Tag 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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Everyday: Live, Love, Laugh!


God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.  Voltaire

I am taking break from the road to Spokane today to enjoy my 59th birthday. (Don’t tell anyone, but I am going bowling again!) Oh, but don’t worry, writing of chapter 3 is in earnest (please believe me)  and I suspect that my professor and mentor at Gonzaga University will have an update for me to do on  chapter 2 before this weekend is over.

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The MacLellan Six: Jim, JoAnn, Sissy, Chris, Gerri & Mary 

One of the greatest things about being the youngest of six, is that no matter how old I get, I will always be the youngest!  When I was younger, I always thought it was a disadvantage to be the youngest.  But through the years, my philosophy on that has changed.  As I get older, my thoughts on the aging has changed, too.  That is why I love Voltaire’s quote: “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

 

My sister Mary has the best philosophy

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“Sister” Mary and her trademark BIG Sunglasses 

of life, she decided, long ago, to stay 29. I think she might be on her 43rd year of being 29, but who’s counting and why does it matter?   She happily tells everyone that she has kids that are older than her.  It’s all about mind over matter, because age is only a number, it is how you feel that makes the difference.  

 

Aging takes on a different meaning for each one of us. Some of us are old when we are young: Some of us are young when we are old. When Richard’s illness progressed, people were surprised to learn

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photo credit: Lynda Horn

of his age.  His age never showed until the last six months of his life.  Richard lived life to the fullest, he did not let any grass grow underneath his feet. Throughout his entire life, he gave himself the gift of living well.  I always admired him for his philosophy on life.  He took no prisoners.

As caregivers we often forget that our first job is to take good care of ourselves.  This mindset is not selfish, remember “it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”  In the hustle and bustle of caring for someone else, we tend to lose sight of ourselves. I know it happen to me, and I would be willing to bet that losing yourself in the midst of caregiving happened to you too.    In retrospect, I know that my inability to take better care of myself while in the midst of caregiving, has made life after caregiving more difficult.   Thankfully, I can make the choice to give myself the gift of living well.

wp-1455795314060.jpgBirthday’s come and go, some have more meaning than others.  No matter how long I live, I will always admire my sibling for their graceful aging.  Additionally, I will always remember greeting Richard in the doctors office on my 57th birthday to find him sitting there with balloons tied to his chair, waiting for me to arrive so that he could surprise me with his big birthday splash…. It’s a memory etched in stone.

There is much to live, love and laugh when celebrating another birthday, because its not about the number you obtain on your special day,  it is about giving ourselves the gift to live well every day..

Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving?” and the host of “Healing Ties” Radio on Spreaker and UK Health Live

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Bowling For (No) Dollars


Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.  Napoleon Hill

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Photo Credit: Neny2ki@blogspot.com

The road to Spokane got a little bumpy this past week as I ended up having to rewrite Chapter 2 of my thesis.   No big deal, other than it will make this week a little more hectic as I approach my next deadline of February 22nd for Chapter 3, but the road is  clear!   Within the next week, I will have a survey to distribute and will be asking many of you to take an anonymous survey on Caregiving, Stress and its Impact in the Work Place.  My good friend, Denise Brown at Caregiving.com has graciously offer to help in this process.    Everything surrounding writing a thesis is a process, even down to having the survey approved by the department.  It been quite a learning experience.

Approaching my fifty-ninth birthday, Richard’s 2nd anniversary of his life transition, and

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Now Future Past

writing my thesis has afforded me the opportunity to take inventory of the past while pondering what lies ahead of me in the future.  It’s pretty simple: can’t do anything about the past, not sure about the future, today is what is important.  Boy, did it take me a few years, and a lot of knocks on the head to figure this out and...to apply this little bit of philosophy to my life.   I thank my friend Sam for his sage advice, reminding me of the importance to let go and let live.

wp-1455587268733.jpgI know during Richard’s illness and especially the last six months of his life, all my attention was solely focused on him. (And I have no regrets!)  I constantly worried about tomorrow, along with worrying  about the past, while in the process of being attentive to the present. Whew…What a load to carry! Adjusting my thought process to focusing on “today” has not be easy, but I sense the transition in my thought process is changing.  Compassion fatigue is slowly withering away. 

