A Needed Distraction!

Our family has been stressed coming and going these days since grandpa (my dad) has been in hospice at his nearby community hospital. His health has been failing since his 94th birthday back in early December. It has become serious enough that our grown kids and their families decided to come in to see, be with, and encourage dad. They were determined to sit and share their affection with him while he was still aware and conversant.

Klay, Eloise, Karter, and Danny
Marc said, "I had to sit a different table.
Too rough of a crowd for me!" 😏
The kids came from near and far. Our Texas son drove twelve straight hours and the New Mexico family purchased airfare that same day to fly in as well. Everyone gathered around dad on two occasions, and it was special to see the outpouring of their devotion. They had accumulated so many cherished memories over the years. Even though it was an exhausting trip for them, the kids and grands just couldn’t pass up what might be their last opportunity to be together with grandpa.

At the end of their visit at the hospital, the kids regathered at their launching point near our oldest son’s house in St. Louis the night before flying and driving home. Our son, Marc, loves photography with cute captions. He sent me a picture of their last evening together. The setting was one of our family’s favorite barbecue restaurants in the west county area. The picture was of a foursome of pre-teen grands sitting after a meal at a table separate from the others while playing a game of cards!

Over the three days they had come to visit, there was a lot of stress, pent-up emotions, and overwhelming grief. It was a sobering reality for all the kids to take in. There were heavy hearts of grief among them. But in those moments at the restaurant, and later at Matt’s house, the heaviness of the moment gave way to laughter and the sharing of uplifting stories. It was a time of distraction in which those caregivers replenished their spirits through joyful conversation, bonding together, and “loving on” each other.

A mix of smiles and tearful eyes.

Jesus and his closest disciples often faced times of great stress and fatigue whether in dealing with the crowds of needy followers or the critics who opposed them or even the challenge of demonic forces. Afterwards,  Jesus would retreat to a secluded or a quiet place. It was an intentional decision by the Son of God and for the benefit of the disciples to seek a much-needed replenishing of their spirits for renewed strength.

Mark’s gospel records one such occasion, “After the apostles returned to Jesus, they told him everything they had done and taught. But so many people were coming and going that Jesus and the apostles did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go to a place where we can be alone and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:30-31, CEV). I have always been impressed by what Jesus did on these occasions. If God’s Son needed to step back, get some rest, and be replenished, how much more is it necessary for us to do the same.

Serious Christian care is often physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually demanding. Those who engage in this level of caregiving day-by-day must take care of themselves or they won’t have much to give to others. Let's be intentional about this. Seek out those downtimes of needed distraction or times of solitude. This self-care will allow you to serve and love others under your care more effectively.

Be “care-full” as you care!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com



  1. Thank you Mike, I needed this, keep us in your prayers

    1. Sorry Mike, it’s taking me a while to understand how to use this app. I have been in extreme back / leg pain for the past two years and I don’t seem to have any brain cells left! I had surgury to implant a Stimtronic pain stimulater in my back. I am restricted from traveling. I would have tried to come anyway but My husband Jim had cataract surgery that morning! I’m so sorry for the loss of Uncle Joe! He was a kind sweet person and always told me my Mother was his best friend!

  2. I have read Uncle Joes funeral service but just saw your family sharing post! I’m so glad to hear that your family was able to grieve together. Phyllis is so bad physically , her heart is always in the right place her body just can’t get there!


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