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.
I 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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