THE HEART AND SOUL OF BEING A CARETAKER
Welcome to “Healing From Within” with your host Sheryl Glick author of Life Is No Coincidence and The Living Spirit: Answers for Healing and Infinite Love, and the newest in the trilogy, A New Life Awaits which shares stories of spiritual awakening, spiritual communication, healing energies, miracles and ways to find and use intuition for improving decision making and living with greater health prosperity and joy. Today I welcome Robert Sharpe author of his newest book The Heart and Soul of Caring which highlights 11 unique true stories of the challenges and joys of being a caregiver for a loved one.
As listeners have come to expect through the years Sheryl and her guests have been sharing intimate and insightful looks at the connect between the physical and metaphysical elements of life as we know it, and as it actually continues to unfold, we find Universal Laws of Energy that when understood and practiced, can help us reach our full potential as human soul beings and help us excel at living with compassion and love for all life.
In today’s episode of “Healing From Within” Robert Sharpe the founder of BITEradio.me, host and producer of “Bringing Inspiration to Earth” radio show and author of Joy Potential, which is designed to enlighten and entertain listeners in Self-Help Spirituality Children’s Corner and Environmental Awareness will help listeners find answers to difficult questions in caring for relatives at the end of life and sometimes even when communication is not possible the bond of love is known by your loved one.
The inspiration for Robert’s newest book The Heart and Soul of Caring is to share as an adult in these very rapidly changing world shaking times what helps us maintain your balance and level of peace and well being no matter the situations we are facing with health or family challenges. Robert tells many wonderful stories of people he interacted with and who helped him realize the eternal nature of the soul and that physical death is merely a transition of our soul energy to a higher dimension of life. This was taken from the story of Louis J. Concotilli & Corrine De Winter by his daughter and Robert writes, “there can be a positive way to approach the decline of a person’s health or changes in life in general …. “So, to watch my Mom go through what she did, and to experience what my Dad did subject to his affliction, you’ve got to know and believe a few things in order not to crumble. I can admonish myself, say “This is life, not always a piece of cake.” Or I can tell myself and take into my heart that his remaining days, the days where he still knows who I am, and can still sing along to old rock-and-roll songs, are good enough for the moment, they are a treasure, and the biggest treasure is yet to come. He will live again, and be as clear as a spring day, and all the confusion and sorrow will be a little cloud that has meandered away in the sky. In the care-giving of my Father, I was taught patience, gratitude and the absolute meaning of unconditional love. My Father, unknowingly, was teaching me a huge lesson about what truly matters in our existence here on earth. He had taught me in my life about enduring Faith, and it truly was applied in those very difficult moments.”
The Heart and Soul of Caring contains only 11 stories and is not a large book and it was necessary to publish this book now because in life, we have many roles: parent, child, brother, sister, friend, co-worker, boss, mentor, and sometimes – caregiver. Some people choose the role as an occupation; nurse, doctor, health aide, etc. More often, we as individuals, are called upon to pick up this role by becoming a caregiver to a parent, child, friend or relative who needs life assistance due to illness, disability, old age or dementia. I believe the compassion we experience as a caregiver strengthens our spirit simply by helping those in need. The caregiver role is one that carries with it many challenges for caregivers and those in our care. Yet, it also demonstrates our humanity to others and has its rewards. This book is an opportunity to give a voice to caregivers who would like to share their experiences, the good and the challenges. There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone with your feelings of frustration, anger, fatigue and yes, also joy and fulfillment
Something personal that Robert learned from the stories was that one area we can demonstrate our love for those around us is to have a health care proxy or directive. In Joe’s case he did not have one and the burden it placed on Maya after his stroke was a struggle. When it comes to medical treatment and end of life decisions, we should ensure that our desires are written down so that there is no question as to a course of treatment. It ensures our desires are met, and the loved ones around us are free from making the excruciating decisions. He had a personal experience with this. As his father was nearing death, Robert was asked to produce the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order he had signed. Many times, he had the discussion with him and he was clear as to what he wanted to happen (or not) when the time came. When looking for the Do Not Resuscitate order Robert was unable to locate and produce the document. Then he remembered his father had also given a copy to his then-wife and one to his doctor. When Robert could not locate his, he approached both. Neither could lay hands on their copy. What are the chances that three copies of a document cannot be located? The missing documents caused him to wonder, “Is this a sign that maybe I was not to follow those instructions?” Even though Robert had the conversation with his father many times about end of life decisions, he was now unsure.
