I am simply honored that Linda asked me to be part of her blog tour! Linda’s new book, ‘A Long and Winding Road: A Caregivers Tale of Life, Love and Chaos’ is simply splendid and now available through Amazon by clicking here!
I’ve followed Linda’s blog for quite some time, and so should you! To visit and follow Linda’s blog ‘Life After Caregiving,’ simply click here!
Caregivers have this innate ability to understand each other, even when our ‘long and winding’ caregiving roads are different. Linda’s guest post, ‘Tributes To Those We Love’ comes at a perfect time for me as I continue to go through the grieving process. Thanks Linda for sharing your wisdom with ‘The Purple Jacket!’ Your guest post touches my heart!
Tributes to Those We Love
Guest Post by Linda Brendle
Recently, I attended an unusual funeral. To be sure, there were some tears and some evidence of sadness, but mostly it was a joyful celebration of a life well lived and a loving tribute to a man who was well loved. One of the first things I noticed was a large floral arrangement that depicted a man on an orange riding lawn mower. Next, I noticed that when the extended family filed into the sanctuary, most of them had on something red.
The daughter of the departed read the eulogy. She began with the traditional statistics—dates of birth, marriage, death, and also the names of survivors. From there, she went on to tell her father’s life story. She told of his spiritual journey from a rough-edged man of the world to a devoted follower of Jesus. Assisted by her daughters and nieces, she told stories that were both funny and touching—and she explained the flower arrangement and the color choices. As his health declined and walking became difficult, her father used his riding mower to keep tabs on his beloved homestead. His orange four-wheeler, as he called the mower, became a personal trademark along with the color red. Red was his favorite color because he said it reminded him of the blood of Jesus.
A celebratory memorial service can be a wonderful tribute, but there are also other ways of expressing love and appreciation to those we value. For centuries artists have paid tribute to people of value through sculpture, painting, and other art forms. Modern technology now allows us to immortalize each other through photography and other visual imagery. In addition to artistic tributes, we can honor those we love with written tributes and what I like to call lifestyle tributes.
My first close encounter with written tributes was several years ago when I was involved in a caregiver support group. At one point, we devoted several meetings to the topic, and I was surprised to discover that written tributes can sometimes be more important to the writer than to the honoree. Since many of our loved ones were afflicted by some sort of dementia, reading or presenting a letter or framed document to them would have been confusing. However, the writing process helped the caregiver focus on the more positive aspects of her loved one. Remembering who the person was before age, infirmity, and dementia turned them into an angry, messy, uncooperative patient sometimes brought a kind of closure and a sense of relief. Often, comfort and healing came with the preparation of a tribute and by sharing it with the group.
Lifestyle tributes can help restore a sense of control that is taken away after years of dealing with uncontrollable situations. Some caregivers have become advocates, either against the disease that took their loved one or, like my host Chris, for causes that were important to them. I’m not much of an activist, but my writing has become, in part, a lifestyle tribute to Mom and Dad. When something I write encourages caregivers and others who are in difficult situations, it seems to give some meaning to the otherwise meaningless struggle that defined the last years of Mom and Dad’s lives.
Tributes can take many forms. Regardless of which form you choose, finding a way to show honor and respect to one you love is an important part of letting go and saying good-bye.