Category Archives: LGBT Caregiving

The Caregiving Years: Through the Lens of an LGBT Caregiver


Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. John Dewey

Recently I obtained a certification from Caregiving.com to present on the The Caregiving

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Chris MacLellan and his deceased partner, Richard Schiffer. Chris became a full-time family caregiver after Richard’s diagnosis with Esophageal cancer in 2011.  Mr. Schiffer passed away in March of 2014. 

Years: Six Stages To A Meaningful Journey.   On Monday I will present The Caregiving Years at the Florida Council on Aging Conference in Orlando during my presentation on LGBT Caregiving: Is There a Difference?

The six stages of caregiving encompass from the Expectant caregiver to the Godspeed Caregiver and many different stages in between.  On Monday, I will present a preview of The Six Stages of Caregiving while demonstrating the similarities and differences LGBT Caregivers face on a daily basis.

Thanks to Colette Vallee from the Florida Council on Aging, I will be broadcasting live from the conference with special guest all throughout the three day conference.  Be sure to visit me on Spreaker for the podcasts.  Follow me on Twitter @thebowtieguy  with hashtags #fcoa1 and #fcoa2016.

I am available for Work Shops, Presentations, Panel Discussions: some of my curriculum includes…

  • Caregivers as Servant Leaders<>Leadership training for the family Caregiver.
  • The Caregiving Years <>Objective is to learn to create a perspective that best helps you during your caregiving experience
  • LGBT Caregiving: Is There A Difference? <> The Caregiving Years through the lens of an LGBT Caregiver
  • Beginning After Caregiving Ends<>Objective is to learn how to refocus your life after caregiving ends.
  • Spiral of Silence: Caregiving, Stress and its Impact in the Work Place.<>Objective is to learn the financial impact of Caregiving and create a positive workplace culture for family caregivers and employers/

CCC_CHRISShare your knowledge, become a Certified Caregiving Consultant and a Certified Caregiving Educator.

What’s The Deal with Caregiving available on Amazon. Ask Chris 3D1how you can brand “What’s The Deal with Caregiving” to your organization.

Contact Chris about being an upcoming guest on  “HealingTies” at chris@thepurplejacket.com

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Join us in Chicago as an exhibitor for the 1st Annual National Caregiving Conference onNational Caregiving Conference (1) Saturday December 3rd contact me for details on this exciting event!

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Two Years Past


Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. Aristotle

We are taking a break from the thesis project today to remember a significant day in our life. For as long as I live, I know March 9th is going to come around every year.  Significant in the sense that I will always remember March 9th as being the day that Richard made his life transition.  Together as one, our lives changed forever on that day in 2014.

Sure, the pain of losing him has gotten softer, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss him quite a bit.  The love we shared is still strong.   I did not want the day to go unnoticed, nor do I want to belabor the point either.   Finding that gentle balance when you lose the love of your life takes time.  Getting over it, means something different to each one of us.  We don’t really get over it, we adjust to it and move on as best we can. The love we shared is still strong in my heart and always present in my life.

I’m not sure what I will do when March 9th rolls around next year, but what I do know for sure is that my faith tells me that I will see him again, my mind tells me that he is forever pain free and my heart tells me that he is standing right behind me.

Enjoy some of our favorite photo’s from our eleven years together.

  Never miss out on a chance to tell that special person in your life that you love them!

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LGBT Caregiving: Is There A Difference?


The Opinion Which Other People Have Of You Is Their Problem, Not Yours ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

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The Late Bernard Richard Schiffer and Chris MacLellan

Along the way during our Caregiving journey, I have been asked many times, “Are there any difference for same-sex couples in Caregiving?” “No, not really,” I would say, “as Caregivers, we simply care for the one we love.”

Caregiving usually not something that is on our bucket list of things that we want to do, Caregiving just happens!  Suddenly, an untimely diagnose is presented to us, or an unfortunate accident happens, and within a moments notice, two or more lives are changed and you are a family Caregiver. That is why there is no gender or orientation boundaries when it comes to being a family Caregiving, we simply care for the one we love.

Caregiving can be an intense experience which will ask you to surrender yourself and your own needs, for the needs of someonegroup-of-people-in-a-heart-10048754 else. Often you have to give up things you love, in order to care for the one you love.

Is there a theme here about love?

Sure there are some things that all of us can do to make our Caregiving journey “easier.”  Do you have your legal documents in place and up-to-date?  That includes our Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, DNRO (No Not Resuscitate Order) Last Will and Testament: having these documents in place and up-to-date anyone, and readily available regardless of what side of the orientation fence you stand on is critical…for everyone, regardless of what side of the fence you live on!

However, I am not naïve and do realize that there are some differences for LGBT Caregivers.

