A tribute to the resident I never got the chance to know

 

Today I’m struck by how fleeting life can be – we are here today and gone tomorrow.

Yesterday (18.03.2017) around mid-day after returning from a business meeting, I was greeted by a resident of the complex to let me know one of the residents was found dead in her flat. At the complex where I live, we receive a call from the Security Desk at 9:00 every morning just to make sure we are okay. When the Security person called her room yesterday, there was no answer and upon investigation found her dead in her room.

Watching her body being taken away by the Funeral Undertakers yesterday was really sad – a stark reminder of how I watched my own mom’s body being taken away.

What was even more sad and thought provoking was watching her family come in this morning to clear out her place – removing all trace of her ever even being here. The family sent two male members with a kombi and one of the two drove her car away.

I was struck by how wise it was to send someone with a kombi to take everything away in one foul swoop rather than have four or six motor vehicles each carrying a load which I think would have been more traumatic for the family.

Is that what life is? You’re here today and gone tomorrow?

so easy to remove all trace that you’ve ever existed?

Sitting at my window there is a glaring empty space where her car used to park – a glaring reminder of someone who once was and who is no more.

I will miss the nameless resident who I never even got a chance to know (I’ve only been living here for almost two months now and don’t even know how long she has was here). I think she only moved in about a month before I did.

I will miss seeing her go out every day and come back home to where home was for the last period of her life.

 

Oh death where is your victory? Oh death where is your sting?

 

 

 You may also enjoy reading these posts:

 The winds of change

The Ultimate Gift

Grief, Mourning and Bereavement – what is the difference?

Woman heal thyself

The pain of watching a parent age

Stop the bus I want to get off

In memory of mom – Flowers for my mother

Who moved my cheese again?

Reflections on a year that’s passed

6 Things you should love about your life

The winds of change and 6 lessons to learn about embracing change

 

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In Memory of Mom: How to help a grieving friend

In loving memory_Death leaves a heartache_30 Oct 2015

Today I’ve decided to give you a link to a post I wrote in May 2015.

Sea Shells

Find the link here:

Change is a process

In Memory of Mom: Scattering the Ashes . . .

REST IN PEACE MOM – 27 OCTOBER 2015

Where and how can I scatter cremation ashes?

Many people will hold a funeral memorial service, as well as an ashes scattering ceremony.

There are many options when it comes to scattering ashes.

If the land is privately owned, permission from the owner of the land will suffice. If the land is public, you will need to check with local authorities for any regulations.

Ashes can be scattered in lieu of preserving them in an urn, grave, or keeping them in someone’s home.

Some people have specific places where they want their ashes to be scattered, others prefer their ashes be scattered in a particular manner.

Some of the most popular and common places to scatter the ashes are in a river, pond, lake, hillside, golf course, hunting ground, flower bed, hiking trail, or garden.

Location will determine the method of scattering, but there is a specially designed urn called a “Scattering Urn” that can ease the task and maintain the sense of dignity in the service.

Frangipani_Single

There are several different methods that can be used to scatter ashes:

Casting – the act of simply tossing the ashes to the wind. This is usually done by one individual person or a group of people in front of a grieving “audience”. The ashes will fall to the ground immediately, but the person tossing them should pay attention to the direction of the wind.
Trenching – This is done on land when a shallow trench or groove is dug in the soil. The ashes are poured into the trench, and then the soil is raked over at the end of the ceremony. Candles can be lit around the trench or a special symbol can be drawn over the trench.
Racking – The ashes are poured from the “scattering urn” evenly and loosely on the soil. They are then racked over and into the ground.
Green Burial – A hole is made in the soil, and the ashes are pored into the biodegradable urn or the ashes are scattered onto the soil.
Raking- The ashes are poured from the scattering urn evenly on loose soil and raked into the ground. This is often how it is done in the scattering gardens that are now located in many cemeteries. Your funeral director can help you find a scattering garden in your area.
Water Scattering – A “water-soluble urn” are specifically designed to gradually disperse the ashes back into the sea or body of water. Ashes can be cast directly into the water, but may get caught in the wind and cling to the sides of the boat. A water soluble urn will float for several minutes then slowly sink where it will degrade. The family members aboard the boat can cast flower pedals as a final tribute to the deceased.

