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Finding Strength in Difficult Situations

September 14, 2012

I discovered this photo on The Visiting Nurse Service of New York Facebook page. It is the largest not-for-profit home health care organization in the country.
Learn more about them by clicking on the photo.

How do we stay strong for loved ones who are ill when we feel as though we’ve used up every last bit of strength we have catering to their needs?  How do we go on when we feel our dreams of a happy, fulfilled life slipping through our fingers? This is especially true when the person we are caring for is our spouse or significant other.

I remember struggling with these feelings and thoughts y when my husband suffered a heart attack at 53. I was desperately concerned for him and did every thing I could to support him but a little piece of me felt my dream of our future together dying. Life not without such unexpected eventualities. They cannot be avoided, even by sticking our head in the sand. The real question is not how do we avoid them, but how do we find hope when things seem hopeless?

I found hope again by developing the understanding and accepting the reality that there is a whole lot of life over which I have absolutely no control. I couldn’t make my husband well, I couldn’t make my mother’s dying days different, I couldn’t change the way family members behaved in either situation, but I could be in control of me and what I thought about. I could choose not to dwell on my breaking heart and instead focus on what I had each day that was good and right and true. I could sit beside my mother where she was, hold her hand and love her. I could cherish every moment I had with my husband. I could look into his eyes and say to the universe, hank you for this moment. Now, just now.

Gratitude is an amazing healer and an excellent means of choosing our thoughts. The trickle down effect is palpable. It doesn’t deny the pain, the struggle, the loss, it just gives us the opportunity to re-focus on hope and in doing so we find the strength to carry on.







11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2012 11:42 am

    Beautifully said, Dorothy. It is Serenity Prayer in action and we all can benefit from the reminder to make the most of the time we do have. Thank you!

    • September 14, 2012 12:30 pm

      Thanks Kathleen! I love the Serenity Prayer. It has been a part of my life for a very long time. The interesting thing is that as the years go by, it becomes even richer and more meaningful. The truth is like that, don’t you think? DS

  2. September 14, 2012 11:53 am

    “Gratitude is an amazing healer and an excellent means of choosing our thoughts.”

    Well said. Very well said.

    • September 14, 2012 12:28 pm

      Thank you. Thank you very much! 🙂 Always love having you stop by for a visit Laurie. You inspire me!

  3. September 14, 2012 12:35 pm

    Well said, Dorothy!
    Also…please pass the word about an excellent (mostly online) resource to give encouragement and support to spousal caretakers…
    Depending on where in the country one lives, there are also monthly face-to-face support groups. This group helped me keep my sanity when my husband was battling cancer…

    • September 14, 2012 12:42 pm

      Thanks for sharing this support site. Online support was limited when I could have benefited from it and I am so grateful that it has become more readily available. I sponsor a mini-support group for caregivers on Facebook and even though it only reaches a small number relative to what an organization like can do, I can see how valuable even the smallest contact is for those who are struggling. It’s a life line and I encourage people who need support to reach for it. If you are a private person you can even interact anonymously and not have to be concerned.

  4. September 14, 2012 1:41 pm

    Blessings, Dorothy! And blessings to all who find themselves in the role of caretaker. My time spent with Mom before she passed holds many beautiful memories for me even though they were some of the most rough days I’ve endured. Dorothy, your eloquent words bring hope. Always. Thank you for sharing yourself so honestly.

    • September 26, 2012 10:34 pm

      Thank you Diane. Your comments and constant presence here in cyberspace mean so much to me. One day we’ll have to have coffee! (or a glass of wine?) 🙂

  5. September 26, 2012 3:42 pm

    It is hard to watch your Mother die…. but it was better to be there than not.

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