Going Cold Turkey As A Caregiver Is Difficult

by Richard Markland

Sunday, June 26, 2005
4:45 p.m.

I cried earlier today. This comes as no surprise. Once again images of Linda dying came out of nowhere. I find myself looking over at the couch and remembering how many times I use to sit and look at her while in so much pain. It was as if I could actually see her today. This afternoon, while watching a Humphrey Bogart movie, I pictured the outline of Linda's body. I still find myself looking at her photo on the bookcase and finding it so hard to believe she is gone.

When I go to bed at night, I actually say a prayer out loud. I tell God how much I miss Linda. When I got up this morning, it wasn't the first time I said out loud how I didn't want to start another day. The quietness of each morning is still hard to get use to. Being alone in a King size bed is still a strange feeling.

As a caregiver, you simply go through withdrawal. It is as if addicted to a drug called caring. When it is removed, it is the equivalent to having mental cold sweats. It's as if the body is shaking and in need of a fix, but there isn't a way to fix it.

How can you simply go on with a routine that seems so abnormal when so much time was involved with taking care of someone you love? It's not a matter of convincing yourself of what you need to do, but as an addicted caregiver something has to replace a deeply engrained habit. Sometimes I feel as if I need a mental straight jacket for my brain.

Today, I had planned to attend a memorial service sponsored by Hospice. Butterfly's were to be released by a family member representing a loved one taken, and yet I do find that by being away from people, it does help to clear my mind. My job involves contact with a wide variety of people throughout the week, and I can actually think clearly when putting busyness on hold. Perhaps it can seem odd not to attend such a ceremony, but I simply want to understand what is happening in my life. No doubt someone else may feel I should have attended, but it is nice not to feel rushed or occupied with something today.

A good friend recently reminded me that I am walking in the valley of the shadow of death at this time. I appreciated his comment because it is true. The Bible has a lot to say about grief and sadness. God knew we would shed many tears at some point and time on this earth when He created us.

I have been told by more than one person that the first year is the roughest. If this is the case, I only have 40 more weeks to go. I can't say I am exactly excited of such a prospect. I will get through this, but no one will rush me. How can I really know how to feel if I've never experienced this before?

I was contacted by a 16 year old girl yesterday whose boyfriend died of cancer six months ago. I was hoping to hear from her again today. She feels few people understand what she is going through. She came very close to committing suicide. She asked if I would mention to others what she is going through. I have also heard from a woman in the New England states who is taking care of her terminally ill husband. It is easy to connect with the pain they are both experiencing. So many people feel alone when experiencing grief and sadness. A number of people I have come to know have been strangers most of my life, but are now friends as a result of tragedy.

A simple thing such as watching a movie can be emotional. The old classics can be a tear jerker when it comes to scenes of people saying farewell or a tragedy that severs a relationship. I've cried during more than one movie because it reminds me of how much I miss telling Linda how much I love her. It disturbs me when I see a death take place in a movie, but a person somehow sheds only crocodile tears as an actor or actress, although claiming to be in love with the person taken. So much for Hollywood.

The pit a person is in when grieving is very deep. Many more names have been added to the list today. More people are visiting a place called Life's Ocean of Tears. I am not alone, and yet it seems very lonely. God is always there, but He does allow us to suffer sadness and grief during a time like this. Compassion for others doesn't come naturally, but is learned as a result of tears and heartache. I now understand a little more how God must have grieved deeply when His Son died such a horrible death. He and His Son are more in touch than we realize.