Sheryl shares a story with Robert of a time when she was asked to sign a DNR form for her mother in the hospital. Even though she knew her Mom would not want extraordinary measures or procedures if she could not recover from the illness she was enduring and if she could not have a good quality of life, it still made Sheryl very sad and she had a sense of guilt about signing a DNR during her mom’s last illness. As it turned out her mother was able to go home under hospice care and passed 6 weeks later. Months later Sheryl was at a Spiritual Conference in Barbados and one of the mediums told her that her Mom was telling her at that very moment from Spirit that she was aware that Sheryl was disturbed by the DNC form she had signed and her mom firmly said that it was the right thing to do and she wanted it that way. Sheryl was able to release that guilty feeling and be happy that her Mom was okay in Spirit, free of the suffering of the last three months of her life. It was also proof for Sheryl that mediums or intuitive healers are able to pick up information from deceased loved ones that are accurate and healing in their content. That was twenty-two years ago and Sheryl as a result of all these metaphysical experiences was able to develop her own gifts of clairvoyance and to do reading and healing sessions that help people expand their awareness and know that consciousness continues after physical death.
The common threads discovered from the stories Robert has shared in his book The Heart and Soul of Caring beginning with the story of Roberts father when asked about a DNC and when he asked his father how to proceed as his father was still alert at the beginning of the illness. Robert knew he was questioning whether or not he would be able to follow that course of action and could feel that he didn’t want his father’s life to end. Robert and his family weren’t quite ready to let him go. Robert acknowledged that to his father as he gave him the facts of what was happening. In the end, his father said, with a blink of an eye, it was time to move on and Robert was able to accept it. Robert has not shared that moment in such depth until now in his book. It was a very personal moment. Yet, he felt it needs to be told so that if you find yourself in such a position, remember that honoring the wishes of the “care receiver” is of utmost importance. It’s their life, it’s their decision. And please, prepare now because life can change in an instant.
Another important fact to remember is that a caretaker is a hero who must wear bulletproof armor and must react to conditions spontaneously as they occur. One must possess thick skin as well and a keen sense of compassion, the ability to recognize the enemy, and not shy away from reinforcements, understanding a one-person war cannot be won, and being a martyr will not win the battle. A hero must remain healthy, take care of themselves first of all, or all hope can be lost in the blink of an eye for those you’ve fought so passionately to serve and protect. There is no shame in allowing others to help you on the battlefield. The weary require rest to continue the good fight. A hero takes on the deadly foe because he or she wants to, not because they have to. Never take for granted the one providing the care for the one requiring it. The hero, the caregiver, deserves care-giving as well. A one-person fight is a battle lost. Support those who care for others, but do it because you want to and not because you have to.
Often care takers forget to take care of their own health which is reflected in the story of Mary & Thomas J. Winn/Ruby Holmes Bowie – Tom Winn, son & grandson tells of his father who took ill and his mother cared for him and then was herself diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died before her husband and mother. Mama as Tom tells us had been the matriarch, never sick, the rock and then, just like that, without warning she had been taken away. The warning signs had actually been there if she would have paid them any attention or shared them with us. Caregivers don’t do that. Their patient comes first if they are sincere in their role. They grow accustomed to having their lives occupy the backburner. It’s sort of a caregiver curse.
Here is their story: My wife and I have journeyed the path of the caregiver. No, I’m not tooting the hero horn because of what we have done; I just have a new appreciation and respect for those who do after experiencing it firsthand. I documented our account in my memoir, The Caregiver’s Son, Outside the Window Looking In. Mary Winn, my mom, was the primary caregiver for my dad, Thomas J. The last half dozen years of his life, him having been stricken with a double whammy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, bedridden and completely dependent his last couple of years. She embraced her role, keeping him at home but also suffered from the dreaded martyr syndrome. We helped as a back-up, but both had full-time jobs. Mama had also eventually brought her mom into their household, taking on the responsibility as the primary caregiver for her too.
While Granny Bowie didn’t require the hands-on care as my daddy, she still required minimal assistance. My wife and I eventually stepped into the primary caregiver’s role when mama, the day after Christmas, sickened and after a doctor’s visit, was admitted to the hospital. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, advanced stages, no treatment or surgery recommended as was the writing on the wall. She had become a victim to one of the caregiver’s worst flaws, neglecting one’s own health, even when the signs were present, to take care of the one needing the care.
