13 | INTERVIEW: Noreen McInnes shares wisdom on accompanying parents through sickness and death

We enjoyed our conversation with the lovely Noreen Mcinnes. 

Her book, Keep at it, Riley! is a memoir of her accompaniment of her parents through aging, sickness, and death. 

She shared some touching stories and insights from her experiences. 

Raised as an Irish Catholic, they had a kind of family motto “Keep at it, Riley!” A motto of persistence and reliance on God’s grace to see them through everything. 

It was great to listen to Noreen’s experiences. I’m at a point where I’m kind waiting for that phone call from my own parents. A call about something happening that’s going to really change how independently they can live. I have some fears about that call. 

I asked Noreen what kind of perspective I could have. 

Noreen says that the Irish have a term: anam cara. The translation is soul mate, but it’s not really soulmate like Americans think of in terms of a husband and wife.

“Anam cara” is more like a deep spiritual companion.

Her example was a midwife accompanying a child into this life. The anam cara accompanies their soulmate through death into life. So if you have a vision that you accompany your loved one from death to go home to the Lord, it reframes it that this isn’t the end; it’s the beginning that they’re going home.

Noreen was the anam cara for her parents. It’s a ministry that you are taking on. We know, too, that Jesus is our anam cara. So we’re not alone in this. And Jesus is truly our accompaniment as we go home to God. So that strengthens us. As we minister, as Jesus did, we know that we’re not just there for medical needs.

Every illness and relationship is different. In these, we have that opportunity to be alongside our loved ones in their time of need;  what a gift it is to be there as anam cara. God will get you through.

She says, “ I was so grateful. I was the one I got to do it. I was blessed to be the anam cara.” 

Noreen shared some humor and touching stories. Listen to the podcast, and be blessed!

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