Candle & purple flowers

There is great comfort in the idea that a loved one’s remains can forever be associated with a place that had special significance to them and their family.

The ceremony of the scattering the ashes can help give family members and friends the closure they need and begin the grieving process.

Brook_Water over rocks

What I also wrote:

ONE YEAR DOWN THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED . . .

October 2014:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/tapestry/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/to-each-life-there-is-a-season/

November 2014:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/warning-emotional-volcano-about-to-erupt/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/dear-mom/

December 2014:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/why-the-obsession-with-loneliness/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/christmas-and-new-year-blessings/

January 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/grief-mourning-and-bereavement-what-is-the-difference/

February 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/woman-heal-thyself/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/self-care-sunday-hard-questions-weightless/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/re-investing-in-life-moving-on/

March 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/how-to-help-a-grieving-friend/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/how-to-find-the-balance-between-work-and-home-life/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/what-life-has-taught-me/

April 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/i-am-a-sensitive-child/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/me-the-budding-entrepreneur/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/green-is-the-colour-of-my-life/

May 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/in-the-midst-of-movement-and-chaos-becoming-the-new-me/

June 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/07/i-am-capable/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/the-pain-of-watching-a-parent-age/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/stop-the-bus-i-want-to-get-off/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/what-happens-during-a-colonoscopy/

July 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/me-the-budding-voice-over-artiste/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/what-im-learning-on-my-journey-to-wealth-creation/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/what-im-learning-on-my-journey-to-wealth-creation-part-two/

August 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/how-to-increase-your-financial-iq/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/river-of-life-a-time-for-reflection/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/finding-your-why/
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/wild-geese/

September 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/im-not-extraordinary-enough-the-power-of-vulnerability/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/12/how-do-i-start-a-blog/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/my-life-as-an-introvert/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/dont-resist-change-let-things-flow-naturally-forward/

October 2015 (One year down the road less travelled):
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/dear-trauma-counsellor-i-have-ongoing-flashbacks-and-voices-in-my-head-that-just-wont-shut-up/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/journaling-as-a-mindfulness-practice-for-thoughts-and-emotions/

In Memory of Mom: Flowers for my mother . . .

REST IN PEACE MOM – 27 OCTOBER 2015

This week marks the first year anniversary of the death of my mother. For this reason and for this week only, I will do a series of posts In Memory of Mom as my way of getting through this week.

I hope you will join me on this journey . . .

Funeral Flowers for Funeral and Memorial Services
One popular way to express your sympathy when someone dies is to send flowers to the surviving family or the deceased funeral. It is sometimes hard to express sympathetic feelings in words. When you give flowers for a funeral, the meaning is understood. When people give flowers, they are giving an expression of love, respect, and sympathy. Funeral flowers are just a symbol of these feelings. Funeral flowers create a feeling of warmth and beauty at the funeral or memorial gathering.

Selecting funeral flowers needs to encompass a message of sorrow, sympathy, and love.

The flowers you choose can express feelings and emotions and can send a meaningful message. Below are several popular flowers and what they symbolize to help you decide which ones you might want to use.
Lilies are often interpreted as a symbol of the innocence that has been restored to the soul of the departed. A white stargazer lily symbolizes sympathy and a white lily expresses majesty and purity.
Carnations have lasting fragrance. It was believed that the flower first appeared on earth as a result of the tears of the Virgin Mary. They are a symbol of undying love. A red carnation evokes admiration, while a pink carnation stands for remembrance. White carnations stand for pure love and innocence
Iris – Based on Goddess Iris was the links heaven and earth. Purple Iris have for hundreds of years been planted over the graves of women so that they could summon the Goddess Iris to lead their souls to heaven. The bright color of the leaves and the flowers make it popular with florists.
Tulips represent elegance and grace. The color of tulips also has meaning. Yellow tulips represent cheerfulness, white represents forgiveness, and purple represents royalty. The red tulip is said to represent perfect love
Stock flower would be your choice if you want to use a flower that symbolizes a happy and a contented existence.
Chrysanthemums (Mums) -frequently used in arrangements. White chrysanthemums are often understood to symbolize truth.
Gladiolus embodies strength of character, sincerity, and moral integrity,
Roses can be a beautiful part of an arrangement. A white rose evokes reverence, humility, innocence, and youthfulness. Red roses convey respect, love, and courage, love, grace, and gentility are the message that pink roses convey.
Marjoram conveys comfort and consolation.
Nasturtium celebrates patriotism.

