Life, by its very nature, requires many different types of closure. Sometimes closure yields a wonderful feeling, like a runner completing a marathon. Graduations, weddings, moving out of one’s childhood home all involve some sort of closure, but these events also bring the excitement of new opportunities, unexplored horizons, and causes for celebration. When the time comes to say goodbye in the relationship of the family caregiver and the loved one for whom you care, creating opportunities for closure is important to the health and well-being of both parties. With careful consideration, this closure can create good memories and positive feeling of confidence and love. Done well, caregiving closure feels satisfyingly good for everyone involved.
Caregiving closure requires more than a little planning, and it’s important to have intentional conversations with your loved one regarding decisions related to how their care will change in the days and weeks ahead. Talk together about their fears, concerns, and preferences. Perhaps you also have some of these feelings! Those for whom you care will appreciate being a part of the decision-making process, and the plans should come together more smoothly because of the caring communication you share.
If dementia is part of this equation, you will need to exercise much caution in how you approach the issue of transitioning care. Change of any kind can negatively disrupt someone whose mental state is compromised by Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. You will need to tread carefully and gauge how much you can reasonably share. Minimizing stress is essential to a successful transition, whether the change is to a new living environment or a new care provider.
Finally, take time to say goodbye, whether you are physically moving out of the area or just needing a mental break for an extended period of time. Part of letting go, of bringing closure, is experienced in stages similar to those we feel in grief. God allows us to endure grief in stages so that we can only bear as much as we are able to at any one time. The same is true for closure. Walking this pathway as a Christian will enable you to let this experience enrich you and your loved one as you each move into a new season of life, stronger and more complete as believers, and better equipped for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Chris and I have enjoyed sharing our hearts with you over the last four years here at Heart of the Caregiver. We hope that the words of encouragement, equipping, and empowering we have offered have given you strength and hope for your season of caregiving. This will be our last blog post at Heart of the Caregiver, and after September 20 this domain will no longer be ours. Thank you for joining our conversation each week. We know that God will continue to work mightily in your life as you seek His will, listen to His voice, study His Word, and follow His calling as a family caregiver. Go about each day and strengthen everyone you touch by sharing your heart, His heart.