A few more thoughts on caregiver resentment

EldercareSeveral thoughts coalesced this morning to a realization. I wrote last week about caregiver resentment, and I may go back and add this in at some point.

We can get resentful or “weary in well doing” in just about any endeavor. But I think in most of them, you have every expectation of seeing improvement or completion. If you’re building something or involved in a big project, you know at some point it will be done. Some of the frustrations are easier to bear because you can see progress and look forward to the end results. With the frustrations and limitations of raising children, you also continually see them learn and grow and gradually get more independent and able to do some things on their own. Plus they’re cute, and there are moments of fun and joy along the way.

But with an elderly loved one who is declining, it’s not going to get better. It will likely get worse. And the only way it all ends is when that person dies (or goes to a nursing home, which we feel would only hasten my mother-in-law’s death. She was so low when she was there that we felt we were bringing her home to die – and that was almost two years ago). So wishing to be relieved or for it all to be over seems akin to wishing for that person’s death, which adds guilt to the mix.We backtrack and think, “No, no, no, I didn’t mean that.” We just wish it could be different. But it’s not going to be.

Some caregivers battle depression more than resentment, or maybe both. Besides all that is involved in caring for an elderly person, there is the sadness of seeing them lose mental or physical abilities one by one.

There are times I wonder at God’s ways. Last year we lost our pastor to a short battle with cancer and a young mom of two children to a very sudden and unexpected reaction to a medication. He was in his early fifties, two daughters had just gotten married, he was known for uniquely caring for everyone whose life he touched. He would have been a wonderful grandfather. The young mom left behind a grieving husband, children, and friends. Why are people like that taken “early,” as it seems to us, when they still have so much vitality and usefulness ahead of them, and other people experience a slow decline for years, some vacant and unresponsive in nursing homes, others no longer recognizable due to the alterations of Alzheimer’s?

I don’t know. But I do trust that God has His reasons. He’s doing something in the lives of all the people connected with each individual.

All we can do is continually apply God’s truth to our situations, as I mentioned previously, and depend on His grace day by day.

Something else that helps me a bit sometimes is when I think of my mother-in-law’s situation as analogous to how God sees me: helpless, completely dependent, messy and unable to do anything about it. Yet He loves me. He doesn’t resent cleansing and caring for me. He knows how thoroughly I need Him even more than I do. Seeing my own helplessness and basking in His love and care for me helps love for others to well up in my own heart.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
 John 13:34.

11 thoughts on “A few more thoughts on caregiver resentment

  1. I have sometimes wondered when young people or those in the prime of life are taken if the Lord is actually rewarding them or sparing them from what might lie ahead. We tend to see it from our earthly perspective and we see the grief and feel our own pain rather than the glories they are now experiencing in heaven. Just a thought. 🙂

    • I think that’s a valid point. Elisabeth Elliot had a quote something to the effect that God only told us so much about heaven because if He told us any more, we’d be so excited and so looking forward to it that we wouldn’t be able to concentrate and get anything done here.

      That does make me wonder even more, though, why He leaves older people here when they’re to the point of mentally or physically disabled and just deteriorating further. One friend whose m-i-l had Alzheimer’s said it’s because He wants to do something in our lives through them, and I think that’s true.

      On Thu, May 14, 2015 at 2:16 PM, Stray Thoughts wrote:


  2. This is excellent, Barbara. I have been struggling with this very thing. I am so glad you wrote these additional thoughts, as they were just what I needed to read. My dad is 92 and, although he is perfectly able-bodied, he is declining mentally and just needs a lot of help because he can’t remember things — even how to do certain things. I struggle with resentment frequently and have to continually rely upon the Lord. I read somewhere that when we become bitter and resentful because of our circumstances, it’s because we have lost sight of the sovereign hand of God upon our lives. I think that’s true. I know it’s true of me!

  3. Your insights on this issue are so helpful, and mirror thoughts I have often had — it can become depressing when we read things like “time makes it better” and “tomorrow will be better” — when we know that’s not necessarily so in all situations. I have already returned a few times to re-read the resentment post; now I’ll re-read this one as well. Thank you!

  4. When my husband and I were very young, we lost a dear friend who was something like 23 years old. Since then, we’ve lost a nephew’s wife about the same age and other friends who were “young” in our eyes. I really struggled with God’s taking people “early” and then realized He has a task and a plan for each person. Obviously, these servants had served God well, and they were done with God’s purpose for them. Others live to be 100. I am acutely aware that God sees everything very differently than we do. I am so glad that your mother-in-law has you and Jim in these waning years. You are a blessing and a joy to her. How wonderful she can see Timothy and the boys and Mittu. I know she feels loved and cared for. That is such a blessing.

  5. Pingback: Adventures in Elder Care | Stray Thoughts

  6. Pingback: My favorite posts of the year | Stray Thoughts

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