Going Cold Turkey As A Caregiver Is
by Richard Markland
Sunday, June 26, 2005
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
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.