Frangipani_Single

Many species of flowers come in a variety of colors, so understanding the meaning behind the colors can also help one in picking just the right flower to express exactly what they want to convey.

Blue – peace, calm and serenity
Pink – grace, happiness, youth, innocence, joy
Purple – royalty, dignity, pride, success, accomplishment, admiration
Red – desire, strength, love
White – innocence, humility, simple beauty, modesty, elegance
Orange – pride, energy, enthusiasm, warmth, confidence, satisfaction, passion
Lavender – refinement, grace, elegance, feminine beauty

Flowers can be arranged in different ways according to how you are going to display them.

Wreaths – Gladiolus. Snap Dragons, lilies, and even roses can be used to create a wreath that can be placed on the side of the funeral casket.
Sprays can be large or small. Small flowers can be shaped like hearts, nosegays and can be placed inside the casket. Quarter and half casket sprays are placed on the lowered lid of an open casket. Full casket sprays cover the length of an open or closed casket. This is usually sent by the immediate family and the undertaker normally arranges for this on behalf of the family.
Baskets serves as a keepsake and is a lovely alternative to more traditional pieces. The basket is a long lasting gift of natural beauty. A basket arrangement may also be sent to a private home.
Sympathy plants provide a lasting tribute to the loved one lost, as well as a constant reminder of the friendship and affection you wish to support through the grieving process.

Remember, funeral flowers honour the dead and console the living.

Candle & purple flowers

ONE YEAR DOWN THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED . . .

October 2014:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/tapestry/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/to-each-life-there-is-a-season/

November 2014:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/warning-emotional-volcano-about-to-erupt/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/dear-mom/

December 2014:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/why-the-obsession-with-loneliness/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/christmas-and-new-year-blessings/

Sinfonia_Mauritius by mom

January 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/grief-mourning-and-bereavement-what-is-the-difference/

February 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/woman-heal-thyself/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/self-care-sunday-hard-questions-weightless/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/re-investing-in-life-moving-on/

March 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/how-to-help-a-grieving-friend/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/how-to-find-the-balance-between-work-and-home-life/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/what-life-has-taught-me/

Waterfall

April 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/i-am-a-sensitive-child/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/me-the-budding-entrepreneur/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/green-is-the-colour-of-my-life/

May 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/in-the-midst-of-movement-and-chaos-becoming-the-new-me/

June 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/07/i-am-capable/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/the-pain-of-watching-a-parent-age/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/stop-the-bus-i-want-to-get-off/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/what-happens-during-a-colonoscopy/

July 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/me-the-budding-voice-over-artiste/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/what-im-learning-on-my-journey-to-wealth-creation/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/what-im-learning-on-my-journey-to-wealth-creation-part-two/

Mother's Day 2014 Rhebokskloof

Mother’s Day 2014 Rhebokskloof

August 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/how-to-increase-your-financial-iq/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/river-of-life-a-time-for-reflection/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/finding-your-why/
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/wild-geese/

September 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/im-not-extraordinary-enough-the-power-of-vulnerability/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/12/how-do-i-start-a-blog/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/my-life-as-an-introvert/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/dont-resist-change-let-things-flow-naturally-forward/

October 2015 (One year down the road less travelled):
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/dear-trauma-counsellor-i-have-ongoing-flashbacks-and-voices-in-my-head-that-just-wont-shut-up/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/journaling-as-a-mindfulness-practice-for-thoughts-and-emotions/

Life_Hand releasing butterfly

Stop the bus . . . I want to get off!

Bus Back View

Yesterday I was, and today I am sad . . .

This week marks eight months since my mom’s death. Yesterday (24 June 2015) was exactly one year since finding out that my mom had another tumour and further surgery was not an option. What followed was a whirlwind fourteen months of caregiving and watching how mom deteriorated to the end.

Yesterday, at a routine visit to my own doctor, I was informed that I need to have a Gastroscopy and Colonoscopy as soon as possible. Since mom’s death I’ve been prescribed Vitamin B12 injections together with an Iron supplement and, in spite of this, my iron levels are not increasing and doctor says we need to find out why my body is not absorbing the iron being pumped into it. There may be many reasons for this – but I’m scared . . . Why?

