A Caregiver’s Precious Last Gift From Her Big Sister

She carried me when I was tired. She protected me when other kids were picking on me. She introduced me to new experiences and music, from dancing to the Beatles in 1964 in our West Lafayette, Ind., living room to my first Grateful Dead concert in 1968 — where she lifted me to the stage so I could dance with the band — to the music of Keith Jarrett in 1982. When I entered those tumultuous teenage and young adult years …

Jackson on the Job: Service Dog Plays Crucial Role in Caregiving Team

At less than a foot tall and under 25 pounds, Mr. Jackson might not seem like the powerhouse that he is in our family. His floppy ears and big brown eyes make him adorable, but it’s the intelligence and sensitivity that are apparent through those eyes that have made him my constant, loyal and vital partner in caregiving for my parents over the past five years. As caregivers, we all need to build a caregiving team – no one can do …

For Some Parents, Every Day Is Memorial Day

In World War II, families learned of a loved one killed in action by telegram. My husband’s grandfather, with two military sons, recalled watching the telegram delivery man ride his bike down the street and praying that he would not stop at his door. Today a uniformed service member delivers the notification in person. Since 2001, the families of almost 7,000 men and women have opened their front doors to that devastating news. In that instant, life changes, leaving parents, …

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 …

She Was His North Star

His shoulders slump and his head bows as if his very life force has been suddenly drawn out of him. His face reflects the pain and confusion that his mind and heart are toiling with, struggling to grasp a wisp of reality and understand that the impossible has indeed happened. “I just can’t believe it; I can’t fathom it,” he says. “Are you telling me the truth? She’s not available anymore?” This happens every time my dad asks about my …

Losing a Partner – and Finding It Hard to Let Go

By Joan Marans Dim My husband, Stuart, died last June after a decade-long struggle with cancer. He was 77 years old, a former journalist and public relations executive, a marathon runner, and a man beloved and respected by family and friends. In going through his belongings, I often find things that I have forgotten about, small things that taken together are not small. In the back of a drawer, I discover a poem that he wrote when we were students …