Thursday, August 25, 2016

Surprised by Grief

Life transitions can be likened to a road that must be traveled. If we sit down at the side of the road in order to avoid the grief of changing views, we won't get anywhere!
I have been surprised by the grief I've had to traverse in the wake of placing my mom in nursing home care. So long as I was busy with caregiving I didn’t have time or energy to face the sorrow of the loss of my mother as she once was. Alzheimer’s had already taken my mother from me, but I still had the daily, broken solace of meeting her needs and demands of me. Our interactions had changed, but there was still a relationship: that of caregiver and patient. The nursing home placement brought this phase of my relationship with my mother to an end. It was an abrupt change similar to that of a death, and in the release from constant responsibility to meet her needs, I have been confronted with the cumulative pain of 12 years of watching my mother fade from sight. The monitor on my bedside table no longer channels my mother’s voice because her room is empty; there is only silence. 

It is difficult to come wholeheartedly to the Lord when we are in grief. This morning I remembered the chapter entitled “Facing the Grief,” in My Mom Has Alzheimer’s. I wrote of our human dislike of change, and of the difficulty of transitions in our relationships. I used as an example my emotions when my daughter married:
…for a time my daughter’s leave-taking left a terrible feeling of emptiness in my life. I clutched that emptiness to my heart and tried to rise above it on my own, because I had fallen to the deception that to come to the Lord would necessitate my facing the whole of my grief and pain. I had no desire to hurt more than I hurt already. I finally recognized the fallacy of the idea that God would require my heart to be ripped open and the contents emptied in order for me to gain access to Him. This lie was the enemy’s attempt to keep me from the solace that was rightfully mine in the Lord.
These days the lock my key fits perfectly is that of Alzheimer caregiver, but this role is also temporary. I pray that when my job as my mother’s caregiver comes to an end that I will bring my heavy burden of grief to the Lord quickly and willingly. He has promised that those who mourn shall be comforted, and I pray to avail myself of that comfort. My Mom Has Alzheimer’s: Inspiration and Help for Caregivers, Bridge-Logos Foundation, 2009, p. 28. 
The enemy offers us alternate sources of comfort that cannot satisfy when we are suffering from grief.  I’m praying today to “bring my heavy burden of grief to the Lord quickly and willingly.”  


  1. I understand. I grieved when my mother went to the nursing home. It's a different type of care-giving, but stressful just the same. Be vigilant in your watch care over her. Even though she was there, I thought of her almost constantly. I still felt like a mother with a newborn baby.Always feeling like I needed to check on her - which I did. She still needed my care and presence even though she was being cared for. It was a long, sad, heart-wrenching time in my life. I grieved daily. My mother was there for 3 1/2 years before she passed away.

    I am grieving still, even after 1 1/2 years. The first year, I spent a lot of time in quietness and stillness, drawing near to my Good Shepherd. It took me that long to feel like my old wanting to be with people and do the things I enjoyed. I began to paint again and write poetry. Those things were left behind while care-taking.

    Lately, I've felt happy. It's been a long time...

    Thank you for your beautiful writing. It touches my soul.

    Shalom and blessings to you.


    1. It is good to be understood; thank you, Gail. I think most people feel that now that I've placed Mom in nursing home care, I should snap back instantly to full strength and availability to new ventures. I expect it of myself. But the caregiving continues, the grief is still unfolding, and my energy is slow to return. Thank you so much for commenting.