Well, a lack of iron and constantly feeling tired was the very reason why my mom decided to go for a routine Colonoscopy in her late sixties. Fortunately for mom (at that time) her result came back negative. Her gut was so clean the doctor said he wished his gut could look like hers when he reached her age. Her next Colonscopy just over five years later – showed she had a tumour 20mm in diameter and a very aggressive form of Cancer which resulted in a whirlwind fourteen month end to her life eight months ago. From totally healthy to dead in fourteen months!

Today, I cried . . . I cried for the whirlwind fourteen months spent taking care of mom that just wizzed past me as I juggled a full time job, part time studies and taking care of mom in the last fourteen months of her life.

Mother's Day 2014 Rhebokskloof

Mother’s Day 2014 Rhebokskloof

I cried for the grief I feel and mourning her loss for the last eight months.

Crying Baby

I cried today, for the prospect of facing the same journey my mom faced . . . today, I cried.

Grief_Candle_Mourning

Part of my grieving journey is to feel immensely sad from around the twenty fourth of the month to around the sixth of the next month. I assume this has something to do with the fact that it was around the twenty fourth of October that mom looked like she was close to the end of her journey but only died on the twenty seventh of October. We had her funeral that same week so my guess is, from a Psychological point of view, why I usually feel sad around the last week of the month. This makes sense to me – I don’t know if it makes sense to anyone else?

Bus Overloaded

What have I learned about Colonoscopies?
A Colonoscopy is a day-case procedure in which the inside of the large intestine (colon and rectum) is examined. A Colonoscopy is commonly used to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as rectal and intestinal bleeding, or changes in bowel habit. Colonoscopy is also advised for adults without any symptoms to check for colorectal polyps or Cancer. A screening Colonoscopy is advised for anyone aged 50 years or older, and persons with a family history of colon polyps or Cancer should be screened at an age 10 years younger than it was diagnosed in the family member.
In my mom’s case – mom was diagnosed just after her seventieth birthday which means that my first Colonoscopy should be around age sixty (I’m not sixty yet).

What happens before a Colonoscopy?
In order to have a successful Colonoscopy, the bowel must be clean so that the physician can clearly view the inside of the colon. The physician gives very strict instructions regarding a particular liquid you have to drink and a very specific diet you have to follow prior to having a Colonoscopy. Without proper preparation, the Colonoscopy will not be successful and may have to be repeated.

Smiley_Crying

What happens during a Colonoscopy?
The doctor will insert a long flexible instrument into the rectum and will progress to the caecum (beginning of the colon). If necessary, pieces of tissue (biopsy) can be removed for testing, and polyps can be identified and removed. The Colonoscopy may allow accurate diagnosis and treatment of colorectal problems, without the need for a major operation.

The Colonoscope is disinfected between procedures so is completely safe. An intravenous line is inserted (a “drip”) and you have to lie on your left side. A sedative and a pain-relieving drug is given to make you more relaxed during the procedure. Your vital signs are monitored, and you will be given oxygen to maintain a normal blood oxygen concentration. The procedure lasts between twenty and forty minutes on average, and you will be allowed to rest until you are fully awake. You may feel slightly bloated and uncomfortable after the procedure, due to air inserted into your colon to improve visibility.

Bus puffing smoke

What happens after a Colonoscopy?
You will remain in a recovery room for observation until you are ready for discharge from the hospital. You may feel some cramping or a sensation of having wind, but these symptoms will eventually go away. A responsible adult must drive you home after this procedure and you should avoid driving or operating machinery for twenty four hours afterwards. Alcohol should be avoided and a course of pro-biotics is recommended to restore intestinal flora.

Unless otherwise stated by your physician, you may resume your normal eating habits after a Colonoscopy. Wait until a day after the procedure before resuming normal activities e.g. exercise. If any polyps were removed or biopsies taken, you have to avoid using any medication containing aspirin ad anti-inflammatory drugs for two weeks. Anti-coagulants e.g. Warfarin or Piavix can only be taken once your physician has given you permission to do so.

Dolphins in water

If a biopsy was take or a polyp removed, mild rectal bleeding may be noted for 1 – 2 days after the procedure. If heavier bleeding is encountered e.g. clots of blood, or if you have severe abdominal pain, this must be reported immediately. If you are unable to contact the physician, report to the emergency room at the clinic or hospital where the procedure was performed immediately.

