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The Loss of Independence, Isolation, and The Loss of Identity

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
August 20, 2022 3:30 am

The Loss of Independence, Isolation, and The Loss of Identity

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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August 20, 2022 3:30 am

Every caregiver - and I do mean EVERY caregiver will struggle with what I call the "3 I's." 

We lose our independence, we become isolated, and we lose our identity. 

During my ten years on the air, I've discussed these things often - and felt a refresher for myself was in order. 

I go into further detail in my book Hope for the Caregiver. 

Please share this episode with as many as possible ...all too many caregivers struggle in isolation, and this episode will help them learn how to push back against that isolation, as well as the loss of identity and independence. 

If you find this podcast meaningful, please consider supporting it at 

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It's easy. Simply go to or contact your local agent today. Welcome to Hope for the Caregiver here on American Family Radio.

I am Peter Rosenberger. Glad to have you with us. Healthy caregivers make better caregivers and that's why we do the program. How do you help somebody stay strong and healthy as they're caring for someone who is not? And that's why we do the program. What does it look like to speak to a caregiver?

What kind of vocabulary do you use? And that's why we do the program. So we're glad that you're here. if you want to be a part of the program. Send us a note. Let us know. Let us hear from you. Tell us your story.

Whatever is on your heart. I just got a note from the website. A listener found the program a while back and has been listening to it faithfully. Taking care of now a family member in the 80s with Parkinson's and has been dealing with this with multiple family members. Said I'm 60, I think 63 years old and I'm worn out. But then went on to say, I really appreciated the three eyes that you talked about.

And I thought, you know, I haven't talked about that in a while. So with your indulgence, I would like to talk with you about the three eyes that every caregiver deals with. And if you want to know the vocabulary of speaking to a caregiver, particularly you pastors and you counselors and doctors and so forth. Listen up, because this is part of the vocabulary of speaking to a caregiver. If you want to know how to ask for help as a caregiver, listen up, because this is part of the vocabulary that a caregiver understands on a heart level. Okay, so it's important for us as caregivers to know how to express ourselves. What are our core needs? We don't often know what we need.

We don't even know what help looks like. And part of that is understanding this concept of the three eyes that every caregiver deals with. Number one, the loss of independence. The three eyes, by the way, it's the letter I, not eyeballs. The loss of independence starts with an I.

The three eyes. We lose our independence as caregivers. We're no longer able to do the things that we wish to do when we want to do them. Now, that could be our limitation in going out of the house or on vacations or what type of career path we might like to take.

What type of dreams we want to pursue. All those kinds of things you think, okay, well, I'm caregiving now and my life's over. And I'm locked into this path. And therefore, we surrender that first I, that independence, all too quickly.

Now, I understand this. I mean, I've just now started my 37th year as a caregiver. Gracie and I had our anniversary this week. I've been a caregiver for 36 years now.

Now I'm on my 37th. And I've had to adjust and I felt this way for a very long time that, okay, I have to go out and get insurance. And by the way, insurance is not one of the three eyes.

Okay. But I had to work for medical insurance and therefore my career path and everything else was dictated by Gracie's circumstances. That's the way I felt. But that's not accurate. My own shortsightedness, my own lack of understanding dictated my circumstances. Not Gracie, not her healthcare, not her insurance needs. Those were a problem, but they weren't the problem. And see, I think what trips a lot of people up is there are a lot of people out there talking about problems that caregivers face. And there are a lot of problems. But this program deals with the problems that caregivers struggle with. And in order to understand the problems, then you have to spend some time in this world as a caregiver. And I've logged enough time to understand what the core issues are. And I refuse to believe, and I have evidence to back this up, that Gracie's medical condition dictated my career path in the sense that I was trapped and that it took away my independence.

Yes, it created roadblocks and challenges. But now I am doing things on a career level using every skill set that I had before I ever met Gracie. I was always speaking.

I was writing things, writing music, doing music, being out in the public eye, all the things that I do now. And yet I've learned to adapt them into a way that works around her circumstances. But it has not hindered me and hampered me. In fact, if anything, it has helped provide clarity and focus. Now, it didn't come overnight, and I would make sure everyone understands that.

It has taken a lot of work, a lot of counseling, a lot of smart people that I have reached out to that have reached out to me. I have banged around these ideas, but it forced me into a path of ingenuity that would push back against the loss of independence. And I think that's where we as caregivers can find ourselves, is pushing back against that with creative ideas. Okay, we can't do certain things.

