Isaiah 46:4 - Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
You’ve just gotten off work for the day and you have a few minutes, so you decide to visit your mom. You haven’t always had the best relationship with her, but over time you grew close again.
You pull up to the street and head out of your car towards the door when you notice it’s already opened. Your heart begins to beat rapidly as you hope something hasn’t happened to your mom.
You enter your mom’s home and start calling her name. You hold your nose because it smells like something is burning. You call your mom’s name again, as you reach the stove and take off the burning pan.
Searching from room-to-room you discover your mom watching TV in the living room; oblivious to what’s going on around her.
It’s happened again.
Your mom forgot that she had something cooking on the stove. She’s done this before, but not to this extent where the pan was burning. You also notice how cold it is in her mom. Maybe because the door was left over, but you discover she’d turned off the heater.
You sigh and move into the living room sitting down next to your mom. Once again you have a conversation with her about leaving things on the stove and not watching it. She shakes her head and says that she has no idea what you’re talking about then tells you to leave her alone and let her finish watching her favorite TV show.
Though there is grief involved when a parent dies, there is also another kind of grief – losing a parent when they develop dementia. Though you don’t lose her here on earth, you still lose her as you watch them lose a little bit of themselves day-by-day.
How do you know when it’s time to consider your parent can’t live alone anymore? And is it simply finding someone to live with her, or does it mean it’s time for them to go into a care home. Caring.com posts an article titled, “11 Signs it Might be Time for Assisted Living,” which shows signs such as piles of mail in various places and stale or expired foods in their kitchen.
Though it can break your heart when you realize one of your parents has to move into an assisted living facility, there can still be time for you to be part of your parent’s life. And always remember, as the Bible verse above says, God will sustain your loved one and carry them even to their old age.
Psalm 41:1-3 - Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.
How do you handles it when someone we care about learns they have cancer? We know that cancer affects the emotions as well as our physical wellbeing, but what about other people in the cancer victim’s life?
First, there’s the thought of losing someone we care about. It can be a shock and there may be denial in what we feel. This is normal, but it’s not easy.
Second, our lives as we knew them are no longer the same as it was before we found out about our family or friend who is now battling cancer. This can lead to denial of what’s happening, but it will do no good for us to stay there. This is a time when our loved ones are going to need us the most. It’s important that we find people we can talk to and let them know we’re having a hard time escaping denial and they can help lift us up.
Third, we may have questions on how we should react to the news especially if the cancer victim decides that they’re going to take what’s happening out on us. Do we accept being treated badly as something to be expected and ignore our hurt feelings? Or do we have a conversation with the person. Being diagnosed with cancer may for a season affect how cancer victims treat those around them, but it doesn’t give them the license to treat others badly. For a short season we may give our family member a break, but if it continues we may need to have a conversation with the one hurting us and let them know we care about them, but it’s not acceptable behavior to treat someone badly.
Forth, we need to be prepared to have our schedule affected by the one with cancer. There is further testing and discussing with the doctor which treatment would be the most affective. We may be called upon to go with the cancer victim to appointments.
We may also be called upon to drive a cancer victim to their chemotherapy or radiation treatments. There may also be surgery, as part of their treatment plan, and this would be a good time for us to be there for them.
Fifth, our attitude toward the treatment a cancer victim is receiving can affect their Yes, it is a very difficult and sad situation, but it’s important for us to stay positive as much as we can when we are around the cancer victim. We mustn’t focus on the possibility of the cancer victim dying. We must remind them that there are new treatments for cancer and give them hope to hang on to.
Let’s take a look at how friends and families are affected in the article, “Family Life” on cancer.net. Some of the things discussed are trying to understand the potential changes in the way a cancer victim relates to specific family members and friends in that there can be changes in the roles each play, responsibilities, physical needs, emotional needs, sexuality and intimacy, and future plans.
Though many things in our lives, whether we are part of their family or a friend, can bring changes when news of cancer being part of our lives, we can rest assured that God will not change in how he treats them or us. As the Bible verses above talks about, God has regard for the weak and he will sustain the cancer victim as they battle cancer, and he will also sustain those around them.
