As some of you are aware, over the past decade Tony, Peg and I have all been immersed in the experience of being caregivers for aging parents and relatives. These experiences have challenged us, stretched us to grow in unexpected ways and moved us deeply in terms of what it means to be a spiritual being living a very human life. We found that the Living Energy approach that we were teaching and writing about helped us navigate the difficult passages with more ease, grace and sanity than otherwise may have been the case. Hence we have turned our focus to bringing the tools and techniques embodied in the Living Energy work to the world of caregiving.
My own personal experience through this life stage (caring for elderly parents) has been long and strange. As a nurse and psychotherapist I had dealt with people facing illness and end of life issues many times. Without consciously thinking about it I had “learned” that there was a pattern–or a few patterns–that the experience tended to follow. But when it came my turn to deal with such an experience personally nothing followed the norm that I had unconsciously come to expect. I wish I had known a lot of things that I did not. I wish there had been guidance and support that would have helped me not get caught in unimportant places. I wish there had been help to point me to the growing edges of consciousness that would have smoothed out the bumps.
All those things were available in some ways but I had to search. Fortunately it is one of my coping mechanism to search! So it has actually turned into a deeply expansive time for my entire being. I suspect this process could have been more graceful with fewer bumps if there had been a different kind of preparation and expectation, if there had been a different kind of guidance available when it got weird, surprising and unpredictable! But ultimately that is okay because it led me to a commitment to helping others learn as much as they could about this time of life –practically, emotionally and spiritually—to help them learn to dive deep to find the inner resources to strengthen and support them so that it could become a life enhancing (although often painful) experience rather than a soul deadening one.
So with all that in mind…here is an excellent article on conversations that it is important to have when aging, serious illness and death edge more fully into your life. There are so many more details and nuances to these conversations than the ultimate one of whether someone wants to be kept alive by mechanical means. These things are difficult to address upfront but in the long run they smooth out the bumps so you can manage this journey a bit more easily.