We had a post on this blog not too long ago about having a conversation with our parents in regards to planning for the future. It is imperative that we know about their long-term plans, care preferences, and probably the most difficult discussion of all, the funeral arrangements.
However, for some of us, the opportunity to have this discussion with our parents has come and gone and we are now the beneficiaries of aging parents who have little to no financial resources and are unable to care for themselves any longer. For some, this means the aging parent(s) will come to live with their adult children in order to provide the care they need because there isn’t enough money to consider any other option. For others, while there may be enough income to allow the parent(s) to live somewhat independently, such as in a home with caregivers, this too can be an equally difficult discussion when the time comes to make the change.
More often than not, the adult children also have children of their own at home and are now in the middle of a delicate balancing act. Between managing doctor appointments, school recitals, and ball games, how are we to be sure everyone is getting what they need? When funds are tight, how do are we to prioritize between our child’s medicine and Grandpa’s or Grandma’s?
As a Church, we need to care for our elderly, but when those elders are our own parents, it can add a whole new dimension to our lives. Tensions can run high, so it is important to remain in Christ, stay grounded in our faith and remember all the sacrifices our parents made in order to provide for us when we were growing up.
We also need to remember that we are part of a larger community, the Body of Christ. Not only can we rely on our Church for emotional assistance and counsel, but also, when our financial resources have been tapped, circumstances may dictate that we swallow our pride and make an appointment with our pastor to have a frank discussion about the situation.
Some parishes have counselors and financial advisors available to help outline a plan in order to ease the burden of guilt when we find ourselves between the proverbial “rock-and-hard-place”. We are also blessed to have outreach ministries such as Catholic Relief Services and The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which have been set up to help in instances such as these.
The journey is not easy, but as our parents near the end of their days on this earth, more than anything we need a spirit of compassion, a heart filled with empathy, and grace beyond measure. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
“Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you.”~Exodus 20:12