The Power of Friendship While Caregiving

Ever since my parent’s burial in Ohio where I reconnected with my best friend from childhood, I’ve been thinking about the role friends play during the stresses of caregiving. I am so incredibly thankful to the many friends who helped me through my difficult journey. It would have been much harder without them. It seems to me that God put those friends on my path to help me scale the mountains ahead.

So many friends were there for me – taking me to lunch and just letting me talk, sending cards and emails, and calling to check on me. It was my Bible Study friends who encouraged me to write this blog in the first place. I was so blessed that so many friends attended my parents’ funerals and comforted me.

The memory of my Mom with the very genuine friends she had reminds me to cling to those genuine friends I know. Mom was never influenced by money or status; rather, her friends were “the salt of the earth.” When you became a friend of hers, you were a friend for life. She reminds me of what type of friend I want to be. Mom was always loving and prayerful and she never gossiped, so she is my beautiful role model. I think of her daily and strive to become more like her.

Friends help us physically and emotionally. I have two great friends with whom I have lunch often. We call that time “our spiritual therapy.” I always leave feeling good when I’ve been with them. Even little things like a phone call or an email meant so much during difficult days with my folks. My friendships grew so much deeper then, and now I try to remember to tell those friends how much I love them. I’ve also learned how to become a better friend to others.

What Helped:

  • I love the phrase, “Friends are the family you choose.”
  • Knowing that friends were praying for me made such a difference.
  • The ability to share my deepest worries with my special girlfriends.
  • Friends who made me laugh.

Click here for seven ways to support others during difficult times.

Scripture Verses

John 15:12-15 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

Colossians 3:12-14 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 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. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

1 Peter 4:8-10 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.

Several Beautiful Quotes About Friendship:

“The steady discipline of intimate friendship with Jesus results in men becoming like Him.” By Harry Emerson Fosdick

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” By Albert Schweitzer

“A rule I have had for years is to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have.” By  D.L. Moody

Prayer

Dear Father, we thank You for the many friends You put on our path to help guide us through difficult times. They are a beacon of Your light to lead us on our journey. You are our ultimate friend, and through You, we learn how to treat our friends with Your love.

Please click here for this song that is a beautiful reminder of the friend we have in Jesus. 

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Caring for Everyone Throughout Her Life

Tamika is the utter definition of an amazing caregiver.  She is the oldest granddaughter in her family and was raised by her grandmother because her mother was a drug addict. At a young age, she started caregiving for her younger cousins and later in life, her grandmother and mother.  It was a pattern that would continue throughout her life.  But she had no idea how that road would twist and turn.

Her 30’s were a very difficult time. She and her husband tried for eight years to get pregnant, even going to a fertility physician.  Tamika became pregnant, but the joy was short-lived as she lost the baby 35 weeks into the pregnancy.  The umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck.  She says, “Words cannot explain the hurt I felt when I lost my child.  I did not know what God was trying to tell me.”  

She started to see another fertility physician with no success.  During this time, Tamika said her faith was tested, and she became angry with God.  Finally, they decided to stop and think about adoption.  Almost 2 1/2 years later, at age 36, she got pregnant again with a baby girl.  Then she had a big surprise later that same year, as Tamika got pregnant again with triplets, two boys and a girl.  She had four babies in one year, one in January and the triplets in November.  However, the joy was tinged with pain as going from no children to four in one year caused a lot of stress.  It was overwhelming, and she and her husband began to have marital problems.  Her husband became so overwhelmed that he left when the triplets were still infants.

While he was gone, Tamika said she was sleepwalking through life. She explains, “I needed help, but I wasn’t good at asking for it.  I knew I had to be strong just like my grandmother taught me. I was taught to never let anyone see you cry.”  She soldiered through and went back to work in order to care for her family.  

Her husband returned after almost a year, and they went to counseling and learned life lessons.  Tamika says, “We learned that when two imperfect people come together, we cannot expect perfection.  Marriage is like a plate.  Through the years, you keep adding to the plate and when things happen, it breaks.  Things in life fall everywhere.  It becomes a mess.  Then it’s up to us to glue the plate back together making it even stronger, so it can hold the same things as before plus more.”  

Today they are much happier.  They have four beautiful, healthy children, ages 5 and 4.  They have learned to be thankful for even the smallest things.  God has helped them overcome so many struggles.  Tamika says, “We have learned to love each other as God loves us.”

