The biggest piece of advice I have for caregivers is that it’s okay to grieve your loss in someone else’s pain. In fact, you should grieve. Your hurting friend or family member is not the only one who has experienced loss. I’ve lost much of the use of both of my arms, but my wife has lost a husband with healthy arms. I can’t help take care of our babies, take out the trash, or put my seatbelt on, much less actually drive the car. That’s a real loss for my wife. I encourage her, and others who have hurting spouses or children or friends, to grieve—there’s a real loss there.
If you read through the Psalms, they’re filled with Psalmists grieving and being honest with God. It’s not easy to care for the hurting, because you’ve lost something in the process. It’s not usually something you signed up for. You didn’t ask for a child with a disability or an aging and helpless parent. Friend, grieve. But don’t stay there. Grieve, but don’t grieve without hope. Don’t stay there in despair as if you have no hope. Use this time to grow in your relationship with God. If you’re going to have a ministry to the hurting, you’ve got to walk with God.
If you aren’t reading the Scriptures, praying, feeding your soul with rich preaching and fellowship in a healthy church, you won’t have anything to give your friends. You’ll be like a dry sponge, helpless to offer support to others. So friends, you should grieve honestly and then turn to Jesus for your security, your significance, and your strength.