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USA TODAY Article: Counseling Keeps Alzheimer's Patient's Home

An Insightful Book Illustrates the Natural Cycle of Life and Death

Within four day’s time, Barbara A. Bernard’s mother was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and her father suffered a massive stroke.

In The Secret Gift: Growth in Times of Loss, Bernard writes of the weeks following her father’s stroke. She was, understandably, angry about what was happening to her family. When a friend ask her what was happening in her life, she told her friend of recent events and then said, “My life is hell.”

Bernard writes, “That statement jarred even me.” She says, “I began to see that those angry words were expressing my fears – fear of the unknown and fear of the ultimate loss…I made the conscious decision never to speak those words again.”

In The Secret Gift, Bernard takes you through her personal growth as she and her family and friends spend eight months caring for her parents. First, they helped her father through his last weeks of life and through the death process. Then, with Bernard’s mother’s degenerative disease progressing, the need to care for her mother became apparent. They brought each parent, in turn, to their home, to die.

Bernard is insightful, and examining life’s happenings comes naturally to her. In The Secret Gift, she shares those insights – the most obvious being that death is part of the life cycle and should be treated as such. The Secret Gift is a lovely book – one worth reading.

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