Finding My Path Through Grief to Healing

The path of grief is a very individual journey – no two people grieve exactly alike. It has been six months today since my mom passed on. For me it has been a very bumpy path, complicated by continuing to care for my dad and support him in his grief as he battles Alzheimer’s disease. I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve, so the initial phases of grief meant swollen eyes and umpteen boxes of tissues. I am …

How to Develop a Caregiving Plan

I first spoke with my parents about their plans for “the future” when Dad retired from his career as a university professor in 1995. Mom had suffered a stroke six years earlier but was still mobile, and Dad was in good health. They had completed advance directives and estate planning. My caregiving plan was to help them stay as independent as possible for as long as possible. I’d visit three or four times a year, monitor their needs and coordinate with my …

Joy and Sorrow: A Precious Photo of My Mom and Me

It’s strange, the things that go through our minds when we are suffering a life-altering, heartbreaking loss. When my Mom passed just three weeks ago, one of the first things I thought of was the coming issue of the AARP Bulletin with our photo on the cover and an excerpt of my book, AARP’s Juggling Work and Caregiving. I knew it was to be a visual depiction of the love I feel for my mom and the care I was …

How a Random Act of Kindness Helped Me Heal

It was my first trip to Pennsylvania since Pop Pop passed away, and I was equal parts excited and apprehensive – excited because it was (and is) my favorite place on the planet; nervous because my favorite person wouldn’t be there. My grandfather, the Bernie in my blog Arthur & Bernie, wouldn’t be in his chair in the living room, or a short walk away at the nursing home, where he spent his final year. Would it be depressing? Would …

The Gift I Didn’t Know I Needed

Before my Pop Pop died, we had a conversation about our conversations. “I miss our talks,” I said one night, sitting by his bed. It was August and, though the doctors said he was in good health, he was miserable. During the day, the pain consumed him and I wondered where my grandfather went, but for an hour or so at bedtime, the Pop Pop I knew came back. “I know you’re hurting, and it’s hard to think about anything …

College Reunion Uplifts the Caregiver In Me

As the jukebox blared, we all danced and raucously sang (OK, shouted really) out the words to “Bye Bye Miss American Pie”, “Aimee” (my personal favorite of course) and yes, even “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” at the top of our lungs. I looked around the circle of about 35 of my college sorority Chi Omega sisters and it felt like thirty years had simply melted away. Our early 1980′s hair and clothing may have changed over time, but our …