Category Archives: Life after Death

Moving To Acceptance


The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu

I’m not sure there is a moving company one can call when you are preparing to move to acceptance.  Moving to acceptance is one of those moves you have to do on your own.  Sure, it is important to receive some help during the move, but in the long run, moving to acceptance is a journey that you have to travel on your own and in your own time.  Moving to acceptance does come with a few bumps inlights the road. While on the move to acceptance, there will be days when the roads will be smooth and the sky so blue that you feel you’re just a stones throw away from completing your move to acceptance. Those days will be quite beautiful! Then there will be days when those darn red lights appear at an intersection which just stops you in your tracks!  That red light just seems linger on and on which makes you want to beat on your steering wheel and scream to the top of your voice so that you can continue on your route. (Those are the days during this move when screaming is Okay!) When you get a red light that just seems to linger, this is a good time to take a break from your move before you run out of gas, because when you run out of gas, you never get to move to acceptance.

There is no GPS device that will help guide you on the move to acceptance however, from time to time, there will be many kind folks who will join you on your ride to help keep you on your path on your move to acceptance.  These “riders” often appear out of the blue sky, and when you need them the most.  They don’t mind helping you with your move, because they see your road from a different perspective and know just what to say, and just what to do while you are on your move to acceptance.   What is great about these “riders” is they reconnect you to your route after those nasty red lights stop you in your tracks so that you can continue on with your move to acceptance! 11410888-smooth-road-ahead-good-times-recovery-yellow-street-sign-1is84y6Some of these “riders” might be on their own move to acceptance, some might have already arrived at acceptance. There will be a “rider” or two who will jump in the car with you who you haven’t seen in a while, yet even after many years have gone by, you pick up just where you left off with these “riders” and your friendship is in full sail again. Heck, you might even pick up a friendly “hitchhiker” along they way, someone you do not know, who pops into your life when you least expect it, who has experienced their own move to acceptance and would like to share their route with you.  All these “riders” have their own place in the vehicle and tend to stay just long enough to ensure you stay on the correct route in order for you to move to acceptance.

 The great thing about moving to acceptance is that you do not have to take the interstate highway to arrive at your destination. Moving to acceptance is better suited for those country roads where you can drive at your own pace, and most importantly, in your own time. There will be days on your move to acceptance where you will want to pull off the road and take the scenic route: Do it! The scenic route will be filled with views of wonderful memories which will help you on your movemoving on to acceptance. Cherish the scenic view! As you get closer to your destination, the scenic views will be like a picture book that sits on your coffee table, however, this book will be forever yours, always entrenched in your memory, always with you on your move to acceptance.

Moving to acceptance can be difficult, but it is a worthwhile move! What is great about this move to acceptance is not only the terrific views, the awesome people you meet along the way, but the ultimate – arriving at the destination with all the memories of the this great move still intact!  Is there a specific “sign” that you have moved to acceptance? No, not really because the “sign” you have arrived at acceptance will be different for each one of us, and that is Okay because all our routes on our move to acceptance will be different, too. Yet a tell-tail-sign that you are getting close to arriving at acceptance is when those scenic views turn from sadness to joy, and you begin to accept, after your long journey in search of what you need – you come to know and understand that what you have been searching for while on your move to acceptance, has, and will always be, in your heart and forever at home with you. This is when then you know, first hand, that you have made your move to acceptance because you now realize and accept that the one you are missing the most, will always right beside you!

Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday Season

Listen and see our video chat with  Denise Brown from Caregiving.com  as Denise interviews me about Moving to Acceptance After Caregiving ends by clicking here!

wpid-wp-1448113432219.jpegChris’ Book, “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” is available on Amazon by clicking here!

 

 

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One Year Later


Love Has No Age; Love Has No Limits; Love Has No Death!

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Photo Credit: Carline Jean Sun-Sentinel

 

The year of ‘firsts’ is coming to an end, so it seems fitting that I publish this post today,  March 9, 2015  at 1:20 pm.  As Diane Lade so eloquently wrote on April 13, 2014 in her Pulitzer Prize nominated story; “Richard loved opera and classical music, and they were lsc_the-mikadolistening to the joyful finale of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”: The threatened cloud has passed away, and fairly shines the dawning day! What though the night may come too soon, we’ve years and years of afternoon. From his seat at the table, Chris suddenly looked at the hospital bed across the room. Chris saw Richard shrug and turn his head toward him. At 1:20 p.m. on March 9, 2014, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Bernard Richard Schiffer died.” 1.

Richard loved opera, in fact, I remember him taking me to my first opera, ‘Madam Butterfly’ in 2006.  “This will be a good first opera for you because it is not too heavy.” Of course, the sentimental side of me said upon leaving the theater that evening, “You didn’t tell me it was going to be such a sad ending.”  He just smiled and laughed at me as we walked down the sidewalk for dinner.  It was fitting that we were listening to Opera on that ‘sunny Sunday afternoon’ as Richard spirit was lifted up, pain-free for eternity.

