by Rev. Peter K. Stimpson
QUESTION: I am caring for my wife who has been battling cancer for 9 years. Her illness is terminal. I am drowning in a sea of stress. I feel so alone, so helpless, and so scared of what is coming. Can you help me cope?
ANSWER: Having myself been through what you are experiencing, here are some suggestions:
1. Let Others Help: You are strong, brave and loving. But, you feel alone. Letting others help does in no way lessen or tarnish your love. If you burnout, who does that help? So, how about this?
• Share your feelings with a relative, a friend, and/or your clergyperson.
• Join a support group.
• If you have children, encourage them to not only visit, but also pitch in; if they live at a distance, that may limit what they can do, but not eliminate it.
• Allow a home health aide or visiting nurse into your home to share some of your duties.
• Look into respite care; let someone give you a break – for a few hours, a day or even a weekend.
2. Let Your Spouse Help: Your wife may be weak physically, but she can still listen with empathy, help you find meaning amidst loss, positives amidst a seeming tidal wave of negatives, and spiritual growth amidst physical illness and death. Her insights will give you clarity of vision for living the rest of your life!
3. Local Resources: And in addition, here are three local resources:
• Princeton Senior Resource Center: They have a support group for caregivers, let alone a myriad of other services for our senior citizens; call 609-924-7108 or look on www.princetonsenior.org.
• Trinity Counseling Service: My center offers counseling to help caregivers cope; call us at 609-924-0060 or look on www.trinitycounseling.org.
• Nurturing the Nurturer Conference: Come to a free conference offered by the YWCA, the Princeton Resource Center, Trinity Counseling Service, Wisdom and Beyond, LLC, and Bon Appétit on Saturday, January 15th, from 9 AM to 12 Noon at the YWCA (59 Paul Robeson Place in Princeton). You will be nurtured by many ideas on coping from local professionals, such as our keynote speaker, Dr. Teena Cahill, who will speak about the need to help people switch from a model of “Care Giving” to “Care Partners”. And, wanting to nurture your body as well as your soul, we shall have some great food generously provided by Bon Appétit. Call 609-497-2100 or look at www.ywcaprinceton.org.
I hope this helps. Please consider coming on January 15th. I would love to have a chance to shake your hand and give you a hug.
Trinity Counseling Service. 22 Stockton Street, Princeton. 609-924-0060.