Taking care of a loved one who has undergone personality changes because of dementia hurts, and it is a multifaceted suffering. There is the grief of facing end of life issues, a sometimes desperate sense of claustrophobia that comes from not knowing when the burdens of caregiving will come to an end, and more, much more. I don't think it is of much value to peel back each layer of pain and examine it; I'll leave that to the Lord. But I do know that on a day to day basis, dealing with a loved one who is sarcastic, rude, and unappreciative is the most wearing part of my journey right now.
It breaks my heart. It is beyond difficult.
My responsibility becomes to respond in a manner that is not sinful. Lots of wonderful opportunities to become more Christlike.
My mother, unlike many Alzheimer patients, is often thankful and loving. Most days she says something along these lines, "I am so grateful to the Lord for this time of my life, and to you for making it possible."
But these times alternate with hurtful behaviors so that I'm kept off balance. At times she woos me into that comfortable mother/child relationship we shared (at times) in the past. But like the sun going under a cloud she can very quickly become angry and resentful so that I just long for this journey to be over. And since the only way for it to come to an end will be when one of us dies, I can't very well long for that option! But yes, in my secret heart, I sometimes do wish she would slip quietly away in the night, home to Jesus.
Those of you who have walked in a close relationship with someone who is unpredictable and hurtful know what I mean. This desire for the hurt to be over and for peace from the uncertainty does not in any way touch the deep love I have for my mother. I don't know my own heart, not really. I don't know if I hold unforgiveness toward her; I know it is important not to. But here is the solid assurance I do have; these circumstances will work together for my good, and Mom's too (Romans 8:28). I'll have strength when I need it (2 Corinthians 12:9). I can delight in the midst of hardships and insults, not because of them, but because of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:10).
And I know He can heal the heartbreak caused by my mother's bad treatment of me. And I can pray, "Father, forgive her, she doesn't know what she is doing." Because of her Alzheimer's, Mom really doesn't know when she is being rude or unkind, and she is not any longer able to empathize with my sorrow or pain. Father, forgive her.
I found a song at Youtube that speaks so eloquently of the difficulties of the journey we undergo as caregivers. We cry out to the Lord to come and give us relief...but until relief and release come we have the sustenance of his presence and it is enough, yes Lord, You are sufficient for me, and I praise Your Name.
If you are hurting today have a listen to this song by Jeremy Riddle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1vrQvE2rmw&feature=player_embedded
I covet your prayers today as I am experiencing odd physical symptoms in which my heart seems to go out of rhythm for a few beats and then returns to normal. Off to the doctor tomorrow if not sooner--but this is scary and I do need prayer. It is interesting how the spiritual and physical are so intertwined; thanks for your prayers.