Tamika says that God put others, especially an aunt, neighbor, and coach, in her life at an early age to reveal God’s love for her and show her a different way of life. She says, “They helped me see that God loves me. He is a healer. I learned that life will be better if I just keep God first.”

Tamika is still working full-time, but she is fully conscious of her life now and feels wonderful.  She feels that God has prepared her to minister to others who may be going through similar situations.  Just as others helped her envision a different life, so will she inspire others.

What Helped:

  • Her true and constant faith.
  • Her church and work communities.
  • The book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.

Scripture Verses:

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the Lord!

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.

Prayer

God, you do give us the strength to soldier on when our lives feel impossible. You are a never-ending source of help. When we pass through these difficulties, we become stronger and more able to empathize with others who are struggling. Use us to minister to others in similar situations and show others Your peace and strength.

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When a Young Mother Suffers from Depression

Jane struggled with depression and anxiety throughout her teens and now at the age of 28, this terrible disease has really taken her down once again. She just had her first child and currently suffers from post-partum depression. While she truly loves her newborn, she is overwhelmed with the responsibilities of caring for her. She has watched her friends with newborns experience so much joy, and she feels guilty that she isn’t feeling the same response.

Her doctor and psychiatrist are working together to help her, and she is in counseling.  Jane knows that she is fortunate to have so much support. Her husband has been a godsend, and her mother, Julie, has been there daily to help care for the baby.

Julie has helped in every way she knows throughout the years. “It is so very difficult to watch your child struggle with this devastating disease,” she says. “And now with a new baby here, it is even sadder since this should be a happy time.” Jane is fortunate to have a very supportive family.

Jane has had several nervous breakdowns. The first of which happened at the age of 19 when she was in college. Jane was in a verbally abusive relationship for a year, which caused her to have horrible insomnia that made the depression worse. At this young age, she really didn’t know what was happening to her. Finally, she did see a psychiatrist, who prescribed an antidepressant and medication to help her sleep. At last, her despair lifted, and she was able to make a clear decision to end the relationship. She worked with a psychologist to understand both the disease and the reasons why she chose abusive men. It was a long and arduous road. Also, she discovered that depression has a strong genetic component – depression was prevalent in her father’s family. She has two siblings who have also experienced mild depression.

“After watching my father’s relatives suffer from this disease when I was young, I prayed that I would never struggle with it,” said Jane. “Looking back I realized that I was an anxious child. I was just really good at hiding my feelings. At first I kept it a secret even from most of my friends. Actually, group therapy really helped as I finally found some people my age who were struggling too.”

Jane is working hard to overcome her current depression and become the mother she wants to be. She feels confident that with help from God and her family, she will get through this. She likes this quote from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young: “What I require of you is to stay connected to Me living in trusting dependence on My limitless resources. When you face unexpected demands, there is no need to panic. Remember that I am with you. Talk with Me, and listen while I talk you through each challenging situation. I am not a careless God. When I allow difficulties to come into your life, I equip you fully to handle them. Relax in My Presence, trusting in My Strength.” 1

What Has Helped:

  • The support and love of her parents and siblings.
  • Understanding the disease.
  • The work she did and is doing with her counselor.
  • Medication has helped.

Scripture Verse:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Prayer

Dear Father, sometimes our struggles seem insurmountable, but even in our darkest moments You are always there. See us through these dark periods as we put all our trust in You. You will set us on Your perfect path.

 1 Young, Sarah (2004). Jesus Calling. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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Going Home

I just returned from the burial of my parents in Wauseon, Ohio where I lived for a while as a child. They were buried next to my baby sister, Martha, who died at 18 months of age. It turned out to be a perfect day – beautiful and sunny.  All of my Michigan cousins came, along with my childhood best friend from Ohio and her family. Although I was apprehensive about this day, it turned out to be lovely. It helped tremendously to be surrounded by others who loved Mom and Dad so much. We had a touching burial service, followed by lunch as a big group. Everyone had memories to share, and we laughed a lot.

I have my own special memories of my childhood in Ohio.  My best friend, Jane, and I reminisced about constantly dressing up as movie stars by borrowing her mother’s clothes and heels when we were young. We performed very dramatic imitations of Sandra Dee and Annette Funicello. We actually pretended that telephone poles were our boyfriends, and we were often found hugging and kissing the poles. Jane’s mother and sisters still get a good laugh from those memories. Jane is the type of friend with whom you pick right back up. If she lived closer, we would be the best of friends again. I am grateful to know her and her wonderful family of five girls. My Mom and Dad considered her parents their best friends, and they stayed in close touch for over 60 years.

