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October 6, 2015 / 23 Tishri, 5776
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Testimonials – A Husband Speaks

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Recognition of well spouses has come a long way since I first began writing about them. But, this unpaid position still remains one of the most unrecognized, difficult and thankless of jobs. Today, health organizations have begun to realize that caregivers of the chronically ill are vital to the health of the ill person and his/her ability to cope with the illness. Many corporations and umbrella health groups have recently begun giving awards of recognition to caregivers.

This has gone a long way toward establishing recognition of a group that is usually invisible. In my attempt to share insights into lives of well spouses, I’d like to share a few of these nominations with you. The family members who see the sacrifice and hardship the caregiver has gone through wrote these nominations. The people who made the nominations are also extraordinary, in that they were able to come out of their own situation and see the sacrifice of the caregivers with whom they live.

A chronically ill husband wrote this when nominating his wife for a caregiver award: “To set the stage, I am her husband and…. was diagnosed with MS (13 years ago). She was and is my primary caregiver. The fallout of MS on the family is heavy indeed. My wife was faced with a husband in crisis and a young family in great need. She picked up the pieces. She got me through those early days with love and care. She did it in such a way though, that did not allow me to hide or escape into another world. She prodded me to remain a responsible, functioning person. She kept the children going while never allowing me to withdraw as a husband.

“More than surviving, she has helped me to grow and mature. My MS, a painful and debilitating process, has been made an opportunity for life enrichment. I am alive (in every sense of the word) because of her care and strength. My family has survived the process, scarred but intact, thanks to her devotion and wisdom.

“The story, however, does not end there. Like many MS spouses, she has also faced fears, pain, sacrifice and disappointment. It takes a long time for MS-ers to be open to the pain around them, when theirs is intense. The well spouse, though, suffers as much, but often invisibly. Society has expectations but little understanding for the MS partner. (My wife) had to deal with her own losses, made all the more extensive because of her commitment to keep her marriage and family on an even keel, without support from outside.

“Her solitude taught her much, and I am in awe of her survival. She taught me about this solitude, and I owe her then for the gift of learning that I could enrich my life and love by caring for her in return. Teaching me about her needs gave me a key to overcoming a devastating side of physical disability.

“Saving a life is saving a world. (My wife) has nurtured and saved many worlds while she, herself, engaged in the struggle with MS (no less hers because it resides in my body).

“In her work…and in her involvement in community groups, and in our family life she exhibits and models loving kindness for others and for myself.

“I thank you for your considerate help in pursuing appropriate recognition for this woman of valor.”

I found this particular nomination unusual, in how the chronically ill husband is able to come out of himself and see the difficulties and pain his wife is going through. Perhaps it is that insight and willingness to give that has helped this couple survive while others fail. In this case, so it seems, the caregiver also has a caregiver.

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/testimonials-a-husband-speaks/2006/05/24/

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