Thursday, 21 September 2017

Christian Principles: On How To Care For Aging Parents

Life is in phases, time to be nurtured by our parents and time to care of our aging parents.
The book  of Ecclesiastes is full of  hard truths about the experience of life.

One of the most unpleasant realities  we read  about is death. No one likes to think about the aging process and particularly the eventual death of parents.

"I know, " the head affirms, "that every person will grow old and die." But emotionally the heart says."Not my parents."

Reality has a way of intruding on our denial, as Ecclesiastes 12:2-7 points out.

As aging parents age and die, the family that we knew in the past changes forever.

The signs creep up on you. You aging mother says she can no longer prepare the holiday meals for the family, and it falls on you to have them over for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Your aging father, who always used to tell you what to do, calls and asks your advice on whether he should travel in bad weather.

Your aging mother, who was a math whiz, suddenly can't seem to balance her checkbook.

Your realize that your father's eyesight is falling, and he really shouldn't be driving.

Incident like these are the first inkling of the inevitable role reversal, the day when you become the protector of those who protected you.

All change is uncomfortable, and this change really threatens us. Yet, as this passage of Ecclesiastes reminds us, youth and strength do not last for anyone.

Ecclesiastes comforts us, not with soothing cliches, but with the reassurance that what we are going through is both natural and normal.

Troubles will come with advancing age; darkness and cloudiness are as much a part of life as light and sunshine.

Why is it so hard for us to accept this?
Unfortunately, we live in a death denying culture that demands we suppress our awareness of life's shadows.

Nobody wants to talk about sickness and death - its too depressing and as for mourning, forget it! Nobody wants to see us mourn.

Yet, because people live so much longer today, the old sometimes suffer poor health for a long time.

As a result, adult children are often forced to begin the mourning process long before their aging parents' actual death.

When your aging parents are no longer the strong, active people you used to depend on, you mourn the loss. When you have to help them do things they can no longer do for themselves, you mourn and so do they.

Whom can we talk about this gradual grieving process?

Fortunately, we can talk to God. As our creator, he understands our needs.

We can also share our feelings with our siblings who, you may be sure, struggle with negative emotions of their own.

Finally, we should be able to share these thoughts with fellow christians who can accept our grief without judging or condemning us.

Of course, there is no substitute for experience. Those who have helped their own elderly parents  are often the best source for practical advice and empathy.

Caring for your aging parents is not an impossible burden when it is shared, as God intended it to be.
What we must not do is condemn ourselves for what the Bible says is only to be expected.
We cannot fix old age or make those who are preparing to leave this world young and whole again.
It does no good for family members to "be strong" for one another and never express  what they feel.
Talk to your aging parents about the aging process that is robbing of their vitality.
This may be difficult, but you must prepare each other for the eventual and inevitable separation.
Neither should we be putting on a happy face and pretending all is well for the benefit of other believers who there's something wrong with our christian walk if we're not joyful all the time.
When we are honest before God, he will draw us close to himself and give us his strength and joy.

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