How do you plan for the unexpected that inevitably crops up sometime in your life? There is never a really good way to plan for the unexpected, but I believe there are ways we can set ourselves up for success even when something happens that was not in our plans.
Two months ago our family went through a hard and painful time. My mom was diagnosed with cancer and twelve days later she passed away. I lived right next door to her and had the amazing privilege of being able to care for her in her last days.
When we received the news, I was devastated. In my mind I thought we had at least a couple of months with her. But as each day passed, she became progressively worse. At times I could hardly keep up. I literally dropped everything to be with her. My obligations at church, my businesses…. everything!
I have no regrets. I will be forever grateful that I was able to give her the care that she needed, and I will always cherish those last days I spent with her. I am still grieving her loss and at times it still doesn’t feel like it is real that she is gone.
But, as I pondered that time and all that happened, I have a few takeaways that I wanted to share with my blog readers. To say that time was stressful was an understatement and yet I don’t feel like I lost my peace in the midst of that storm.
Here are five key takeaways that helped that helped me keep my peace during that time:
1) Ask for help
I have three adult sons still living at home. So I asked for a lot of help from them and my husband. I had them help more with cooking and cleaning than what they normally do. I had them run errands for me. I also reached out to extended family members that wanted to help as well. Whenever I needed something that I could not do because I was focused on caring for my mom, I asked for help. And in this situation everyone was more than willing to step up and give me the help I needed.
2) Make lists of what needs to be done.
I made lists for my family so they knew what needed to be done. I didn’t have to repeat myself, and it helped me so that I wouldn’t forget things. As soon as I thought of something I jotted it down on a notebook that I kept handy at all times.
I also wrote down instructions for anyone that came to help take care of my mom, so they knew what was expected of them as well.
3) Don’t expect perfection
I like to have a neat and orderly home. But in this case I was not at a place where that mattered. If someone didn’t do something like I would do it, I let it go. It made for a lot less stress for me and those around me.
4) Have weekly routines and systems in place
This is probably the thing that saved me the most. I already have systems and routines in place that keep our household running smoothly (for the most part:) It is how I have lived for many years, but when an unexpected crisis situation comes up it proves once again how valuable it is to have these kinds of things in place. I have a set time at the beginning of the week to plan for the upcoming week:
Make a schedule for each day of the week.
Make a grocery list for the weekly grocery shopping trip.
Pay bills, etc.
Because I have a set time for all of this, and I have done it for so long, it is a habit now and it comes naturally for me. This helps me think more clearly and make sure I am not missing something that needs to be done.
5) Trust in God’s provision:
I don’t even know if this is something I thought a lot about in those 12 days as I was caring for my mom, but as I reflect, I realize how much God’s provision was evident in so many ways. People who stopped by and dropped off food, family members who checked in to see if I needed anything. Many who prayed for our family during that time, sleep when I needed it and Hospice coming on the holiday weekend to admit her to their services. Many other things, more than I can even count. I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God in every detail of our lives, the tangible evidence that He cares so much for us that He provides for us even down to the tiniest detail.
This has been a very difficult season of my life, and I know that grief will take it’s own journey in my heart as I grieve her loss.
I hope my story encourages you to set up systems and routines in your daily life so that when the unexpected happens you have a support system in place to help you stay focused on what’s the most important.
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