The Essential Conversation Project


Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines ~ Robert H. Schuller

We have all had to have difficult conversations with our loved ones from time to time.  If you are like you, I bet you had wished you had a road map to have one of these communications.   For example, how to approach your Mom or Dad about not driving along longer.  This is just one example of the many difficult conversation many families face on a daily basis, but how do we have those conversation is a key to their success!

So, if you are looking for a little help and guidance on how to approach those difficult conversations in our life, then join us LIVE at 7:00 pm (EST) on Wednesday, November 26th with Dr. Amy D’Aprix and Resa Eisen, MSW on  “Healing Ties” Radio show as we chat about ” The Essential Conversation Project.”  I am confident that Dr. Amy and Resa just might have a tip or two on how to approach those difficult conversations!

To listen to the show live at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, simply click here! 

Listen to ‘Healing Ties’ on demand on iHeart Radio by clicking here.

 

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You’ll Be Okay!


Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important that your own ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr

Earlier this month, I was asked by my good friend Denise Brown from Caregiving.com and AfterGiving.com  to share a video for today’s family caregivers that comforts with three words: You’ll be okay.

While creating this video, I learned that I  was comforted, knowing that by sharing my after caregiving journey might help someone else, just like me,  who is also in the grieving and healing process.

Loss is so personal, so real.  No one can really tell us how to deal with the loss of a loved one, yet that old cliché, ‘time does heals all wounds’  is true! However wounds heal at their own pace and in their own time, and in your time…you’ll be Okay…. because it does get better! 

To see my ‘You’ll Be Okay” video for AfterGiving.com, simply click on the heart!

 

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Click on the Heart to see Chris’ ‘You’ll Be OK” Video for AfterGiving.com

 

AfterGiving_Logo2If  you cared for a family member or friend? Please feel free to participate in  AfterGiving.com You’ll Be Okay campaign.

Like me, you will be glad that you did!

 

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Laughter is the best medicine, then and now.


There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full ~ Henry A. Kissinger

As I continue to grieve and heal, I look back at those moments during our caregiving journey that brought laughter to our hearts.  Richard had such a dry sense of humor and a quick wit and if truth be told, he really did enjoy having his picture taken too.  We used humor and laughter quite bit during our Caregiving journey.  Whether it was a trip out for a delicious scoop of ice cream or a visit to get a hair cut, we tried to inject as much humor into our day as was humanly possible.

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We let our humor combat some of those dark days, too.  Richard loved Monty Python, especially ‘Spamalot’…I think we both saw the play three times.  There was a day, early on after the diagnosis where Richard was playing the music from ‘Spamalot’ when all of a sudden the famous song,

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Spamalot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“He’s Not Dead Yet” started to blare through the Bose speakers.  We both looked at each other in utter amazement; we laughed, we cried, we hugged each other and we laughed some more.  That song became our battle cry, and because of that song, the laughter we shared, provided that spark which enabled Richard to live his life to the fullest.

As our caregiving journey continued to unfold, there was no doubt that we traveled the journey together, side by side, one by one.  We shared in the emotions, we shared in the joy and laughter,  knowing that sorrow was somewhere around the corner.  Yet the sorrow that we shared was the realization that our time together was not going to be as long as we would have wanted it to be.  No more, no less.

The lesson that I’ve learned during our Caregiving journey was that I was  the co-pilot, Richard was the pilot. Richard was  the one going throughSONY DSC the radiation treatments, Richard was  the one taking the medicine; I was there in a supporting role, simply loving, caring and coping as best we could.  As Caregivers, our journey is filled with difficult peaks and valley’s, we try to pave the roads we journey so that the path is as smooth possible, so when there is a problem at hand,  there is always a gentle breeze at our caree’s back.  Caregiving is filled with so many raw emotions, that sometimes we forget that we are on a beautiful, yet difficult journey together.   For Richard and I, humor and laughter helped lightened some very dark days.  For us then, and for me now, laughter is truly the best medicine.  Laughter allows me to grieve and heal.

 

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‘Healing Ties’ radio show, live every Wednesday at 7:00pm on Health Cafe LIVE by clicking here 

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What Role Does Mindset Play?


Christopher MacLellan:

Please take a moment to read this wonderful blog post about the role of one’s mindset, by Ira Woods. Ira’s wonderful blog, Conscious Departures, is a must read for all Caregivers!

My comments on the Ira’s wonderful post are below.

On my 57th birthday in February of this year, the oncologist told Richard and I that the cancer had spread from his spine to his shoulders, ribs pelvis and his liver. (This was just three months after completing 6 weeks of intensive radiation treatments on his spine) It was a chilling way to start one’s birthday; ‘do you want to continue with more radiation’ asked the oncologist? What do you say at that point? Subsequently, our primary care doctor called (who we simply adore), saddened by the news herself, said ‘we must let him die with dignity.’ Hard conversations to have, knowing that the end is just around the corner.
Richard was always a fighter. Upon the original diagnosis of 3 to 4 months to live in 2011, he beat the odds. Cancer was not the winner, love was the winner.

Richard died peacefully just 19 days after my 57th birthday. Even when he was in hospice, I just figured it was a matter of time before he just got out of bed and would come home with me. I’ve come to realize those thoughts were coming from being his partner, because that is what I miss the most about him not being here with me.

Caregiving is two-fold, especially when you are in a caregiving role for a spouse or partner. In sickness and in health means quite a bit when two people are committed as one. Caregiving goes beyond “making the person feel comfortable.” Caregiving takes a relationship to the next level, it binds souls, it allows you to do things that you never thought you were capable of doing. In sickness and in health, love is a beautiful thing.

