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After Caregiving Ends


Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu

March 9th! This day comes around every year and there is no way to avoid it. Sure, I could roll the covers over my head for the entire day and wallow in sadness, but what does that accomplish; more sadness, more isolation? I think not!

As I look back on these last four years, I see quite a bit of change in all facets of my life. There is the weight loss, the new moustache, establishing The Whole Care Network and TLO Cruises and Tours and of all things getting a tattoo!

 

The tattoo is probably the most outlandish thing I have ever done in my entire life, however the tattoo has so much meaning to me as I ACE, (After Caregiving Ends). I believe it is through the experience of the white flower and tattoo which has allowed me to work through my grief and (If you would like to learn more about the tattoo see my post entitled “We’ve Only Just Begun: White Flowers and Green Shoes by clicking here“) guide me on a peaceful path.

When Richard (aka TLO) made his life transition on March 9, 2104, two lives were forever changed. As I look back on what I wrote the three previous years on March 9, there is one constant theme, love endures. What is different for me on March 9, 2018 is that I have started to live life again and break out of my isolation.

As I wrote in “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” I believe there are four stages of grief that caregivers experience:

  1. Relief < caregiving has come to an end and the one you are caregiving is now pain-free
  2. Sadness < the life that you once knew is forever changed
  3. Guilt < when you realise that you move on with your life without the one you love
  4. Acceptance < that day when you wake up and say to yourself…”Job well done” and you’re ready to move on with your life with your head held hight.

It took me 15 months to get to the point when I could get to acceptance. What I realize this past year is that I left out one important stage in grief, taking…

5. Action < Moving from isolation and activate your hopes, dreams and desires.

Whether it was the experience of the while flower, the tattoo, starting the Whole Care Network, (I could use countless examples from this past year) these experiences that happened over the past 12 months made me realize that until I took action, I was going to continue to isolate myself and stay stuck in my own muck (Richard would be most displeased!). Taking action has not only has restored my confidence, taking action has allowed me step outside my comfort zone which has provided exciting opportunities for personal growth and fulfilment.

What I have learned along the way is just as caregiving is different for each one of us, life after caregiving is going to be different for each one of us too. Now four years past, I don’t miss him any less; I’ve learned to live with him, and the love, care and commitment we had for each other, in a different way.

It’s “funny” how taking action has allowed me to find deeper meaning to our love, care and commitment. I will be interested to see what March 9, 2019 brings to me on The Purple Jacket!

 

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Milestones


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

I think it is safe to say that there are no better milestones in life than birthdays. As I

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write this on my 61st birthday, I look back on all the different milestones that have happen in or around my birthday of February 18th.

The first milestone (of course) was being born on February 18, 1957. I was born on the night of the Father/Daughter dance was Nerix Hall High School in St. Louis where my oldest sister Joanne was attending with our father. In fact, I just got off the phone with my sister Joanne who reminded me how our father had to leave her at the dance to attend my birth. Not even a minute old and my first milestone has already been created; I interrupted my sister’s dance with our father. “Funny” how that milestone is still talked about today!

There are many common milestones that we all experience in life that relate to our birthday; three come to mind immediately:

  • Turning 16 provided us the eligibility to start driving and gain some independence. Even if our parents are paying for the insurance.
  • Turning 18 provides us with the eligibility to vote and a sense of civic responsibility.
  • Turning 21 gives one the ability to “legally” to drink alcohol.

Then there are the decade milestones when we hit those magical number in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and hopefully beyond.

One of the best things about being the youngest of six children is no matter how old, and no matter what my sister says who is going on 29, for the 45th year says, I will always be the youngest! I know my five siblings are “smiling” when they hear this because I am always the little brother.

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The late Bernard Richard Schiffer, February 18, 2014

One of the most difficult milestones in two lives, happened just four years ago on my 57th birthday when Richard and me were at his appointment with the radiation oncologist. I remember the appointment vividly, not so much for what the radiation oncologist told us (I’ll get to that in just a bit), rather by the way Richard greeted me when I walked into the examination room.

On that morning, I had another commitment and had to meet Richard at the doctor’s office. Thankful for the help from my sister Merrille and our friends a Emerald Elite Home Health in Fort Lauderdale, FL., I did not have to worry about getting Richard to his appointment that day. As the story was told, Richard was adamant to have have something for me upon my arrived at the doctors office. I think the picture tells the story.