For instance, Same-sex couples walking into a hospital emergency room are more likely to be “questioned” about the nature of their relationship where as a man and a women,  in the same setting, probably would not often face the same scrutiny. What is “funny” about this is that many of the unmarried heterosexual couples I spoke with after our 2015 Pulitzer Prize nominated story, In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey was published last year did not realize that their rights as a couple we not protected under the law, because they are not married.

In our society, we do not like to talk about death and dying, and that is why many people go years without updating their important legal documents that will ensure their wishes are followed at the time when a life transitions. But when you get right down to it, rights granted by the laws of marriage are mingled with death and dying. Did you know that in every state of the nation the “next of kin” for an adult is the spouse? Once you’ve been denied the right to be with the one you love at the time of their death, then you will fully grasp the meaning of marriage inequality. When asked “who are you’ by medical staff, or to be road signtold, “you’re not next of kin” after your partner has died, clearly demonstrates the injustice.

Has an unmarried heterosexual couple ever been denied the right to be with their loved on at the time life transitions?  My guess is probably so, especially when unscrupulous family members get involved.  LGBT couples know about that experience, too!

Same sex couples have always known a marriage license is not needed to solidify love. However, this license does solidify equal rights. Bigotry and hatred, unfortunately, will always surround us, yet the “license” provides clear legal protection to all married couples, just as having all of our legal documents in place will do for each one of us.

Yes, there are some differences LGBT Caregivers face, the differences maybe subtle to some, yet important to others; mind-boggling , yet fixable. While it is reported that LGBT seniors people are more likely to live alone, more likely not to access medical services in fear discrimination, there are many straight seniors out there who live alone, need transportation, fear going to the doctor.  We are all in the same Caregiving ship, trying to row upstream in a waves that sometimes makes it difficult to navigate.  Why do our “systems” want to hinder care to anyone, that is the puzzling question of them all?

Yes while “systems” might treat LGBT Caregivers differently, there is no doubt that love, care and commitment,  is the same for any two people, no matter what system you have to use, one’s gender or orientation, or who travel with on your Caregiving journey, because in the end, love wins.

P.s., If you have not had your legal documents reviewed by your attorney in the past two years, now is the time to do it pick up the phone, call your attorney, update your documents.  It is the right thing to do!

Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” and the host of “Healing Ties”

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LGBT Caregiving on Healing Ties Radio


Join us on Wednesday, April 1st at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com as we visit with Ernest    Olivas from Emerald Elite Senior Home Care in Wilton Manors, FL.  Serving the senior LGBT        community in the greater Fort Lauderdale area, Ernest and the staff at Emerald Elite Senior Home Care understand the concerns LGBT
Seniors have when accessing care.  We will talk about the      issues facing LGBT seniors and accessing care and how the staff at Emerald Elite match all their      clients with the right professional Caregiver.    Tune in and hear our ’Healing Ties’ Juke Box song       selected by our guest and  learn how Ernest and Emerald Elite Senior Home Health Care is creating Healing Ties all around us!  Cannot listen live?  NO WORRIES!  Healing Ties is available on demand on our Healing Ties iHeart Channel

To listen to the show live…Simply click here! 

To listen on demand at iHeart Radio, Simply click here! 

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52 Years And Still Going Strong!


Join us on Wednesday January 14th  at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com for an enlightening  conversation with Bob Collier and Chuck Hunziker.  What is so special about Bob and Chuck…EVERYTHING!  Bob and Chuck are both veterans, pillars in their community and they just happen to be a couple celebrating 52 years together!  Both in their 80’s, Bob and Chuck, never meant to be activists or plaintiffs in a lawsuit that would change Florida law, they just   happen to be two people who want the world to be a better place for all of us to live. This is a couple who is creating ‘Healing Ties’ all around us!

Can’t listen live on Wednesday?  NO Worries!  Healing Ties radio is available on demand on iHeartRadio/HealingTies by clicking here!

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It Would Have Been Awesome: But It Was!


“It Would Be Awesome To Get Married, Even If For One Day, Because It Would Solidify What We Already Know ” ~ Chris MacLellan November 2013

weddingringsWhen the clock struck 12:00 am on Tuesday, January 6th in the State of Florida, same-sex marriage became the law of this fine state: Hooray I said! Of course there will be people appalled by this decision to grant equal rights under the protection of marriage; bully to them! I wonder about those who ‘worry’ about granting equal rights to same-sex couples through marriage?  Do they need a ‘piece of paper’ to signify their love? We’ve heard the religious arguments, the family values arguments, heck, even heard that world might end if same-sex marriage became law. Last time I looked outside, the ground was still standing firm in this fine state of Florida.