That's okay. We could do other things. Why do we need to do certain things? What is the loss we're feeling?

And then how do we speak to that core loss with something else? Is that it? Is that the only thing that will satisfy those desires is being able to run to the grocery store when I want to go? Is that the only thing that will satisfy that? Is there anything else I can do?

Is there anything else I could do that's creative that will push back against it? These are the questions I've had to ask over my life. And yeah, there's always that rub, but you know what? As human beings, we don't have the independence we think we do anyway. It's often an illusion. That's another I word, but that's not one of the three I's. So that loss of independence is a real deal, but it's not a death sentence to us as caregivers.

We can push back. Scripture reinforces this, and I'll give you a perfect example. When Paul and Silas were in prison and they were beaten and around midnight, as they were singing hymns, there was an earthquake and everybody was let loose. All the chains fell off. And the jailer was just horrified because he knew that he was going to get killed for this. He was responsible. And Paul said, hey, we're all here.

It's OK. We're all here. Paul and Silas were the two most free people in that jail. They were in the middle. It says they were in the middle of it. So they were in the inner part of it. So they were not only shackled. Then they were imprisoned. But then they were in prison within the prison. So they were in bondage to the third power, if you will. And yet they were the most free men in that prison, in that dungeon. They were free.

Their independence had been clamped down on by the authorities. And yet they were free. Is that a paradox? Well, if you don't have a biblical worldview, it is. But when you have a biblical worldview, it makes perfect sense that we are free in Christ.

We are not enslaved. And this loss of independence that we feel, this shackling, this bondage, if you will, this curtailing of our freedoms that we sometimes chafe against as caregivers. In the context of scripture, in the perspective of Christ, what does this mean? Is he unaware of this or is he purposed and working through this and allowing this and weaving all these things together for our benefit, not just our loved ones, but for ours? Is there something we can become through this?

And I suggest to you, yes, there is. So the first eye of the three eyes that every caregiver struggles with is that loss of independence. And before anybody can come along to us as caregivers and help us process through that loss of independence, we ourselves need to understand what's going on with us. Push ourselves to go deeper and not just settle for the fact that, well, OK, I can't do it and be resentful. Understand that there is a world of opportunity, but it's going to look different than we thought.

It's going to require a little creativity, a little ingenuity. That's another I word and faith to trust that God is working through all of these things in ways that we truly cannot imagine and invites us to trust him with it for however long the season last. And it may last a long time.

In my case, I'm in my 37th year. It may last a long time. Are we willing to trust it?

This is Peter Rosenberger. This is hope for the caregiver. Hope for the caregivers that conviction that we can live calmer, healthier, and dare I say it, more freely as a family caregiver.

We'll be right back. Every time I try to make it all mine, every time I try to stand and start to fall, and all those lonely roads that I've traveled on, there was Jesus. Welcome back to Hope for the Caregiver.

This is Peter Rosenberger. This is the program for you as a family caregiver. We're talking today about the three I's that every caregiver struggles with. The last block, we talked about the loss of independence and what that means to us as family caregivers. The second I that we all deal with as caregivers is isolation. Now, isolation comes in many different forms, and I've said often that caregivers can feel isolated in a crowded room, and we can feel isolated on a crowded pew. And it is a very lonely existence to serve as a family caregiver. You are cut off from a lot of things, partly because of that loss of independence, but partly because of our own dark thoughts.

And we get into this place where we are struggling to find reality, to anchor ourselves when we get disoriented. Now, this is not to be confused with solitude. Solitude is important.

Jesus modeled that for us. Being alone with our thoughts and being able to kind of gather our thoughts and spend time alone with God in solitude and prayer, those are important things for us. But isolation is a cutting off. We are disconnected. We are not separating necessarily for a purpose of wellness.

We are cut off and we suffer because of it. Now, go back and look at Genesis and all the things that God said, this was good, this was good, this was good. And then He created man.

This is good. Before the fall, God said something was not good. And that was that man was alone.

Go back and look at it in the text. This is not good for man to be alone. Isolation is not natural for us. We are made in the image of God. God is not isolated. He is in perfect union with the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

Perfect union. This is why, by the way, we really struggle to understand the magnificence of the cross. Because for the first time, God split Himself apart from the Son. And this is the anguish that Jesus bore for us. But as caregivers, we bring this back down to where we are as caregivers, we become isolated, we become cut off. We could be in the same room with people, but we still feel isolated. What does that mean to us? How does that affect our ability to function as healthy individuals? And I suggest to you that it cripples us. It allows these festering thoughts of resentment and loneliness and bitterness and despair to grip us.