Gastroscopy – same as above except that the inside of the stomach is examined and the doctor will insert a long flexible instrument into the stomach through your throat. The rest of the procedure is the same as for the Colonoscopy.

Funny (suprised) face

So in a few weeks I will have the (joy) of having two tubes inserted during the same procedure – one down my throat and one up my back passage. Yay!

The pain of watching a parent age

Nursing (Life of love and compassion)

I’ve been battling to find time to post these last few weeks. I’ve scribbled a few ideas on paper but have not been able to actually finish them off.

This post today has been prompted by a television programme I watched recently where an elderly father wanted his son to take him across State lines to visit a friend and colleague he worked with in his younger days. The friend is dying and the old man just wanted to make sure he saw him before he died. The son is addicted to his job and resented having to tear himself away from his job to help his elderly dad.

Watching this tug-of-war between father and son just brought back so many memories for me of my own relationship with my mom in the last fourteen months before she died. From the time my mom got sick, I made sure my work and my entire life came second and mom came first – always! and watching this tug-of-war between this father and son tonight made me realise how precious our last few months and hours are with our elderly parents.

Nursing Care (how compassion can make a change)

My mom was not really old (she was seventy one when she died) but her illness caused her to be confined to bed for the last few months of her life. Most of what I experienced with mom was part of the natural ageing process but in my mom’s case, was accelerated by her illness. Let me share some of these with you and hopefully you will get the picture.

Loss of short term memory: This is part of the natural ageing process and usually progresses slowly until, in some cases, Alzeimers disease will set in – but not all ageing people end up with Alzeimers disease. In my mom’s case, her short term memory loss was age related but was accelerated by the brain tumour so as the tumour grew, the short term memory was almost completely taken over by her long term memory i.e. she could remember things that happened years ago but could not remember what happened that morning.

Nursing Care (hands)

The urgency of doing things NOW – not being able to wait until later: This is also part of the natural ageing process and gets worse the closer they get to death. Again, in my mom’s case, this was accelerated by her brain tumour to the point where five minutes seemed like an eternity to her, which means I was kept on my toes all the time because mom immediately felt abandoned if left alone for too long.

Child taking the role of parent: I think this is the most difficult part of the ageing process where the child has to take over the role of bed bathing, brushing the teeth, combing the hair, dressing when the parent can no longer move around freely and is confined to bed. This, I think, was the most difficult part of mom’s illness for both of us, when mom had to resign herself to the fact that she just cannot do this herself anymore and also brought home to me just how ill mom really was. I did, however try my best to do this part with as much dignity as possible.
I had to be very subtle in the way I suggested replacing underwear with diapers to avoid soiling the bed and had to ensure this was done in the most dignified way possible.

Nursing Care

Spending time just listening: The closer mom got to her final days, the more she just wanted me to be with her to just listen – telling the same old stories I’ve heard a million times before going as far back as her primary school days. To listen without getting impatient, without saying “yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that so many times before”. I just kept quiet and listened for as long as it took. Preparing the next meal, washing dishes or doing the laundry just had to wait, I had to listen. In the end I was glad I took the time to listen because it kept mom calm and stress free to the end.

This television programme I watched recently showed how impatient the son got with his father when all the father wanted was for his son to spend time with him. The look of sadness and abandonment in the father’s eyes made me feel so sad because even just five minutes would have meant the world to the father and yet the son was not even prepared to sacrifice that five minutes of his time.

The night before mom died she was very restless and could not get to sleep. I continuously had to go into her room just to be there, to lay down next to her, just to hold her hand and tell her everything will be alright. Right up until the morning of her death, mom was like a little girl just needing comfort and reassurance that everything was going to be alright. That’s all that mattered in the end.

My job and my job title did not matter – the only thing that mattered was being there.

Candlelight

We, the younger generation need to slow down, stop and “smell the roses”. We need to stop trying to rush our parent(s) into handing over everything to us so we can take over and control their lives. We need to help them live a life of independence and dignity for as long as possible instead of trying to control them because we want to make things easier for ourselves.

