What's a person to do when the caregiving hits keep coming? Though I have decades of caregiving experience under my belt, I had to think hard to answer the question after my husband Hiram had hip replacement surgery in September of 2018.
The surgery was planned. My schedule had been cleared. My daughter and son-in-law, with whom we live multi-generationally to be ready for situations like these, volunteered to mow the lawn and make meals after we came home from the hospital. All systems were go, and I was certain juggling caregiving and work duties during Hiram's 6 week recovery would be no problem.
The surgery went well, and the next day I brought Hiram home after supper. I went downstairs to talk to the rest of the caregiving team.
"He's home," I said.
"Don't come in," my daughter said, pointing to their 3-year-old son. "Tad's sick. We'll stay down here so Dad doesn't catch this."
The next day, everyone in their family was sick. Not just a little sick. They were sick sick.
I was on my own. I was cooking for everyone, taking meals to the downstairs family and keeping my distance for over a week. By the grace of God and constant hand washing, my husband and I didn't catch the creeping crud. But once everyone was back on their feet again, I was a mess.
Behind in my work.
Wallowing in self-pity.
Pretty much my usual M.O. when God doesn't adjust His plans to meet my expectations. Can you relate?
I wasn't pleased with my negative emotions. I felt guilty, and I hate feeling guilty. So I pondered and prayed about what to do the next time (there surely will be a next time) the caregiving hits keep coming. Here's what God said in response to my prayers.
Be grateful for the good.As hard as my caregiving duties were, they would have been worse if my husband and I had gotten sick. Thanking God for on such goodness in future rough patches could lead to a more positive attitude.
Wallow in the kindness of others. Before we came home, when my daughter realized her son was sick, she disinfected our kitchen and living room. She and my son-in-law thanked me repeatedly during the week for their meals. My response was to brush their thanks aside in false humility instead accepted their rightly deserved compliments. Next time, I'll wallow in the kindnesses shown and the love they represent.
Admit true feelings.I tend to bury my feelings to please others, and I end up feeling worse. In the future, I want to admit my true emotions. My caregiving duties were exhausting. I felt abandoned by my caregiving team, though they weren't at fault. I feared missing deadlines. I was exceedingly frustrated when, after preparing carefully, everything fell apart anyway. Those feelings are valid, and expressing them is much healthier than denying they exist.
Consider God's perspective. I assumed God was displeased by my response to the extra caregiving duties. But isn't it equally likely that He was pleased when I set aside my plans to care for everyone? He's a loving God who delights in His children when they seek to obey Him. Thinking of God in heaven delighting in my meager efforts will ease the burden considerably next time.
I am not looking forward to the next time the caregiving hits keep coming at my house, and you probably aren't either. But when it happens, we can ask God to turn our thoughts to what is good, kind, and true. We can consider God's heavenly perspective in addition to our earthly one. In doing so our hearts and thoughts will turn from despair to hope, and our faith will be grow.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.