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What if My Parent Is Sick?

What if My Parent Is Sick?

 Most young people don’t worry about caregiving. After all, it could be years before their parents develop health problems.

 But what if your dad or mom becomes ill while you’re still growing up? Consider two young people who faced that challenge.

 Emmaline’s story

 My mom has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a chronic and painful condition that affects the joints, skin, and blood vessels.

 There is no cure for the illness, and my mom’s condition has worsened over the past ten years. In fact, there have been times when her blood count was so low that her life was in danger or when the pain was so bad that she didn’t want to live anymore.

 My family and I are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and our congregation has been so comforting to all of us! For example, recently a girl who is about my age sent a card to our family to tell us how much she loves us and to assure us that we can always count on her support. It’s so nice to have someone like that as a friend!

 The Bible has been a tremendous help to me. For example, one of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 34:18, which says: “Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted.” Another is Hebrews 13:6, which says: “Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid.”

 I find that last scripture to be especially meaningful. My biggest fear is that I will lose my mom in death. I love her so much, and I’m thankful for each day I have with her. That Bible verse helps me realize that I can face the future with confidence, no matter what it might bring.

 But I have another fear. You see, EDS is hereditary. My mom got it from her mom, and I got it from mine. That’s right​—I too have EDS. But Hebrews 13:6 assures me that Jehovah will be “my helper” in this area as well.

 In the meantime, I try to appreciate what I have now and not live in the past​—or worry about the future. I can get depressed if I compare my mom’s limitations with what she used to be able to do. The Bible says that the trials we face are “momentary and light” compared to the hope of everlasting life without sickness.​—2 Corinthians 4:​17; Revelation 21:​1-4.

 To think about: What helps Emmaline keep a positive attitude? How can you remain positive when facing hardship?

 Emily’s story

 When I was in high school, my dad had his first bout with depression. It was as if my old dad disappeared and a new man took his place. Since that time, my dad has been plagued with sadness, irrational fears, and anxiety attacks. He has been dealing with this for 15 years now. How painful it must be for him to be overwhelmed with sadness, even though he knows there is absolutely no logical reason to feel that way!

 We are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the congregation we associate with has been very supportive. Our fellow believers have been so kind and understanding, and no one has ever made my dad feel that he isn’t useful to the congregation. Seeing how my dad is enduring this trial makes me love him more deeply than ever.

 I miss my old dad​—the one who wasn’t overwhelmed with anxiety, who didn’t suffer, who was happy. I feel horrible that he has to battle daily with an unseen enemy inside his own mind.

 Nevertheless, my dad works very hard to maintain a good outlook. During one recent dark period, he made it a point to read a little bit of the Bible each day, even if it was just a few verses. That strengthened him greatly. Even such a seemingly small routine was a lifesaver. I was never prouder of my father than during that dark time.

 I really like the scripture at Nehemiah 8:​10, which says: “The joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.” That’s so true. The joy I feel when I am in the middle of the congregation, participating and being fully active, helps fill my heart when there are holes in it. It gives me a warm glow that I can feel for the whole day. My dad’s example has taught me that no matter what battle you face, Jehovah will always be there to support you.

 To think about: How has Emily supported her dad through his illness? How can you help someone who is suffering from depression?