, and Mike says that their time alone was always pleasant. In a nutshell, Mike says, “She made all of us better people! She was at her best even when things were at their worst.” They had dated since they were 15, so they had a long history together, which made losing her even more difficult.

Karen and Dave kept her at their home for three weeks so that Karen could help her beloved sister, but she was at home with Mike and the girls for her final two weeks. Karen set up prayer meetings for friends and family on Monday evenings. Karen says that Stacy was always better on Tuesdays – she had more energy and a better attitude. She knew that she was dying. Raised in the Catholic faith, Stacy had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Saying her rosary brought her peace and reassured her that everything would be alright.

Since Karen and Stacy were extremely close sisters, Karen had a difficult time relinquishing control. Karen is a person of action and desires answers, so losing her treasured sister in this way was very difficult. Although she didn’t understand why this was happening, Karen found peace in the Bible, especially those verses that deal with wisdom versus understanding and knowledge.

Stacy was born on Christmas Eve, 1959 and died on New Year’s Eve, 1998 at exactly 3:00 p.m., which is the Hour of Mercy in the Catholic Church. Hers was a very peaceful death surrounded by her caregivers. She accepted her death with grace and knew that she was in God’s hands.

What Helped Her Caregivers:

  • Trying to maintain a normal schedule, as much as possible.
  • Since her daughters were so young when she died, Karen made some tapes of their beautiful mother for them.
  • The weekly prayer group.
  • Isaiah ministry for Karen.
  • Karen read the Bible to Stacy.
  • Mike says work was very helpful in letting him work shorter days so he could care for his family.
  • Grief support groups were a major help for both of them after her death.

Scripture verses

Mathew 18:20 at prayer meetings:  For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.

Luke 23:43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Hour of Mercy Prayer: At 3:00, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony.  This is the hour of great mercy….In this hour I will refuse nothing of the soul that makes a request of me in virtue of My passion.

Prayer

Dear Father, thank you for the life of Stacy, who touched so many people during her short life. Her example of faith during such difficult days was truly amazing to those around her. Your precious peace always surrounded her, and she truly surrendered to Your will. Her prayers were answered. Help us to learn from her example.

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Helping the Critically Ill Patient Face the Fear of Death

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John’s mother, Katherine, often says, “I just wish I would die. But I’m a coward – I’m afraid to die.” There is a pattern in John’s family of the elders thinking they are not going to heaven which makes the fear of death so much worse. How do you handle it when your dying patient doesn’t truly believe that when we confess our sins, they are forgiven?

This is such a struggle for the caregiver facing this problem. How do you help your loved one let go of this life when they don’t believe that they are going somewhere infinitely better? Perhaps they may tell you what they did that they believe will keep them out of heaven. If so, reassure them that God has already forgiven them for that sin. You may have to continue to reassure them as these thoughts continue to plague them.

John relates that Katherine has come close to death numerous times, but she won’t let go because of her fears. It is agonizing for John to watch her to continue to suffer. Often depression enters into this equation. For example, Katherine tends to fixate on never seeing God in Heaven and then becomes extremely anxious and depressed.

Max Lucado writes in his book,  A Gentle Thunder. “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (See Romans 8:38-39 below)…but how difficult it is for some to embrace this truth. You think you’ve committed an act that places you outside His love. A treason. A betrayal. An aborted promise. You think He would love you more if you hadn’t done it, right? You think he would love you more if you did more, right? You think if you were better His love would be deeper, right?  Wrong, wrong, wrong. God’s love is not human. His love is not normal. His love sees your sin and loves you still. Does he approve of your error? No. Do you need to repent? Yes. But do you repent for his sake or yours? Yours. His ego needs no apology. His love needs no bolstering. And he could not love you more than he does right now.”1

What Can I Do to Help Relieve This Fear?

  • Have the person confess their sins or talk to a pastor.
  • Talk to the family member about fear and forgiveness.
  • Read Scripture verses that deal with forgiveness.
  • Find books or other devotionals about forgiveness.
  • Remind the person that whenever they stumble, the Lord is there to help them up.

Scripture Verses

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, You already know our wrongdoing so there is no need for us to hide it from you. You have already forgiven us for all our sins through Your son’s death on the cross. Help us to forgive ourselves. Take away our fears and replace them with Your peace so that we know for sure that we will face eternity with You. So help me right now to confess my sins and receive Your forgiveness, cleansing, and healing.

 

Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder (Nashville: W. Publishing Group, 1995) 47-48.

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Dealing With Negativity and Isolation

womanPraying

Theresa has not had an easy life. Her childhood was a very difficult one, and she often felt alone and isolated. Theresa has been caring for her mother, June, full time in her home since March 2015 after June had a stroke. However, she also cared for her mother as a young woman after her father died in 1990.  June has always been very dependent on Theresa, as she never learned to drive and is now disabled.

June is a very critical person and is emotionally hard on Theresa. She also fixates on negative thoughts. For example, she continually dwells on bad events in the world.  Theresa tries to encourage her, reminding her that Jesus told us that we would have trouble in this world, but to take heart because He will return to end the evil. But that doesn’t seem to improve the situation.

Theresa has learned to deal with her mother’s issues by using different techniques that she has studied. One of her favorites is being “mentally fluid,” which means allowing people and situations to exist as they are without judging or trying to change them. This technique says the best remedy for a troubled person is to become untroubled yourself. Theresa tries to put these principles into practice.

Fortunately, Theresa’s husband is supportive and easy going. Although she has a sibling, he is not involved in June’s care and he is often critical, too. So all the care falls on Theresa. She has to hire someone in order to get away for short periods, because she can’t be gone long. She basically does it all and feels alone and drained much of the time.

It is her strong faith that supports her. Reading Scripture plays a huge part in her life. She also reads helpful books and articles about dealing with difficult people. She actively seeks to improve the situation instead of becoming a victim.

What Gives Theresa Strength:

  • Reading devotionals along with extensive daily prayer
  • Exercise, especially yoga
  • Getting out and being around optimistic people
  • Her support group who understands her situation

Scripture Verses that Theresa Depends On:

  • Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • Colossians 3:12-13  12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to depend on you for my strength when I can no longer deal with negativity.  When I am in your arms, I am never alone. When I feel like I am sinking, let me call out to You. I want to be in continual communication with You and receive Your blessings with thanksgiving.

Recommendation

I’d like to recommend book that I Just finished. It’s titled, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” by Roz Chast. It is funny, bittersweet, and a quick read.

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