The expression “A Month of Sundays” has been used since 1832 to describe long and dreary times, identified as 30 weeks – “a month of Sundays”. In earlier times, fun, games and amusements of any kind were forbidden on Sunday. Until I become an adult, I always thought it connoted a happy, relaxing time because when I was a little girl, Sundays were fun – no chores, no homework, going to church and Sunday school, being with family and have a great Sunday dinner.
Over the past several years, this idiom illustrates the turmoil surrounding my life, not for me personally, but for family members I love. New health crises escalating into ongoing health decline have made this time emotionally difficult for me and my family as we watch the aging process unfold mercilessly and feel helpless to stop it.
For most of us, growing old is a blessing; because, not to grow old means to die young. My grandmother, who died at the age of 86 more than 30 years ago, used to tell me, “Don’t get old. It’s not fun.” She was telling me this as she watched her friends die off before her, leaving her with a great sense of loss and sadness. At the time, I was still too young to understand (although I was in my mid-twenties) and grasp the complexities of the last stages of life.
Now I understand.
I understand the immense loneliness felt by the loss of family and friends.
I understand, when moving from their home into assisted living or skilled nursing, the fear and the harsh reality that this is the place where their lives end.
I understand the anxiety felt by them as other residents pass on before them.
I understand the regret they experience about things left undone.
I understand the deep sadness they feel as they realize their minds are slipping away.
I understand the frustration they feel as they search for the words, but can no longer communicate them.
I understand the apprehension they feel as their bodies fail them.
As our loved ones transition this last chapter, it is important that we, as the next generation behind them, stay connected to them, providing loving, emotional support and guidance. While it is certainly overwhelming at times because the “Baby Boomers” are truly the “sandwich generation” as has been described in numerous articles and commentary, it is important to keep in mind the “end game” – no regrets. Not being there for cherished loved ones in their greatest time of need, will mean regret.
Until Next Time,
(other posts on Eldercare)
- A Gifted Man
- All Roads Lead Home
- Both Sides of Clouds
- Do You Have One of These?
- Eldercare’s Blackhole
- High Flight
- Many a Winding Turn
- Murphy’s Law
- Requiem for My Father
- Running on Empty
- Senior Advocacy: What Adult Children Can Do to Help Their Aging Parents
- The Gift
- The Sunshine Gang