There's no light coming into our hearts. The part of this is due to the physical realities of caregiving. And the loved one we have may be very mobility limited. They may be socially limited. And I get that.

But let's go to a third one. And I think that part of this isolation that cripples us is self-inflicted. Now let me explain before you get all upset with me that we indulge ourselves in those places and don't push out. And what does that look like?

Well, for a lot of us, it looks like we just kind of have a pity party. Been there. Nobody would understand.

It's not even worth trying to explain it. I don't want to risk it. I don't want to be judged. I don't want to be this. We set up these defenses for things that haven't even happened yet because we don't want to feel the sting of what could happen. And so therefore, because it could happen, we shut it down from ever happening. And in the process, we go all scorched earth on our relationships and the way we approach life. But God has a different plan for us. And he meets us in these places. When you go through all of scripture, particularly the Psalms, you see this lament for being cut off what it looks like.

You see when the Israelites were in bondage and they felt isolated away from their homes and their community and everything else. And you hear these laments and these cries. You see this all the way, all the way to the cross where Jesus says, my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?

And you see this lament. But because of what happened at the cross, we are not doomed to isolation. That made it possible for us to fellowship with God, even in our suffering.

Especially, if you will, in our suffering. And that sounds counterintuitive to a lot of things because we think, well, if he's going to fellowship with me in my suffering, why did he just heal it? Why did he just take it away? Why must I do this?

What kind of good and loving God would do this? See, these are the kind of things that we think about in isolation, in those lonely places when we're having that conversation with the ceiling fan. This is what we think about. And if you say, well, Peter, I don't think about that. Well, that's OK.

Spend a little bit more time caregiving. I bet you will. Because it eventually happens to all of us.

And I've been doing this long enough to make that statement. It is a very lonely road. The valley of the shadow of death can be a very long valley and a very frightening valley.

And we feel alone. And so what does he say? Now, if we're going to spend a lot of time describing the valley of the shadow of death, then what does he offer into that? But I will fear no evil for thou art with me.

What did Jesus tell his disciples? Don't let your heart be troubled. I'm going to go prepare a place for you.

If it weren't so, I'd tell you. But I'm going to come back for you. And what does he say again? Lo, I'm with you always, even to the end of the ages. I'm leaving so the comforter can come. In other words, his Holy Spirit now can come and fellowship with us. There is this assurance of his presence.

Isaiah 41, 10. Fear thou not, for I am with thee. Be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen the yay, I will help the yay, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. And these are only a few of the assuring passages in scripture that speaks directly to that isolation that is the human condition.

We as caregivers feel it very acutely because of our circumstances, because of our challenges. But make no mistake, it is not unique to us. And scripture speaks to this. That's why some of these scriptures, when you see it in this light, it starts leaping off the page to you. In 1423, Jesus said, if anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

You know, Jesus' name, Emmanuel, one of his names, Isaiah prophesied, means God tabernacles with us. He puts his home with us. We are not isolated. It is the core of everything that scripture is all about, is God invading this world that is broken. And we lost fellowship all the way back in Genesis and that plan of redemption to buy us back so that we're not isolated. We're not isolated as caregivers either. And we don't have to be despondent even in our loneliness. Loneliness is an unavoidable part of life. Isolation, however, is something we can fight against. And we fight against this in several ways, with each other, fellowship among ourselves, horizontally with other human beings, but more importantly, fellowship with God.

And what does that look like? Well, on the human side, it looks like building those relationships, trustworthy relationships. And it may take some work at first because you don't want to just jump into relationships with people that are not prepared to walk with you in these very tough roads that you and I have to walk on as caregivers. So you want to be very selective and discerning on this. And it may start with a counselor, a trusted counselor, trusted pastor that you could just spend time and get used to speaking out loud about these things.

A trusted family member, a trusted friend, and don't make them drink from the fire hose. Okay, just the first conversation you have, you don't need to just tumble everything out. Sometimes it's okay to just be, be with someone, just walk with someone.

The other day I had a friend visiting from back east in Virginia and he came out here and we saddled up some horses and just rode around the vast magnificence of Montana on horseback. Just being. There wasn't a lot of preamble.

I didn't have to give a whole lot of background to anything. He already knows me, knows my journey, and we just hung out on horseback, pushing against the isolation. In many respects, it's the same way with God. You just hang out. You talk with him. You read his word.

