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Grief and the pastoral caregiver - Matthew 11:28

June 25, 2011
Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 ♥
Ordained or not, people who are called to care for others will at some point need to reach out for help when they experience grief.  Professionals who are gifted and equipped to minister and care for the ill or dying must realize that they cannot stay in the same role when it comes to their families, friends – those they deeply love. I am sharing my journey to help those who find themselves in my situation.
My mother is terminally ill and we recently authorized palliative care to ease her symptoms and pain. Our goal now is not to cure, but to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life for as long as life remains. While we’ve been prepared for months to make this decision, it still hit me like a ton of bricks. I had a dark night of the soul. My heart is heavy.
The day after we authorized palliative care, I found myself comforting the staff at the nursing home where my mom lives. These precious people have cared for her for almost two years and remember her as a vital part of their community.
Since I have a tendency to not ask for help, I immediately reached out to talk to my Chaplain/Pastor, who gave me wonderful counsel:
·        I must allow myself to be my mother’s daughter
·        I must grieve and not allow myself to take care of others during this time in an attempt to cover or mask my pain
·        I have to feel my pain
·        I cannot control how my siblings will react during this time
·        I can share my journey with my siblings, but they each have their own relationship with Mom that I need to respect
As my Pastor/Chaplain told me, we mask the pain by attempting to stay in control when in fact; this is when we need the comfort of others. Professionally, I know this. Personally, I'm my Mother's daughter...
Palliative care, also called comfort care, is primarily directed at providing relief to a terminally-ill person through symptom management and pain management. The goal is not to cure, but to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life for as long as life remains.

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