Loneliness

BREAKING NEWS: Goodness abounds!

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Goodness abounds, yes, it does.

We don’t hear or read about it enough but trust me, hatred and evil have got nothing on goodness and kindness in our world.

It has been said that it is the horrific stories that make headlines and quite frankly, that is true. Newspapers, magazines, television and social media news outlets clamber after Breaking News in their attempts to be the first to offer their take on ongoing incidents. Clamber means to “climb, move, or get in or out of something in an awkward and laborious way.” Can’t you visualize hungry journalists doing just that: pushing others out of the way, pulling yet others down in their singular effort to be first?

I am all for free journalism; without it I would not be writing this 990th post, so bring it on in all its raging color…however, wouldn’t it be rewarding to have our day interrupted by Breaking News that reports on the good and kind incidents that occur as well?

All right, I’ll do just that. Allow me to introduce you to two wonderful souls who have brought light into the darkness. This is Breaking News of the very best kind.

Sophie Andrews is a person who learned the hard way – one of the hardest – that The best way to help is often just to listenSophie was on death’s door – you have to listen to the 14-minute TED talk to learn of the details when a volunteer at UK’s Samaritan helpline picked up the phone and changed 14-year old Sophie’s life forever. Years later, Sophie gave back and paid it forward by starting a helpline for some of the most vulnerable human beings in society who are lonely and without access or means for socialization. Her Silver Line fields more than 1500 calls a day, making the lives of more than 550,000 UK senior citizens brighter, fuller and healthier each year.

Dixon Chibanda, one of 12 psychiatrists in the entire country of Zimbabwe – a country of 16 million people – created a program to treat individuals in need of psychiatric or psychological counseling: The friendship bench program – or why I train grandmothers to treat depressionThis program was birthed when a desperate young woman didn’t have the minimal bus fare needed to commute the 15 kilometers to meet with him in person and who suffered the tragic consequences. Dr. Chibanda created a program that brings care and hope to those in need powered by a limitless resource: grandmothers. Sitting on a bench, talking to someone who listens without judgment serves to make a difference in the mental health of thousands across his country and other countries as well – including the United States where a similar program has been started. Please take 12 additional minutes out of your day and listen to the TED talk I have linked above.

Listening – a free resource that is oftentimes not employed when needed the most; listening that actively tunes into the person speaking.

If you are someone who sets resolutions or intentions for the new year, perhaps practicing the art of listening might be at the top of your 2019 list.

I know it is on mine.

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Welcoming light from a neighbor’s living room

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Have you ever struggled to fall asleep or stay asleep?  At some point during that struggle, did you say to yourself (yourself being the only person awake at the time) Screw it!  I may as well get out of bed and start my day.

There are far too many of those late night and early morning day-starters for me to recount in this article – the most recent being Monday, December 22nd when my day started at 3:30 a.m.  My “best” record occurred a few years ago when I never managed to fall asleep so in that instance my day started the previous day. Read the rest of this entry »

Ambiguous loss – the experience of caregiver spouses

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Caregivers Of Spouses with Dementia Report Sadness, Loneliness, Less Enjoyment | Alzheimer\’s Reading Room.

Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios
Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios

The article above reflects what is offered by Pauline Boss in her book Ambiguous Loss.  I highly recommend the above Alzheimer’s Reading Room article as well as Ms. Boss’s book for any spouse who is taking care of their wife/husband at home or if your spouse is already living in a dementia care unit.

The author, Pauline Boss, explains it this way: when a loved one dies, we mourn the loss; we take comfort in the rituals that mark the passing, and we turn to those around us for support.  That doesn’t happen when a loved one is still alive, but the losing occurs nonetheless.  And this period of loss may go on for years prior to the spouse’s final departure through death.

One of the statements that Ms. Boss introduces is that “it is o.k. to love a shell.”  Anyone who is married to someone with dementia knows that, in essence, a shell is what their spouse becomes with advanced dementia.  But if the “surviving spouse” is able to draw on the memories of their marriage, they find themselves able to love their spouse regardless of the disease.  Unfortunately, the memories remembered are no longer shared memories; joint reminiscing no longer occurs.  Your wedding anniversary passes without any acknowledgement by your spouse, and although that’s just one of the burdens during this long period of loss, it’s a difficult one to bear.

Caregiving is a difficult, 24/7  task.  I honor you on your journey, and I hope you find comfort and direction in the above resources, as well as the resources that the Alzheimer’s Association provides.