Care-giving is an emotional experience. Caregivers often find themselves in roles that they do not choose, yet embrace the role when called to care for a loved one. When you are entrusted with the care of another human being, it is the greatest honor that can be bestowed on yourself. When we are grounded in the spirit of God’s love, there is no burden a caregiver cannot overcome. In essence, all we can really do is love God and let God take away all our pain.
Providing a beautiful sunset to ones life can take its toll on a caregiver, yet no one in modern society should be left to die alone. One of the most beautiful analogies that I learned during my Clinical Pastoral Education training encompassed how society (and the medical profession) has changed their views on the birthing process. Now in most cases, the birthing process is a celebratory experience where the entire family is in the delivery room witnessing and welcoming the birth of a new family member: It is a celebration of life, a welcoming of sorts…it is a good thing! When I was born, this type of practice was not in vogue.
As we make our transition from life on earth to eternal life, that same spirit at the birthing process needs to be transferred at the time of this transition. All to often people are left to make their transition on their own. While death often leaves us with an empty and aching heart, helping to facilitate a happy transition can be a meaningful experience for ALL involved in the process. Yet death brings such raw emotions to the table: unfinished business, our own mortality, our sense of loss. Death is not an easy component of life, yet is not a final good-bye appropriate?
When we are left behind, we are often left with three emotions:
1. Sadness…That the loved one has moved on to another form of life.
2. Relief…That the care-giving experience is over.
3. Guilt…That your life continues on without the one you loved and cared for.
All three emotions are proper, with the strongest of the three being guilt. Yet when we turn these emotions over to God (or a higher spirit), there is a healthy transition for all involved in the experience. Just as we can’t do life alone, we can’t do death alone either.
Today, my friend Fr. Richard Orlando would have celebrated his 89th birthday and just this week, I learned that it is OK for him to be gone in the physical sense of life as we know it. It’s a healthy realization that life moves on while the spirit stays with us in celebration until we see them again.
Don’t miss out on a chance to celebrate life…love the one your with, care for them like you would want to be cared for yourself. Celebrate Life, in all its forms!