Friday, July 17, 2009

Caregiving - The Final Stage

Posted by Leona Bergstrom

Eventually a loved one, for whom you have provid
ed care, dies. It always comes as a shock to the system, no matter how prepared you thought you were. Death rips our soul, our hearts and our lives.

I dare say it also changes everything for a caregiver. He or she must learn to grieve and accept loss. He must honor memories, plan a funeral, share his loved one’s life with others. And then, a caregiver has to figure out what to do with this huge void!

I had a friend whose mother lived for nearly 20 years in a local nursing home. My friend visited nearly every day and in the course of those visits became very close to other residents. She also learned to work with the staff and could often be found singing or reading to others. When her mom died, she not only missed her -- she missed the relationships at the nursing home! She experienced loss upon loss.

It is important to honor, to grieve, and to share the loss. It’s also important to think of what life after caregiving might be like. Dare you dream? Dare you explore new opportunities? Where do you live? I think this is a very sensitive time for families. Adult children and grandchildren need to be present as never before. For me it was sometimes hard to visit my mom after my dad died. Not because I didn’t want to be with her – but because I didn’t know how to be without him.

As I close this little exhortation about caregiving, may I say that family caregivers are my heroes! I honor you, respect you and encourage you to see that this service you offer your loved one is indeed a ministry. God has placed this opportunity at this time so that you might love as He loves – and WITH his love. Grace, peace and strength are yours because Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always….”!

For more resources on caregiving go to: (Denise B. identifies the stages of caregiving and gives more advice on what to do), the National Family Caregivers Association and, the Family Caregiver Alliance
(Photo by lambertwm, shared via Flickr)

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