Accepting the Present Situation: Being Satisfied with Our Lives

March 26, 2020

Arlen SolemIn uncertainty, focusing on life in the moment, staying in touch and remaining grateful can lead us to peace

I have talked with a handful of people in their 90s who have told me a similar and remarkable thing about their lives. What these people have told me about their lives is enviable in a way and they are in a stage in life that I hope to get to one day. This enviable stage in their lives is a point in their lives when they are happy to be alive but are ready to die if it is their time. They are not wanting to die, nor do they fear death. I think you need to be up in years to truly feel this way: no longer having anyone relying on you, possibly have lost your spouse if you have had one, or if you have kids they likely have grandchildren of their own.

A Woman Who Is Happy with Her Life

One such woman lives at one of our houses. She is 99 and has had the attitude that she has been living on borrowed time for years: “I never thought I’d live this long. I’m doing pretty good, I think, for 99,” she says, “I am thankful for my big family and all of the many wonderful things I’ve been blessed with all these years,” and “I’m 99, if I die I die.” She is happy with her life but not at all fearful of death. She understands more about COVID-19 than most of our residents: “It affects old people more and it gets in your kidneys, yuck!”, she told me, shaking her hands in disgust while saying ‘yuck’. She also had a smile on her face and told me about the fresh fruit that a daughter of hers had brought that she thought would be good to eat and help keep her healthy.

She is still able to talk to her family via FaceTime and enjoys these conversations. During one of these conversations her daughter talked about having a big party for her 100th birthday, which will be in January. “Yeah, maybe this stuff will be over by then”, she replied.

Facing Uncertainty During Separation

And that is the scary thing we face: The uncertainty about how long and what happens in the meantime. How long until we can visit and see each other face to face? Maybe weeks? Maybe months? For many of you it is hard to really visit someone via Facetime or on the phone. And it isn’t the same no matter what. There is real fear that your loved one may die or that your loved one may change enough that what had been meaningful interaction for you is either different or no longer there. This fear becomes more of a possibility as the days apart turn into weeks and could turn into months. 

So many of your visits bring sunshine to your loved one’s day, and that is missing. For many of you, your visits bring sunshine to your day and that is missing for you, too.

Finding Peace in the Moment

I would say overall that for many of our residents this separation has been easier than for their families. Many are blissfully unaware of the situation and others are only somewhat aware. I was struck with a moment of sadness the other day. I was in one of our houses and was watching some women interact, laughing and living without a care in the world. I choked up a bit at the thought of several of these people dying in the near future. I thought of their families. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but we don’t know, and that possibility is more prevalent than ever it seems. In some ways, these women so happy and carefree are in an enviable position as well. 

The Value of Keeping in Touch

There is hope. This will end. In the meantime, stay safe, do your best not to panic – it seems that staying home and doing nothing is really doing something now. Call your friends and family, many are available to talk by phone more than ever. I’ve talked with several the last few days that I may only talk to once or twice a year. If you are someone who rarely said, “I love you”, this is a great time to start and probably won’t feel nearly as strange as you think.

Many people talk about God having a plan and everything happening for a reason. I don’t know if I believe this exactly, but at the very least I believe God could change the course of any event. It’s splitting hairs a bit to differentiate between the two. What I do know is that if we knew the reasons that God did things or allowed things to happen, we may not always agree with it, especially not in the moment.

I pray for all of you and all of those in living facilities even more so now. I pray for those working in these facilities. I pray for all of you facing isolation and separation. May you be thankful for all that has been good in your life. May you be thankful for all that is still good in your lives, because even now there is so much to be thankful for. May you be thankful for the time that you have had with your loved one. May you be hopeful for more time together. May you have the peace that so many of our residents have. 

Reverend Arlen Solem

Chaplain and Campus Pastor

Thank you so much to all of our volunteers and donors who make all of the work we do at Cassia possible. Your contributions are greatly appreciated and needed to ensure we are able to fulfill our mission.

For questions about our spiritual care program, or if you would like spiritual care and support for you or your loved one, contact Chaplain Arlen Solem at 612-263-0503. or apsolem@augustanacare.org.

At Emerald Crest, we offer a deep knowledge of memory care in a specialized assisted living setting for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related conditions. We encourage you to contact us directly with any questions or request a tour. For tours and general information, please contact Christine Drasher at 952-908-2215.

Emerald Crest by Augustana Care provides memory care in a unique environment, specifically designed to support those with cognitive issues. Utilizing this exceptional model of care, individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s and related conditions can flourish in positive relationships and participation in meaningful activities. Memory care is offered in the Minneapolis – Saint Paul area with communities in four convenient locations: ShakopeeBurnsvilleMinnetonka and Victoria, MN.

 

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From day one our experience with everyone at Emerald Crest was beyond outstanding!   WE are so appreciative of the love and care we received from all.

— Julie, daughter of Emerald Crest resident

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