James 1:8 - Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Some people have a knack of saying just the “right” thing when they think you need it. They whip out kind and thoughtful words as they see you suffering.
You may believe you’ve finally found someone who truly gets what you’re going through, but then -
Something slips out of their mouth and you see what they really think of you.
Not worthy of being a friend
Always “seem” like they’re emotionally not all there
A waste of time
And on and on it goes. Why are there people who are friendly and upbeat towards you but are really only putting on an act, which by the way, ends up hurting you in the process?
But how does someone hurting walk away from this “friend” even though they know it’s the healthy thing to do, especially if you battle mental illness?
It takes great courage, because once a person has burned you, it’s hard to fully trust anyone ever again.
So there are some choices you can make – you can keep the “friend” and live with them hurting you again because you don’t have many people in your life, or you can cut the rope to the anchor and let it drop to the bottom of the lake and find another boat to get into.
But don’t feel completely untrusting of all people, because there are those who aren’t fake and really do care about you.
How do we know when a person is being real with us or they are only pretending? Inc.com has an interesting article titled, “How to Tell if Someone is Lying: 10 Tells and Clues (Ranked in Ascending Order of Reliability”) such as inappropriate emotions and suspicious expressions.
And as the Bible verse above states a person who doesn’t speak and live in truth are double-minded. Another way of putting it is that they’re two-faced. Let’s not continue to hurt others by not telling the truth. It’s not much of a life when you hurt others. It’s an amazing life if you stay true and uplift those around you.
Psalm 40:17 - But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.
It can be normal to ask for help. When you are in your work environment it is common for fellow employees to be a sounding board for your work and even help you with an assignment.
However, there are other times that receiving help can almost seem impossible to do. I’m speaking of those who suffer from emotional pain and mental illness.
Maybe we don’t want to look needy.
Maybe we don’t want to look helpless.
Maybe we’re afraid of rejection.
Maybe we don’t want to look like a failure to others.
But we don’t have to feel that way. Everyone has a bad day now and then when things don’t go right and we’ve come to the end of ourselves; especially, if we battle emotional pain.
Sometimes we don’t ask for help because things have turned messy in the past when we have or maybe we’ve felt guilty for needing that help.
What happens, though, when we just try to make it on our own? Our lives can fall down like a row of dominos with one thing after another knocking us down. And it can make us feel weak.
So how do I have the courage to ask for help when I already feel weak and like a failure? Huffingtonpost.com has an excellent article titled, “6 Reasons Why People With Mental Illness Are Strong, Not Weak,” such as you’ve had to carry your intense emotions, other people’s emotions, and perhaps the world on your shoulders as well.
Learning that we’re actually strong when we are weak can strengthen all areas of our lives not just when we need to ask for help. God sees us and though we may wonder if he sees us as weak, understand that God is a deliverer and will help us as we begin to walk in a way that strengthens our inner being.
Isaiah 42:7 - To open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
Emotional pain can take you down a road you don’t want to walk.
There are times when you have no strength to fight. You don’t even have enough strength to smile. And so you take the only option you believe will work – You go into captivity in your own home.
It does seem simpler this way than going back out into the world. You can follow your routine and feel the quietness that surrounds you.
So off to captivity you go. Sometimes there’s level ground to walk on throughout your day. Sometimes though, the road is rough as you battle loneliness, sadness and regret.
These things are all part of an anxiety disorder called agoraphobia. And as I’ve written above, agoraphobia can take you captive in your home.
How do you come out of captivity? What can you do to find the strength you need to venture outside your door? Calmclinic.com further describes the disorder, helps you to understand agoraphobia and provides treatment options in their article, “Agoraphobia: Cause, Treatment, Anxiety.” The website also provides a test you can take to calculate your anxiety severity.
God can help set you free from your prison and bring you out of the darkness and back into the light of life. Then you can be brave to take that first step out your door, because you know you’re not in this alone.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.