Parents feel they need to be parents right up to the end and that is why we, as children need to take control without them losing their dignity as parents.
We should allow them to remain parents and we should continue to respect them as such right to the end (even though we have taken control of their worldly goods).

Nursing (Love & Compassion_Dalai Lama)

Additional note:
Children are often in too much of a hurry to take over the parents’ house and entire life thinking they are making things easier for the parent when, in fact, the parent struggles to let go because they see this as losing their dignity and freedom which they want to hold on to as long as possible.

Role reversal is as difficult for the parent as it is for the child. As children we need to remember that even though we are having to parent our parent(s), we still need to treat them as parents and not as children. Still speak as a child to a parent and not the other way around.

Children need to be more tolerant and patient when this stage comes and gradually take over once the parent is ready to hand over the reigns – but not to rush in and try to grab everything from the parent(s) all at once.

How to find the balance between work and home life

Life is not about waiting for storms to pass

Throughout my fourteen month journey of being primary caregiver to my dying mom and even now through the last five months of grief/mourning, I have not (yet) asked the question “why?”

When someone you love dies – especially when you were so closely and deeply connected throughout the whole process, it is natural to ask questions like “why me?”, “Why did he/she have to die?”, or “Why now?” I have not questioned what I previously believed about life and death and even about God.

Life not about finding yourself

What I would like and know that I can never get again, is my old life with mom – sharing jokes, going for coffee, the arguments, the difference of opinion, sharing the box of chocolates or slab of chocolate, going for a scenic drive, learning new things together, sitting at the beach eating ice cream . . .

Bereavement and mourning is a universal and integral part of our experience of love. Someone once said:

“Tears are how our heart speaks when our lips cannot describe how much we have been hurt.”

The question I have been asking up to now has been “What is the meaning of life? What really matters?”

Life_Calvin and Hobbs

The answer that I have come up with is that I want more of a life/work balance. I want to work smarter and not harder. I don’t want to be rich, I just want to live comfortably, able to enjoy what life I have left on this mortal earth. Watching my mom on her journey to eternity made me realise that all that matters is having your loved ones around to support you through your journey – something money cannot buy.

The last nineteen months has therefore taken me on a journey to discover “who am I really and what exactly do I want out of life?” The answer for me has been that I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk for eight or nine hours per day. I want to earn an honest living to survive but I also want time to enjoy moments sitting on the beach or in the park watching children play.

Life_Hand releasing butterfly

While preparing to write this blog I came across the writings of David Whyte on How to Break the Tyranny of Work/Life: Three marriages work/life balance he mentions the following quote:

“We are each a river with a particular abiding character, but we show totally different aspects of our self according to the territory through which we travel”

Life_John Lennon

I also came across the following quote by Dave Hedges asking the question: What is life really about? And the quote goes like this . . .

“Life’s not about the things you’ve bought, it’s about the things you’ve built.
Life’s not about what you’ve got, it’s about what you’ve shared with others.
Life’s not about your successes, it’s about the lessons learned along the way.”

What lessons have you learned along this “Journey called life”?

Meaning of Life_Peanuts Cartoon

Recommended reading:
• The Three Marriages Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship Find it here
• How we grow by John Emmerson: Find it here
• Glorious Meditation on Solitude: Find it here
• The Importance of Excess in Creative Work by Anais Nin: Find it here
• Letting your life Speak by Parker Palmer: Find it here
• Floundering to find his purpose: Van Gogh: Find it here

Woman, Heal Thyself . . .

Starting today, I need to forget what’s gone,
Appreciate what still remains
And look forward to what’s coming next.
– Anonymous

In my last post I wrote about grieving, mourning and bereavement because this is the stage of life I am in right now. Everywhere I go, everyone wants to know how I am coping with my loss so this week I’m focusing on coping – how am I coping? Am I coping?

Ways of Coping:
Research has taught us that various approaches used in the coping process are grouped into eight coping factors:

Confrontive Coping: describes aggressive efforts to alter the situation and suggests some degree of hostility and risk-taking. (Anger)
Distancing: describes cognitive efforts to detach oneself and to minimize the significance of the situation. (Denial)
Self-Controlling: describes efforts to regulate one’s feelings and actions.
Seeking Social Support: describes efforts to seek informational support, tangible support, and emotional support.
Accepting Responsibility: acknowledges one’s own role in the problem with a concomitant theme of trying to put things right. (Acceptance)
Escape-Avoidance: describes wishful thinking and behavioral efforts to escape or avoid the problem. Items on this scale contrast with those on the Distancing scale, which suggest detachment. (Bargaining)
Planful Problem Solving: describes deliberate problem-focused efforts to alter the situation, coupled with an analytic approach to solving the problem. (Acceptance)
Positive Reappraisal: describes efforts to create positive meaning by focusing on personal growth. It often also has a religious dimension.

