Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 66(2) May 2016

Faith in Medicine

Why I love being a carer

Hazel Fernandes

This article is written as a tribute to my beautiful Mother, Maria Beatrice Fernandes, who has gone to be with the Lord, on Easter Sunday 2014.

It is also dedicated to my gorgeous warrior sister, Maureen Anne Fernandes, who I now care for, and my Father Xavier Fernandes, to Dr Rita Pal, Clive and Christine Arnold and Mrs Parminder Kaur and Chinna Patel and the Dominican Religious Community at Holy Cross Priory Church, Leicester.

elderly-ladyI became, like the majority of Carers, a Carer by default. To quote Soren Kiekegaard, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” I did not personally choose to become a Carer, I lead a charmed life with an academic career, with a view to moving to a professional career, by society’s

However, you never know where life’s journey takes you, and everything happens for a reason. No experience, good or bad goes to waste. I feel honoured and privileged that the Lord entrusted me personally with the responsibility of the sanctity of life itself, and the He guided me every step of the way.

Caring is ultimately, love in action, it is the ultimate expression of love and a service of love. Love is not just a word or what we feel, it is deeds and what we do to express that love. In fact caring is a labour of love, (1 Corinthians 13:13)

What Carers do is imitating the life and love of Jesus Christ, and this is an active experience of service to one another. Therefore, you can say that caring is the ultimate act of love, service and sacrifice, “Whatever you have done for the least of these you are doing for me.” (Matthew 25:40) and “Let all you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14)

Serving others in their suffering, is a way that we encounter and serve Jesus Christ himself. We demonstrate the love of Christ by compassion, and empathy. “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for a friend.”(John 15:13) We serve God by serving others, and sacrificing our loves, by selflessly laying down our lives for our loved ones, so they may enjoy their life, with good health and a better quality of life. The whole structure of our life revolves around the loved one, you care for. It is the ultimate service of intense personal self-sacrifice as representatives of Christ. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

The love that Carers experience via caring, transcends human love, “God is Love.” (1 John 4:8) this love is pure agape, unconditional love, we see how God sees (1 Samuel 16:7), beyond the disability, illness, the superficial, and see the beautiful heart, soul and spirit of a loved one unfold. We see their potential, what they can do as opposed to what they cannot. Your heart and soul is transformed into kindness, empathy and compassion.

Caring for the sick and disabled engages you on every level, physically, emotionally, socially, psychologically, spiritually, morally and mentally. Nothing on earth can compare to witnessing the healing power of God, and seeing that you have made a difference to someone’s life under your care, “Everything is possible with God.” Matthew 9:26, if we have faith and ask Him, as He is the ultimate Healer and Physician.

A person with a disability shapes and moulds us into the best possible version of ourselves. The sufferings of our loved ones reveal the depth of our character, love, commitment, patience, and abilities. They teach us unconditional love, the sanctity of life and how precious life is and not taking life for granted, selflessness, hope, faith and what really matters, and even to live life to the fullest.

You learn to be a fighter, develop an inner strength and become a warrior and an advocate for your loved one who loves and trusts and depends on you, The experience of Caring shows us how we can be a blessing to others, through our God-given talents, abilities and what we can do to serve others.

This kind of relationship is truly special and transcends all relationships, as it goes above and beyond all human relationships.

Carers bear the cross like Simon of Cyrene, “Carry one another‘s burdens and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2) We see the world through the eyes of the disabled, we realise that the world is designed for able-bodied people, and sometimes they feel like they are on the outside looking in, everything is custom made and bespoke to aid those with disabilities.

This world can be very much an instant, selfish, self-gratification society, but we get to see the beautiful compassionate and kind side of human nature, on the one hand and the bigoted, ignorant hate filled behaviour of some on the other.

We get to meet and interact with other special heroes and heroines who share a similar journey. I personally am fortunate to take my sister to a party specially for adults with learning disabilities, and it is the closest thing to Heaven, as you meet those who are “pure in heart”, and view the world in a beautiful simplistic innocent way. These special angels are loving, friendly, non-judgemental and non-discriminatory and like you unconditionally they make you happy.

Carers save the government, according to the Carers UK charity, £132 billion a year, the cost of a second NHS, however they only get £62.10 a week for caring 24/7.

However, Matthew 5:12 says “Rejoice and be glad for your reward in Heaven is great.” Isaiah 61:7 promises a double portion of blessings and Isaiah 61:3 promises “beauty for ashes”

We are also promised “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as works for the Lord not human masters.” Colossians 3:23

Caring has left me with a legacy of love, and experience, it has strengthened my Faith. In the words of Fr Fabian Radcliffe OP of Holy Cross Priory, Leicester, “Go forth and glorify the Lord with your life”.