Listening to Michelle’s story really warmed my heart. There were similarities in our experiences with our dads’ declines but I was so blown away by the way her whole family came together to support one another and made the experience better and more manageable for everyone. It was also really amazing to hear about the way they are continuing to support one another during their grieving process, and they are going about it in a way that gives each person space to work through things in their own way and on their own time.
One thing that I would like to call out is that sometimes people think the grieving process only starts after your loved ones die, but it often starts way before that point. For many, we experience grief each time a change happens – whether that’s weight loss, having a harder time walking, or experiencing chemo brain. Obviously, these types of changes hit the patients the hardest but caregivers experience grief in their own way as well as somewhat helpless bystanders, which in truth is one of the hardest parts of being a caregiver – is that feeling of not being able to help lessen the suffering your loved one is experiencing.
The other thing that stood out was Michelle’s conversation with her dad – how she told him that he didn’t have to keep fighting for the family. This stood out to me because I so often hear patients say that the one thing they fear the most is what is going to happen to the family members they leave behind. So I thought it was so courageous for Michelle to have had that candid conversation with her dad because it gave him the permission to prioritize his own needs in the time he had left. I never said the same thing to my dad because I assumed he wanted to keep fighting for himself, but lately, I’ve been wondering if that assumption was true just based on what I have been hearing from other patients.
You can find Michelle at https://breatheandbe.net/. She offers many great services and resources for people practicing faith, like meditation, yoga, and journaling.
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Thank you for listening!