This is the end of an era for both my Mom and Dad.  All of their siblings on Mom’s side are gone, and Dad was an only child. Two of my cousins created beautiful DVDs of the lives of my parents and relatives. We watched these DVDs for hours one afternoon, and are so thankful for the effort that took. There were so many memories of the fun times with our special cousins growing up along with the many trips we took. We looked forward to those trips planned every summer by our parents. Since I hadn’t seen these cousins in 20 years, it was so wonderful to catch up and to reminisce. They are as fun and funny as ever. While we shed some tears, we laughed more, putting even the difficult times in perspective. I am so appreciative of their love and sense of fun throughout my life.

While my husband and I drove around Wauseon, we discussed how different my life would have been if I had stayed there. The people in Wauseon were literally the salt of the earth. The corn fields throughout the town are still there, as they were in our backyard at our home. The town square is so much smaller than I remember. The homes are smaller too with people sitting out on their front porches enjoying the day. It felt like a much simpler life than mine here in Dallas. I know my parents were truly happy living there and had many amazing life-long friends. Those friends were there in happy times and sad, especially when Martha died. Mom and Dad remained close to them even taking trips with these couples over the years.

As I watch so many new lives coming into the world through new grandchildren, I feel like the circle of life is complete. Mom and Dad had good, long lives and are enjoying everlasting life with the Lord. Things are as they should be, and I am at peace.

What Helped:

  • Our belief in everlasting life.
  • Our wonderful cousins and friends.
  • The faith and values that our parents taught us.

Scripture Verse:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gifts you have given us, especially the gift of our parent’s love. Their burial was a beautiful and joyful reminder of how much they were loved by so many. Thank you for the absolute peace and joy of that day.

Click here to listen to a beautiful song about remembering our loved ones.

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Caring for Triplets Plus One

Haley and Zach are the parents of four beautiful children – triplets aged two and a one year old. They consider Joshua, Hannah, Charlie Fay, and Phoebe to be their greatest blessings. Haley and Zach walked the path of infertility for three and a half years before successfully becoming pregnant with their triplets. They always knew they were meant to be parents. Throughout the multiple Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) medical fertility treatments, they prayed together each step of the way. 

During quiet prayer times, Haley felt the Lord impress the number “3” upon her mind and heart; “3, 3, 3” everywhere. Her eye would catch and pause at three flowers growing in her yard; three cupcakes on her birthday card. Even silly things would pop in her head like “the three amigos!” She was not sure of the purpose and significance of it, but she journaled it all and prayed. 

Haley and Zach finally came to the point where they felt ready for Invitro Fertilization (IVF). IVF is much more physically, emotionally and financially difficult to undergo than all the previous treatments. 

Haley says, “God works in your life during hard times. Just ask Him and He will be with you.” Haley and Zach read Scripture and listened and asked for God’s will to be done. 

The first IVF procedure failed. The two embryos that were transferred did not implant. In early June of 2015, Zach and Haley once again returned for a second round. Their patience and faith were rewarded. They had three embryos this time.

On the day of transfer, the doctor recommended that they only transfer two embryos and freeze the third for later. This is typical protocol. Medically, it is riskier to transfer more than two embryos. But all Haley and Zach could think of was the months and months of “3, 3, 3.” That still, small voice said, ” I want all three.” There was no question; all three had to be transferred together. 

With Zach by her side, the room was abuzz. On Haley’s left hand side, she could see the camera magnifying her three embryos. They actually formed a small triangle. “It’s a little cheerleading pyramid!” declared one doctor. “Never seen that before,” said another doctor. Several weeks later, Haley and Zach saw and heard the three beating hearts of their babies at their first sonogram. They were born at 33 weeks and 3 days. (More threes!) 

When the triplets were eight months old, Haley and Zach got the surprise of their lives. They were pregnant! Phoebe was born 16 months after the triplets. She is truly a blessing, and Haley reports she is an easy-going baby. Haley says, “She is a demonstration of who God is. He loves to bless his children more than we can imagine.”

Haley and Zach definitely grew in their marriage and faith before the births, and it prepared them for raising their four children. Even now they schedule date nights and were able to have one getaway weekend this year. 