A caregiver’s health and mental wellbeing are of the utmost importance if they intend to be an effective care provider. My wife and I inherited the primary role as the caregivers, three requiring our attention. We placed our home on the market, receiving an offer the first day it was made available, our sign of what would become our destiny. Mama succumbed to her disease three months after being diagnosed, dying in my arms and sitting on the side of her bed. Her last words to me, her only son before taking a gasping breath was, ‘I love you, sweetie.’ My daddy who had been so sick for so long, joined her three months later from aspiration as we fed him his Sunday meal, drawing his last breath in the very room she had passed, their bedroom. Emergency personnel didn’t arrive in time to save him.
The suggestions Robert might make for those embarking on this caregiving journey to help them along the way would include: First of all there is no shame in allowing others on the battlefield. Providing care can be difficult for both the giver and receiver. However, there is much to be gained for both. For the care receiver, there is the realization that what they did independently now requires assistance. For them, having to depend on others can be frustrating and depressing. For the caregiver, the difficulty comes in having to adjust their life to make care giving a priority. It too can be frustrating and depressing. Add to the mix if either the caregiver, or receiver has a ‘difficult’ personality, and then the challenges are increased exponentially.
Second, there is the other side of the same coin: The benefits. For the care receiver there is the comfort in knowing that in a time of need, someone is there to be of assistance. For the caregiver there can be unexpected benefits such as Jennifer’s intuitive abilities kicking in and in Maya’s case gaining a strength and self-confidence that she had not known prior.
Caregivers can experience both positive experiences and strain simultaneously. Many of the stories in this book support that reality. Emotional distress and satisfaction as well as positive personal growth are not incompatible, and it is that conflict that can drain the energy of the care provider. So, while the primary reason to be a care provider is to help a loved one, in the end, the lives of everyone are enriched.
Robert might want people to remember after reading The Heart and Soul of Caring the following:
You are the Hero
Tom so eloquently framed the caregiver role as that of a hero facing a challenging battle that it bears repeating.
A hero wears bulletproof armor and must react to conditions spontaneously as they occur.
A hero must possess a thick skin and a keen sense of compassion.
A hero must have the ability to recognize the enemy and not shy away from reinforcements, understanding a one-person war cannot be won.
A hero will recognize that being a martyr will not win the battle.
A hero must remain healthy, take care of themselves first, or all hope can be lost in the blink of an eye for those you’ve fought so passionately to serve and protect.
A hero will understand there is no shame in allowing others on the battlefield. The weary require rest to continue the good fight.
A hero takes on the deadly foe because he or she wants to, not because they have to.
A hero will never take for granted the one providing the care – for the one requiring it.
The hero, the caregiver, deserves to receive care as well.
To the care receiver – You are their hero.
We want to thank Robert Sharpe, author of The Heart and Soul of Caring for sharing insights into an event which most of us will have to face at some point in our lives, that of caring for those we love at the end of life, which can benefit the caretaker by providing meaning and greater love beyond the pain or sorrow that may be experienced.
In summarizing today’s episode of Healing From Within it has become apparent once again that what we see as good or bad, doable or impossible, right or wrong, is neither one or the other but always an opportunity to experience the best withinourselves and our magnanimous capacity for the heart to open and expand through the most dire of times. What you may discover from reading this book or being a caretaker yourself is that a strength of character and resiliency lies within each of us and there is a sense of purpose by giving back to those who were providers and now need to be provided for, loved, and to carry the connection of being helped at the end of their physical days into the next phase of eternal life that transcends time and space.
Nothing of value comes easily or without great effort on our part, but in the end, as in the beginning, there is always a way to learn more about ourselves and those we love even as we learn to let go, and allow life to flow in its infinite direction forward to greater wisdom and acceptance.
Robert and Sheryl would have you see the value in all stages of life, relinquish fear, and know yourselves as never being alone, but always aided by an infinite soul energy that always responds when simply asked to help…Conquer fear, and perhaps we conquer death.
Sheryl Glick, host of “Healing From Within,” author of a trilogy, A New Life Awaits invites you to visit her website www.sherylglick.com to read about and listen to authors and leaders in the metaphysical medical scientific religious spiritual and the arts and music share their journeys of learning how to work with the physical and energetic aspects of life for health prosperity and improving self and the collective consciousness. Shows may also be heard on www.webtalkradio.net and www.dreamvisions7radio.com.