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13 years ago @ Shambhala SunSpace - Shambhala Sun Audio an... · 0 replies · +1 points

Hi T.C.
Sorry I was away and offline for a few days.

By your description... I would encourage you to be very careful about over committing yourself. It won't be helpful to your friend if you become exhausted, resentful or unable to care for her needs.

Often people don't want to consider other residential options. Frequently this is driven by a set of unexplored beliefs or fears about "being put away". However, the truth is not everyone has all the resources and support they need to stay at home. And there are good residential options out here.

Be realistic about what you can gracefully offer...and be satisfied with that. Then have a honest conversation with your friend about what other sorts of support she may require that you cannot provide. Your local hospice may be able to offer some guidance. Being a good friend doesn't mean you have to take everything on your shoulders. You may be far more helpful by identifying and sorting out local community services that could be of assistance

When people would come to our hospice, family members often felt guilty for not keeping their loved one at home. I would say, "....let us do the laundry and make her meals and attend to her medical needs. Then you be free to give her what only you can offer ....your love."

13 years ago @ Shambhala SunSpace - Shambhala Sun Audio an... · 0 replies · +1 points

Hi Rick,

Anybody who is a caregiver that is willing to speak the truth will tell you it is a totally different ballgame when we are caring for family. It’s just so much more complex. All the family dynamics, the habitual ways of interacting, the confusion around roles. It’s really hard.

My first response is mercy, mercy, mercy. At times like this... when we most need our kindness we often club ourselves with self-judgment. Please be kind to yourself, very kind. That is most important now.

Caring for those we love will challenge our most basic beliefs. Ask us to push pass fatigue, cause us to face unimaginable doubt. Restlessness will rule at times. You will question your ability and motivation. Your own deep clingings, aversions and habitual patterns will present themselves for review.

Helplessness and insecurity will be common companions. Above all you will face loss and confront the fragility of your own life.

It can break your heart open. But perhaps its here in the open heart that we will discover what actually helps.

It takes courage and flexibility. In one moment we will say or do the right thing that may be the absolutely wrong in the next. We find a balance. This is a mystery we need to live. Opening, risking, forgiving constantly.

You are doing what will probably be one of the most difficult things of your life. It's sure to challenge you on multiple fronts. Please remember that compassion starts with ourselves.

I find my entrenched patterns loosen when I am willing to acknowledge how caught I feel.

Once I was caring for someone I loved and I got into a complete tangle in my mind while moving him from the toilet to the bath. Me “Mr.. Hospice”. I stopped right in the middle of the action and just acknowledged how helpless I felt. I remember just sitting there crying beside the toilet.

Turned out the other person was also feeling pretty helpless. So helplessness became our meeting place. There we were helpless together…not so much separation. Of course we didn’t stay helpless forever. The situation showed us what to do next. But I couldn’t see that from where I had been standing.

To be people who heal we have to bring our passion and our fear to the bedside. We need to draw on our strength and helplessness … on our wounds and joys to discover a meeting place with the other. We have to invite it all in. It is the exploration of our own suffering that enables us to form an empathetic bridge to the other person.

I also vote (if possible) for getting some help from others....this is too tough to do alone.

13 years ago @ Shambhala SunSpace - Shambhala Sun Audio an... · 0 replies · +2 points

Hi Melvin
Thanks for the great references and links. Just saw John yesterday. What an alive teacher. He speaks and writes beautifully from his personal experience.

13 years ago @ Shambhala SunSpace - Shambhala Sun Audio an... · 0 replies · +2 points

Hi Sandra,

The dying room is a place of paradox. In the tension and urgency that surrounds dying we are tempted to pick sides. To choose one belief over another. But if we can just relax a bit and hold the “tension of opposites” we will frequently observe a third option emerging. One that we might not have considered or even imagined.

In my experience everyone in the dying room is suffering at some level….the person in the bed and those surrounding the bed. When I recognize this truth my innate compassion emerges and guides me toward an appropriate response. We don’t alleviate peoples fear by persuading with a new idea. So we must listen and listen again.

Often I will find that a friend, family member or a healthcare provider is trying to “protect” the person dying though the best strategy they know. That might include avoidance, beliefs, spiritual concepts etc. When I listen and perhaps explore the caregivers desire to protect I sometimes find the caregivers own fear and denial. But if I really listen carefully without judgment I will very often uncover their love for the person dying. Love opens the dialogue….it relaxes the contracted places and opens the possibility of embracing even those experiences we most want to avoid.

When love is really present we don’t want to waste a moment. We tell the people we love that we love them. We want to be with them in a real and honest way that honors both the difficulty and the beauty in what is occurring.

No guarantees that it will always turn out this way. But it sure beats wasting time having a battle of beliefs.

13 years ago @ Shambhala SunSpace - Shambhala Sun Audio an... · 0 replies · +2 points

Caring for people who are ill or dying can be an intense, intimate, and deeply alive experience. It often challenges our most basic beliefs. It's a journey of continuous discovery, requiring courage and flexibility. We learn to open, take risks, and forgive constantly. Taken as a practice of awareness, it can reveal both our deep clinging and our capacity to embrace another person's suffering as our own.

This online forum is open to all and may be of particular interest to professionals or those who anticipate caring for family members or friends facing life-threatening illness.

Lets have a discussion in which the unknown will be as important as the known. A conversation that helps us bring body, heart, mind and spirit to the service of others.

Please join me