I typically look forward to a new year with excitement and anticipation. But, as 2015 came to a close, I found myself with one overwhelming feeling: fear.
I’ve finally come to realize that being a family caregiver isn’t a single-minded focus. We are family caregivers, but we play other roles, too, like spouse, friend, mother/father, employee. And when the people in our lives, for whom we love and care, are living their own heartaches, that affects us as well.
2015 was a watershed year for me. It was a year to remember that life is short, unpredictable and precious. I’ve shared with you the details about my 93-year-old mother-in-law’s death in the fall and my 91-year-old father’s multiple health problems. But battles have waged among those around me as well.
In 2015 I attended six funerals. Sudden and untimely deaths, and long illnesses touched the lives of people I care about. On May 5, a man with whom I’d worked nearly every week for 15 years, died from a massive heart attack at the age of 48. Then, on a beautiful fall weekend, my pastor’s 41-year-old wife passed away unexpectedly, leaving behind a devastated family, friends and congregation.
Tragedies add to the stress and turmoil that family caregivers face. We want to be there for others, but sometimes it’s all we can do to keep our heads above water, right? Throw stress, anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed into a pot and stir. It’s a recipe for fear.
Fear of what, you ask? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s a fear of what could be lurking just around the corner.
My father was always the one to squelch my fears. He was brave and strong, and quick to tell me everything would be fine. When I had my tonsils out, he told me I’d be OK because it was a long way from my heart. Now he’s depending on me and other family members. And, at 91, some days he, too, seems fearful.
For the past two years, my company has followed the one-word program, based on the book “One Word That Will Change Your Life.” It’s a way to simplify work and home by honing our focus to one word. So, as 2015 drew to a close, it seemed fitting that my word for the new year should be “fearless.”
I’d already picked the word when I knew there was an appropriate Bible verse, 2 Timothy 1:7 (MEV), that could help put my word into action. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” The message to Christians, when put in context of this Bible chapter, is to be bold in professing faith. But it’s a powerful verse that reminds us that fear is a choice.
With my holiday money, I found a “fearless” necklace that would remind me of my word. I knew it was meant for me when I saw an attached little garnet – my favorite stone.
So, in 2016, to the best of my ability, I will attempt to be confident. I’ll face health problems – like my husband’s prostate cancer surgery in February – with boldness. I will try to do better to share love with those around me. I will remember to forgive myself and others. I will practice self-control. I will be the best spouse, mother, daughter, friend and employee I can be.
I will choose to be fearless or, at the very least, try to calm this shaking in my boots.
Get helpful tips and articles like these delivered to your email.