They are blessed with a very supportive family who live close by and have been a tremendous help. Also, Haley said the international and non-denominational Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Group has been a Godsend. 

Today, Haley continues to pray for, and now with, her children each day.  She has a special verse for each child, and prays aloud over them along with teaching them to pray. She also journals her prayers.

“Although I can’t be there as much as I could for one child, God can be with them when I can’t,” says Haley. She loves taking the babies on walks and enjoys the opportunity to share Christ on her walks. Haley and Zach truly live their faith and are a beautiful example of God’s blessings. 

What Has Helped:

  • Their faith and prayer life.
  • Their parents’ help.
  • The support of their community.
  • The following books:

        –  A seed of Hope: God’s Promises of Fertility by Evangeline Brown Colbert.

        – Waiting in Wonder: Growing Faith While You’re Expecting, A Devotional Journal by                        Catherine Claire Larson.

  • Moms in the Making – Online Support Group, click here   

Scripture Verse: 

Habakkuk 2: 1-3 I will stand at my watch and station myself upon the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Then the Lord replied: Write down the revelation and make it plain upon tables, so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Prayer:

Dear Father, thank you for the blessing of these four children to parents who had faith and trusted that you would provide. You knew the plan all along. We pray that all of us can learn from Haley and Zach’s example. Only You know when the time is right. We just need to keep the faith; regardless how difficult the journey is. You never let us down.

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Celebration of an Extraordinary Caregiver’s Life

We just celebrated the life of Donald Bowen, our father. I would like to share a snapshot of his life with all of you, my dear friends.

Dad was born on Oct. 30, 1929 to Theodora and Aaron Bowen in Detroit, Michigan.  Dad did not have an easy childhood. He was an only child and took on the tremendous responsibility of caregiver for his mother at a very young age when his father left the family. He and his mother moved frequently, which meant that he often had to change schools, making friendships difficult to maintain.

He married when he was only 21 years old to Carolyn Karrer, who was the love of his life. He told her from the beginning that he wanted a large family so that he could experience being part of one. He wanted what he hadn’t experienced as an only child. He wanted fun, laughter and stories to tell, and he definitely got his wish. The Bowen stories are countless – nothing is off limits, including his funeral notes! Just one that I can’t resist sharing. He asked to be cremated, and my brother, Dave, was chosen to be the keeper of the ashes. In his funeral notes, he told Dave to keep his hands off the ashes! That was Dad – he had a wicked sense of humor, and he always had the last word.

The six children include: Nancy, Bob, twins Mary and Martha, David, and Jim. He faced a parent’s worst nightmare when Martha, my sister’s twin, died suddenly at 18 months of age. He was the one who was called to the hospital when she was dying. After her death, he had a difficult time speaking about her.

He especially loved having grandchildren. Each one was special, and he loved sharing stories with them. My son, Ryan, came home to see him the weekend before he died. What a great day they had recounting those memories together. He was a great grandpa and mentor to all of them.

He loved to travel. My daughter, Laura, says that her last long conversation with Dad was about trips he took. She was in France when he passed away, so she toasted her grandpa one more time from there. As a family growing up, we had countless camping, beach, and skiing trips, and typically our cousins from Michigan would come too. Often we would have seven kids, two dogs, along with Mom and Dad in a pop-up trailer. To this day, we love to recount funny memories from those times.

He also loved animals and always wished that he could have been a veterinarian. As a matter of fact, he hung a picture of our beagle, Holly, above the mantel where we told him the family picture should have been.

Dad was a champion labor negotiator with a difficult job that involved a lot of travelling. He could be tough as nails during those negotiations, but he always had a kind heart. He was a stern father, but we never doubted that he loved us. He was a man with a strong will who ran the show until the end. When he was admitted to the hospital during his last week with us, he immediately told the nurse to put a sign on the door saying not to awake him before 8 a.m.  That was true Dad.

We found an absolute treasure in his personal belongings. My father wasn’t much of a writer, but he had handwritten personal letters to each of us, including Mom, awhile back. The gift of those notes was  priceless to us!

We also all enjoyed reading his handwritten notes about his funeral. The first thing he said was to make it joyful. He said he hoped to see his God and would wait to see each of us. He also said that he wanted an Irish wake style funeral complete with funny stories and toasts.

