Some of you may know that my wife's grandfather, Stanley (please remember in your prayers) is an invalid suffering from dementia in addition to the emphysema, near blindness and near deafness. My mother-in-law is his primary caregiver although they do have a night nurse and help during the day. He was told he has 6 months to live 12 years ago and, while he's taken a turn for the worse in recent days, he has defied death repeatedly. He's been worse before and I'm convinced that he's not going to die before his wife (who, while elderly and often sick, is nowhere as near to death's door as he is) because he doesn't want to upset her; he's that kind of guy.
At any rate, my wife and mother-in-law have expressed their anger at God for allowing Grandpa Stan to continue to suffer in this state for so long. I know from my wife's perspective it has largely to do with the yoyo-ing, so to speak, of getting worse then getting better over and over again. You can only prepare yourself for your beloved grandfather's death and say goodbye so many times before its just hard to do it anymore. I think my mother-in-law has it worse as she's the one who takes care of him, but I'm sure there's more to it for her.
I'm having a hard time completely understanding their anger. I grew up around death. Three of my four grandparents were dead before I was born and my maternal grandmother died when I was 12 after a long bout with leukemia. My father's family were dying left and right by the time I graduated high school. Friends of the family died young from accident, disease, and suicide before I was out of middle school. Death is natural to me, so to speak, even the unnatural ones. So, for starters, I have a very hard time with their hard time dealing with death.
And then there's the anger at God. I don't think I've ever been angry at God, at least not in the way they are. I feel like I can't. He's God. He can do whatever He wants and it's not my job to understand it but to accept it. I'm not trying to make myself out as some Job-like person because I do ponder on the apparent injustice of cosmic things and even get a little upset, but this wonder has never cause actual anger at God. I always come back to, "He's God and you're not!"
I'd like to be more than a receptive ear and a shoulder to cry on, but I have no idea what to say in these kind of situations without sounding like trite. I've told my wife to talk to our priest, who is the chaplain at the local VA hospital and an old hand at end of life issues, but she always feels like she's bugging him, even though he's never (and would never) give that vibe off and most certainly would never tell anyone that. Anyone else out there ever dealt with something like this?
Please remember in your prayers the servants of God Stanley and Catherine, Paula, Stanley Jr. (wife's uncle) and Miranda.
Oh, and me too (Michael)