Sure, I remember the information the radiation oncologist gave us that day which forever impacted our lives. However, the lasting impression of that day was not the knowledge that Richard’s cancer has spread throughout his little body, the lasting impression I have from that day is even in the midst of his pain, Richard was focused on making me happy! His act of focusing on me is the essence of true love, care and commitment, and one of the many reasons why I miss him quite a bit.

While in the middle of caregiving, we may not think too much about how our day-to-day stories impact us and others while in this massive caregiving sphere. Story sharing is at its best with caregivers. Caregivers connect through story sharing because every caregivers has this innate ability to understand each other, even when our caregiving experiences are different. Story sharing also provides a sense of comfort and relief to those who are telling the story; story sharing also provides one of the best sources of information and referrals for caregivers. I encourage all caregivers, as they feel comfortable, to share their stories because it is healing, therapeutic and helpful to other caregivers.

My friends, family, and readers on The Purple Jacket, along with the listeners to my Healing Ties podcast know that I have had difficult time adjusting to the major void that has been left in my life by Richard’s passing. We all deal with grief in our own way. Just like there are no two caregiving journeys alike, there are no journeys along the path of grief that are alike too. The one common thread that keeps comes back to me is story sharing and the healing component story sharing brings to me. Story sharing leaves a lasting imprint in our memories which will last a lifetime. I am creating a new chapter in my life; story sharing has helped me move from my grief too.

The current chapter in my life I am now writing allows me to recognize the pain of losing Richard has subsided, while at the same time, my love for Richard continues remains strong. I have simply learned to love him in a different way. It’s taken me awhile to get to this point in my grief recovery. I’ll be writing more about how my life has changed and how I have been able to move on with my head held high in future blog posts in 2018 on The Purple Jacket and The Whole Care Network.

My I be so bold and suggest, as you feel comfortable, share your caregiving story with others because I believe it is through story sharing where diversity meet the road to combat a common cause. That’s because there is no gender, orientation or economic boundaries when it comes to caregiving; we are all in this together. Story sharing bounds those who care for another person and allows us to find healing and strength.

Thank you for allowing me to continue to share my story!

Chris MacLellan is the host of Healing Ties Podcast, Author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving” and the founder at The Whole Care Network.

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Age Without Borders Virtual Caregiving Summit


 

I am honored to participate in the Age Without Borders Global Caregiving Virtual Summit which begins on January 20-26. You can receive your free pass to attend the summit by visiting  Age Without Borders website by clicking here

The summit features over 60 thought leaders, experts and luminaries from 17 countries who share leading edge tools, insights, and personal stories. (My 30 minute presentation is on day 5 of the summit).

Plus, the summit includes a substantial FREE Care Package that offersinspirational tools and gifts, like Pulitzer prize winning poets, downloadable music and art, recipes, and spot-on caregiving tutorials and guides. Use this to help yourself, and to share with your family for quality time together.

Get your free pass, for daily links, and get a LIFETIME access to the entire collection (over 30 hours of content, plus care package gifts) for our $97 early bird All Access Pass, valid through midnight this Friday. The All Access Pass once the summit begins is $147.

Have you recently taken time out of your life to care for someone you love? Statistics estimate there are anywhere from 40-100 million people in the USA alone serving as unpaid caregivers- without any sort of information, training or support.

While done with love, caregiving for others professionally, or for family and friends, often leaves us feeling overwhelmed, burned out, stressed, even depressed. We find ourselves needing information, advocacy, self-care and inspiration.  

I’d like to offer you a complimentary FREE PASS to attend the Age Without Borders Global Caregiving Virtual Summit, January 20-26, 2018 featuring over 60 thought leaders, experts and luminaries from 17 countries who share leading edge tools, insights, and personal stories.

Here is a preview of my presentation:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/240288692″>Christopher MacLellan Promo</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user60061055″>Kari Henley</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Think of it as a free online conference or Netflix series that brings you knowledge and help for the most important job of your life. Enjoy two minute trailer videos to highlight each session, and full length interviews that last about 20 minutes- easy and fun to watch! Click here to see a few other
Topics include: inspiration to prevent burnout, caregiving policy updates, family coordination of care, respite and self care, digital tools to improve independence, family caregiver reflections and more.

Plus, the summit includes a FREE Care Package that offers inspirational tools and gifts, like Pulitzer prize winning poets, downloadable music and art, recipes, and spot-on caregiving tutorials and guides.

Click here to get your free pass, for daily links, and check out the very reasonable option to purchase the entire collection (over 30 hours of content, plus care package gifts) for only $97 early bird price.

Don’t just take my word for it.  Listen in to Kari Henley on this segment of Healing Ties Podcast and learn f

See you there!

 

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