He ended his notes with this paragraph, labelled “The Most Important.” He said, “How fortunate that I married young to my lovely wife, and we have the most beautiful children God could give us. Each one of you have made me proud and how much I love all of you, including the in-laws. My love to each of my grandchildren whom I deeply love. Remember me in your prayers.”

What Has Helped:

  • Faith and prayers help the most.
  • Family and friends.
  • Remembering our stories.
  • Reading his funeral notes.
  • Reading his handwritten letters to each of us.

Scripture Verses – These two verses seemed symbolic:

Jeremiah 8:18 My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick. (upon Mom’s death)

II Timothy 4:6-8 For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. (upon his death)

Prayer

Dear Father, please comfort the caregivers who are grieving. Many of them are living in darkness right now. Help them to feel Your constant presence. You never desert us – rather Your love and peace surround us always. Bless our family with the knowledge that our parents are together again and with Martha, too. We thank you for the time we had with them on this earth. Help us to live our lives as a tribute to them.

A heartfelt thank you to all of our family and friends for your support and prayers during this difficult time with losing both parents. Your love and friendship have meant the world to us.

Please click here to listen to a beautiful song perfectly suited for our parents.

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My Father’s Passing

My father, Don Bowen, passed away at age 87 on March 21st  after many years of selflessly caring for my mom, Carolyn. His only desire was to be reunited with his wife, who died recently on December 19th after 65 years of marriage. She was always front and center in our family and although we all miss her greatly, Dad grieved the most. Even though he had family and friends who visited often, he just wanted to be with Mom. He was her devoted caregiver for so many years, and his purpose for living was gone. Before he died, I told him that he would die of a broken heart – but Dad often said that he had “half a heart.” I thought that was a sweet way to describe it.

We all knew his health was declining but were very surprised to learn that he had advanced cancers throughout his body, which were diagnosed only a week before his death. He simply put my mother’s needs above his own and didn’t think about his own health. His complete focus for the last five years of her life was about meeting his wife’s every need. In short, his devotion to her and caregiving were extraordinary. That was his legacy.

I will share my father’s life story with you after his funeral. In the meantime, please keep Mom and Dad and our whole family in your prayers.

With Gratitude,

Nancy

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Prayer Request for My Family

Dear readers and friends, I ask for your prayers as my siblings and I move my father from the hospital into a facility this week. I know so many of you have faced this same situation. Plus, I am also dealing with my own chronic, painful medical problem that has yet to be resolved. Please pray for peace and healing for my father and myself, and strength for our family.  I will post again soon after the transition. Thank you for your prayers as I give this to God and put my trust in Him.

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Caring for Two Special Needs Children in Family

Like so many young women, Angie thought she would marry and have a beautiful, perfect family. But life has a way of putting some speed bumps on our road in life.  When she and her wonderful husband, Brett, had their first child, it looked like her wish had come true. Their oldest daughter, Anais, was bright, precocious, and very active. So when they had her second child, Angelle, she and Brett realized early on that things were different. At three months of age, she wasn’t acting like a normal three-month-old. As time went on, she wasn’t sitting up or crawling and was nonverbal, but she had a very lovable nature.  So Angie turned to her Mom, who recommended taking her to the pediatrician. Unfortunately, the doctors couldn’t do a full assessment until later. Finally, at age one, she received the diagnosis of cerebral palsy, which is a kind of umbrella for many different symptoms. One of the things they were able to correct quickly was her eyesight, and glasses helped tremendously.

Brett and Angie found a physical therapist, whom they considered an angel, to do intense therapy for six hours a day, and Angelle did begin to walk. However, since she also has scoliosis, she can’t walk normally.  She is still nonverbal. Despite all of hurdles, Angie says, “I believe God chose us, and Angelle chose us.”

Their third child, Grant, was a surprise. He was their third child in five years. It became clear early on that he manifested behaviors that matched autistic children. He was diagnosed with mild to moderate autism. Angie says that Grant “lives in his head.” He talks all the time, but he mostly repeats movie lines. He doesn’t have physical issues, so he doesn’t look different. Angie feels that autism is such a baffling disorder. For example, initially he would only eat five types of food since he has food texture issues. However, he has come a long way with help and love.

At first, Angie wondered why she was given another special needs child, and Anais struggled with having two special needs siblings. However, both Brett and Angie’s mom were a huge help. As they were growing up, it truly took three adults for three children. Also, Angie has nothing but good things to say about the Plano Independent School District for her children.