Same sex couples have known for a zillion years that we do not need a ‘piece of paper’ to solidify our love; however that ‘piece of paper’ does solidify our equal rights.   Bigotry and hatred, unfortunately, will always be  around us, yet that ‘piece of paper’ provides clear protection  to all couples who have been together, one day, or 50+ years.  When you look closely into the laws, both federal and state, and see how laws are granted to those who are married, this ‘argument’  of  marriage equality comes into perspective.   As Americans, we do not often like to talk about death and dying, but all the rights granted by marriage are intertwined at the time of death.   Did you know that in every state of the nation that the next of kin for an adult is a spouse! Until you’ve been denied the right to be with the one that you love at the time of death, or asked, ‘Who Are You’ by medical staff, or have been told, ‘your not next of kin’ after your partner hasThe Bow Tie Guys passed away, you never fully grasp the inequality.

Yes, this day is bitter-sweet for me: I’m sure I am not alone.  Richard and I talked about getting married, and it would have been an awesome thing to do!   I can’t imagine us getting married would have deepened our love, it just would have solidified what was already known! Yet I do hope our Caregiving story, In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey and what happened to us along the way as an unmarried couple,  helped pave the way for this historic day in Florida.   In some small way, I am sure that it did! 

Yes, it would have been awesome to get married, but our life was awesome together, without that ‘piece of paper! It would have been awesome to gather our  family and friends together for a ceremony, but heck, they all knew that we loved each other, that we were committed to each other, without that ‘piece of paper.’  As one of my sisters said to me today, “Heck, you two were everything to each hands touchginother, but married.” She was so right, because, in the end, the only thing that matters is that love, care and commitment is the same for any two people who are committed to each other as one.  Our ‘piece of paper’ was imprinted in our hearts.

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Washing Away 2014 With One Last Toast


When love is at its best, one loves so much that he cannot forget.  Helen Hunt Jackson

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New Years Eve Toast 2013. Photo Credit: Carline Jean Sun-Sentinel

Last week during the Christmas holiday, we took a drive down memory lane and visited all the beautiful lights on Ocean Drive in Palm Beach and Broward County.  The outpouring of support from those two blog post is most appreciate.

As we move into the New Year, I do not want to forget about 2014, but I do want to wash it away.  Healing and grieving is different for everyone who has gone through the loss of a loved one.  Grieving would not be hard if love was not involved. Healing would be next to impossible without family and friends like you!

This year, I have decided not to make any new year resolutions, but rather to make some new year commitments.  In 2015, I will commit to taking better care of myself, including my physical, emotional, spiritual and financial self.  There is no secret weapon or path to accomplish this; taking better care of myself is something that is important to my healing process.   Caregivers understand that the last person who gets care, is the Caregiver.  Now, it is time for me to embark on a new caregiving role; caring for myself.

In 2015, I will continue to advocate for Caregivers and their Caree’s through my new radio show, Healing TiesTieHands on Health Cafe Life.com and iHeart Radio.  Our downloadshow on iHeart is listed under the Health section and there are already 10 shows up for you to listen to by simply clicking here!   (Listen in and be sure to click on the heart!)  I will keep blogging on ‘The Purple Jacket’ as this spot is reserved for TLO and all of our friends and followers who have been supportive over WholeCareNetworkthe years.  Early in 2015, I will introduce a new website, Healing Ties which will feature information about the radio show while introducing you to the Whole Care Network.  The new site is still in the development process, but you can take a quick look at the new website by clicking here!  Your feedback and opinion on the new website is most appreciated!  Our new website will highlight the Whole Care Network  which will be a bevy of referrals and references to help you create Healing Ties in your life and in your community.

There are three eBooks in the works and one major book, about our caregiving story, ‘In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey’ is in the works, too. image004Early in 2015 you’ll see posting about group cruises for Caregivers, especially for those Caregivers who have lost a spouse or a partner.  It is time for us to come together in celebration, in care, in commitment and in love, to support and be there for each other. There are some other exciting opportunities that are presenting themselves as we move forward in 2015, I will be sure to keep you in the loop! It is going to be a busy year with workshops and presentations across the country: remember I am making a new year commitment,  not a new year resolution!

IMG_47020763026057 I do not have any fancy words or sage advice today, that’s never been our style here on The Purple Jacket; I simply write from the aspect of love, care and commitment which seems to fit just fine.  As I wash away 2014, I toast you, and thank you for being with us on this journey.  One thing this past year has taught me is to live in the moment: Funny TLO used to tell me that all the time!  So as we bring in the new year, I am thankful for the love that we shared, thankful for the life with TLO, and ready and willing to move forward, just as he wanted me to do.

