“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain!”
“Remember to preserve a calm soul amid difficulties.”
~Horace (Roman poet; 65 BC – 8 BC)
Killing oneself is not illegal in Canada, but helping someone to commit suicide is against the law.
So Susan Griffiths, a seventy-two-year-old Canadian, went to a clinic in Zurich, Switzerland for the right to die on her own terms, with the help of a doctor, before her body could be completely taken over by multiple system atrophy.
Last Thursday, April 25, 2013, she died peacefully…with some family members by her side.
Switzerland is the only country that allows physician-assisted suicide for non-residents.
Now, with this event in the news, the debate begins again in Canada—Should our Canadian government be looking at ways to allow the terminally ill to end their suffering without the act being considered an assisted suicide under federal law?
Supporters of the current law, including many disability rights groups, say allowing assisted suicide would make things hard on the disabled. The Canadian Association for Community Living has said assisted suicide creates the impression that lives affected by disabilities are somehow less worthy.
Federal government lawyers told the B.C. court that assisted suicide creates the possibility that people with disabilities, the elderly and the terminally ill could be coerced into ending their lives or do so in moments of depression and despair.
What are your thoughts?
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the staircase.”
~Martin Luther King
How did you do it?” Carol asked me, knowing she was facing an overwhelming situation.
She wanted to ‘be with’ her mother who was dying with Alzheimer’s, just as my Mom had.
Carol was unable to carry on a conversation with her mother about what her mother was feeling and thinking as her body and mind deteriorated.
With the best of her ability, Carol had coped with being an impotent bystander to her mother’s suffering and decline, knowing she couldn’t make her Mom any better.
She had watched, over time, as her mother experienced panic, obsession, distraction and delusion.
She had watched and assisted as walking, balance and movement had become increasingly difficult for her Mom…those progressive changes as her motor functions became impaired, eventually seeing her Mom chair-bound and then bed-bound when Shirley could no longer hold up her head.
She had watched as Shirley’s personality changed…and as her Mom smiled less and less, experiencing loss of facial expression.
And she helped out more and more as Shirley had increasing difficulty with eating and swallowing…leading to weight loss and dehydration.
And then there were the more frequent infections Shirley experienced…a urinary tract infection, pneumonia…
It was an understatement to say Carol was exhausted from the care taking. She was emotionally drained. And she was constantly on the verge of tears.
“Here’s a thought.” I said. “Hold your Mom’s frail and paper-skinned hand. Kiss her cheek and her forehead. Brush what hair she has left. And tell her stories that you remember about the two of you. It doesn’t matter if she understands what you are saying—she will hear your loving voice and feel comfort.”
“And I have to pass on some great advice someone shared with me: ‘Don’t let this horrible end rob you of the amazing story that went before.’ ”
I can tell you from my own experience, you will get through this…even if it is in a haze.
Take a deep breath…and a wee bit of time to recharge yourself.
And forgive yourself for what you perceive as your imperfect efforts to be totally responsive as more and more expectations were placed upon you.
When your loved one deteriorates and dies and you are exhausted from the care-taking, you must forgive yourself for your imperfect efforts to be totally responsive as your beloved aged, became more dependent, and placed greater expectations upon you—confident that your deceased beloved understands and forgives you.
It’s natural to want to tell yourself:
“I should have…”
“If only I hadn’t been so exhausted…”
“I just needed a break and then I was ready for more…”
You are human after all…and you can only do so much before you need a break too.
Next Blog post I’ll share Carol’s story of being with her Mom who died with Alzheimer’s.
Reaching out to yourself in others
And allowing them to reach out to themselves in you.
It is daring to share…
And caring enough to be real.
There is no US against THEM.
There is only you and I…
And all that we can give to one another.
We are not here to be right…
Or to make each other wrong.
We are only here to learn…
And to help each other grow along the way.
I could learn so much from you…
If you’d only let me look at the world through your eyes for awhile…
And see the way it looks to you.
And if you were to see the way it looks to me…
You might learn something too.
Because to me…
Is just another word for caring.
“The only gift is a portion of thyself.”
Years ago when I lived in the Yukon I attended a wellness workshop. One of the things we were asked was, “Are you balanced?” In order to find out, we had to create a wheel with seven spokes radiating through ten circles (with the center circle labelled as one and the outermost labelled as ten). Each spoke was labelled as follows:
PHYSICAL (your body)
MENTAL (your mind)
SPIRITUAL (your spirit)
FAMILY (your family life)
SOCIAL (your social life)
VOCATION (your vocation)
FINANCES (your finances)
We rated each of the seven sectors of our life, on a scale of one to ten with one being the lowest and ten the highest, and plotted them on the wheel.
Then we connected the dots around the wheel to see how balanced our life was.
It’s a great visual—the more balanced you are with the seven sectors, the more you will experience healing, harmony and wellness. But if the sectors are out of alignment you can see which area is in need of attention (where you might want to work on making changes).
There are other wellness wheels having spokes labelled as:
Self-responsibility and love
Try creating your own wellness wheel.
Are YOU balanced?
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.”