Over the years while writing this blog, I’ve focused most, if not all of my attention of my writing about Richard’s illness and our life together. While I did the writing, Richard and I conversed regularly about the next topic to post on the blog.   This blog was one of the many things that we enjoyed doing together.  Now I write in memory of Richard, anticipating what lies ahead for me. 

I think one of the reasons life after caregiving has been so difficult for me is because my perceive purpose in life changed at the time of Richard’s life transition.  I am now just learning, thanks to my friend Sam, that is not the case.  My purpose in life is to take care of myself too.  Like so many other caregivers, my life got caught in the shuffle of the day-to-day responsibilities of being a family caregiver. You lose yourself in the midst of caregiving: somehow, one has to get their life back.  Sometimes you do have to look into your past to wp-1455586923324.jpgfind your future. 

Part of my past includes bowling professionally in the mid 80’s. Traveling on the Pro Bowlers tour was quite an exhilarating experience. Most people who know me today would be surprised to know that underneath my perceived laid-back personality, was (is) a very highly competitive, emotional bowler. When  asked about my bowling career, I always use a baseball analogy, “great at the Triple-A level, just could not get over the hump to be successful in the major leagues.”   (I will leave the reasons for that for another blog post.)  The last professional tournament I bowled was in 1987 in Baltimore, MD., and while I dabbled from time to time in league bowling, I have not picked up a bowling ball since I last bowled in a  league in 2001. That changed just a few weeks ago.

My friend Sam encouraged me to start bowling again with some of his friends who go to the lanes on a weekly basis.  Reluctant at first, (and fearful that my arm might fall off after my first throw), I decided to give it a go.  Since that first endeavor to the lanes a month ago, I have been bowling now 4 more times.  Even without my own bowling ball and shoes, I have had a blast and will look forward to getting in better physical shape so I can bowl more games this year.

I have heard some suggest that those who do not learn from the past are destine to repeat it. I understand the meaning behind this statement. What I have learned from my recent past is not to live in fear and isolation.   However, what if we looked into a part of  our past in order to help us find meaning to the present, and to our future?   Many people over the years have asked me why don’t you bowl?  Life-long bowling friends have said to me, “I can’t believe you don’t bowl anymore.”  Yet for some reason, my friend Sam got me to bowl again and I will be forever grateful because I learned a lesson about having fun again and more importantly, letting go of fear and isolation.

Sam is kind of in the same lane I am in, his partner of 19 years passed away in March of 2015, yet his grief process is different from mine.  That is to be expected!  However, through his grief process, he has helped me along the road to step outside my isolation and comfort zone.  Bowling was the key that has started the engine: Somehow I think Sam knew that! 

Now, I am not saying that I am going to go out and get in shape an bowl a few tournaments again.  But who’s to say that I can’t do that…I am not fearful anymore!  I bowled for a living for a number of years, now bowling has reminded me how to enjoy life again.  In planning your future after caregiving ends, take a step back and remind yourself to enjoy life to the fullest, even if it means taking a look at your past.  Along the way, I hope you find a Sam in your life to help open the lane for you to your present and future.

I’m not bowling for dollars anymore, however I am bowling to get my life back, which far exceeds any monetary  value.

Chris MacLellan is affectionately known as “The Bow Tie Guy” in many caregiving circles and  is the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” and the host of “Healing Ties” radio program.

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Finding Purpose In Life


Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. George Bernard Shaw

Creating a life to love after your love one makes their life transition can be difficult to achieve, but it is critical to our own health quote-about-love-is-an-unconditional-commitmentand well-being.  Sure, our fond memories of the love we shared linger on in our hearts, but we have to find a way to move on, find purpose, and create a new life to love.

Finding purpose in life is one of the critical components enhancing our happiness.  Happiness is not predicated on having the biggest car, fancy house, or the most money in the bank.  Happiness is predicated on finding purpose in life.

“There is one aspect of grief that I think all of us will experience in one way or another.  We stop living!  Once you come to the realization that you have stopped living, then you realize the time has come to move on and live your life in the present, with health, happiness and confidence…  Like a plant that needs to be watered to regain blooms, we too, in our grief process, need to be watered so we can bloom again.  There is no timetable for a new bloom, but without the proper nurturing and care, our soil will become dry and we start to wither away” (p. 95).