Angie says, “I can’t look too far ahead as it becomes too overwhelming, I have to simply trust in God.” Brett is a personal trainer and rises early so that he can be home in the afternoon to help. Angie works part-time out of her home. Together they are in the trenches 24/7. She says Brett’s strong faith has been a huge help, and they are celebrating their 30th anniversary soon. They manage to have “daytime dates” every Friday as they are just too tired in the evening.

Their oldest daughter lives in Montana and, as much as they want to visit her, it is very difficult to take a family vacation. Just going out for dinner causes problems as Angelle has verbal outbursts which frighten people. Although Angie explains the situation to people, it is frustrating. She says that people say, “I don’t know how you all do it.” Angie and Brett do not feel special – rather they are like any other couple who would do anything for their children.  “It is what it is. You have to make the best of it,” says Angie.

Grant is now 16, Angelle is 18, and Anais is 20. Throughout the years, Angie says her greatest lesson learned through caregiving was humility. She didn’t get her perfect family, but she wouldn’t choose differently. “God has given us our children for a reason,” concludes Angie.  

What has Helped:

  • Prayer is at the top of the list.
  • Trust in God.
  • A very supportive husband.
  • A mother who is always there to help.

Scripture Verse:

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Prayer

Dear Father, there is a purpose for the difficulties in our lives. You always have a plan for us. We can count on You to give us the strength and the acceptance we need to see us through all of our trials. Help us to come to You with a grateful and trusting heart as Angie and Brett do each day.

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When the Caregiving Ends and the Grief Begins

As you know, my dear mother passed away a month ago, and I feel the need to talk about grief. Although Mom’s quality of life was not good for the past five years and we are assured that she is in heaven, we greatly miss her physical presence. I miss talking to her on the phone daily, and visiting her in their home. Their apartment is so empty feeling now. But mostly I see my father’s deep grief after 65 years of marriage and many years of amazing caregiving. His whole purpose revolved around Mom’s needs, and now that she is gone, he is feeling lost without her. He has lost the love of his life. He needs to cry. Intellectually I know that, but I want so badly to help him feel better. I don’t know how to ease his loneliness, and I often feel helpless. I realize that grief is a process and that he will never “get over her,” but life will go on.

I think that the end of the holidays makes it worse. One little thing that helped me is right after I packed up Christmas ornaments, I put up Valentine’s decorations so that I would have a new holiday to look forward to. I love to decorate, and that brought me joy. Also the planning of her service helped give us a purpose, but now that is done. Now we must learn to live without our angel.

I am trying to practice my mother’s greatest virtue of gratitude each day, and that is my goal for this new year. Also, I have become very sensitive to gossip and negativity as she taught us not to speak badly about others.

My cousins created two beautiful videos – one of Mom’s family and one of our family. We have watched them repeatedly and they are a beautiful reminder of Mom’s youth and also remind us of the fun times we had when we were growing up. Mom was always front and center in the pictures flashing her larger than life smile.

My comfort is that I can feel her presence, especially at night when sleep won’t come.  I try to feel her arms around me. I remember during the last days of her life how she told me she was ready to go home. She asked for Jesus to take her. I know she was ready, but I wonder how really ready we were.  Are you ever ready to lose a parent, particularly a sweet mother who was such an inspiration?

One of my Bible study friends gave me a small book, titled C.S. Lewis On Grief. Lewis also lost his wife. This quote seemed to reiterate what my father is feeling. It says, “You tell me ‘she goes on’. But my heart and body are crying out, come back, come back. I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the arguments, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace… It is a part of the past.”1   

We are fortunate to have three siblings here to be with Dad, and he has good friends who get him out of the apartment. I think about others who are grieving who may not have that kind of help available. I cannot imagine the loneliness that they must feel. But Scripture tells us that God is right there with us to help us through our grief.

What Helps:

  • Friends and relatives are simply invaluable.
  • Our priest and church members.
  • Devotionals and prayer.
  • Grief counseling and a grief support group.
  • For me, writing this blog helps me tremendously as I know so many of you can relate to these emotions.

Scripture Verses About Grief:

Mathew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Jeremiah 31:13 I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.

Prayer: Dear Father, I pray for all those who are grieving right now, and especially for my Father, that You will see them through their pain and suffering. Send Your comforting spirit to be with them.  Give them Your peace which transcends all suffering.

Lewis, C.S.  (1998). C.S. Lewis On Grief. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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