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“I love the photo that includes your rear view mirror – you brought your past into the present last night.” Denise Brown from Aftergiving.com

I leave you with this wonderful quote  brought to you by my good friend, Denise Brown from Caregiving.com and Aftergiving.com ” I love the photo that includes your rear view mirror–you brought your past into the present last night.” I did not get the symbolism of this picture until Denise pointed it out to me, I am so thankful to Denise for her insight! Why? Because, I never want to forget about the past, yet life moves forward, not back.  Love is what shapes us: Love will never be washed away! 

Blessed and Happy New Year to you and your family! 

 

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That Ride Down Memory Lane


Love has no age, no limit; and no death ~ John Galsworthy

 I started the journey down memory lane on Christmas eve just before 7:00 pm.  First stop was the beach front in Palm Beach, Fl., just across the street from

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Beach Front: Palm Beach, FL.

where TLO and I had dinner last year.  No sure how I was going to react once I arrived at the scene to start of my journey, I took my tablet along and sat out on the beach as I knew my friend, Denise Brown was hosting a 36 hour chat on her wonderful website,  Caregiving.com for Caregivers who might need an extra support over the holidays.   While it took me a few minutes to log-on from my tablet, I was happy to find R.M. as the guest host.  Like me, R.M. has experienced  the loss of her husband; we had a great conversation which lasted close to 45 minutes:  R.M.’s conversation and comfort was just what I needed to meander down the road!  (By the way, if you have not visited Caregiving.com or Aftergiving.com, you’ll find a great supportive community there, I suggest you visit both website by clicking the hyperlink above!)

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Christmas Lights on Ocean Dr

With Christmas Carol’s playing on the satellite radio, I headed south on Ocean Drive  as so many wonderful, and happy memories filled my time on the road.  Of course I missed his physical presence in the car, that gentle caress of his hand on mine.  Heck, I even missed his opinion, or two!  Seeing those beautiful lights on Ocean Drive reminded me how memories of love last a lifetime. Then it hit me…Death does not change love!  Sure, I may not remember something as mundane as how the Christmas lights were displayed in front of these homes in previous years, but I do remember how special our drives up and down Ocean Drive were to us was because our drives were apart of the love we shared together.

Just the other day I was at a party and was asked, “How long should someone grieve.”  Puzzled, I replied, “do you want the standard therapeutic  answer or one from the heart. Oh, I know the standard therapeutic answer, but I want to know your answer, since you’ve allowed so many people into your story.” My reply was simply this: “Just as love is unique between two people, so will be how one will deal with their own healing and grieving.  There is no time-table, there is no recipe for grief other than just to own it, embrace it and at least forwpid-wp-1419525578309.jpeg me, talk about it, because in time, it will get better.”
After talking to R.M. in the Caregiving.com chat room, I thought about this conversation last night  as I motored down the road on Ocean Drive. I think it was kind-of-like one of those  ‘AH-HA’ moment that we experience from time to time that lit a light bulb in my head, turned up my spirits, and reminded me to be thankful for what I had, rather than sad for what I think that I have lost: Death does not change love.
Yes, I have lost his physical presence in my life, but that doesn’t mean that I have lost his love in my life.  That was the big distinction

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Hugs and Love last forever

that I learned on my on Christmas Eve. When in the midst of healing and grieving, sometimes we need a trip down memory lane to help create our Healing Ties.

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Going For A Ride on Christmas Eve


 Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.

 Holiday HugsOne of the many things that I have missed this holiday season is the rides TLO and  I took to see the beautiful Christmas lights up and down Ocean Drive in Palm Beach and Broward County, Florida.  Usually our drives were filled with lots of chatter, or gossip, depending  on your point of view.  Yet one thing that we did during these rides that I miss the most is simply holding hands.  There is so many ways to express love, yet there is nothing more basic, more real, than to hold hands.  That gentle touch which bringshands comfort in so many ways, is missing this holiday season.
Christmas eve was always our special night.  Whether our pocket books were flush or not, we always made that evening, our evening.  We would sit down and plan for weeks about what posh restaurant where we would make our reservation.  Yet no matter20111225-083458.jpg where we decided to have dinner on Christmas eve, we always made plans to end the evening with a drive down Ocean Drive to see the Christmas lights.  Of course a nice ice cream cone was in order too!
I have not taken a drive down Ocean Drive this holiday season.  Yet I think I am going to take that ride on Christmas eve as a way to remember…as a way to celebrate our life together, as a way to create my own Healing Ties, but most of all, I am going to take that ride just to be thankful  for having the experience of love and being loved.  Caregiving is over for us; but love endures forever and love does make the ride worthwhile.
To all who are grieving this holiday season, I wish you peace, comfort and lots of Holiday Hugs!

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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.

IceCream1  IceCream3

 

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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 

Cannot listen live…No worries!  Hear our podcast anytime on iHeart Radio by clicking here

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