Aging in Place. That's our goal for as long as possible. But it can have many faces. When my grandparents' health started to deteriorate, my parents moved in with them to help. When my grandparents on the other side of the family had health issues, they opted for assisted living for years. Then they moved in with my parents for the last few months of my grandfather's life. In both cases, it was a blessing to see the great example my parents set. And a blessing to get to spend extra time with each set of grandparents in the twilight of their lives even though it was followed shortly by a bittersweet season of grief and loss.
Fast forward two decades. When my dad's Parkinson's Disease progressed, my parents moved into my home. This was something I had anticipated and we had several aging in place options already installed. They moved in around June. A few months later, when I was out at a lovely Thanksgiving church musicale, my dad's simple cold turned into pnuemonia and I had to leave the service early to take him to the hospital.
I still remember how scared and concerned I felt as I drove to the house to pick them both up. Once there we worked with the palliative care team who prescribed hospice for him. What a shock! Here we were, in the midst of a season of joy and merriment, being hit hard as we entered a slow and sad journey down the "valley of the shadow of death."
It was a difficult holiday season for our family. I look back on it now, remembering many of the sad happenings but grateful there were also lovely lovely family memories sprinkled throughout. It was truly one of the most difficult times of my life! We didn't put many decorations up, that's for sure! But we were blessed throughout with the help of our beloveds and we came out on the other side grateful for the comforting presence of God throughout.
As we approach the holidays this year, you may be dealing with end of life issues, as we were. Or you may be in the throes of ongoing caregiving needs, as I am now. Or you may know of a friend or relative dealing with these issues – again, I am right there with you. Any and all of these are a challenge at any time, but especially so during the holiday seaons.
Because of a loved one's situation, I went to one of my favorite resources for dealing with grief and sorrow – Griefshare.Org. I again signed up for their free one-year subscription of daily emails. I was blessed with these when my dad passed away. I've shared this info with others who have dealt with loss. I had a friend who lost a beloved pet who was very comforted by them. I can't recommend them highly enough. And if you aren't sure a friend can or will sign up, you can sign up yourself and share individual ones with that friend – which can be as much a blessing to you as them. Such a great resource!
In addition to their onliine options, they provide grief care groups in various local churches all over the country. And right now, as the holidays approach, they have a special holiday seminar to provide support, encouragement, and practical stress-reducing ideas that will help you face and survive the holidays. I typed in my zip code and found five churches offering this seminar within 10 – 30 minutes of me. I checked zip codes for several of my loved ones. If you live in the country, it might be a further drive but the farthest I found was about an hour away. The course time varies with the location from 1- 2 hours for the seminar.
If you or a loved one of any age – including elderly seniors – are not looking forward to the holidays due to dealing with the pain and suffering that come with grief and sorrow, I would definitely encourage you to check out this holiday seminar from GriefShare.org along with their free daily email newsletters and other excellent resources. My family and I have been blessed by their ministry and I am hoping you and yours will be as well.