Some years in our life really stand out for us. The year 2010 was an unforgettable year for my immediate family. It was noteworthy as the year both of my parents became sick with cancer and did not survive. It was a year of incredible caregiving tasks, as we each did our best to make their final days comfortable and, if nothing else, bearable.

No matter what the illness, when it gets this serious, it demands an all-hands-on-deck kind of approach by family members and friends. I feel so sorry for those who don’t have a strong support system to guide them through such calamitous circumstances.

Our particular situation that year, hitting us so suddenly and hard, was not easy to navigate. But neither are the diseases and health crises that consume us for a whole lifetime.

Every caregiving story grabs our emotions in different ways, but most are both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

The spiritual lesson most compelling for me in 2010 was just the uncertainty of life that we all must face. Having to care for our parents’ “things” after their death was almost as difficult as caring for them during their final hours and days on earth. It brought home to me the alarming fact that memories, hopefully those that involve good, strong character traits, are really the only thing of value we can leave on this earth for our loved ones. Material possessions soon lose their importance, when the person owning them is gone.

So, whether we are caring for “the least of these” or those who are very close to our heart, our ministry of giving, no matter what form it takes, blesses both the giver and the receiver.

God is able to teach us more when we allow Him to use us more. (Psalm 90:12)