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Posted: June 26, 2008

Spousal Caregiving

My Caregiving Journey Has Ended!

(A tribute to my wife, Carol)

Bill Andrew

On Monday, June 9, 2008, my role as a family caregiver for my wife, Carol, ended with her succumbing to the ravages of a 14-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. Despite my best efforts -- some have called those efforts "heroic" -- our Lord, Jesus Christ, wanted her to enjoy her heavenly reward. May she rest in peace. 

As I sit here writing this column, I am reminded of the hymn "The Strife Is O'er, The Battle Won" written by an unknown author in Latin, possibly in the 12th Century. The words go like this and symbolize the feelings of many people, including me, who go through this trial and the tribulations thereof:

 

            The strife is o'er, the battle done;

The victory of life is won;

The song of triumph has begun -- Alleluia!

 

The powers of death have done their worst;

But Christ their legions hath dispersed;

Let shouts of holy joy outburst -- Alleluia!

 

The three sad days are quickly sped;

He rises glorious from the dead;

All glory to our risen Head -- Alleluia!

 

He closed the yawning gates of hell;

The bars from heaven's high portals fell;

Let hymns of praise His triumph tell -- Alleluia!

 

Lord, by the stripes which wounded Thee,

From death's dread sting Thy servants free,

That we may live, and sing to Thee -- Alleluia!

 

As I reflect upon the words of the above hymn, especially the first verse, I find that those words do ring true. Carol's strife is over -- and her earthly battle is done. She has won the victory of life, since she is now in the bosom of our Lord and God -- the ultimate end-of-life destination we all strive for. 

 

While I grieve now, and will continue to grieve for some time to come, her song of triumph has begun and will continue forever. For Carol has achieved the goal of returning to her heavenly Father. She is now free of the earthly afflictions that had besieged her for the past 14 years -- and the trials and tribulations of being a care-recipient who can not do anything for herself. She is free of earthly constraints and can enjoy the relationship of God, Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother, and the angels and saints.

 

My life will continue on as a "former" family caregiver, but in my heart, I will always remember these past 14 years as "the best years of my life." This in spite the stresses and strains that besiege all family caregivers. This was my marital commitment to Carol on August 22, 1951: “until death do us part." I will continue to advocate for the family caregivers in my community -- in fact, for all family caregivers. 

 

May God bless you and your loved ones as you continue on this "journey of faith." I ask that you keep me in your prayers, as I will you in mine. My goal with this column is to share my life experiences as a family caregiver with others who are traveling this same journey, albeit so you can learn from the personal lessons I learned the hard way. I hope that you have benefited from this and previous columns.

 

Please e-mail me at ASKBill@caregivershome.com with your comments and/or reactions. I will include them in a future column with your permission. Please provide your full name and address. In the column, I will only use your first name and the initial of your last name as well as your city and state. Thank you.

 

WORDS TO CARE BY . . .

 

"Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side,

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In every change, He faithfully will remain.

Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end."

 

Katharina A. von Schlegel (1697-1768)

Music for this hymn is Finlandia by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)


Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at ASKBill@caregivershome.com.

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