The blessings of reciprocal caregiving

August 10th, 2012 → 4:57 pm @ // No Comments

“I think I have a lily going to sleep,” my mother would say in the early stages of her dementia. Why didn’t I realize then that she was talking about death of her own brain cells due to Alzheimer’s as well as death of her flowers? A long denied stigma especially in the medical world of advanced technologies and interventions, death may become a friend, a destination like home with a welcome mat at the gate spread with peace and hopeful rest.

I wrote “As Long as You Sing, I’ll Dance” to help caregivers help themselves and the people who suffer with illnesses (often hidden as well as terminal) understand and cope with death. Hospice care for the dying goes hand-in-hand with understanding and accepting incurable illnesses and the common mortal factors of our existence.

But how can we finally understand death? There are usually two or more headlines daily announcing or related to death (often the senseless violent and brutal variety). As readers/surfers of these endless morbid headlines we are offered no way to understand and process the tsunami with the morning cup of coffee.

From “As Long as You Sing, I’ll Dance”:

I see in the springtime, luxuriant irises blooming. Again, I will have to let them go to the wind and the changeful weather reciting the words of an old haiku I wrote to some invisible presence years ago:  

So many irises

 Go home silently with you

Surrendering perfume

I have dealt with my own transience while writing poems that help me stay in the present moment…. We often experience caregiving while letting go. So we must find peaceful ways to let a person know what’s happening and make clear closures.

When caregivers and families find a way to communicate together that enriches both giver and receiver, there is peace in the house. A peaceful understanding of our transitions is a benediction beyond words.

A peaceful understanding of our transitions is a benediction beyond words.


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