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nature-sky-sunset-manIt is not easy for most when circumstances of life move us from home; it’s a tough transition. How difficult to wake up one day and find you are living in an apartment all by yourself, in a new community, surrounded by strangers. Regardless of how nice, kind and welcoming the new smiling faces of staff are, it is not the same as the old life with the family and friends one has always known. Time is needed to acclimatize to this new life. Courage, grace and resolve are needed to choose or make a decision to enter this new life.

Some residents move in “kicking and screaming,” blaming family and staff for the predicament, which seems to be unnecessary. They make it very clear that this is not where they want to be! Interestingly, some others transition easily, making the best of the situation. It is not uncommon to hear comments: “I do not want to be a burden to my family; they have their lives,“ or “I am okay in this new life because I do not have to cook, do laundry and so on. I am happy here.”

While some residents give in to a lonely life and stubbornly refuse to engage, others seem to change and soon start to meet new people, get involved in activities, and share their time, skills and talents. Some develop new skills or develop former interests. From a chaplain’s perspective, it is gratifying to see residents engage and grow spiritually by regularly doing Bible studies, attending prayer meetings and Chapel worship services. I have heard residents say: “I have never read the Old Testament; I had forgotten that story; I am glad I have the time to do Bible study, to grow spiritually, to come closer to God.” Some say, “I am closer to God than I have ever been.”

The story of one resident, who died recently, touched my life in a very special way. She did not have an entirely healthy life before her move to be with us. She was not surrounded by community, extended family or friends because of chronic conditions that tended to push others away, and she was very dependent on her husband and daughter. She and her husband willingly moved in to our community some years back. However, after her husband of over 50 years died, her children were concerned for her as she continued as a widow.

With encouragement from her family, and under the loving care of CLC staff, this amazing lady connected to our community. She moved from mostly grumbling and complaining about her situation and started to bloom. She attended Bible studies, Chapel and more. The faith her mother had raised her in became a source of strength. During her final days on earth, she was encouraging and inspiring to both family and friends, indeed to all who visited her.

This resident made a conscious decision to be close to God, to make the Lord her focus. Upon knowing that she would soon be leaving this world, she became increasingly inspiring as she lived out her faith as per Philippians 3: 13-14:

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

And, I know her family, especially her daughter who frequently visited with her, was so proud of her mother for being courageous and connecting in spite of all she’d endured. So joyful was this resident near the end that she extended a heartfelt and serious invitation to one of her kind and compassionate care partners. She asked, “Would you like to come to heaven with me?”

Our residents teach us every day. I have attended different schools in life, but the education I have received from our residents regarding the realities of life and death far surpasses my formal education. I thank God for CLC’s mission statement and the core values we espouse, which provide an environment that allows residents to grow spiritually as they prepare for their next life!

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel,   and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:23-26).

“Would you like to come to heaven with me?”

By Wanjiru Mukumga, Chaplain at Someren Glen Retirement Community.

Photo from Pexels and used under a Creative Commons license.

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March 11, 2015 | Posted in Blog,Our Mission | Leave a comment

Christian Living Communities enriches the quality and dignity of life for older adults through services and care that reflect Christian love, respect, and compassion toward each individual.

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