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Posted: March 02, 2005

Spousal Caregiving

Be Still, My Soul : It Works!

Bill Andrew

As spousal caregivers, we are frequently challenged by our spouses regarding the care we are providing. This is especially frustrating for those of us who are caregivers for spouses afflicted with the various stages of Alzheimer's disease and other related dementia disorders. Many times, the spouse?s reality is not the caregiver?s reality. When the caregiver gets so frustrated that they throw their hands into the air, it is good to reflect on something spiritual other than the many prayers that we offer up to God each day.

The poem "Be Still, My Soul" is one that has helped me in my time of need, and I wanted to share it with you. The original words are by Katharina A. von Schlegel, in Neue Sammlung Geistlicher Lieder, 1752, (Stille, meine Wille, dein Jesus hilft siegen). The English translation is by Jane L. Borthwick in Hymns from the Land of Luther, 1855. It can be accompanied with the music "Finlandia", Jean Sibelius, 1899. Here it is:


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 faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, be leaving, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased Eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of Life Divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Click on the links below to listen to the Finlandia music while you read and appreciate the poem:

www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/b/e/bestill.htm
www.dwighthogland.com/be_still_my_soul.htm
www.cgmusic.com/cghymnal/others/bestillmysoul.htm

Let?s reflect on some of the words above as they relate to our caregiving:

?Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.? As a spousal caregiver, we too are bearing a ?cross of grief or pain? although perhaps not in the same way that our spouse does. The key words here are ?bear patiently? and placing your trust in God since He is ?on thy side.? I take these words to heart.

?Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last.? As a spousal caregiver, we must have ?confidence? in what we do for our spouse. That confidence can only be obtained by education and experience -- something that comes with time and support from others who ?have been there and done that.? Support groups can play a key role in learning and experiencing the quality care that we deliver for our spouse ? what was ?mysterious? is now enlightening. My personal experience can attest to that.

?Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart, Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.? Again, as a spousal caregiver, we should know that God is with us at all times during our spousal caregiver trials and tribulations ? His ?love? is with us always. His love for us and our spouse comes by way of prayer to ?soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.? Prayer continues to sustain me as a spousal caregiver.

?When disappointment, grief and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.? We all experience ?disappointment, grief, and fear? and ?sorrow? as we enter into the role of spousal caregiver. But if we have confidence in ourselves, with God?s help through prayer, ?love?s purest joys restored.? I count my blessings every day for the little things that Carol expresses in her words, mannerisms, and reactions as a direct result of the tender loving care that I provide for her as her spousal caregiver.

?Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways, So shall He view thee with a well pleased Eye.? I acknowledge God?s presence continually throughout the day ? for the opportunities that He has provided for me to be a spousal caregiver for Carol and for providing me with the patience and capability I need on a daily basis. Hopefully, ?He will view me? according to my deeds when my time comes.

As indicated above, I reflect on the words of this poem while playing the music ?Finlandia? whenever I need to ?recharge my batteries.? As spousal caregivers, we know that there is an end game when our spouse will no longer be with us. This being the case, I always ?go to God? in my time of need. Do you? May God continue to bless you and your spouse.

WORDS TO CARE BY?

"Be still, and know that I am God."

(Psalm 46:10)


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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