Tag Archives: loss

Gratitude and the New Year

gratitude jar

As our family prepares to opens the gratitude jar to usher out 2014 and welcome in 2015 I realize that many families (three of which I am acutely aware) are mourning the loss of a family member (two are mourning the loss of a child and sibling, the other a father and husband) at this time of year. It occurred to me that as we embark on the newness of a shiny new year these folks may view it differently. Each passing moment is one that puts them farther away from their loved one. They will, on Thursday, be entering into a year that their loved one has never (and will never) inhabited. That has got to be daunting.

In reading the book, “Fearless” I realize that the fear of being forgotten or thought of us inconsequential is a universal one. We all matter. God made each and every one of us because there wasn’t another on Earth who could take our place and be in our stead.

We each have a divine purpose and role to play in this world. Some are called to be here longer than others. This is all in God’s time which, invariably, is not our time.

The thing I will do is pray for these families to know peace and to find comfort in sharing memories, enjoying pictures and telling stories about their loved ones. I will tell stories that I know will continue these people’s legacies.

As my dear father always reminded us, we all have an invisible tattoo in the middle of our foreheads that reads, “Make me feel important.”

You matter, Tommy, David and Courtney, and will be remembered by those who knew you and some who just knew of you. You are all important to many more that you ever would have realized. Happy New Year to you all.

Darned dementia

The alz.org website defines dementia as “a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.”

“Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.”

There are websites out there to help the caregivers and/or those who love the person with dementia. There is, however, nothing like the real deal of actually loving and interacting with a person with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s.

Denial of the loss (slow as it may be) of the person you once knew, often the person who took care of YOU is very powerful…role reversal at its finest.  Anger and frustration at their feet of clay are not uncommon.  Even gallows humor finds its way in as a coping mechanism…or maybe that’s just if you’re Irish, like me.  A gift I’ve found in having the “gift of dementia” in our lives is that I now realize that she has the ability to really only live “in the moment” which is what we’re all striving for on some level or other.  And, yet there’s a bit of irony in that she’s not completely aware of it.

There are a myriad of things that you’ll notice when interacting with someone with dementia. One of the more puzzling ones to me is the loss of a sense of time. The book  The 36 Hour Day explains it well. The internal clock on your loved one has begun to malfunction. So, he can see that the clock reads 3:15, but can no longer process what exactly 3:15 means. It’s interesting because God has given me a similar learning scenario with our daughter. For the longest time she didn’t understand which meal was to come next (even if we’d had lunch an hour before, she was still anticipating that the next meal was lunch). Funny how God draws these actual parallels for us, isn’t it?

The book suggests using a timer or some sort of device to let the person know that you will return and a timer to help them process the time until you return. Like anything in science it is not exact and so some solutions will work and some won’t depending on the individual.

I also found some items that are recommended for people with dementia. The phones with the picture buttons look great! I’m ordering some of the puzzles for our favorite patient to try!

For the caregiver, there are several great free tools on this site.  Always remember to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others on with theirs!

What have your experiences been like? What worked and what didn’t?

Alzheimer’s PrayerMemories

Nine Eleven

I have the luxury of being able to contemplate this day without having to try to remember the face of a loved one which is fading with each passing day. I haven’t lost a loved one in the aftermath of that day on a desert battlefield. I have the luxury of wondering what the best way to commemorate is.

I, like so many of us, have the memory of that day, and where I was on that clear September morning.

Watching those news reports, reading the stories of those lost.  Many of us have done this year after year in the decade since.

This was the first year that I was able to find some comfort in the stories of those people who exemplified heroism and were the picture of an American.  The stores of those who outshine the ugliness and hatred that was trying to win out extinguishes just a bit of the negativity and that is a victory.  The loyalty and love that people feel for our military members is heartwarming.

I most admire those people who can look at a horrendous experience and glean some nugget from it that is hope filled or at least not the ugliest possible view.  As my initial disclaimer announced…I have that luxury.  I’m not saying everyone can do that.  I’m just sharing what I have found in the years since the  day that changed our nation.

Grace under pressure is the phrase that comes to my mind in the time following the events on September 11th and the search for stories of winners since is what I seek out.

What are your thoughts on the media coverage and the ways people have chosen to remember and honor any and all affected by the events of that day?

Spin

I think for those of us not directly affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear threats which have occurred or continue to in Japan it is up to us to try to spin the events. By that I mean, cosmically. If we all lament over the negative aspects of the situation we’re just depositing more angst out there into the ether. Obviously grieving is a normal part of the human process.  I am by not means trying to minimize the situation or negate anyone’s loss.  I wouldn’t dare to think I could or should. 

However, if, those of us who still have the energy and bandwidth to do so could focus on the fact that the U.S. Military bases were able to open their air space (and runways) to flights that were diverted from Narita’s airport in Tokyo as just one example of global ‘neighborly-ness’ it might help change the energy out there.

Another example are the personal stories of people we do know. If we can focus on how well someone is coping with a struggle in their lives (without approaching Pollyanna* levels, by any means) or just the gifts we all have been given every day it would help the right kind of shift occur, at least in my humble estimation.

And struggles don’t have to take on worldwide dimensions to be a hurdle needing to be traversed.  Looking for a new job? Lose someone you love? Leaving a place you love?  Recovering from an illness or surgery?  Are you surviving or thriving or perhaps a combination of both? Who or what inspires you? What keeps you going in the face of adversity? 

May God bless all those sturggling today and enable them to see the potential for spin, if not today, perhaps some day down the road.

* * *

NEVER has the term Pollyanna been used to describe Scott in the featured link above.

Lost and Found

I realized today that it really does take a village. I was recalling the fact that so many of our neighbors helped out while I had to go to many doctors appointments to follow up on pregnancies that didn’t last and trying to figure out what was wrong. These folks just pitched in and helped their American neighbors and watched our little pumpkin. They realized that they have their families around and we don’t and they stepped up and filled in. There were also Americans who supported us during these times (and those who continue to do so today), but on the eve of the Germany fussball game it just struck me as to the warmth we’ve been shown by these people. I really am home.

I guess I was reminded of it again today as an American neighbor set up a playdate for her child and ours so I could get a much needed pedicure. Such thoughtfulness while my roommate is getting a “tan” is so helpful! We are truly blessed.