Monday, September 22, 2008

Even in My Loneliness

Because those of you who are caregivers might look to this site for inspiration and help, I feel a responsibility to be honest and not to paint myself as a paragon of caregiving virtue. It is an ongoing struggle to provide for my mother's emotional needs, and I confess that I haven't been doing a very good job.

Caregiving is a lonely enterprise. No matter how well supported one is (and I have excellent support from my husband and daughter), the primary caregiver tends to bear the lion's share of the emotional burdens of caregiving. This is probably because the main caregiver is often the one who is most closely related to the dementia patient. In an effort to protect the heart, there is a tendency to distance oneself emotionally. And, once we begin to build walls around our hearts, it isn't possible to raise them and lower them at will. I've ended up feeling isolated from friends and family alike. Even when I'm in good company I feel that strange sense of distance. Just when I long the most for comforting arms and kind words, I don't seem to be able to receive them. It's as though they bounce off the bubble of protection I've attempted to wrap around myself.

The loneliness of taking care of someone you love comes from the fact grief itself is a lonely emotion. How do people do it without the Lord? I know that though I may feel alone, that God is with me.

Following this entry I've placed a link to a popular praise and worship song that's taken from the 23rd Psalm. What a blessing it is to know that I'm not ever truly alone even as I walk through the valley of my mother's death.

Matt Redman's "Oh, No, You Never Let Go"