Candlelight

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, in her 1969 book On Death & Dying (http://www.amazon.com/On-Death-Dying-Doctors-Families/dp/1476775540) described the following five well-known stages of grief:

Denial— “It can’t be happening.”—Ignore or discount the evidence.
Anger— “Why me? It’s not fair!”—Highlight the injustice. Blame someone or something else for the loss.
Bargaining— “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”—Negotiate a better deal, gain time.
Depression— “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”—Act helpless.
Acceptance— “It’s going to be OK.”—Acknowledge the problem, understand and accept what you can and cannot change, and move on.

Responses at each stage that illustrate each of these styles could, for example be:

Confrontive coping approach: Shouting a profanity, slamming and kicking the refrigerator door before blaming someone (self, spouse, bad luck, always happens, the dog)
A distancing approach could be: reading the newspaper, turning on the TV, shining shoes, or doing other things to delay and distract from acknowledging the problem.
A self-controlling approach would be telling yourself: “now stay calm, it’s not the end of the world”, “it’s really no big deal” as you calm down enough to take problem-focused action.
Seeking social support – you might ask your spouse or significant other for sympathy, understanding or help.
Acknowledging approach – you accept responsibility for your actions which leads quickly to accurately recognising, acknowledging and solving the problem.
Escape-avoidance approach – you might shout “help me” with the vague hope someone will hear and respond to your call for help.
Planful Problem Solving – leads to the alternatives and solutions originally described above
Positive reappraisal – you may remind yourself that “whatever does not kill you, makes you stronger” or that God is testing you with this challenge/problem/struggle.

Health & Wellness Fruit Basket

Coping requires resources:
Our ability to cope depends on the resources (human and financial) we can apply to solving the problems. What might be trivial to someone with the necessary resources can become a matter of life and death to someone who does not have the necessary resources.

Resources to help in coping may include: intelligence, education, experience, creativity, money, tools, materials, social skills, emotional competency, perspective, perseverance, resolve, tranquility, serenity, tolerance, rest, supportive friends and family, charm, health and energy, optimism, time, patience, confidence, courage, judgment, ingenuity, and other personal strengths.

If resources are unavailable or become exhausted then coping becomes less effective, suspends, or stops altogether. Coping may resume if resources again become available.

A simple example of this is regaining strength and resolve from a good night’s sleep and hearty breakfast. A more complex example is the long wait for relief aid that refugees may face.

Stress is the word we use to describe the resources consumed by coping; these are the resources required to counteract a stressor.

So, how am I doing? I think I’m coping for now.

Life is not what it’s supposed to be
It is what it is
The way you cope with it is
What makes the difference.
– Virginia Satir

Two Aspects of Coping
There are two main aspects of coping:

1) Solving the material or physical problem (fixing what’s broken, in the case of illness – healing the person or moving heaven and earth to find a cure for whatever is causing the illness/pain/discomfort)
2) Addressing the accompanying emotions (an emotion-focussed coping approach) – this kicks in when the person who is ill cannot be cured/healed (chronic illness)

Effective coping accurately recognises what you can change (your behaviour/attitude/make the sick person as comfortable as possible etc) and what you cannot (you cannot cure/heal the sick person).

Ineffective coping confuses the two.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Table Mountain, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

So, how have I been coping?

Well, I’ve been trying to get out into the wonderful South African sunshine as often as I can. I’ve been going for long drives along our coastline – my drives, however, are limited to weekends because during the week Monday – Friday I have a full time job which keeps me stuck in a concrete jungle for eight to nine hours per day.

One of the longest drives I’ve taken in the last few weeks has been to a little town called Darling.

Welcome to Darling

Welcome to Darling

Next, I visited a cousin on my mom’s side who lives in Gordon’s Bay . . .

