Tag Archives: Caregiver

Pulitzer Prize Nomination: A Posthumous Birthday Gift


Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. Oscar Wilde

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Photo Credit: Carline Jean Photographer for the Sun-Sentinel

Today, January 24, would have been Richard’s eighty-fourth birthday. Last year we celebrated with a small group of friends at one of our favorite stopping grounds, D’Angelo’s, in Fort Lauderdale; it was a fun-filled evening that everyone will always remember.  One of my favorite photos from our story, ‘In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey was snapped at D’Angelo’s last year.  Anticipating those delicious Petit Fours, you see us both peering into the box, as if we are playing a game of peek-a-boo.  While I forget how many Petit Fours were in the box, I do remember that by the next morning, the box was empty!

This week comes the word that our story, ‘In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey’ has been nominated by the Sun-Sentinel for Pulitzer Prize consideration.  I think it is fitting that I share this information with you today on what would have been Richard’s eighty-fourth birthday.  Both modest, yet very accomplished, Sun-Sentinel journalist Diane Lade and photojournalist Carline Jean told our story in a very loving way that has touched over 400,000 people worldwide.  I am thankful because the story has provided me with a very special memory that will last a lifetime.

Those who knew Richard knew him to be a private person.  For him to agree to do the story was his gift of love, care, and commitment to me.  I return it two-fold.  I am reminded of some sage advice that I have received along the way since Richard’s life transition: ‘The feeling of missing him will get softer, but the love you shared will always be strong.’  I think of these words of wisdom quite often, especially today on his birthday with this special news, reminds me how strong love can be in one’s life.

My faith tells me that I will see him again; my mind tells me that he is forever pain-free; my heart tells me that he is right next to me.

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Superstars: Diane Lade and Carline Jean

I thank Diane Lade and Carline Jean for telling our story through the lens of love, care and commitment as that was the true story of our life together.  In my book, they have already won; they also won Richard’s heart along the way, too.  For without their demonstration of professionalism, along with the love, care, and commitment they showed to us on this journey, Richard never would have felt comfortable, especially over the last few months,  to continue with the story as the cancer took over his body.

Richard said to me just a few weeks before he made his life transition, “Diane and Carline are going to have quite an end to their story.”  That Sunday afternoon on March 9, 2014 when Richard made his life transition, he waited for Diane and Carline to arrive in order to say his goodbye to two people who he allowed into his heart.  Richard let very few people into his life, and in his way, by this very deserving nomination, Richard’s love, care, and commitment, continues to give back to the people he loved, cared and trusted the most.

Congratulations to Diane, Carline and the entire Sun-Sentinel Staff who worked on this project.

Diane Lade and Carline Jean will always have a special place in my heart.

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Creating The Life You Love


We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do. Mother Teresa


Join us Wednesday, December 17th at 7:00 pm (est) on Health Cafe Live for a conversation with nationally recognized and award-winning speaker, Judy Ryan.
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Judy Ryan

Judy is the founder of Life Work Systems and has been delivering personal and professional development services since 1999.
LifeWork_Logo_PRINT On Wednesday’s episode of Healing Ties, Judy Ryan and I will be discussing the topic of Creating the Life You Love because there is nothing more important than enjoying the life we have, whether at work, at home, at school, in our communities, and with those we have, no matter what circumstances we face.  This topic is timely for anyone listening, especially our Caregivers.  As Judy says: “Now, you (Caregivers) are a group that knows what is really important and you are hungry to enjoy living into your most loving, expanded human potential.”
To listen live at 7:00 pm (est) simply follow this link to Health Cafe LIVE W4HCPROOF3
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Cannot listen live?  NO WORRIES!  Healing Ties in ON DEMAND at iHeart Radio by clicking on the iHeart Icon download
TieHands ‘Healing Ties’ is a radio show about your Health, Happiness and Prosperity, hosted by Chris MacLellan, ‘The Bow-Tie-Guy.’  Interested in being a sponsor of the show, contact Chris at TheBowTieGuy@HealingTies.com.  Healing Ties is apart of  the Whole Care Network

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Follow Up on Re-Branding The Purple Jacket Blog?


The starting point of all achievement is desire. Napoleon Hill

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Chris and his Purple Jacket circa 2006

 Thank you for all who have voted in our poll about re-branding The Purple Jacket Blog to Healing Ties!

Up today Monday December 8th, here are the poll results up to Monday, December 8th.

Question 1: Should the blog be re branded from The Purple Jacket to Healing Ties? 63% said YES: 25% said NO: 2% said other

Question 2: On first look, did you identify The Purple Jacket as a Caregivers Blog,70% said YES: Alzheimer Blog, 10 % said YES: Clothing Blog 10% said Yes: Other, 10% said yes!

Question 3: What makes a blog, the title or its contents?   87% responded contents/ 13% responded both

I appreciate your vote and yes, there is still time to cast your vote at http://wp.me/p1gewn-142

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy and The Law of Attraction: Healing Ties Radio


By the Law of Attraction you summon the Energy through you, and that is what life is. Ester Hicks

Join us LIVE on Wednesday, for “Healing Tie” radio at 7:00pm on Health Cafe LIVE as The Bow Tie Guy engages with life enthusiast, Betty Rosse on Abraham – Hicks theory of ‘The Law of Attraction.’ Remember the song, ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’…well that describes our guest Betty Rosse! Can’t listen live…NO WORRIES! You can listen to Healing Ties on demand at iHeart Radio!

Dec 3

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The First Holiday


Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it ~ William Arthur Ward

I have  heard it say that the first holiday without your loved one is always the toughest.  I dedicate this post to everyone who, like me, is experiencing ‘The First Holiday’ without the one they love.

I am grateful to all our family and friends for helping me heal…Never pass up an opportunity to love!

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Happy Thanks-Caregiving

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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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What Role Does Mindset Play?


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.

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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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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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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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