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Listening to the other caregivers and seeing their faith and strength despite periods when we might want to quit has given me the encouragement to carry on. The invited guests always bring in new insights and offer suggestions for continuing to love a family member even while the relationship changes due to the health of that person.
I think knowing there is a group of people walking my path has been very healing. At this stage in my life, my purpose is in part helping my husband heal and adjust to the many changes his health requires. This group helps me anticipate what might lie ahead, think about actions I can take now, opens doors to new ways to see my situation and the laughter and ability to be myslef within the group (with all my warts and what nots) covers my wounds and reminds me of the importance of my purpose and the importance of being willing to accept help.
One of the participants sent me a list of possible caregivers to be with my husband when I had to be gone. Others in the group made suggestions for questions to ask when interviewing caregivers. Still others suggested exploring the power of attorney and why it might be of value now. Elizabeth [Stephan] provided a list of values, things one might share with a spouse for us to look at to identify what is of value now in our lives. That list opened a wonderful discussion with my husband. I have to say that laughing, seeing the strength and wisdom of these women, is the greatest example of hope, healing and purpose.
I tell my friends about this group and how long it took me to admit I needed to come there. At a [past] conference, unrelated to caregiving, a woman spoke about the great strain she had with her husband’s dementia and I could tell her to seek out a caregiving support group at her church or in the community. I think having this group as part of the church gives it a dimension that wouldn’t be found in a community-only group. There is an unspoken spirit in the group that says one can bring all their concerns to the group, all their wounds—emotional, physical and spiritual—and while we don’t pray necessarily, the act of being together in a Deacon sponsored ministry says to all that all are accepted, all the time. Sometimes prayer is in the act of walking beside another in a challenging time. That’s what this group does and what the Deacon ministry does. it would be a terrible loss to lose it.