By Younas Chaudhary
In June 2014, my wife Bushra was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and for the last seven years, I’ve been her main caregiver. Prior to that, I was a busy entrepreneur trying to grow my multiple businesses, but my life suddenly came to a stop. What lessons did I learn, and how did I consistently work to overcome grief?
The initial days of Bushra’s diagnosis were quite hard, and I took to mourning and self-defeat. I became her primary caregiver, taking her to doctor’s appointments, medical tests, preparing multiple medications, seeing her sufferings, and looking after her day-to-day needs. She started to lose her memory a couple of years thereafter. She had only a part of her memory left, as it was deteriorating.
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey flooded our main family home where we planned to grow old together, and she was devastated. So many of our precious old memories were lost, and this traumatized her even further. Her days were filled with intense muscle aches, neck pain, tiredness, and the loss of identifying who she was.
“What will happen to me next?” she would ask daily, and then re-ask me again and again. I tried hard to adjust to this grief. It continued to overtake me, as every day I was seeing her pain and suffering first-hand. My active life came to a stop, and I spent less time running my businesses to look after Bushra.
I would wake up early, arrange her medicines, and spend most of my time looking after her. As time passed, I realized that it was taking a toll on me, my health and I had to be practical. Grieving over her illness wasn’t doing me any good.
I had to change. I started writing a coffee table book that told the history of my family. This gave me some relief as I looked after her—she who had suddenly turned into a 3-year-old girl. She would not be able to remember what she had done five minutes earlier and started calling me her favorite son.
She lost her memory. Can you imagine your wife calling you her favorite son?
I arranged and secured over three years ago 24/7 caregiver services at our home, routine nurses, and doctor visits to make her day-to-day life more comfortable.
Seven years earlier, Bushra was the life of our house. We spent our mornings drinking tea together, we traveled a lot together, and we talked about our children and our grandchildren. She had so many dreams of us traveling more, and she wanted me to slow down at work.
Her closet, filled with high-end clothes and jewelry, has remained untouched since 2014. Her pursuit of buying the best clothes, jewelry, and high-end household items came to a sudden end.
One lesson I learned from my situation is that you must come to terms with your persistent desire to make and own more and more.
I work because it is my passion, it keeps me occupied, it keeps me productive, and it enables me to share my thoughts, knowledge, and experience with others.
I feel I am a better person now. I used to be a work-driven person, a hard-nosed businessman who was tough overall. My longtime co-workers wonder, “What has happened to this guy?” Earlier, when coworkers used to miss deadlines, I would be upset and angry with them. Today, I say, “That’s fine Bob. I know you had a bad day. Let’s try and get it done in the next few days.”
I am a more peaceful, self-observant individual now, with more empathy and more patience. I am closer to nature, and I walk, bike and hike regularly.
So, what have the last seven years taught me? They have transformed me as an individual. Instead of taking a “Why poor me” attitude, I now try to run with a positive attitude in my daily life. I’ve realized I cannot change what happened, but instead regard every day as a blessed day. I am a more positive person. I also believe and try hard to act with my actions that service and compassion to others without any cause or motive are the best cures for your grief.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.