There has always been something sad about Jesus ascending to heaven. There the disciples were looking up. Even though the angels told them it was a good thing that Jesus ascended, they still were still confused by the sense of emptiness.
This is true of any serious loss but even more so when the loss is someone you have given your life to care for. I am thinking of those who have cared for significantly impaired children who from early on were physically and/or mentally impaired, those caring for a loved one who is quadriplegic, or a spouse who has dementia. Their days are spent either in caring or enabling their loved one to live the best possible life considering the circumstances and thereby melding their own lives around these needs.
When the beneficiary of their love and care passes on, one would think these caregivers would be so relieved to finally be able to get on to living their own lives. But the void left by these deaths are profound. How can they possibly pick up their lives and go on? What kind of life can they live? Who are they without this person they have cared for morning, noon and night. Who are they if not a caregiver?
Many of us offer condolence but without understanding what kind of loss this is. We think they are free and yet they are confused and lost. They need assistance in knowing they are more than a caregiver. There is more to life than doctors, hospitals and tube feedings. This takes a huge amount of time, even after they address their deep down fatigue. If all bereaved need our understanding and support, these giving souls need all the more. I can only imagine their sense of loss because of the people I have cared for physically for only a short period of time just as I only imagine the apostles’ sense of loss as Jesus ascended into heaven.
I pray that as the angels supported the disciples, that there are angels surrounding these caregivers, through their friends and families, to support them in their loss and adjustment to a new kind of life. May they always know they are not alone in their grief.