Layers

The biopsy was done
on a Friday morning.
The results were not
what we wanted to hear.
So surgery was performed
first thing Monday.
My wife Bernie spent
two nights in the hospital,
then I took her home and began my education
in how to be her caregiver.
Looking back, I believe we both managed pretty well.
It was difficult at times,
but we found our ways to give and receive care
with empathy, with honesty,
and occasionally with doses of laughter.
In addition to handling these new roles,
we needed to handle something else just as much—
our grief.
Bernie was grieving the loss of her breast,
the loss of her physical health,
and potentially the loss of life itself.
I was grieving too, for the same things,
from my perspective as her husband and lover.
So while I struggled to learn the ropes
of becoming my wife’s caregiver,
I also struggled on another level—
learning the ropes of dealing with particular feelings
of shock and grief, anxiety and fear.
For quite some time I felt disoriented.

When our initiation into the role of caregiving is sudden,
it’s a lot to deal with all by itself.
Often this sudden introduction is complicated
by what else is happening to us,
by what led us to this new role.
As a result, we may be sad and grieving, as I was.
We may be angry, if not furious,
at whoever or whatever caused this unfortunate situation
we’re now a part of.
We may feel abandoned and alone
or helpless and exposed.
We may feel all these things, and more.
When we’re grappling with powerful feelings
emerging from unwanted changes in our life,
while simultaneously grappling
with the new responsibilities of caregiving,
it can all seem quite daunting.
There are ways, of course, we can learn to deal
with what is before us.
Bernie and I did, as we lived
and learned and grew, all at the same time.
But whether we’re expecting it or not,
sometimes our caregiving has another layer to it—
a layer of independent feelings
that we dare not ignore.

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2 Responses to “Layers”

  1. lorraine wellman Says:

    I just wanted to say what a beautiful site you have created; both visually and spiritually. You have the gift of an encourager. I am getting ready to help out with a new senior ministry in our church and would love to refer people to your site.
    I just want you to know that you touched my heart. My parents are getting older and going through some serious physical situations including cancer and other things but I believe in the Master Physician. I also believe that we are put here on earth to be helpers and encouragers. So may God bless you in all that you do! I plan to come back and read here often.

  2. caregiverspirituality Says:

    Thank you for your inspiring words.

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