by Eileen Jordan
Overwhelmed with shock and grief after a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, it is natural to be fearful when facing an uncertain future of care management and the long goodbye. The shock will subside, and grief will be worked through, but how do you handle the fear? By understanding who is in control.
Nothing takes God by surprise, and like Mary, the sister of Lazarus, you will need to learn to sit quietly at the feet of Jesus. He cares about your loved one’s illness and path through “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” even more than you do. And, what is more, He cares about you and your journey down the path with your loved one more than you can ever imagine. This is your story, written by His loving Hand, and He wants to guide you through every step of the way. You can work hard to care for your loved one and provide the encouragement you think is needed, but only He can get through the fog of dementia and touch the heart. Like Martha, there are many things you will need to do to manage care and take on more and more work and responsibility, but the most important thing must not be neglected…to sit at His feet. Managing your loved one’s care will be increasingly challenging, but He is the Perfect Care Manager. What better teacher can you find? Through the ages, His job has been joyfully and lovingly caring for His creation and His people.
Caregiving and care management is a difficult, lonely calling, but it is also filled with joyful moments and new understanding of God’s care for us. It may first appear on the horizon like a cross we must bear, but as we accept the calling, that cross becomes a new ministry that is full of opportunity to experience and show love in action. Many of us have experienced this in raising our children, and assisting the sick and elderly has many parallels. This is no accident. You were chosen for this ministry, and like any ministry there will be training and others working alongside you. God knows what you need, and He knows better than you what your loved one needs.
You were chosen as the best person for the job, and it is an important job. God will not forsake you. It is easy to fall into temptation and question your abilities and decision-making, lose hope, and give in to discouragement and resentment. God knows this and will never call you to do the impossible; He makes it possible. If it were easy you would not trust in Him and He wants to bless you and demonstrate His love and care for you. As with any ministry, God provides spiritual gifts to perform the job He has given you. As you move forward in faith, you will find the tools you need, and helpers will come.
There is much to learn in the way of practical help, and there are many resources. God is the Perfect Care Manager and He will bring people who have walked the same path to encourage and give direction. One day, your ministry will be to minister to caregivers and help and encourage them along the path.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. - Proverbs 3:5–6
About Eileen Jordan: Eileen has been in the caregiving field for fourteen years, both as caregiver and care manager