Shared Hope: 'Understanding human frailty is key to loving one another'
In the last year, so many people have suffered from this pandemic. However, there’s one group that seems especially hard hit — the elderly.
Whether they’ve been living at home, reside in a care facility or are currently in a hospital, their already-existing conditions have been the source of further and tragic isolation. For them, COVID-19 has been a crushing blow.
We’ve seen heartbreaking photos of families who stand outside windows, trying to connect through the glass, with their loved one. We see photos of empty, spotted hands, reaching to be held while nurses, already overloaded, stand in for families, as well.
COVID-19 changed not just our health, but our connections.
My friend Lisa Boone is a hospice nurse. She is no stranger to the plight of the medically weakened. But it’s her personal journey, in recent years, that has prompted her to write this meaningful piece about her love for, and treatment of, those who need help.
"Walking with my mother-in-law, over the last 10 years, has provided our family with opportunities and challenges. The death of my father-in-law forced her out into the wilderness of widowhood. She encountered great loss and grief as she bravely learned to live alone after 60 years of marriage.
"Along with this hard journey came vascular dementia. Slowly, this enemy stripped her of one of her greatest treasures, her memory. The memory is such a necessity to live and move and have your being. It bridges the past to the now, and on to the future. Without it, the ability to function independently is impossible. There is nothing to hold onto, no way to steady oneself.
"Fear and loneliness came tumbling in on my mother-in-law, like a landslide of rocks, crushing everything in its path. My family and I helped her find new life in assisted living. She had her own apartment with friends and activities. She continued to play bridge and go to the library, find her way to the dining room and care for her little dog Daisy. All, of course, with much assistance.
"Now COVID, again like a landslide, has crushed her life like so many of our beloved elders. Being quarantined removed the routines that enabled her to live her life, leaving her with fear, loneliness and night terrors.
"One of the gifts God has given me in my journey with Him are certain phrases or road signs to guide me.
"'Have a tender understanding of human frailty' has been one of those road signs given during a silent retreat at Red Plains Monastery. This beautiful Word from God has guided me throughout every doctor’s appointment, conversation, grocery trip, hospitalizations, illness, emotional breakdowns, having to be her memory every 15 minutes to even taking her to the veterinarian to help her 18-year-old Chihuahua with the end of life, and so much more.
"Her next chapter is living with us now. Within the walls of our home, she is no longer isolated and living in terror. She once again has structure and routine and she still remembers us most of the time. But it isn’t easy and we are once again finding gifts in the midst of the hard.
"Isaiah 42:3 tells us 'a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.' These words once again remind me to have a tender understanding of human frailty. It is easy to break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick.
"Words and actions matter.
"Understanding human frailty is key to loving one another. One of my dear friends shared her life mantra with me a few weeks ago: 'Love saves lives.'