No matter what adversities we encounter, we can always grow spiritually. My spouse Julie was diagnosed at age 57 with Alzheimer’s. She has lived in memory care for the past 7 years. She is now in hospice. This is one of six blogs about what Julie needed from me as her caregiver and how her needs shaped my spiritual growth.
Julie needed me to lean into reality – let go as reality required – and let come whatever was next.
Our entire marriage had been built on honest communication and trust. I needed to have conversations with others about her condition when she wasn’t there. That felt so unfaithful. I needed to engage in therapeutic fibbing. Using logic no longer worked. Nor did arguing to correct her misperceptions.
For the first few years, we did everything Alzheimer’s related together. Eventually, I realized that she was going to her death alone and I could not go with her. I could be an important part of her life but her path was different.
She contracted COVID and pneumonia and survived both. Both times, I was preparing myself psychologically and emotionally to lose her. I am now ready for her to go, and even wish for her sake and mine that it will be sooner rather than later. It is time for the suffering to end.
All of these challenges required me to be in touch with and give space to my grieving. I learned that when my body felt drained and heavy, it was often the sign that it was time to consciously grieve. My body knew before my mind and even my feelings were aware. Certain books, music, ways of praying, and private retreats were the best vehicles for that process to take place.
Life has required me to embrace the reality of what was, not the way I wanted things to be. I had to lean in, let go, and let come whatever was next, trusting that life would go on.