June 30th, 2010 at 9:43 am
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Spiritual Moments in Care

by Isabel Fawcett, SPHR

Even though it doesn’t happen every night, it has happened enough to lead me on a path of creative care solutions. Some nights, Mom really misses her family of origin, including her parents and siblings. They are all deceased. As her family’s last surviving sibling, it has to be difficult for Mom whenever she gets to thinking about her loved ones long gone. 

I wish I could take the sting of death pain away from Mom. I am powerless to do so. I recognize that the sting of death is firmly rooted in memory, love lost, family, and much more. On nights when Mom cries heavy tears for those who will always be near and dear to her heart and mine, my self-imposed challenge is to help Mom back, gently, from the edge of her tears and feelings of loss without interfering with her entirely reasonable and recurring grief.

Words can be so inadequate in such situations, I’ve learned. Simply reminding Mom that a family member has died may, or, may not be what Mom wants or needs to hear at a particular moment in time. 

As I  see it, tears are healing if the flow is not unending. I welcome tears – Mom’s, or my own, as healing moments in our lives. When tears occasionally become prolonged sobbing for Mom, my high tolerance for ambiguity helps. My creative brain also kicks into high gear, albeit quietly.

Earlier this week, I wanted to help Mom with her recurring grief. As she sat crying about her loved ones lost to death, I left her for a spell to go to my memory chest. I thought I might have something that would temporarily help Mom come to terms with the deaths in her family.
I pulled out my grandmother’s obituary. I decided to copy the ‘obit’ on bright yellow paper. I thought I’d share the obituary with Mom (again). This time, I’d use it as a springboard to share family memories.

Before closing my memory chest, I found another gem.  “He Maketh No Mistake,”  a poem by A.M. Overton made its way into my hand. At the very bottom of the Overton poem, was a handwritten note from my cousin’s wife that said, “… chose to read this at his Pa’s service.”

“His Pa,” my favorite uncle, also Mom’s favorite brother. Perfect! My cousin’s wife, also long dead, had spoken through time and space to bring us healing. I copied the poem, handwritten note, and all.

As I grabbed the copy off my printer, I was led to cut and paste Psalm 23, which I also printed on bright yellow paper. Next, I copied my Dad’s funeral service obituary bookmark before I walked back downstairs to rejoin Mom.

I sat next to Mom’s lift chair, my hand on her knee. I told her that I had something that might help her with her grief and memories of our loved ones. Without saying another word, I handed the brightly colored yellow paper print-outs to Mom. 

She asked a few questions, which I answered. Mostly, she read, re-read, and kept right on reading. Occasionally, she looked over at me in between her reading and intermittent contemplation. My hand remained on her knee. My tears remained in my heart.

I looked into Mom’s eyes. I could tell that her tears had shifted to become healing instead of distressing. Thank You, God! One day at a time is all I ask, or need. At my suggestion, Mom keeps the print-outs next to her lift chair. I even read the brightly colored memories.

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