In order to live again, we have to find purpose in our life while living in the present with health, happiness and confidence.  That is why it was important for me to write “What’s The Deal With Caregiving”  in order to give back to the vast community of family Caregivers across the nation. Because it is through giving back where we find purpose and meaning in life.

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Amazon Prime members with free shipping of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” is available by clicking here! 

You can also purchase “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” on this website by clicking here! 

“What’s The Deal With Caregiving” is a People Tested Publication 

For media inquires and bulk purchases please contact me at Chris@thepurplejacket.com

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A Book Cover Preview: On National Bow Tie Day


As you might have noticed, I have not spent much time blogging on The Purple Jacket over the past six weeks or so.  However, that does not  mean that I have stopped writing.   As The Bow Tie Guy,  it seems fitting on National Bow Tie Day I share with you with a preview of the cover of my  first book, ‘What’s The Deal With Caregiving’ published Jack Tatar at People Tested Media.

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Photo Credit: Photo Journalist Carline Jean with permission from the Sun-Sentinel

Now in our final edits, my goal in writing  “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” is to bring readers a comfort zone to reflect, re-energize, and find reassurance, knowing there are other Caregivers out there, just like you, who understands your journey, who cares for you, and simply loves you because you care.  As a Caregiver, I’ve been there and because of my personal experience, I want to guide and assist your journey

I will be sure to keep you informed as we get closer to publishing this fall.   Here is just one of the many testimonials that have been sent in to me.

“I really love the approach you took with this – it’s different and of great interest to me as someone who was caregiving a loved one. It’s different because you are approaching it from angles that I don’t remember reading about before. You highlight important issues that sat at periphery of my awareness. I wish I had read this the year Kris started to wind down. Unfortunately I can’t go backwards, but for those now embarking on the caregiving journey it will be of immeasurable value.” Ira Woods, President and CEO of One World Memorials.  Author’s Note: Please visit Ira Woods’ blog, Conscious Departures.com for his well-written and compelling story in regards to when Caregiving ends.

A special thanks to my family, Richard’s family and my  friends in both South Florida and St. Louis for their continued support as I finish this first project.

Writing this book has been cathartic!

We are already working on book number 2 ‘Healing Ties: A Story about Love, Care, Cancer and Commitment’ which will delve deeper into our Caregiving  story with personal accounts of the five pillars:  our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial health. I will write openly about our joys, laughter and struggles, because in the end, our story is about the meaning of love. Look for book 2 to be published early 2016.

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We Might Have (had) Cancer, but Cancer Never Had Us!

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Relief, Sadness, Guilt, Joy


Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Relief, Sadness, Guilt, and Joy all rolled up into on simple statement.  Yet how thdo four very different words, have meaning  to us when Caregiving ends?  I believe that these four words are the first emotions that a family Caregiver deals with when the journey ends.

Relief: That caregiving is over. Those long sleepless nights, sleeping with one eye open, are gone. Relief that the one you (loved) cared for is now pain-free.

Sadness: That the life you once knew has now forever changed.  That undeniable reality that something powerful has happened that has thforever transitioned our lives and the one that we (loved) cared for.

Guilt: Those ‘what if’ days or ‘if I could have done this differently’ days that make us wonder if we did the right thing.  And the greatest guilt of them of them all,  when you realize that you have to continue on with your life without the one you (loved) cared for. (We want to avoid this emotion as much as possible)

Joy: When you wake up that one  morning and tell yourself, ‘Job Well Done and the present and future will be all right! (The hardest emotion to get to when caregiving ends, but the most important one too!)

For every Caregiver, the stark reality is that there is always a beginning and an end to the journey, and david-austin-pink-rosein most cases, we are not prepared for either of these events!  Yet through our caring and sharing with others, we realize that through our own journey of  Relief, Sadness, Guilt and Joy, we find peace and comfort, knowing that we would do it all over again, even after seeing the staircase!