Gordon's Bay on a cloudy day

Gordon’s Bay on a cloudy day

This was followed by a trip to Simonstown . . .

Just before entering Glencairn on your way to Simonstown

Just before entering Glencairn on your way to Simonstown

The last drive taken last week was to Hout Bay . . .

View from The Lookout Deck Restaurant in Hout Bay

View from The Lookout Deck Restaurant in Hout Bay

When something bad happens you have three choices.
You can either let it define you, destroy you
Or you can let it strengthen you.
– Anonymous

References
Stress and Emotion: A New Synthesis , by Richard S. Lazarus
Coping Theory and Research: Past, Present, and Future, Richard S. Lazarus, Psychosomatic Medicine 55:234-247 (1993)
http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/coping.htm

Grief, Mourning and Bereavement – what is the difference?

Black and white butterfly

Hello everyone!

Welcome to my “journey called life” and welcome to 2015. Can you believe we are already in the 21st day of January? Where has the time gone?

To all my loyal followers and to the new ones who have joined along the way, as the New Year begins, let us pray that it will be a year with new Peace, new Happiness and Abundance of new friends. May God bless you throughout the New Year.

Please accept my sincere apologies for the long break since my last post on 24 December 2014. My regular followers would know that I lost my mom to Cancer on 27 October 2014 so my sister and I have had to face our first Christmas and New Year without our mom.

Grief Whirlpool

Then on 8 January 2015 we received the news that our dad had died which had a whole host of emotions of its own attached (we’ve had no contact since my parents divorce) and he died a day before the 13th anniversary of their divorce.

Grief_Stages of Grief

The 18th January 2015 would have been mom’s birthday and it was our first one without her so more emotional stuff to deal with here.

Happy Birthday pendulum

In between all of this, I was kept busy with the Administration of my Late mom’s Estate – if any of you have ever been an Executor of an Estate you will know how much paperwork this all entails.

Grief_Coping with Bereavement

Amidst all the emotional turmoil and administrative paperwork, I am also trying to set up a home-based business which needs to be up and running by June 2015 so I can be earning a steady income by January 2016.

So much thought needs to go into setting up a website (what I want it to look like), content (what I want to say on the website), what services I will be offering etc. This actually takes up a lot of time (mentally) and physically sitting behind a computer.

Grief_Kubler Ross the-change-curve

While going through all the emotional turmoil of what I’ve mentioned above, I’ve been wondering about the difference between grief, mourning and bereavement.

People generally use these words interchangeably but what do they really mean?

Is there a difference between grief, mourning and bereavement?

I tried doing a Google search and this is what I found:
Grief, Mourning and Bereavement – what is the difference?

Grief is the response or reaction to a loss
Bereavement refers to the state of the loss
Mourning is the action you take following a loss

God knew we would mourn our losses because He said:
“Blessed are they that mourn:
for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

Read the rest here : http://www.examiner.com/article/the-difference-between-grieving-mourning-and-bereavement

Grief_Mourning Dove

Other sources say:
Grief is what you think and feel inside when someone you loves dies. It’s the numbness, sadness, anger, regret, all rolled up into one. It’s the pain in your gut and a hole in your chest.

Mourning is expressing your grief, letting it out somehow. You mourn when you cry, talk about the death, write about it, or punch something.
Read the rest here: http://www.pastoralcareinc.com/counseling/difference-between-grief-mourning/

Grief_Candle Quote

More links on the subject of Grief, Mourning and Bereavement:
http://griefandmourning.com/grief-and-mourning-distinguishe#comment-2510

http://www.thecarecommunity.com/GriefSafePlace/DougsBlog/tabid/63/mid/385/newsid385/210/Default.aspx

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/emotionalsideeffects/griefandloss/coping-with-the-loss-of-a-loved-one-intro-to-grief-mourning-bereavement

Grief_Candle_Mourning

I hope you have found this post inspirational and the links useful.

Please let me know if you have any questions on other topics you would like me to do some research on. It’s an opportunity for us to learn together.

Till next time.

Christmas and New Year blessings . . .

Thank you to all my loyal readers and followers who have been with me on this journey called “life” this past year may you have a blessed, peaceful and safe Christmas and a joyful and prosperous 2015.

The past year has been a long and difficult road but by the grace of God I made it through to the end.

Looking forward to sharing my journey with you in 2015.

Card