My mom as a bride at age 22 and still beautiful 66 years later.
Taking care of my mother has forced me to face that I myself am poised at the threshold of my own elder years. When I become bound by fear of someday becoming like Mom, I feel impatient with her weaknesses and inclined to blame her for behaviors she can't help. My attitude becomes, "Snap out of it! You can do better if you try!" Fears of aging and dying are major stumbling blocks that compromise the ability to provide compassionate care to an elderly parent.
As Christians, we are to view death as a passageway to new life. In my mother's words:
"It is sad that we humans so often view death with dread--the actuality is that it is a blessed doorway into God's continual presence" (Anna Ruth, 2007, quoted from My Mom Has Azheimer's: Inspiration and Help for Caregivers).Saint Paul says it is "better by far" to depart this life and to be at home with Christ in the next (Philippians 1:22-24), but it is a challenge to abide in Scriptural truth regarding this issue. If we were allowed to choose a point to inhabit on our own timelines, wouldn't we all choose youth? When we look at the photos above, who would not prefer to be the lady in the photo on the left rather than the one on the right? And yet...I happen to know the 88 year old pictured above now lives a life of nearly carefree contentment and ease, while the 22 year old bride had many struggles before her. I think maybe the Lord views a peaceful old age as a reward for a life well lived.
My difficulties coping with the prospect of aging and dying caused me to devote ten readings in my caregiving book to these topics. I'll close this post with a quote from one of those readings which includes the Lord's answer to heartfelt prayers as I cried out my fears to Him.
God does not willingly bring grief or suffering (See Lamentations 3:33;) His will flows over all that is grievous and changes darkness to light (See Psalm 18:28;) all things are incorporated into and transformed by His perfect will (See Romans 8:28;) where time and eternity touch, His will is done on earth as in Heaven (See Matthew 6:10;) we can’t yet perceive what we will one day see clearly because we walk by faith and not by sight. (See 1 Corinthians 13:12).
The Lord is so gracious to us; He doesn't leave us alone. I'm praising God today for His presence with us throughout every season of life.The Lord...is sovereign over death. His good and perfect will encompasses every life event, even those that cause us pain. He is able to work every circumstance into conformity with His will, for our good.
This post includes quotes from My Mom Has Alzheimer's: Inspiration and Help for Caregivers, Bridge-Logos Foundation, 2009.