Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thoughts Of A Nurse Aid: Elderly People Need Love Too

I wrote this post awhile ago, back when I'd been at my job for nine months. Feb. 20, I'll have been there two years.

    Today I saw this video, and felt the need to share all this.

       It's easy to take love for granted, until you begin to love those who don't feel loved at all.
       Mmm... So many of my residents don't take love for granted - even the smallest gestures can change their whole attitude... To me, one of the saddest things I heard a resident say after I hugged her was, "Thank you; that means so much...." She paused, and said kinda sadly, "You know, nobody hugs you when you get old." ... Those words hurt.

           Many of my people are lonely. They don't get hugs often at all, or get told, "I love you." or told, "I'm happy to see you today." They are away from their families, and miss a lot of the freedoms they used to have. Some of them can't speak anymore, or even get out of bed by themselves. Many of them have lost spouses, siblings, friends. Many of them have aches and pains... And they are just like you and me. They need to know that they are loved.
        A resident asked me a few days ago, "How did you get to be so loving?"
        I laughed and said, "I don't know, it just happened!" Then I stopped and said, "I have Jesus in my heart. He helps a lot."
       She said, "That's right honey. Jesus died for our sins."
       And for that moment... we were simply two Christians thinking about Jesus.
        There are elderly Christians in my building. They need to be reminded that they have purpose. They still delight God. They are still able to pray. God still hears them and loves them... You can see it in the lives of those who love God - their peace and strength in Him - but like any Christian, they need encouragement.
       God's love is the impression I want to leave. Gosh it can be hard - some days, honestly, I do what I do, and forget to try and be love - I go through the motions - doing my work, and my best, but not beyond that. Some days, I am tired and there are some residents who are mean - sharp worded, and never happy with what we do.... But I am still called to love - no matter the person, no matter my feelings. (I'm still working on loving certain people. There are some who are... hard to love... but I suppose they need it the most, don't they? Mmm.). Those who love me are reminders to me to focus on the positive, and to find joy in what I do because I can be there to serve and love.

          You know what? Loving isn't easy...Sometimes I don't have a spirit of love and patience... And sometimes - love hurts.
         Towards the end of my shift tonight, I was thinking about the last 9 months of this job. My mind flitted to the aspect of death... (Not that anyone died today, but it's just on my mind.) It always feels wrong - even when I know it is coming. It always is just a bit surprising in a way... It's because we weren't made to die and in the depths of us, we feel the wrongness of it all.
        I've watched families grieve, both while their family member is fading, and after they've died. I've watched people in the process of dying. I've crouched beside a bed, and prayed a welcome into Heaven for a woman who had just gone to be with Jesus - oh, I could imagine her joy... I've gone away for some time off, and had a Christian resident I loved very much suddenly pass away while I was gone... Loving people who aren't going to be around much longer...that can hurt... Somehow though, it's not as mind-numbing as I thought it'd be... It reminds me to cherish the life I have, and love fully while I have the chance.
        In the beginning, I didn't know how I'd handle this job, emotionally. There are difficult aspects to it - usually I just talk about the joyful parts. But I feel I've found where God wants me, and He keeps teaching me... growing me... Giving me strength and love I didn't know I had. Ha - so much more patience than I ever dreamed I could muster... I can't do it without Him. You can tell me I do well - and yes, I do try - but all my trying wouldn't do that much without God with me. He is the reason I am who I am. I'm not doing anything special. I'm just bumbling through life, trying to follow Jesus... He tells us to love one another deeply from the heart.
        God is love... How are we showing His love to others? Do you ever consider - how are you showing love to the elderly, the shut-ins, the widows?
        To anyone who has an elderly family member in a nursing home - please, go visit them if you can. Love them. I know it can be hard - perhaps they don't remember you, perhaps they cry when you leave, perhaps they ask why they can't go home with you, perhaps they don't respond anymore... But please, please - show them you care. They are still people who need your love.
       And to anyone reading this - if you ever go visit a nursing home, please, show love to those around you. They need it - we all need that love. We need to reflect the light of Jesus...There is always hope.

God bless,

~ Ophelia - Marie