My year of ‘firsts’ has had its ups and downs.  We move on with our heads held high, taking the good days with the bad, the bad days with the good, and all that goes on in-between.  I’m still trying to find my place in my year of ‘firsts.’ Leaving my job at Sun-Serve, spending extended time in New Orléans,  going out on my own with my radio show, Healing Ties on iHeart Radio,   learning the group cruise business, becoming theNational Caregiving Advocate for Answers for Elders . com all of which has proved to be a challenge, but very rewarding too. Yet there is that empty feeling which seems to linger, and never go away.  So many of you, near and far, have been so kind and so supportive.  I find so much comfort from your thoughtfulness.

As I reflect today on my life with Richard, I can sum it up into one sentence…I am lucky to be loved in the way that I am loved by him.  Unlike Madam Butterfly, we did not have a sad ending, just a new beginning, it is the adjustment period that makes this year of ‘firsts’ so difficult at times.  As I have written before, 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 right next to me. Because in the end, just as in the beginning, love is the winner!

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1. Lade, D., & Jean, C. (2014, April 13). In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey. Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved from http://interactive.sun-sentinel.com/lgbt-dying-couple/

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Filed under Caregiving, Life after Death, Unconditional Love

Life AFTER Caregiving


 

 

 

Join us on Wednesday, January 21st at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com as we welcome back, by popular demand, Adrienne Gruberg from The Caregiver Space! Let’s face it, life AFTER caregiving is an adjustment. Not only are their legal issues to consider, there is also the task of getting back to life, a life that is different from what we once knew. On Wednesday, Adrienne and I will share our experience of adjusting to live AFTER Caregiving; the grieving process,  reentering life and beginning again. This will be an upbeat conversation with tools you can use in order to create Healing Ties all around you!

To listen LIVE at 7:00 pm click here!

Cannot listen live?  NO WORRIES!  Healing Ties is available ON DEMAND on our iHeart Radio Channel by clicking here!

 

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Filed under Grief, Healing Ties Radio Show, Life after Death

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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Filed under After Caregiving, Caregiving, Healing Ties, LGBT Caregiving, Life after Death

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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Filed under Caregiving, Healing Ties, Hospice, In Sickness and In Health, Intergenerational, Life after Death

Letting Go, Together As One


We loved with a love that is more than love ~ Edgar Allan Poe

As I pulled up to the boat dock on Tuesday, I was amazed at what a beautiful,  clear and sunny day it was in South Florida. At this time of year, especially in the height of hurricane season, one never knows what the weather might bring us. The boat caption’s words last week after I booked the reservation–“we will sail at 9:30 am, weather permitting–reminded me that even when we put our best plans in place, there are things beyond our control.   BoatWaves

Sure, we all know that we cannot control the weather, we can only work with it.  Yet for me, the plans to sail on Tuesday, September 9th was significant because Tuesday, September 9th was the six month anniversary of Richard’s life transition and it was time for us to let go, so that we could be together again as one.   I’ve never experienced a burial at sea, so I had no personal experience to go by, but I did know that what was important for both Richard and I, was to be set free from the perils of death and be free, free so that we can be together  again as one.

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On this beautiful sunny Tuesday morning, it was a small gathering of friends as we motored out into the Atlantic ocean.  Making the decision to bury Richard’s ashes at sea was something that we had both talked about, and something that I knew he approved of since he buried his first partner, Herman at sea in 1999.  The biodegradable boxes were a work of art; one blue with the (last) remains of Herman and one white with the  remains of Richard.  Yet even in those conversations about burial at sea,  you really don’t know if you can ‘do it’ until you get right to the point or rather, the day of ‘doing it.’

In a sense, I knew that placing Richard’s ashes at sea WAS my last act of Caregiving for him.   Sure, I had the option of the funeral home ‘doing it’ for me, but I knew deep inside my heart that this was my sole responsibility and something I wanted, and needed to do.  Then the conversation started on the boat.  “I understand that we have to be more than three miles from shore before the boxes can be placed in the ocean,” I said.  Then in unison, two of my friends said…”You’re going to just place his box in the ocean, he wants to be set free, just like you, let the ashes out of the box and set both of you free!”  “Hummm,” I thought…”Another Caregiving decision to make, and how I thought those decision were behind me!”

As the boat slowed down and then anchored, I knew that we had approached our destination and it was my turn to act.  I had no special words to say, yet I shared pictures of Herman and Richard and talked about their 43 years together as I placed Herman’s beautiful blue box in the ocean. Ocean 2 As I reached for Richard’s beautiful white box, I was still unsure of what I was going to do, then the box slightly opened, I could hear him speaking to me, “let me be free!”  After a few words, I took Richard’s box, and spread his ashes in the ocean and then watched as a beautiful array of colors gleamed at the top of the ocean as his ashes floated away on his eternal cruise.  As difficult as this was, as I watched his ashes float away, there was a sense of peace that came upon me that is difficult to explain.

As the box emptied of Richard’s ashes and then dropped into the ocean, the caption circled Richard’s starting point of his life-long cruise, where everyone placed  roses in the water,  and I thought about how happy he was because he was free.  It was at this point when I realized that I was free, too.

