Volunteers Feed the Soul at the Ronald McDonald House

There’s a special connection that comes with preparing meals for others too heartbroken to cook for themselves. Making those dinners with a group of volunteers brings an intimacy and humility that cannot be matched. And one of the best spots I know to do that is at the Ronald McDonald House in Falls Church, Va., a place that offers comfort, refuge and care for families whose children are battling life-threatening illnesses. Ending hunger could be a SNAP » Jarun Brown, 64, chops …

Green Peace: The Healing Power of Parks for Young and Old

One of my very best friends died three years ago. He happened to be my grandfather, who was 96 years old. He was ready. It was time. But it wasn’t easy. I missed him. It took me months to delete the calendar alert I’d set up to ping me every day at 11:20 a.m., a reminder to stop what I was doing and “Call PO9,” short for Pop Pop. (As a kid, when I was learning to write, I accidentally addressed …

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 …