Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Grieving now and later

7:32 p.m. Today's project was to attend the last of my 12 week Alzheimer/dementia caregiver support class. Next week, on my birthday, we will be feastiing on box lunches from Jason's Deli, and neck and shoulder massages from the students at a local therapy school who need the hours and experience. We will also be enjoying the fellowship and support we all have benefitted from as our group has grown close to one another.

Today's topic was one that facilitator Darlene was dreading going through, but one that is necessary for all of us to be aware of and realistic about: grieving. The powerpoint presentation was entitled "Grieving--a Natural Reaction to Loss." ( exerpted from Working through Grief, 2005, Channing Bete, Inc.)

One thing that impressed me was that grief can follow many kinds of loss:

  • death of a loved one

  • separation or divorce

  • miscarriage

  • injury or disability

  • loss of a job, property or pet

  • children leaving home

Common reactions to loss are: shock/disbelief--unable to believe that your loved one is gone; anger or resentment--feeling like a great injustice has been done; guilt-- not having done more to prevent death, or not being there to say goodbye, or being relieved that the loved one died, as in a long and painful illness; fear or anxiety--feeling unable to handle new responsibilities; deep sadness--lonely, like there's a hole in the center of your life; physical problems--weight loss/gain, extreme fatigue, trouble sleeping, being more prone to colds and other illnesses.

One thing that I feel Steve and I both are experiencing is called Anticipatory Grief, a feeling of loss before a death occurs. He mentioned tonight that he fears a long, drawn out death, just lying in a bed. (Probably thinking of his brother Larry who became paralyzed and bedriddden for some months before he died, even though Steve has no physical problems and his Alzheimer's is taking a different pathway through the brain). As for me, I feel grief for the loss of the person who was so energetic and a problem solver, as quick with the quips as he was with thousands of tools. I do occasionally think of what his death will mean to me and to the kids, but am admonished by this quote from Jesus, Matthew 6:34 :

Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow will take thought for the things of itself.

That is not easy to do, but when has being a disciple of the Lord been an easy road to walk?

Other than making prudent legal and financial arrangements, I let God be God, and live each day as close to Him as Ican!

In our class this morning there were some tears, but we all appreciated knowing that we are experiencing normal feelings of loss, and normal reactions to those feelings. But we did receive counsel to look for signs of genuine depression, a treatable condition, such as feelings of despair, hopelessness or worthlessness, and seek counsel and medical help as needed. I would add for believers, speaking with a counseling pastor, trained in applying the Word of God to the issues of life. And don't cut people out of your life, even if you cannot be "out and about" as much as usual because of a loved one's (or your) condition, or new responsibilities that accompany your bereavement. God will make a way!

Even though the path is dark at times, and we don't know what to do, keep Psalm 119:105 close to your heart and in your mind:

Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

And eventually, as healing comes, and mourning gradually subsides, remember another favorite verse of mine, Psalm 97:11:

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I think you are right--grief now and then grief later. And we do need people. That's why I am glad I found your blog. Hope you can visit mine also.

    While Jesus was dying, he assigned his mother to an disciple I read in John 19:20 recently. Had never noticed that before. Your adult kids do need to check in with you because of the anticipatory grief you have now. Jesus knows this is hard.