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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Phoenix Rising /  Editorial List

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 Phoenix Rising

Last week I received an email from a long time reader and Fearless Caregiver living in Texas. She wanted me to know that her beloved husband for whom she had cared, had passed away:

I thought I would let you know that my husband, passed away on January 26.  He fought a long hard battle.  I was with him every step of the way and became his voice.  He asked me, after putting him in a nursing home a few years ago, if I wanted a divorce.  My answer was, "I don't remember that part of our wedding where the minister said that when you become sick I could walk away."  His Parkinson's was the disease that took the man away from me but taught me many, many things along the way.  A long trip - 23 years of struggle for he and I.

He was my hero.  A U.S. Army Drill Sergeant, a man who lived the way he wanted to live and passed away the way he wanted to go.  The funeral was - his idea - no fluffy stuff.  I gave him my word and the service was not fluffy.  It was for a man who lived, raised 6 children, celebrated our 41 years of marriage together, and in the end - the greatest man I've ever known.

I will miss him.  My thoughts today are - he's in a much better place and he's giving orders all over the place - Drill Sergeant's never change.

I received another related email last week from another reader:

I know that your website/newsletter is about caregiving, but I would like information about the emptiness of the caregiving ending.  I was caregiver to my elderly uncle (92) for 5 years.  He passed away Friday.  In the 5 years, he was like a cat with 9 lives, dodging disease bullets like in a war zone.  He lived through many things that a younger/healthier person may not have.  So I was not really prepared that he would actually die when he did.  My husband checked on him for me in the middle of the night and reported that he was” gone.” My reaction was, WHAT?  I couldn’t believe it!  I was relieved because he was suffering, yet I was prepared for him to linger.  I now have this huge hole in my life of things that I used to do that I no longer need to.  I hear him in his room.  I start there frequently to check on him.  I think that one of the things to do is to get his rooms back to our normal household, but I was wondering if there are other things to help get one’s life back into some semblance of a routine.

These caregivers both talk about one of the most important aspects of caregiving and that is what happens afterwards.  Once caregiving ends either due to the health episode resolving itself or the passing of your loved one, many of us are left to create a new world which my mother calls Phoenix Rising. This is a time where the person you need to care for the most turns out to be yourself.


Gary Barg

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