You listen. He may bring a scripture to mind. He may bring a hymn to mind. He may point out something that's going on around you in the world. I see a lot of that out here when I live in Montana because I see so much of nature which cries out to God. Maybe it's something where you just settle down and sit and be still and know that he is God. Be still and know that he is God.

It's hard to do the latter if you don't do the former. To be still. And it may seem a little bit counterintuitive because when you feel isolated you want to rush out to get involved in something and have this interaction. Social events, as important as they are, pale in comparison to the deep communion of being still. Seeking him out. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.

All these things includes freedom from isolation. This is Peter Roseburger. This is Hope for the Caregiver.

Hope for the Caregiver is a conviction that we as caregivers can live a calmer, healthier and even more connected life as a family caregiver. Take care. We'll be right back.

She's done that before. I bought a pillow topper to go to her hospital bed and I was able to just throw it in the washer, reuse it over and over and knowing that I wasn't bringing hospital cooties. The sheets are wonderful and I've tried all these products and they work and they're not made in China. They're made here and I like them and they do exactly what they said they're going to do and then some.

So I know I got this one guy upset with me, but you know what? I felt like they were really good products and they would help people. And so that's why I like them and I like them. I also like the fact that they're made here in America. I like that, too, because I don't like having a trade imbalance with China. And I'm also sure that we ought to be doing things to support the Chinese economy.

Maybe we could support our own economy here in the States and workers here. And recently, Gracie loves coffee and she loves strong coffee. She likes coffee that reaches out and slaps you kind of coffee. That's the kind of coffee she likes. And the coffee she liked, the company said they would start paying for some of their employees to have abortions after this Roe vs. Wade thing. And so I started looking around for a better coffee company because I didn't want to help support that. And I saw Mike Lindell talking about coffee and I thought, well, I don't know. I mean, coffee's, you know, slippers are one thing, pillows, sheets, that kind of stuff. But coffee, that's all different matter.

But I tried it. And man, it's great coffee. You're going to love it. Gracie loved it. I love this coffee.

Why don't you give it a try? Go to Use the promo code CAREGIVER. When you purchase items from, it helps support this program. Hope for the Caregiver allows me to offer this podcast for free.

So please visit promo code CAREGIVER. Jeremiah 29 11 says, I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. To give you a future and a hope.

I know just what you're going through. So when you can't see what tomorrow holds and yesterday is through, remember I know the plans I have for you. Welcome back to Hope for the Caregiver here on American Family Radio. This is Peter Rosenberger.

This is the program for you as a family caregiver. That is my wife, Gracie. I wanted to let that play a little bit because I love to hear her sing that and I love that voice. Happy anniversary, Gracie. Thirty six years this week. And what a what a party. What a journey we've had.

He does know the plans that he has for you. And I want to bring that into the conversation with our last point of the three I's. We talked about the loss of independence. We talked about the isolation. And now we're going to talk about one of the toughest issues that I think we as caregivers face, that third I, which is the loss of identity.

And we lose ourselves into someone else's story. I myself struggled with this for many years. Ask a caregiver, how are you doing?

And listen to the reply. Well, we just got home or she's not doing well or he's doing OK or our situation or us. We it's very hard for a caregiver to speak in first person singular. It takes a lot of work to push back against this.

We have to force ourselves to speak in a way that feels unnatural to us. To say, I hurt. I'm tired. I'm struggling. I need help. I'm lonely.

I'm isolated. All of those things, those I words that need to come out. But they don't because we feel guilty, embarrassed, obligated, ashamed, fearful, lost. There's a there's a whole line of reasons why that we don't do it.

But we still must do this in order to be a healthier individual. And for me, it was driven home at the piano. And I got up and I played at church one Sunday. The pastor had asked me to play before the service started. Kind of when everybody was coming in just to create a more reverent atmosphere. Gracie had been off the public stage for a while.

She had been very sick. And I've been playing for Gracie since we were in college, since we first met. So I've had her voice in my ear for a lifetime. So I got up to play at church and I started playing songs that I was familiar with and I realized I wasn't playing the melody. Here's what I was doing.

Let me step over here to the caregiver keyboard. Now, admittedly, these are nice chords. But something was missing. I was hearing Gracie's voice in my ear, in my head, but the audience wasn't hearing it. And I had to make some adjustments really quick because I wasn't playing the melody. I was hearing someone else sing the melody in my head and I wasn't playing it. And I had to go back and switch it up. So now I'm playing something.

