From my 2018 calendar produced by Sounds True, this quote from Kelly McGonigal:
“Our capacity to notice suffering, be moved, and respond is not just a form of caregiving or love – it is a form of courage.”
In February of 2018 this was the page on my calendar. As I learned more about my husband’s suffering from a critical illness I also learned more about caregiving, my capacity to notice suffering and the courage required to walk through that awful illness and recovery. Every day the calendar spoke to me and helped me.
Recently we were made aware of the suffering of a 78-year-old widow. Living alone she had slowly let herself stop eating and drinking, falling into a deeper and deeper depression. When her family discovered her condition, she told wild tales of falling down the stairs. Said she did not want to bother anyone after she fell. She evidently waited three days to tell anyone. Weird thing was there was no bruising on her. No stairways that would let her fall head first, though maybe bounce on her bottom. CT scan showed no brain bleed or other problem. Her isolation, mental habit of worry and fret, lack of exercise and nutrition likely all contributed to her condition. She was hospitalized for several days to rehydrate her and get her stabilized. Then moved to a care facility to work on her strength, physical stability and mental capacity. They will eventually move her to a small apartment in the same complex.
When we went to help the family make sense and put into order her condo, everyone was stunned. The mailbox had not been opened for about 2 months. The dishwasher was overflowing with dirty dishes as were the kitchen sinks and counters. Broken and burned out light bulbs were in several places. When the light was returned to the laundry room, empty bottles of laundry soap, fabric softener and piles of soiled laundry along with broken glass were deep on the floor.
My first response was fear. Oh my! I better get back to walking or being in the pool at the YMCA or this could be my future. Especially if something happens to my husband. Then pity that she let herself despair to this point. I too suffered a bad bout with depression several years ago. When I worked my way out of it with therapy and loving care, I vowed to never let myself do that again. No matter what others do or how they behave, my mental health would be my #1 priority.
Then I was angry at her. And we are not even related. It has taken a reminder from the calendar quote to bring me back to the point of noticing her suffering and having the courage to go see her. I want to be loving and non-judgmental. I do not live in her head, so I really do not know exactly the components of her suffering.
God help me to respond and be moved with Your love and the courage of the Lion of Judah.