Friday, February 24, 2012

The Caregiver

Saint Gebriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Cathedral in Seattle. (click to enlarge).

Caregivers must Care for Themselves


My dear mother was diagnosed with dementia, back in 2003. Soon after the diagnosis I moved her from Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, and into an assisted living place on Vashon Island, where I could be involved in the supervision of her care. The dementia progressed for the next four years, and almost from the beginning, she needed me to be with her as much as possible. I spent hours ever day by her side, taking her on drives around the island, treating her to lunches in the Chinese restaurant, and bringing her to the monastery for services. Attending to her spiritual and social needs, as best I could, and felt blessed I was able to do this for her.

My willingness to sacrifice my time and energy for my mother, in her time of need, was based not only on my love for her, but I saw this as an opportunity to pay her back for all the love and care she had given me while I was growing up.

Increasingly, people of my generation are being called upon to be caregivers for parents, siblings, or other family members. As the economy falters, we are, as a society having to take on responsibilities that were in past generations, the norm. Extended families were common during most of our nations history, where multiple generations living in one home was the norm. The elderly were seldom sent to live in institutions. 

It is important that caregivers not sacrifice their own spiritual and social needs, as they take on the extra burden of attending to the physical, medical, and social needs of their family member. Caregivers have every right to have a life of their own, taking care to attend to their own needs for friendships, social engagements, and church life. The caregiver must not feel guilty, or feel they are betraying their loved one, when they step out with friends for dinner and a movie. They should not feel they are abandoning their responsibility by attending the divine services, or partaking in a Bible study.

I know only too well, that, as a priest, I must tend to my own needs, if I am to minister to others. When we allow ourselves to be depleted, spiritually and emotionally, we do a disservice to those whom we serve. We should not feel a though we are betraying our family member, (or, in the case of a priest, a parishioner) when we spend an evening with friends, or take time out with other family members for a special outing. When we allow ourselves to become depleted, the person in our care will ultimately suffer, for a care giver (or priest) who becomes resentful, can slip into being abusive, without even realizing it.

There are any number of organizations that can provide in-home care when the caregiver needs a break. Whether you be a caregiver, social worker, or a priest, anyone who is in service to others, must be sure to take care of themselves, lest they become ineffective in their service to others. When flying on an airline, we are instructed by the flight attendant, when the oxygen apparatus falls down, to place it over our own face before taking care of the person next to us. Likewise, if we do not take care of our own spiritual, emotional, and social needs, we will ultimately fail in our ministering to others.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

click to enlarge

Photos: We had lunch at Saint Gebriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Cathedral in Seattle. Left to right: Father Seraphim Majmudar, rector of Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Tacoma, Bishop Abuna Ioannis of Portland, Oregon, Abbot Tryphon, Archbishop Abuna Elias, of Stockholm, Sweden, Monk Moses, and Abba Melake Birhan, chancellor of the Seattle Ethiopian diocese.

Friday February 24, 2012 / February 11, 2012
Week of the Last Judgment. Tone three.
Maslenitsa. Meat is excluded

Hieromartyr Blaise, bishop of Sebaste (316).
St. Vsevolod (in holy baptism Gabriel), prince and wonderworker of Pskov (1138).
Venerable Demetrius, monk of Priluki (Vologda) (1392).
St. Theodora, wife of Emperor Theophilus the Iconoclast (867).
St. Gobnait, abbess of Ballyvourney, Cork (Ireland) (7th c.) (Celtic & British).
Venerable Caedmon of Whitby, monk (680) (Celtic & British).
Venerable George (Kratovac) the Greatmartyr of Serbia (Greek).
Hieromartyr Lucius of Adrianopolis in Thrace (348).
St. Benedict of Aniane (821) (Gaul).

We are hoping to retire the mortgage debt of $250,000.00. Having this handing over our heads, and knowing the bank owns the monastery, is not a good thing. Your prayers are most appreciated, as we need a miracle.

Donations can be made directly to the monastery through PayPal, or you may send donations to:

All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA

Zechariah 8:7-17

“Thus says the Lord of hosts:
‘Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east
And from the land of the west;
I will bring them back,
And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
They shall be My people
And I will be their God,
In truth and righteousness.’

“Thus says the Lord of hosts:
‘Let your hands be strong,
You who have been hearing in these days
These words by the mouth of the prophets,
Who spoke in the day the foundation was laid
For the house of the Lord of hosts,
That the temple might be built.
10 For before these days
There were no wages for man nor any hire for beast;
There was no peace from the enemy for whoever went out or came in;
For I set all men, everyone, against his neighbor.

11 But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days,’ says the Lord of hosts.

12 ‘For the seed shall be prosperous,
The vine shall give its fruit,
The ground shall give her increase,
And the heavens shall give their dew—
I will cause the remnant of this people
To possess all these.
13 And it shall come to pass
That just as you were a curse among the nations,
O house of Judah and house of Israel,
So I will save you, and you shall be a blessing.
Do not fear,
Let your hands be strong.’

14 “For thus says the Lord of hosts:
‘Just as I determined to punish you
When your fathers provoked Me to wrath,’
Says the Lord of hosts,
‘And I would not relent,
15 So again in these days
I am determined to do good
To Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.
Do not fear.
16 These are the things you shall do:
Speak each man the truth to his neighbor;
Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace;
17 Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor;
And do not love a false oath.
For all these are things that I hate,’
Says the Lord.”

Zechariah 8:19-23

19 “Thus says the Lord of hosts:
‘The fast of the fourth month,
The fast of the fifth,
The fast of the seventh,
And the fast of the tenth,
Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts
For the house of Judah.
Therefore love truth and peace.’
20 “Thus says the Lord of hosts:
‘Peoples shall yet come,
Inhabitants of many cities;
21 The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying,
“Let us continue to go and pray before the Lord,
And seek the Lord of hosts.
I myself will go also.”
22 Yes, many peoples and strong nations
Shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem,
And to pray before the Lord.’
23 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”

The PodCast is always different than the blog article.

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