Changes in life often cause us pain, insecurity and unpleasant surprises.
Decisions, either by ourselves and/or by others can affect our inner peace, bringing on us deeply ingrained grief. Senior people can be deeply affected by decisions made by the medical profession or family members. But in a senior’s wisdom, he or she can also work through those same decisions, see the positive side, and come out strengthened.
Several years ago, I visited a parishioner whom I will name Mrs. Brown, to learn that her husband had just been taken to the hospital after running a red light and ending up on a lawn across the street. Mrs. Brown was distraught with worry for her beloved’s health, only to find out within a few days that his driving license was revoked and his ability to walk was limited by injuries from the accident.
The doctor gave the diagnosis of a stroke and decided at the time of discharge that the husband had to have daily nursing care. As a consequence of that decision, the family countered with the idea, “Dad should go into the local senior’s rest home to have adequate care.”
Mrs. Brown adjusted to the decisions with considerable regret, only to feel the expectation from others that it would be ‘better for him if she went too’.
Immediately she began to lose confidence in herself, her driving and care of the home, which in turn gave further evidence that perhaps she was unable to continue to live alone in the family home. With one-to-one counselling, she grew emotionally stronger and was able to cope with the many decisions that seemed to fall like dominoes.
She made strong choices and gave good reason why she could continue to live at home, and faithfully support her husband by going to the rest home each afternoon, staying for supper and the odd sleep over in the supplied guest room. The latter allowed them to enjoy breakfast together.
Grief adds up. By thinking through the situation logically and prayerfully, Mrs. Brown showed that she was capable of caring for herself in the family home, and lovingly finding ways to spend time with her husband of nearly sixty years during his changes. Even though experiencing new grief from being alone, she had created an important grief-escape from accumulative grief that would have evidently settled on her. Self care in times of grief is crucial.
Make some notes in your journal – they will be treasures when you return to them.