This Is the Silent Ache of Caregiving for a Sick Spouse

Caregiving

My life is filled with the ache of caregiving for a sick spouse…a man I love deeply.

I worship alone 99.7% of the time. On the surface, it’s not a big deal. Corporate worship negates the solitary; voices raised in unison, hands lifted in praise, hearts kneeling in prayer. Corporate worship is communal and community, the broken falling down before the throne of grace, common in their bankruptcy and need. So, really, I don’t worship alone.

Except.

I do.

Caregiving Is a Lonely Journey

As Len’s condition has progressed, he is less and less able to make it to church. It’s such a rarity, that, when he’s actually beside me, I can barely concentrate. My Spidey-hovering senses roar into overdrive and I drive him a bit batty checking if he’s okay. He’s perfected a glare that succinctly says, ‘Leave me alone, woman, you’re losing it.’ He’s usually right.

I do a lot of things alone. ‘We’ were part of a dinner club, but Len was only able to attend once. Most birthday parties and small group gatherings I attend solo. Church meetings, special events, trips to the zoo… I frequently need to take a deep breath and head out the door on my own.

Over a year ago, in my darker days, I could barely leave the house. Stepping over the threshold into a life that Len didn’t seem to share was overwhelming and exhausting. I had the privilege of being able to work. He didn’t. I had a social life and the energy to visit with friends. He didn’t. I ran errands and browsed stores. He stayed home. Typically, less than an hour after I had left, he would text me: ‘Going to bed. Hope you’re having fun.’

I love being married. I do.

He is my best friend, my whole heart. I am deeply grateful that we were brought together so each could choose the other.

There are days, however, when I feel single. No, that’s not entirely true.

There are moments when I feel single.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. Truly. I know there are people reading this who would love to be married, and I mean no disrespect or harm to them. I am deeply aware and grateful that I get to be wife to my best friend. I know it is a gift not given to all.

Within the reality of spousal caregiving there is something that leaves some feeling single and alone in moments. The days when Len is asleep when I leave for work and ready for bed by the time I get home. The days I cook for one and eat alone and attempt adult conversation with the dogs, which only works (poorly) while there’s food on my plate. The days when an important event is happening and he would love to go but simply cannot, so I head out alone. Again. Or almost every Sunday morning where my first prayer as my feet touch the floor is ‘Please, let him have slept well enough that we can go to church together.’ Hours later, I smile politely at the ushers and find myself a seat for one.

I squirm a bit over this admission. I worry I sound ungrateful or pathetic. I wonder if, of all common within spousal caregiving, I stand alone in this. Am I the only one who feels this way? I tell myself I’m not, and plunge ahead.


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