I believe when we are in after caregiving is “where our words and mindset play a bigger role than what we think.” When we are in the middle of Caregiving, we are so focused on doing, that we often forget about simply being. When caregiving ends, dealing with the relief that the caregiving is over, along the sadness of the lost, on top of the grief simply to move on is when our words and mindset play a bigger role that what we think.

I know that I have the capacity to be a ‘professional caregiver’- maybe some day I will volunteer in hospice so that I can share our experience which hopefully will be of benefit to others. For me it is OK to admit that I don’t miss the day-to-day chores of caregiving. I don’t miss the trips to Walgreens, coordinating doctors visits, worrying about rides to radiation, etc. Yet if he was sitting right next to me now, I would do it in a moment notice, without a problem, without a complaint. I just own up to the fact that I just miss my best friend, pal and partner. That is how my mindset helps me get through the days.

Originally posted on Conscious Departures:

MindsetI always keep a lookout for good, interesting journalism on end-of-life caregiving and I have to say that the New York Times has really delivered some great articles over the last several years. A few weeks ago another article caught my attention, not about caregiving per se, but about a subject that I believe needs to be part of the caregiving conversation; mindset and health.

The NYT article “What if Age is Nothing But a Mindset?” highlights the work of psychologist Dr. Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychology professor.  Back in the early 1980’s Langer ran a psychology experiment with a group of men, in their seventies, who were in good health but manifesting typical old age deterioration; walking with a cane, arthritis, stooped over, weakness, etc.  At the conclusion of the experiment, five days later, the men had gone through a transformation. “They were suppler, showed greater manual dexterity and sat…

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Healing Ties Radio Show


 CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW AT 7:00 PM > HEALTH CAFE LIVE.COM 

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 CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW AT 7:00 PM > HEALTH CAFE LIVE.COM 

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Listen In Love


The First Duty Of Love Is To Listen.

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Celebrating Richard’s 83rd birthday January 24, 2014

When Richard mentioned ‘Hospice‘ for the first time in December of 2011, it opened the door  for one of the most beautiful and meaningful conversations that two people could ever have over a sensitive topic. Just a few months after his diagnosis with esophageal cancer, this conversation happen so matter-of-factually, that by the time the conversation was over, there was no pain, no agony; just  lots of tears from an honest conversation between two people who just happened to loved each other.

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Chris and Richard is Arles, France 2006

Many years ago I had the opportunity to intern in hospice, it was quite a remarkable experience. High profile doctor’s humbled; broken families reunited; husbands, wives, siblings children, partners letting go, provided me with the opportunity to look at hospice through different set of  lens. I was, and continue to be, forever grateful for that experience.  While I tend to be on the spiritual side, Richard claimed to an agnostic Jew. I always found that funny because Richard was  one of the most spiritual and ground persons that I have ever met. Often misunderstood for his gruff demeanor and direct comments, Richard was rooted in his clear thoughts and perspective. You may not like what he had to say, but you never walked away from a conversation with him without knowing his opinion or where he stood.. It is really the best way to communicate: boy do I miss those conversations with him.

Honest dialogue often brings out the best and sometimes the worst in people. However without honest dialogue, what then is communication? Our decisions during our caregiving journey was guided through our honest dialogue.  I remember Richard clearly saying, “I will tell you when I’m ready to go to hospice!”  When I look back to that day on March 3rd when he got out of the chair on his own and walked to the gurney to be taken to hospice, that was his way of telling me that he was ready to go.  Hospice, end of life, life transitions, however you want to frame it,  we both knew where we stood,  we both knew what was important to us and we both knew that when the time came for hospice,  we would embrace it and deal with it.

Planning for the day, when there will be no more days is challenging.  How does one really do that?  By having an honest and open conversation before there is the need.   While there may not be a need for Hospice today, there is a need to talk about Hospice.  The effects of a diagnosis of Cancer are enormous on everyone, yet we must not allow any disease to drive us.  Fear is debilitating, HourGlassmaking a decision while in fear, can be crippling.   Find a way to have ‘that’ conversation about hospice.  In our case, the conversation just happened, but that is not the case for every caregiver and their caree. One way to make this difficult conversation comfortable is to ask open-ended questions, I.e., ‘It is important for me to know your thoughts on the type of care you want to receive so we can make good decisions together.’

As advocates for hospice, Richard and I  looked at hospice as a way to celebrate life in all of its stages.  Hospice is just not for the patient, hospice is for the entire family. While Richard  and I might have shared different opinions on life after death; one thing that we did know is that while we are alive, we are going to enjoy every second, minute, hour, day, month, year we had left. I think we accomplished that because we had the ability to talk openly about his wishes.  The memory of these intimate conversations with him is what helps me get beyond my grief and allow me to heal.  My you find your peace in your after Caregiving journey, too.  

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2014 Midterm Elections, Get Out The Vote!


Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

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Since 2004, WordPress has set out with an ambitious goal in mind — to democratize publishing and put state-of-the-art tools in front of publishers both large and small across the planet. We believe strongly in this vision because when more people have access to powerful tools on the web, that in-turn empowers them to do great things and publish amazing content. We feel the same way when it comes to democratizing, well, democracy — and in just a few weeks, citizens across the United States will have a unique opportunity to flex their political muscle and vote in the 2014 Midterm Elections.

For our part, we want to provide our US-based users a set of resources to help them make a smart, informed decision when it comes to who they will vote for. We also want to provide a toolkit so that they can get more information on where to…

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