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Called to Care: A Daunting Challenge and Sacred Honor

Called to Care: A Daunting Challenge and Sacred Honor

Greetings one and all…

It’s with a heavy heart that I compose this reflection today. Earlier this week, I received the call to care for yet another family member. Since Micah is an elder in our family, it’s not a total surprise. But you are never totally prepared when the call to care lands in your lap. Over the past few weeks, we had been noticing some subtle changes in Micah’s demeanor and physique. However, we attributed the changes to the natural process of aging. This past week, the changes accelerated dramatically, thus prompting a medical consult. After a trip to the doctor for a full-panel blood test, we received the devastating news that Micah’s kidneys are failing. Consequently, we are in full-blown caregiver mode.

Since receiving the results yesterday morning, I have been ruminating on the myriad of “what ifs” related to our beloved Micah. What if I had recognized the signs of kidney failure sooner rather than later? What if Micah had been prescribed a renal diet years ago instead of yesterday? What if Micah could have told us that he was not feeling up to snuff—weeks or even months ago? It’s SO hard when beloved family members can’t articulate in words how they are feeling.  Oh, perhaps I forgot to note that Micah is our gorgeous, orange Maine Coon cat. A furry family member. No doubt, he has been sending out messages incessantly. But I failed to receive the signal and comprehend the dispatches. Needless to say, I am feeling a wee bit guilty this morning (an understatement to say the very least!).

Developing a Plan of Care

I am blessed to share this journey of caregiving with my housemate. Two heads and two hearts are proving beneficial for all involved. This morning over coffee, we spent considerable time discussing the situation and developing a plan of care. As we loved on our Micah, we expressed our sense of guilt, anger, sorrow, and frustration over this tragic turn of events. We talked. We raged. We cried. And we prayed. Ultimately, we acknowledged the reality of our situation and committed to enjoy whatever time we have left with Micah. Our family will readjust schedules, activities, priorities, and routines in order to compassionately care for Micah. Sound familiar? It should. It’s what families do!

So, once again life unfolded in an unexpected and unwelcome way. This is not what I had planned. But this is the hand we have been dealt. Just like any other caregiving situation, there are so many things beyond our control at this point. We have no idea how long Micah will live. We have no idea what other complications may arise in the days to come. But in the midst of all this uncertainty, there is one thing about which I am absolutely certain. Our experience of caring for Micah is predicated on how we choose to confront the situation—our attitude.

Called to care—a daunting challenge AND a sacred honor.

Consequently, I am choosing NOT to expend any more energy perseverating on the “what ifs” or feeling guilty about what I should have done. I can’t change the past. Instead, I choose to invest myself in the moment and to embrace the journey with my furry soulmate, Micah. One step at a time, we’ll companion Micah and savor every moment. Each step of this journey is precious. Being called to care for those we love is bittersweet. Companioning those we love to the end of the road is the hardest thing we do as a family. And yet, it’s a journey not to be missed. Called to care—a daunting challenge AND a sacred honor. Together, we will continue on.     

I look forward to the ongoing conversation. If you have specific questions or concerns related to your caregiving experience, I would love to hear from you. Until the next posting, I wish you and yours countless blessings…jane  

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