When we get upset, as we must from time to time, what is going on and what should we do? You see what you say and do when you are stirred up can have consequences and ramifications for a long time if you are unwise. Wisdom is knowing yourself and why you get upset – otherwise you can end up in a toxic game of hot potato as blame gets thrown back and forth.
In the pressure cooker that end-of-life care is for everyone involved, insufficient sleep, building grief and the pressures of competing obligations caused by the intensity and pressure of palliative care means that people are going to get upset. We have the wisdom to recognize that strong feelings come from deep within ourselves and that our individual wiring, as in my case difficulty with criticism and feeling abandoned by my moms, leads to volcanic eruptions when enough pressure is applied. But it is the path of wisdom to, after the storm, pick out these threads, recognize one’s own mistakes and frailties and apologize, exercising compassion towards oneself and your loved ones. We are imperfect and will make mistakes and feel the lava rising again and again for the rest of our lives, but so long as we avoid blaming, shaming and acting out of anger, instead lovingly and kindly forgive each other and ourselves, then these painful experiences become part of how we heal, becoming wiser and stronger, rather than ending in a broken relationship.
Those who are caregivers working under the unrelenting stress of dementia and palliative care, must be kind, gentle and forgiving of each other they we toil in the trenches. We will make many mistakes, we will get upset, but the sacrificial gift of care is the highest calling and the most loving way to walk with each other in this world. If there is a creator and if we are all children of this creator, then taking care of each other is the most natural and beautiful way to walk in this world.
Please pray for those fulfilling this calling in caring those who have cared for us. Pray that many more may hear this calling and that love and care may flourish in the final days of our loved ones.
Originally written on January 13, 2019