As we draw closer to Holy Week, to the death and Resurrection of Christ, I am reminded of the time Christ’s disciples spent in the upper room, partly in fear, partly in doubt (St. Thomas I am looking at you!), partly in joy, waiting for the next sign. As I think of what these moments held for the disciples, I start to wonder if, in our life as care partners, we too have an upper room after our loved ones have passed away and we are no longer care partners in the same way. We might fear life with this role stripped away from us. We might doubt our ability to move forward, to build a new life that is rich in community and goodness. We might also find joy and comfort knowing our loved ones are in heaven (or at least on their way.) Yes, I think we are in an upper room.
Who is with us? Are we alone, or do we surround ourselves with friends, family, members of our community? These moments may feel like a waste of time, lost time, a holding place, but it is a place of formation and transformation. In this period after our loved ones have passed, we find ourselves rediscovering life without that person, without the demands of care placed upon us. During this time, we might sink into depression and anxiety. During this time, we may appear callous to others who don’t understand the feeling of the weight of care being lifted off of one’s self after a loved one passes. During this time, we may find ourselves needing a different type of care for ourselves. We may see something new in our relationships, career, and in life itself, finding a new way to live out our divine purpose.
Yes, I believe there is an upper room after care, and it is the job of those accompanying every care partner to listen, to encourage, to support, and to love. It is the job of those reading this to offer a hand and sit with our care partners in the upper room.
It is in this upper room where the disciples celebrated the Last Supper, where Jesus washed their feet, where they met Jesus for the first time after the resurrection, and where they waited for the descent of the Holy Spirit. This upper room became a gathering place. It became a place where they could pray together, connect in friendship, and support each other in preparation for the journey ahead.
We are in our upper room, but will we bolt the door shut and turn in on ourselves? Or, will be open the doors wide, joining in fellowship with other care partners, family, and friends. Will we use our time in the upper room to prepare for the journey or to hide from the call to step into this next chapter of our lives?
I know not all of you are religious or Christian, but this concept of the upper room can be applied to your life as well. There may be care partners who never find themselves in the upper room, but there are plenty who do. The question we need to ask becomes, What are we doing to support care partners after care? Can we work in the care industry and NOT support them? They are often invisible and forgotten during their journey of providing care. Let us not also abandon them after the role of care partner has been stripped from their lives.