My last act of Caregiving for the one I continue to love, was to set him free, so that we both could be free.  BRScar2

You see, I did not mind being Richard’s caregiver, in fact I believe it is an honor to be a Caregiver, but for now and forever, I can go back to just being his partner, which is what I miss the most.  My faith tells me that I will see him again; my mind tells me that he is now forever free; my heart tells me that he 20120407-002416.jpgis right next to me.

For now, he is just a port ahead of me on his life-long cruise, catching up with family and friends, while speaking to me in different ways, because  I know that one day, I will arrive at his port and catch up with him on that life long cruise.  I’m sure he’ll have reserved a good cabin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day By Day: Grieving and Healing


Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.  C. S. Lewis.

Finding the energy to blog on The Purple Jacket has been difficult for me these past few months.  Let’s face it, grieving can be a full-time ‘job’ which takes quite a bit of energy.  But grieving can be healthy too.  Today I experienced a form or healthy grieving by visiting  Gold Coast Hospice where Richard made his life transition, to say hello to the staff and present them with gift as a token of my appreciation for the kindness and love that was demonstrated to us while we were both under their care. This visit had been planned in advance and while I was unsure of what my initial reaction would be, I knew that the staff would greet me warmly.

Kermit  As I approached the Hospice unit, I was struck by the utter calmness that suddenly came upon me.  My eyes immediately looked to the right as I entered the ward as Richard’s room was the first room on the right side entering the unit.  As I walked past and looked in the room through the crack of the door, it seemed fitting that today, this room was vacant.  Suddenly I heard, “He’s here” from the  Hospice nurse who came to the house to admit Richard to the unit in March. I knew right then and there that this was going to be the right thing for me to do today!

Hugs, well wishes, great conversation and tears followed as we greeted each other and shared stories. Fittingly, we moved into ‘that room’ for my formal ‘Thank You’ to the staff.   “As a part of my healing process, it was important for me to come here today to say hello, and to say ‘Thank You’ for allowing us to spend our last days together.”  In the six days that we were in the hospice unit, there was not one time were I did not feel welcomed, all we felt during our Flowersstay was love…I wanted to return the favor!

“It is important for me to present you with a copy of a pictorial book which was given to me by the two great journalist from the Sun-Sentinel who followed us on our final journey together and wrote our story, “In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey” which was published in April.”  More tears, more laughter, more love!  And yes, I think it is possible to cry and be calm at the same time.

There are many books written on grieving, yet one thing is certain; grieving is an individual process that is unique to each one of us.  In order for me to continue in the healing process, it was important for me to reach out and make this journey to the Hospice unit.  You see, the pictorial book that was provided to me by Diane and Carline from the Sun-Sentinel is the best book on (my) grieving that I have  read.  I am fortunate to have such a wonderful, life-long gifts of this book, and the article in the Sun-Sentinel. By sharing the book with the Hospice staff, and subsequently, other families who come to the unit, was my way of giving back, saying thanks and continuing my grieving and healing process.

Life is much different now.  There are more challenges ahead, yet in order to take on these challenges, I have to find a way to soften what has transpired.  There is no easy way around grieving, it is important for me, in my grieving process, to  simply just ‘own it.’   Today helped soften the anguish of missing him: May your grieving process be filled with  few hills and always, a gentle breeze at your back.

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Filed under Caregiving, LGBT Caregiving, Life after Death, TLO

‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio


On Tuesday January 8th,  we welcome Dr. Richard Wagner, M.Div., Ph.D., ACS to our show Be A Healthy Caregiver!  Out of Seattle, WA., Dr. Wagner is a psychotherapist/clinical sexologist and has been in private practice since 1981.

Dr. Wagner has been working with the terminally ill, chronically ill elder and dying people in hospitals, hospice and home settings for over thirty years.

We will be chatting about Dr. Wagner’s work and his book The Amateur’s Guide to Death and Dying: enhancing the End of Life.  As Caregivers, we are often dealing with issues surrounding life and death.  Our conversation will be upbeat, real and with a touch of spirituality.

To learn more about Dr. Wagner, click here.

To purchase Dr. Wagner’s books, click here.

To Listen to  Dr. Wagner on ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on  Blog Talk Radio click here

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Our show is available live or archived online for your convenience.

To access all our ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ episodes on blogtalkradiologo

Simply click here

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Make an Oncologist Smile.


The trip to the oncologist brought a big smile to everyone face. Amazed at the progress of ‘The Little One’ the doctor encouraged us to continue on this smooth path and don’t come back for six months!

Now seven months past the diagnosis and five months past the last Chemo/radiation treatment, we find ourselves on an upwards swing. We have much to be thankful for…

Wonderful family…

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Fun times…

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Great Friends…

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Love comes in all shapes and sizes: don’t let love pass you by because life can change at a moments notice.

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You see, we might have cancer… But cancer does not have us!

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November – National Care Givers Month


November is National Care Givers Month!

 We all know some one who is a caregiver, whether we find ourselves taking care of a loved one, know someone who takes care of a loved one, or even if we have heard an inspritational story on the news.

 In today’s busy world it can be easy to forget to show our appreciation to those who make a difference in our lives and the lives of others everyday. As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving, let us give thanks to those who choose to spend their days serving others.

“Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”
Alan Cohen

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