Posts Tagged ‘Support’
Facing In to Funerals: Resistance is understandable but uselessMar 13 2013
- MB50 Team
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For many years, I’ve avoided funerals, and made excuses for not going. If you’re over 50, you’ve probably realised, as I have, that funeral invitations come more often at this age. So I’ve decided to face in to funerals, and this is a progress report.
I recently attended the funeral of a friend in her mid-seventies, who seemed healthy at my wedding four months ago, but was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died within a few weeks. Linda and I visited her in the hospice, and like many others, were moved and inspired by the positive way that Caroline met her death: to her, it was a transformation, not an ending, and she said, “I can’t wait to see what’s next”.
It was a lovely funeral service, full of joy and celebration of a special woman, but I still found it difficult, and I’ve begun to realise there are many reasons why funerals are inherently difficult, including:
They make you think about your own death, and your funeral. Will I be so warmly remembered, by so many people, as Caroline was?
- It’s against the usual English norms to show strong emotions in public, but maybe it’s appropriate here?? In any case the mix of emotions is confusing: grief, loss, joy, celebration…
- Funerals typically bring together lots of people who hardly know each other, and maybe some who’ve fallen out and haven’t spoken for years, so it may be quite a disparate group.
- Those attending the funeral often have very different connections with the deceased, ranging from very intimate to acquaintances at work. I think it’s inevitable that a funeral service can’t fit this range, it may be too personal for some, and not enough for others.
I came away from Caroline’s funeral uplifted by a shared celebration of a good life, and appreciating the ways she and I had enriched each other’s lives. When the next funeral invitation shows up, I’ll probably still feel resistance, but I’ll be clearer that the difficult bits are best faced into and grown through.
How to be a Health AdvocateNov 28 2012
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When you or someone you care for is seriously ill , there are many down to earth ways which can make all the difference in creating the essential mix of hope and healing. For the patient/health advocate team on the journey of a major sickness together, always think of it in terms of the “we” relationship, including engaging others to help.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?
- Offer to be a conduit of information, and be the clinic companion.
- Offer to check online health information to make sure it is ‘gold standard’.
- Become an information gatherer, or find out who to contact for a ‘second opinion’ if that is what is wanted.
- Find out if there are additional nursing, caring services, or group support in the local area.
- Build up hope. Avoid the statistics of the negative and provide opportunities for encouragement at all times.
- Always support a decision once it has been made.
WHAT CAN WE SAY TO HELP?
- Be a good listener. We do not have to talk about the problem or be giving advice all the time.
- Maximise the laughs. Laughter is the best medicine.
- Be relentlessly encouraging among friends and family, and cultivate the friends with the most positivity.
- Be ready for those thoughtless remarks that can sometimes drop into conversations, and if necessary be prepared to challenge them.
- Be open to talking about spiritual questions, but don’t feel that there have to be answers or that we have to provide them. Share what wisdom we have, and be equally confident and supportive in the silences.
- Be honest. Avoid giving false reassurance or only dwelling on heroic tales of recovery.
- Help the people visiting to be as normal as possible. It does not need to be all serious.
- Help people to understand that we are different as a result of the illness.
- If your patient friend doesn’t want to talk about ‘it’, that is OK.
WHAT CAN WE GIVE TO HELP?
- Flowers and plants at home. Yes, men like flowers too.
- Borrow a footbath from a local pedicurist for a home treat.
- Give cashmere bed socks.
- Give a loose-fitting pair of cotton trousers.
- Help with the cooking.
- Offer to find somebody who can provide a home massage.
- Suggest a talking book if your patient friend is too tired to keep their eyes open.
LONGER TERM WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?
- Plan treats ahead so there is always something to look forward to.
- Check out whether other members of the family are coping.
- Offer to set up a supper rota.
- Offer to set up a group email.
- Offer to find out about grants and financial entitlements.
- If your patient friend is keen on alternative medicine, find out what is available locally. If they are paying for it, check that they are not being exploited. Also check out what is available on the NHS locally.
Community, ecology, herbal tea… More lessons in life from FindhornJun 27 2012
- MB50 Team
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Why have I just spent all afternoon on my knees, weeding tiny tufts of couch grass from a flower bed? I’d never do this at home. The reasons why I’m weeding are complex, but they’re all because I’m at Findhorn.
You can’t easily sum up the Findhorn Foundation in a paragraph, but here goes. It’s a spiritual community, eco-village and education centre in a beautiful setting near the sea in North-east Scotland, founded 50 years ago, and it’s been a major source of inspiration and practical learning for me since 1990.
Findhorn people talk about work as love in action, and they walk their talk: this is one reason I’m weeding. At the start of any Findhorn work shift, there’s an attunement: the work team join hands, connect with the purpose of the task, and ask to be guided to do it well. This really helps me feel that my mundane, repetitive task is worthwhile, and I stick at it cheerfully.
Since the start, the people at Findhorn Foundation have worked in co-operation with the spirits of the land and the plants, which they call devas. You may believe it or not – I do believe in devas, and I find a sense of delight and nourishment in the gardens at Findhorn which is not unique, but rare: I feel it on other land which has been tended lovingly and consciously, such as Hazel Hill Wood or Hilfield Friary in Dorset.
If you’re interested in sustainability, Findhorn is well worth a visit. It’s the only place I know in the UK which deserves the name eco-village. They generate much of their own electricity, they have a plant-based sewage system, free minibus services, a range of eco-houses, and they grow much of their own food. Some of this is at Cullerne, where I was weeding a flower bed: here they aim to make the whole place beautiful, not functional.
The Findhorn Foundation started in the Sixties, and there’s a good number of ageing hippies living here. In fact the age profile of the community is worryingly skewed over 50. The good side of this is the way they are pioneering new ways to support people with severe ill health or infirmity.
An interesting feature of Findhorn’s Community Care programme is that it trains those needing support in how to receive it. Strong personalities can get bossy and stroppy when they are infirm, and they need to learn new approaches, such as gratitude, asking for help, admitting they can’t cope. And those giving support need new skills, like valuing what they do, and making sure they don’t burn out.
I am back here to recharge my batteries, meet old friends, and learn from this community. All of this I can do in an afternoon of weeding, if it’s at Findhorn!