I know that there are lots of RevGals out there who are juggling mothering and ministry, but I'm wondering about those who are at the other end of the life cycle and are juggling caregiving and ministry. My Dad is 86, and has a dementia. My step-mother is the same age and is a very late stage Alzheimer's patient, requiring total care. My step-mom is in a long term care facility that is attached to the (very good) Assisted Living facility, where my Dad lives, so their day to day needs are well looked after. That being said, in my Dad's case, he still gets lonely, he still gets worried, he still gets frustrated and upset and it is me he turns to. It always seems to get particularly bad around Easter and Christmas (which is totally understandable), but, of course, that is the time when my own resources are pretty low.
I try to reframe the situation is the most positive way possible, it's great for my prayer life, it keeps me humble, it gives me awareness of what a great many in my parish are dealing with, etc. etc., But sometimes it gets pretty difficult and the guilt rears its ugly head and bites me pretty hard. I'm wondering about others who are in similar situations, what kind of things they've discovered that can help, and any words of wisdom they might be able to share.
Jennifer, who blogs at An Orientation of Heart, writes
Sharon, at Tidings of Comfort and Joy, writes
Our amazingly strong and loving RevGal sister, please know that you have already done some very difficult and very helpful things: You have made sure that your loved ones are well cared for. You have bumped up against your limitations. You have said out loud that what you do seems inadequate and that you are feeling guilty and overwhelmed. Reframing is a great thing, and so is an enhanced prayer life.
The "Serenity Prayer" comes to mind for your complex concerns. I do not suggest this lightly or tritely. It is my own prayerful way to sort out where I might be over-functioning and where I might be under-functioning when I don't know what to do.
"Lord, help me to accept the things I cannot change ..." You are facing so much sadness and pain that you will not be able to change, yours and theirs. I wonder if this where your guilt is coming from. Can you allow yourself to lovingly accept the limitations: your limitations (time, energy, strategies) as well as your parents' limitations (age, ability to understand and accept) and even the limitations of the situation itself (it is messy, not solve-able)?
Then there's " . . . change the things I can . . . " Increase your self care. Whatever self care you think is enough, do more than that. There might be other ways you can increase the support they get (from friends, family, their church?) and the support you get (from all possible sources!) Sometimes just changing anything that you can change, even if it seems insignificant or silly, changes the bigger picture. I usually try to involve ice cream or flowers or music somehow; your strategies may vary.
" . . . and the wisdom to know the difference!" You are wise; it shows. Let that wisdom speak to you and free you from all anxiety and guilt. You love them immensely, that's obvious, so trust that, in all the ways you care for them, you are already loving them with the always-more-than-love of God.
Are you juggling parish and parent care? Do you have some insights to share? Use the "Post a Comment" function to join the conversation.
May you live in God's amazing grace+