Part 8: The New Normal
There is something that those who have never been caregivers don’t understand. When you become a caregiver, it is an immersive, all-consuming experience. The parent’s life becomes the entire focus of your being. Even when you’re not physically in the room with them, you’re thinking about them, planning for them, acting for them, talking about them. When others come to visit them, they want to be updated on their condition. Hardly a moment goes by during the day when the parent is not the main topic of conversation. Caregiving takes over your whole life.
Without doubt, one of hardest things about being a caregiver is the loneliness that comes from living with someone with a disease. When a person lives with pain, their world shrinks to the size of their own suffering. It is hard for them to care about anything or anyone else. While the caregiver grieves for that person, the family dynamic is caught in a vortex with the sufferer at the center. All conversations are with or about that person and his or her tribulation. In time, the caregiver feels like ostracized from her own family.
My dad suffered from bone cancer and heart failure. When pain wasn’t the central part of his conversation, it was the shortness of breath. Morning, noon and night, that was all he cared about. No one asked me how my day was going, or how I felt, or what I thought. I went about my day quietly, serving meals, administering meds, and cleaning the house like a lowly servant. I did it because I loved my parents, and I wanted their remaining days to be comfortable. But it was agonizingly lonely.
Sharing my loneliness with the Lord was difficult. I just wanted mom and dad to have pain-free days, and it felt selfish to share my own pain with Him. But if anyone is familiar with pain and suffering—and loneliness—it is Jesus. He knows what it feels like to be among people who don’t appreciate Him, or care to know Who He is. Even those He was there to help frequently antagonized Him. The Lord welcomes those who call out to Him, and lean on Him in times of trouble. Ask, seek, knock. Then pull up a chair, pour a cup of coffee, and share your own loneliness with the Lord. You will discover that you are not—and have never been—alone.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. (Isaiah 53:2-3)
“For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.” (Psalm 149:4)
““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)