Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe… Proverbs 12:28 (Note: when studying the Bible, if a sentence starts with “Therefore”, it is very importance to see what it is “there for”. Context, context, context…
Hi all! Happy Monday after Christmas. It is Monday, isn’t it? (scrambling for a calendar). This weekend was a blur. It was a wonderful blur, but it was a blur. The good times always seem like a blur these days. The challenges sometimes seem like less of a blur. In fact, I say that the whole dumpster fire 2020 has taken years to get past us, but it is indeed getting close.
I will leave it to the psychologists and psychologists (and corresponding armchair versions) among our little community to analyze me, but I am surprised how much guilt plays into caregiving. I have written about this several times including here and here and here. There is one aspect of this guilt that I have only alluded to and will expand on the topic a bit more here.
Guilt in good news- So, in case you missed it, mom suffered a grand mal seizure a few weeks ago now. We got the dreaded call that we would be granted in-person visits in the comfort care suite of her nursing home, away from most staff and nearly all residents. It appeared that our time with mom was ending and we all dropped everything and essentially moved in to her little suite. We started prayer chains, and were blessed with a flood of love and support from family and our little community here (one and the same in my book…). We stayed with her in units of one or two for the most part. We watched TV, played the old hymns on our phones and sang a little (like a sick howler money when it was my turn), held hands like the old days, and sort of said our goodbyes. The a funny and awesome thing happened: she improved. She, in a week’s time, improved so much that they booted us back outside of Shawshank’s walls and moved her back to her regular room.
So why guilt? Nope…I am NOT going to answer this one for you…but am requesting an answer from you. 🙂 It is an awkwardly sad/happy/guilty-feeling emotion that comes over me right now when people ask how mom is or, worse, assume she is gone. Is it just that I am self-serving and somehow prideful at the attention we received? I hope not, but the heart is deceitful and the temptation to sin is ever-present, even in the believer’s life. I intentionally do not accept money for this blog nor do I do it “on the clock” at work although I am on salary and I am sure I could fit it in that way. This blog isn’t about me although it is about caregivers and strugglerers…
(spoilers) Part of the answer to the guilt here is the same as guilt always is in this situation: the tension between wanting mom with us and wanting her suffering to finally end so that she can depart to heaven. Should we be excited that she is with us? I would say yes. Should we be “disappointed” that she didn’t get ushered off to her eternal reward? This would be easier if she was still appearing to be in pain, but that ship has fortunately sailed for now. She appeared happy even up to the last minute we were there although quite possibly not understanding that we aren’t going to be back in a few minutes as we left…
Then there is the renewed interest in alternative living arrangements. Mom insisted that she loved the idea of living out her life in a nursing home. She joked as recently as 3-4 years ago that she would “toodle around, do crafts and visit with others”…and that she did while she still could. I know that sounds odd or perhaps that she said it to make us feel better…but I really think it is true. Mom (and my step-dad) used to sing and do small church services for seniors in nursing homes. Mom was also a caregiver in multiple scenarios…she got it. She knew the pain, the anxiety, and the ups and downs of caregiving.
Lastly there is the money, a source of guilt as well. Mom wanted us to have an inheritance of some sort and didn’t want to be a drag on that with her healthcare. That is a noble thought, but we (her kids) repeatedly have said that their quality of life is far more important to us that getting money. I hate that the discussion even comes up, frankly. It would cost $4500/month to move her into a small facility I found that would allow visits. $50+k/year adds up pretty quickly. We have talked about funding it ourselves rather than out of my mom and stepdad’s money set aside for his healthcare and living out his life. Our problem is that we all feel like mom wouldn’t want us to spend that money.
So, in guilt, we weigh these scenarios:
- Move her out to a facility that allows visits and spend a bunch (against her wishes in a way that would make her sad)
- Keep her in and NOT get to visit (no visitors, dying relatively alone…or at the least waiting until she gets another trip to the comfort suite)
- Move her to one of our homes and do it ourselves (she wouldn’t want us to be burdened nor spend money for in-home care)
- Sit still and be sad (she wouldn’t want that either…)
So, it appears that there is no way to act here without her and/or us being sad. And. It. Stinks.
The only logical conclusion: guilt. We do our best and we always have…we, for the most part, have made good choices in her care. But now we wait…and think…and battle self-talk serpents spitting saddening guilt. Chances are mom is doing fine and isn’t even processing this situation anyway…a great, if true reality…but there is a chance she is still “in there” and is not…or has changed her mind. Plus I am sure she doesn’t want us feeling bad or sad and would gladly change her mind and let s pay to care for her such that we can see her…but I can’t read her mind. She had a look of joy and peace on her face up to the last goodbye. But what of now?
This is grad-level adulting class that my pea-brain and weak heart needs a cheat-sheet to pass. The Bible doesn’t give explicit answers here…but it speaks volumes around the topic and is incredibly helpful as we think though this mess… What does it say?:
- Love is critical. Are our actions loving?
- Sin is ever-present and the heart lies.
- We are commanded to honor and respect our parents.
- We are not guilty.
- Praying is critically important.
- Hard times happen and He is always with us and there for us.
- The devil hates us and uses tricks (guilt, others) to achieve his ends…
- God is present and is always working all things for the good for believers who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
- Praying for wisdom provides the answer because it works….and that is where we are right now.
So, until we figure out this mess and as we fight off the guilt, we march on fighting to #EndALZ . Mom would be honored by us fighting for the little guy. So that we will do.
I will see you in 2021. 🙂
Last (super important) thought. “Good News” can also be a synonym of the Gospel itself. The fact that God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, took on flesh and came to this world a couple thousand years ago at Christmas to ultimately fulfill many prophesies and die on a cross as a substitute penalty taker for the sins we commit (and be raised to life again!). When we repent of sin and place our faith on Him as the sole way we can be forgiven, we are credited with His sinless life and are free from the penalty of sin. It is easy to feel guilty at Him doing this for us…even natural to do so. I mean…what did He gain from this relationship with us? He lacked nothing… However, instead of guilt, it should drive us to love Him more and love others more…or, more succinctly, this reality should make us want to be more like Him…