goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


2 Comments

Passages

A couple of my friends lost a parent in the last week. As my peers age, it is a normal part of life to face the illness and care of aging parents and their inevitable final passage.

With losing a husband to brain cancer after a ten year battle, I have had some experience to be able to offer a few words of what worked for me. Perhaps it might for you.

Be a realist

  •  Try to understand the cause of the illness. If you are reading this, you have access to the Internet and there are countless websites that can provide explanations that you probably can understand.  Do some reading in order to ask the doctors good questions.  Not knowing causes more stress than you need.
  • Fight (yes FIGHT) for good follow-up care, whether it is physical therapy or a home health aide.  Do not accept a guilt trip from anyone that you should be able to provide all care.  Even if you are a trained nurse, you are not able to be on the job 24/7.
  • Understand when things start to slide downhill that at some time, death will occur.  Trying to ignore it won’t make it not happen. Nothing you did or didn’t do caused that. The body gets awfully tired of the pain, the inability to take proper nutrition, the confusion. Recognize that this is not about what you are going to be losing, but making the time the best goodbye you can.

old-couple-holding-hands--007

Be prepared

  •  Doctors have a tendency to refer the patient to hospice very close to the end. This is a horrible disservice not only to the ill loved one but to you. I guess the doctors think it mean admitting failure, but being realistic about the illness and the probably outcome will enable you to persuade for earlier admission. Hospice is a wonderful helpful system set up to care for the ill person in their own home or perhaps in a residence. They provide palliative care, keeping that person comfortable and always acting with high respect. They also help YOU with the emotional turmoil as well as practical issues that are part of this stage of life. Hospice will typically enroll a patient if the doctor indicates end of life will occur within 6 months. That’s a wonderful amount of caring that can be extended if the loved one lingers on.
  • Use this time to make pre-arrangements so there is no need for intense decision making when the person passes. In fact, before your loved one gets so ill, it might help you to understand if there is anything s/he prefers. Many people can’t talk about death easily. Let me assure you, talking about it does not make it happen sooner.comfort love respect

Keep grounded

  • If you have a spiritual connection, relax in it, even if only a moment here and there during the day. As one wise woman said to me when I asked if there were special prayers, “Don’t worry about the words. He knows all the words.” Take some time to complain, to cry, to be angry. It is okay. It is normal.
  • If you have some friends, now is the time to call on that friendship.  Not everyday. Not for long hours. But ask for one to bring a home cooked meal, do a run to the grocery store for you, sit with you and have a glass of wine and a hug. If any friends are very special, ask for a relief hour so you can go get a haircut or gas up the car or just drive over to the park to watch the sun set. If you are used to doing for others, it may be hard to ask for help. Don’t be concerned; the time will come later on to help others again. Now it’s time to let others love you.
  • Take care of yourself. If you are not eating well and not getting enough sleep, you too will get sick. Your immune system is already being attacked because of the stress. This is the time you need to love yourself a bit more.

You know the final day will come. We just don’t know when. Trying to move from a position of pending loss to one of making it the best goodbye you can will give you more peace than you can ever imagine. Hugs.

 


4 Comments

Life Ripples

A moment has arrived that I knew would eventually and I wondered what my role would be. my older children’s grandmother is dying.  It is clear to me that my presence there would not be appreciated, so the need to attend the impending events is eliminated.  So that is not the issue.

I suppose whenever someone dies that I have known intimately, it reminds me that my time here is also limited. It reminds me that the impression I will make on others will be varied….there will be those who will be saddened, others who will sometimes remind themselves that the reason these postings have ended is because someone finally learned how to shut me up, but I believe there will only a few, a very few, who may be glad. (To those of you; dream on, my voice will remain in your head as it has in all the time we have stopped talking to each other.)

The main issue is how to help my kids. I know the concept of death can be scary to some. No matter what your belief system, there is no SURE way to know what happens next and to some, that makes death itself something to fear.  Having been with a few loved ones when they passed I could witness there was no struggle, there was no fight to stay here. It has given me a sense of peace that when my own time comes, it will be a transition to the next adventure.dying hand

The other issue is how to help them come up with words for a eulogy; how to talk about their experience so it eases them. I firmly believe a funeral or memorial service is for the people left here. To not hold some kind of celebration is to potentially result in a lack of closure for some.  So, the service gives people a chance to share their thoughts, their memories.

I remember writing a eulogy for my mother. There were wrestling matches over my life that I knew need not be included, but neither was I comfortable talking about Mom as a saint. She had her flaws and perhaps because of them, the fact that so many people loved her was more meaningful. It took time to get to that point of view but it allowed for a more thoughtful and heartfelt composition for me.candles

My ex-law was also a bit of a challenged person but I was able to point out some of her strong-willed actions came from a position of loss. Having gotten pregnant in high school, she and her sweetheart married, and at age 16 she was forced out of school.  Not only did she complete high school but she went on to college and had a long career as an elementary school teacher. It is a clear example of her determination that she would make her own pathway despite obstacles.

So, go in peace Portia Garmat…..there lies a whole new place ahead to conquer!