The vows exchanged at the outset of a marriage are solemn and significant. For better or worse. In sickness and in health.
Former Jaguars and Giants coach Tom Coughlin is honoring the promise he made 54 years ago. He opened up about his current situation in an item for the New York Times regarding the struggles of his wife, Judy.
Coughlin explains that Judy was diagnosed with progressive supra nuclear palsy in 2020. The brain disorder slowly eliminates the ability to walk, speak, think, and control bodily movements. It’s been a four-year battle for Coughlin, his wife, and their family.
“I’ve learned firsthand caregiving is all-consuming,” Coughlin writes. “It is mentally and physically exhausting. Sometimes you just need a break. When Judy is having a good day, then my day is good. But then there are dark days — those days that are so full of frustration and anger, they have me feeling like a failure and pondering the unfairness of the disease. I’ve spent my entire life preparing for some of the biggest games a person could play, but nothing can prepare you to be a caregiver who has to watch a loved one slip away.”
Those who provide primary care to loved ones, regardless of the illness or condition, understand what Coughlin is experiencing. Coughlin has shared his journey in order to help others realize that the caregivers need care, too.
It’s an important message. The process of caring for a loved one who is sliding into the twilight takes a major toll on those who shepherd them through the worst of the worst days. It takes strength and resilience. And it requires compassion and understanding for those who are forced to witness a family member fade into a shadow of what he or she once was.