 

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What It Means To Be A Prime Timer


Join us on Wednesday May 27th on Health Café LIVE.com  at 7:00 pm (EDT) as we visit with  Dr.  Loren Olson.  An accomplished author and psychiatrist, Dr. Olson is a champion for LGBT  Seniors. With chapters all over the world, Prime Timers is a terrific organization that enriches the    social lives of LGBT seniors across the globe. On Wednesday’s show, we will chat about what it means to be a Prime Timer, how you can join a chapter in your area, upcoming regional and national events  and most importantly, why socialization is important as we age. Tune in and learn how the Prime Timers and Dr. Loren Olson is creating Healing Ties all around us!

To listen to Healing Ties Radio live on Health Cafe Live simply click here! 

Cannot listen live?     No Worries!! Healing Ties is available on  demand at iHeart Radio by  and now on UK Health Radio.

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A New Bloom


Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson

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Plants on the patio

I have never considered myself to have a green thumb and until recently, quite frankly, always found gardening a little boring.  (Well, not as boring as fishing, but that is for another conversation!)  However, over the past year, I have acquired a few plants and have become fascinated by their growth, their response to water and their placement to the  sun.  It has been interesting to move the plants from one area to another, watching them respond with spurts of growth.  Heck, I’ve even gotten my hands dirty and re-potted a couple of plants.  Talk about going out on a limb! (No pun intended!)

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Lovely yellow and green leaf plant

I wouldn’t say that I know all the names of the different plants, but I do know from studying Latin that green plants are called Viridiplantae.  Some of the plants sit outside on the patio and some sit inside around the house.  Just in the last few weeks, I moved a beautiful yellow and green leaf pant  from the shady side of the porch to the sunning side and immediately, the plant grew about 5 inches.    I have found this process amazing to watch and glad that I have found a new Saturday routine to follow.

I water the plants every Saturday morning and look forward in anticipation to my time with the plants.  Back and forth from the faucet, adding a little plant food to the water, ensuring that the water is not too hot for the plants.   Funny how caring for the plants sounds a little like Caregiving to me!

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Our favorite breakfast stomping ground in Lighthouse Point, FL.

What is interesting about the Saturday routine with watering the plants is that Richard and I had a routine every Saturday were we would go to breakfast and spend the morning together.  On Friday night we would talk about where we wanted to go for breakfast the next morning; we would plan elaborate trips to Miami or to Palm Beach, but more times that not, we always went to our old favorite restaurant in the neighborhood for our bagel and nova sandwich.   My good friend Denise Brown from Caregiving.com pointed out to me the other day about the symbolism of exchanging one routine for another.   I had to chuckle at myself and whole-heartily agreed with Denise.  The exchange of one routine for another, while innocuous at first, has true meaning  and is symbolic of the love, care and commitment that Richard and I shared for each other.

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April 2014

Sure, I check in on the plants during the week to make sure that they are all in good health and prospering.  Yet I was taken back by one special plant today which started my foray into horticulture.  At Richard’s celebration of life last April, my sibling sent me a plant in his memory.  Over the past year, the plant has lost its beautiful blooms. Until this morning when I noticed two new bloom!  I was overcome with joy!

There were times during the past year that I thought the plant was not going to make it.  Yet somehow it bloomed again.  Come to think about it, there have been times over the past year when I did not think I was going to make it.  While the sleepless nights have dissipated, the crying spells have subsided,  the missing of him sitting next to me has never gone away.

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April 2015

 Over the past year, I have read quite a bit about the different theories on the grief process. One theory said 30 seconds of grief is all you need; of course, there is the traditional 3, 6, 12 month theory for grief. From my experience, I really don’t think one particular theory on grief works.   Grief is so personal and so real, and so different for each one of us. Yet there is one theory that I do think applies to each one of us. Like plants that need to be watered in order to regain its bloom, we too, in our grief process, need to be watered so that we can bloom again.  There is no time-table for a new bloom, but without the proper nurturing and care, our soil does become dry and whither away.

 The symbolism of this new bloom comes exactly one year to the day when our Caregiving story, In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey was published in the Sun-Sentinel. I beamed a big smile of joy for the new bloom today because I was reminded how important it is stay the course and…to be watered.   And I shed a tear of joy knowing that this new bloom is Richard’s way of telling me that he is at peace and right beside me.

I think I will keep this plant for quite a long time, because I just don’t water the plant, the plant waters me, too!

Chris MacLellan is the Host of Healing Ties Radio which can be heard on

Health Cafe Live, iHeart Radio and UK Health Radio.

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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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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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