WISDOM
Helpful Caregiving Question
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07/17/2015

Garvin, my brother-in-law had been suffering from dementia for approximately 7 years.  With each year, we saw a diminishing of the person we knew and loved.  He died this past July, and I wrote his wife, Barbara, the following email:

Dear Barbara:

I can only begin to imagine what it would be like to have my husband, lover and friend gradually diminish right before my eyes. I am so sorry about your pain.  I am so sorry that a once healthy man has been so diminished.

I wonder what two or three words you would choose to describe your Garvin as he was in his earlier years?  We look forward to hearing some of your stories soon.  I know what words I would use to describe you as a wife and friend of Garvin.  Those words are loyal, dedicated, strong and loving.

Thank you, Barbara, for loving and caring for my brother-in-law, Garvin.

Thinking of you,
Karen

Barbara responded, “I have read and reread your words over and over.  I will cherish them always.  I thought and thought of the words I find most descriptive of Garvin.  They are brave, honest, righteous, unwavering and kind.”

I share this letter with you not because I think it is a model to follow, but I believe that God gave me a helpful caregiving question, “What two or three words would you choose to describe your loved ones?”  It invites a grieving person to reflect and share.

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