Storms of the Heart

During a conversation with a young man at church, I learned he is excited about his job in youth ministry.  He politely inquired about my work.  I explained I am retired but hard at work on daily devotional for caregivers.  “My grandmother sure needs that.  Let me know when I can but if for her.”  “Oh, your grandmother is a caregiver?  For your grandfather?  What are his health issues, if you don’t mind me asking?”  After he briefed me on the situation, I commented, “I sure do understand what your grandmothers faces.  It’s so difficult to be a healthy spouse.  Most of us have to deal with a lot of anger.”  “Oh, you nailed it.  She’s angry.  Last week she offered me her frequent flyer miles and said she knew she would never be able to travel again.  She’s also sad and lonely.”

“Yes, many caregivers have an overwhelming sense of isolation, which compounds the anger.  An occasional phone call from a thoughtful grandson can help. ”  Phone calls and cards from relatives and friends encourage us.  Caregiving tosses us into bewildering spiritual journey not of our own choosing.  I have discovered storms of anger can build in our hearts and mess with our souls.  With each new sandbar and rolling wave, the anger surfaces, and we have to fumble for a life vest one more time.  Our care receivers are in pain, depressed, coping with the latest problems, but so are we.

People have different ways of dealing with caregiving maelstroms.  One man (his wife had Alzheimer’s) sometimes went into his garage and threw things at the wall.  Crying spells provide great release and relief.  Some people garden, work on computer, keep a journal, or read.  Some stomp around the dining room table in a rage.  People try a variety of coping strategies – not always helpful.  Aching hearts don’t disappear with overindulgence in food, alcohol or tranquilizers.

The most effective coping mechanism for me is a morning regimen of bible study, daily devotions, and prayer.  Anger is a major problem for me, and I have learned I can’t do anger management by myself.  I saw a framed saying precisely describes what happens during my morning ritual: “Sometimes God calms the storm…  Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.” God delivers those who cry to God in their trouble, and brings them out of their distress.  God does not remove the problems but stills the inner storm and hushes the rolling sea.

He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.  Psalms 107:29

Thank you to the source of this story: Not Alone Encouragement for Caregivers by Nell E. Noonan