Life Through Your Eyes
If you are a person caring for a loved one who is dying, life will look very different to you than it will to someone who isn’t experiencing your kind of life-intensity. If you are going through the death of a loved one, you should understand a few things about yourself:
1. There was a time when what you are going through now, was not happening. It was a time before…before, well…now. That was then, this is now!
2. You will want to bring the “then” into the “now”.
3. You are a human being with feelings that human beings have. You have goals (especially if you are very self-motivated), ambitions, hopes, dreams, wants and desires. Over the years these have formed together to make up a large portion of your personality. As it was said many years ago, “as a man thinketh, so is he.” What you want, hope for and strive for, incorporates a vast majority of your talents, skills and abilities. This is your personality. It is who and what you really are. It is also a complex entity. Within this entity exists things very dear to you. Your hopes, dreams and ambitions are just that….YOURS! You hold them very dear for two reasons: (1) you have been taught from a very young age to do so and (2) naturally, they make up a large percentage of your life. Everywhere you turn you have been told to set goals and achieve them, which no doubt is a healthy endeavor for us as human beings. As time goes on though, and you continue to strive for, and at times achieve your goals, these achievements serve to create a stronger, more self-reliant, more self-willed, self-involved personality. This is the nature of the human experience and especially, of the day in which we live. Now enter the “illness”….
4. The illness is no respecter of persons or hopes or dreams. The illness does not care about your goals to become a lawyer, doctor, singer, professional athlete or stockbroker. Understand this: your goals and this illness will clash. Let me say it again: your personality, your wants, your needs, your hopes, your dreams, your goals, your ambitions… and this illness…will clash!
5. If you deeply love the person that you are caring for, this clash will be all the more painful. It will be like a death to you…a death on the inside. It may seem that who and what you are is coming to a slow, agonizing demise. It may seem like your mind is disintegrating, your heart exploding, your thoughts running like loose rats all over a basement floor, and your emotions bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. And remember, these are the parts of your personality that influence your actions and words.
6. If the situation goes on for very long, and you love the person very much, and you “will” yourself to remain in the situation, you will feel very much alone. Even your loved one, whom you are caring for, at times will not only seem estranged from you, but occasionally, he or she will appear as your enemy.
7. Life, may present itself to you as very harsh, hard and unyielding. At times you will feel disenfranchised from others; even those you thought were friends.
8. Because your personality is strong and you are self-reliant, you will choose to try and incorporate the “then” of your life into the “now”. In other words, you will both, try to pursue your dreams and care for your dying loved one at the same time.
9. There will be a natural tendency within you to resist the infringements your new life is placing on your old. You can no longer take off and play golf whenever you want. You can no longer go shopping for that new dress at the mall whenever you feel like it. The little freedoms you used to have in your life, you now find are slipping away.
10. In the beginning, you will generate great compassion and a giving heart towards the one you love. As time wears on, small cracks will form in your wall of compassion towards your loved one. As more time passes, you will simply “will” yourself into caring for the person, whom you now question whether you really love at all. If time continues to wear on, resentment will begin to rear its ugly head, because, you see, “you never asked for this did you?”
11. The seeming unfairness of life will begin to settle its full weight upon you.
12. You will become angry about several things: (1) the carefully laid plan for your life is simply not working out the way you want, (2) you simply cannot mesh the requirements of your goal-seeking and personal ambitions with the realities of being confined to the house, cleaning up vomit, washing out cancer wounds and disposing of your loved one’s bowel movements, (3) you will want to think to the future, your loved one will remember the past, and (4) you can neither make this thing end nor go away. In other words, you have no control!
13. You will become bitter as you see your life crumbling before your eyes. Your carefully constructed plans, goals, achievements, talents, skills and abilities are like fortified towers within you. These towers will begin to crumble as if hit by an earthquake. It will seem to you that your life has become nothing but rubble on a dry, desert floor.
14. You will feel guilty about the thoughts and desires you are having, not only towards your loved one, but about your own life in general.
15. And finally, remember, this is life through your eyes. It is not necessarily true life, but it is how you view it…at this time…in your situation. Be honest about this first or you will never get beyond the vicious circle of rage, bitterness and hopelessness.