Now I'm saying something. And I realize that as caregivers we can easily lose the melody. And it's wonderful to play all these great chords, but if nobody knows what we're saying, if nobody knows what we're playing, if nobody hears the melody, it's very difficult to be understood. Have you lost your melody? Are you playing the harmony to someone else?

What does your voice sound like? And for me it started with that hymn. Because I love the lyrics. This is one of the 25 hymns that every Christian ought to know. We've done Be Still My Soul, we've done Joy to the World, and now we've done Jesus Loves Me.

This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Think about the message of this hymn. We thought it was a little children's hymn and, you know, kids learn it and that's great. But this hymn has a great deal more weight to it than we probably ever imagined, particularly for us as caregivers. I spent a lifetime trying to get Gracie to Jesus. If I could just get Jesus to healer, then our life would be better. Things would be okay. Gracie's needs are more important.

If we just get those addressed, I can make do. She must increase, I must decrease. Do you see how that works for us as caregivers? That actually becomes a form of idolatry. You know, John the Baptist said that about Jesus and he's the only one you can say it about. He must increase, we decrease. But when we say it about other people, we're putting them in the place of, oh, is that what we're doing?

Yeah, yeah we are. Our identity is in Christ. And it's not about somehow focusing on someone else to the exclusion of ourself, it's learning who we are in Christ.

Not that we're increasing in that sense, but that we are in Christ. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me. So it's very personal.

It's very specific. Yes, he died for all. But he died for me. He died for you. He knows you. He knows your name. He knows the hairs on our head.

This was driven home even further to me at the caregiver support group I helped facilitate here in our little town. And one of the attendees carves tiny birds out of just pieces of wood. He likes to use wood shop. I mean, they're real tiny. I mean, like, you know, maybe two inches long. I mean, they're very exquisite.

But he does it and he buffs them all out, sands them down and then puts a lacquer on it and you just hold them in your hand. But he does it to remind himself and he gives them out to others. Matthew 6 26, which says, Consider the birds of the air, how they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of much greater value than they are?

Those are Jesus's words. And so I'm asking you, fellow caregiver, are you not of much greater value than the birds of the air? Does that imply that you're kind of to fade into the background or that you are extremely important to our savior, you personally? My name and for a season, and that season may be a lifetime, you are charged with caring for a vulnerable loved one. Maybe it's a child. Maybe it's a parent. Maybe it's a wife or a husband, a friend, cousin, whatever.

Whoever you're charged with caring for. That in no way is a license for you or anyone else to put you into the background and make you secondary. Your identity is important. Your identity was created by God.

You were fearfully, wonderfully made. He knows the plans that he has for you. He knew you before the foundation of the world.

And he loves you as an individual. And this is where it starts for us to reclaim our identity. This is where we launch this quest to regain our identity in Christ. Because he is the one who assesses our values. He is the one who establishes our value. And this always points to the cross.

Think about the thief on the cross. He chastised the other guy. He said, hey, look, we deserve what we got.

And then he looked at Jesus on the cross. He said, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. He didn't say remember us. He wasn't talking about the other guy.

He didn't lump himself in with that. He said, Lord, remember me. And what did Jesus look at? Jesus said to him from the cross.

He said, today you will be with me in paradise. Not you all. Not all y'all.

You. Very specific to that guy. And I look forward to one day meeting him in heaven because I just like to meet that guy. But I think that's incredibly important for us to remember. As caregivers. That this is a very personal savior who's invested in us personally.

Who knows us. And he sees you in your affliction. He sees you in what you're doing.

Those late nights when you are just losing it. He sees you when you have to clean up all this kind of stuff. And deal with all the things that you got to deal with. He hasn't abandoned you. He is keenly aware of this. And he knows you by name.

As you go through the day. Seeing this hymn. Jesus loves me.

This I know. For the Bible tells me so. It's a great hymn to remind us of our identity. And how important we are to Christ. And it devalues in our mind the work of the savior. When we don't recognize that.

If he values you that much. Who are you to devalue yourself? You are a child of the most high. A joint heir with Christ.

You can call God, Daddy. How's that for rediscovering your identity? This is Hope for the Caregiver. I'm Peter Rosenberger. Hope for the Caregiver is that conviction we can live calmer, healthier. As a unique individual loved by God. We'll be right back.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-08 01:38:24 / 2023-03-08 01:51:37 / 13

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