It’s interesting to me to study the “journey” from conception to eternity. What happens to your body, mind, and spirit is slightly predictable and wildly unique. I think that’s pretty cool. Walking through some of those phases has been a lot different than studying it. The hard parts hurt more than you can expect. Sometimes you can’t wrap your mind around it. There’s no use studying it…it will drive you crazy. The great parts are cherished more than you could ever imagine. Ugh. To have five minutes of my girls when they were 2 and 4…I’d do anything. ❤️ Every phase has good and bad. Lately, I’ve been talking with family and friends quite a bit about the phase that comes at the end of our earthly life: death.
Christians will often quote a scripture from 1 Corinthians when a loved one dies: “Oh, death, where is your sting?” They quote it to say that death is not the end. For Christians, this is comforting, but let’s be honest. It’s still hard. Everything about death is hard…and it hurts. Deep.
The truth is that death has a tendency to “sting” long before it comes.
I’m talking about the end of life phase where either (or both) mentally or physically changes are taking place faster we can wrap our minds around.
My grandfather had a stroke. He’s mentally sharp, and still has his sense of humor. 🙂 It just comes out differently. He has trouble with speech. My mom is a daddy’s girl…to a fault. 😉 She couldn’t care less if he can speak clearly or not, but she knows he cares…and that breaks her heart.
How do you do it? When do you take away their car? When do you tell them that the ONLY safe place they know- “home,” is no longer safe? How do you pack up a lifetime’s collection of evidence that they lived, adventured, and weathered many storms- and leave out only enough to fill up the tiny nursing home room? As if a box of nic-nac’s will ease the sting of leaving “home.”
It’s frustrating. My parents love their parents. They don’t want them to be frustrated. They want to be reasonable with them. That’s respect. And, especially to them, respect is gold. When they have lost their abilities to reason, respect can seem to be lost.
Well meaning friends might tell you that it’s “better.” It may not be better in assisted living. It may be even harder. You don’t do it to make things better. You do it to make things humane. It’s appropriate care. It’s dignity. It’s a big lump in your throat…and if you can swallow it, you will see that it is one of the few types of respect left to give.
So, death, we know you’re coming. You’re uncomfortable. You don’t feel like home. You have left us with the least amount of control we have ever felt. We are not ourselves. We can’t see. We can’t hear. Isolation stings.
But, for those who are in Christ, things are different. Your mom may be a hot mess today. You won’t leave her that way. Don’t grow weary. She will remember again. That look that your dad has on his face- like he’s lost? It’s a temporary glare. The sting that catches you off guard because you are parenting your parent is only temporary. While that doesn’t make it any easier, I hope it brings some perspective. Perspective that takes the sting out.