Recently I have been listening to the stories and challenges of adult children who are caring for aging and dying parents whose parenting included abuse, neglect and/or emotional pain.
Whether by circumstance or choice (for example, an only child), these adult offspring are now in the role of providing or overseeing their parent’s care needs. At times they have confided their feelings of guilt, ambivalence or resentment about bearing the burden of caring for a parent who did not love or care for them in a respectful, healthy, nourishing way. In some cases the parent had been explicitly abusive.
Spiritual care in general, and prayer in particular, can be a generative resource for these adult children. Spiritual care can simply offer a spacious healing presence for the fullness of human experience—feelings, memories, concerns, longings and challenges.
I offer this prayer to those adult children, their loved ones and those who companion their souls—please feel free to adapt it to your own needs and your personal story. May it provide fortitude and a felt sense of being held as you hold others.
God, Source of Boundless Compassion, please give me the strength to care for this parent in their suffering. Help me to feel Your Protection as I tend to their decline. May I offer kindness and sustenance to them while honoring my own heart. Infinite Mystery, remind me in ways I can feel and recognize that boundaries and taking breaks are also expressions of holiness. Grant me space within and outside myself to breathe. May I see them, and myself, through your loving eyes. Blessed are You, the One who loves unconditionally.