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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.


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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. March 18, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Posted by Gail Stewart

    Read the article about fear and it really hit home in that my greatest fear in dealing with my husband's progression in this disease will be that I will not be able to cope and do something to hurt him emotionally and found what she had to say very helpful and pray I can con tinue and do what I cann to help him and seek the people who can help me to continue to do so


  2. March 18, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Posted by Becky Morris

    This is the first time I have read your Blog. I think God had a hand in sending it to me at just the right time. Doesn't He always? Almost 3 years ago my husband was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment. He now is probably in the "moderate" stage. He also was recently diagnosed with COPD. Double whammy I feel. I read all of your writings that were on this current email. Very helpful. The Feerless one is a good reminder for each day!. The Friendship or Romance also. After 61 years it's nice to remember they are so connected. Even after 61 years. Thank you.


  3. February 28, 2016 at 1:36 am | Posted by Oliverose

    One of the things we do as a students to establish our independence is claim our self on tax documents. It occurred to me that young individuals who are planning for college could collaborate with their parents or grandparents who are preparing for retirement. It isn't very easy to convince family to put the future of their finance in the hands of an individual who doesn't have a degree! If a generation could take a fearless leap, I think my family could agree!


  4. January 18, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Posted by Roberta Roberts

    Should cut down my work hours? I work a full time stressful job.I work all day then I have to go home to my mother who has dementia, and suffers from sundowners. When I get home I have to clean up messes, (my caregiver doesn't clean), make dinner, deal with any problems my mother may have created, wash her bedding and clothes from that day, then bathe and change her. At night I have to make sure she doesn’t do the great escape. Weekends I catch up on all the household chores. I’m having a hard time keeping on top of things including her bad behavior. She Spits, cusses, throws things (food especially), refuses to eat (because she wants cookies instead), is defiant, likes to wear dirty clothes, and try to roam outside, etc. I tell her that this behavior is unacceptable. I tell her to behave herself (to an extent) or no treats. This has gone on for 6 years. I never thought that at 55 I have to take care of my mother. After raising 3 children as a single parent, I thought that after the kids left the house, I would be able to do the things I want and go where I want. WRONG


    • January 20, 2016 at 7:47 am | Posted by Georgene Lahm

      Dear Roberta, Please call your local or state Alzheimer's Association and tell them what is happening to you.They may be able to provide you with some suggestions. Most also have support groups where you could talk with others who may be going through the same things. Faith communities and area agencies on aging are other great resources. I also would like to make you aware of the book "Confidence to Care," which provides tips and suggestions for managing the behaviors of a dementia disease like Alzheimer's. There is a free app for phones based on the content of this book. Good luck to you, Roberta.


    • March 18, 2016 at 11:20 am | Posted by Beth

      My sister died suddenly August 10, 2013 suddenly of a heart attack she was 49years old. She and I took care of mom who has Alzehemiers and dementia and my dad who has colon cancer . Luckily mom and dad are divorced because dealing with them together would be very bad . I have a older brother who lives in California he calls once in awhile and says if you need anything call. Great ...... After my sister died everyone helped , now everyone is gone... I. Truly alone . I buy all of dads groceries and take him to his appointments. Mom is a handful full care , I work as a RN and my sister was a RN . I am 54 have severe Psoratic arthrtits, on chemo and humeria work full time 3 13 hour shifts a week . Have a caregiver for mom who does nothing all day I pay 19 an hour for. Luckily mom dosent wander she dosent walk well .... My one blessing her not wandering ...somedays I'm in such pain from my arthrtits I just want to cry , I still mourn my best friend and sister . I miss her so much I bawl myself to sleep. I haven't children never married . Geri told me before she died it's just her and I taking care of mom and dad ... Because my brother was no help ..... Now it's just me ... I have friends who want to go out but I just want to sleep ( my fav hobby ) ....I'm sending hugs to all us caregivers and extra hugs for Roberta ....I understand your pain ....


    • March 18, 2016 at 6:02 pm | Posted by Susan

      This is exactly how my Mom is acting in her group home. Unfortunately, they do not have enough staff to keep up with her constantly changing mood and behavior. They call me daily with another complaint about her; and how they want the doctor to call in Medications to help keep her calm. She has fallen several times, on her dresser, and last week she escaped out the front door and fell face first on the concrete. I of course am against medications, but do not know what else to do, as I live in another state.


  5. January 17, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Posted by Pat Urbanovsky

    Wow, this may hit home for so many. Thank you for such a well written inspiration. We will be thinking of you and Brian in the next few weeks.


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