Grief and Death Feed

“Carol!” The hospice nurse’s voice was quiet but urgent. I instinctively knew what was happening. She had been shifting Dad’s position so that he wouldn’t develop bed sores, but as she was laying him back on the bed, something changed in his respiration. This was it. His body was preparing for him to take his last breath. I slid back in my spot beside Dad and took him in my arms. His head drifted to my shoulder and that last, gentle breath slipped by unnoticed by me. What I felt was the positive force of Dad’s spirit leaving his body. And then — joy! Read more →


Dear Carol: My dad was the primary caregiver for my mom during the first years that she was sick with cancer, but during her last years he began to show signs of Alzheimer’s. When Mom died, Dad was devastated. He seemed to comprehend what happened and retain the memory and the grief. Now, though, he’s starting to ask for Mom. When this began we reminded him what happened but the result was horrible. His first reaction was grief but that quickly turned to anger at us for “trying to fool him.” Eventually, we convinced him that yes, Mom was gone, but we said she’d “wait for him.” That seemed to calm him and eventually, he got on with life. Two weeks later, though, we went through it again. We know this is the progression of the disease but what do we do? – SW Read more →


Many people have heard of hospice care but they mistakenly think that it’s just a way to help cancer patients be more comfortable at the end of their lives. Fewer people have heard of palliative care, and they may have no idea what it is. The truth is that hospice and palliative care are related but used for different reasons at different times, and everyone should be well-versed in what they offer. Here, we’ll clarify some points of confusion. Read more →


Emergency-room doctor Kevin Hasselhorst had an epiphany while he tried valiantly to save an elderly man who’d been through one too many traumas. His book, “Wishes To Die For: A Caregiver’s Guide to Advance Care Directives” was the first step toward a new advocacy. Dr. Hasselhorst continues to work toward helping people understand the importance of healthcare directives and the ability to make their own decisions about end-of-life care. Read more →


Dear Carol: Nine months ago my 63-year-old husband was happy and active and we were both looking forward to his retirement. Then he had a massive stroke and our lives were permanently changed. I’m very grateful to have him at all so I don’t want to be misunderstood. It’s just that I’m struggling. We’ve had to hire help for his care because therapy hasn’t been that effective and this expense is draining our savings. Our children want to help but they don’t live that close to us, so their ongoing help is impractical. Our faith tells us to be grateful for life, which of course, I am. I’m also grateful, and somewhat humiliated, to find that my husband is doing better emotionally than I am, but the holidays are approaching and I’m still angry and, worse, bitter. We aren’t and won’t be homeless, we have plenty to eat, and we don’t owe money, so I feel guilty that I can’t find more gratitude. How do I get beyond this bitterness and find gratitude? - NM Read more →


DEAR CAROL: My wife has had a stroke that’s left her mostly paralyzed on one side. She can’t speak well and she cries often. We’re in our 70s and have spent our lives as active church people. In fact, we’ve done our share of visiting hospitals and nursing homes representing the church. We’ve told people that what they are facing is their reality and that we will pray for them. We’ve told them to be grateful for what they have. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. I’m having a difficult time feeling grateful for anything at all. Instead, I feel angry, exhausted, frustrated and frightened. How could I have been such a hypocrite all of these years? – Roger Read more →


“I hope we don’t have another funeral this Christmas,” my young son said after we wrapped up Halloween. Hearing my child voice that fear nearly broke my heart, but our family had endured the deaths of two elders during the last two Christmas seasons so why wouldn't he wonder if this year would be the same? Thankfully, that particular year we didn’t have a funeral during the season, though we did have another death at that time the following year. Read more →


Stress has long been considered a major risk for developing Alzheimer’s, but there hasn’t been any real understanding as to why this is so. Now, researchers at the Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of Florida think that they’ve come closer to discovering the connection. Dr. Todd Golde, director of the Center, and his team have found how a hormone released by the brain in response to the body’s stress increases production of a protein associated with Alzheimer's development. Read more →


Forgiveness, or the lack thereof, can loom large in the life of a caregiver. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. That is rule number one for people to remember when they are working toward crafting better relationships with family members and others whom they care about. Forgiveness can have enormous benefits for the health of the person who does the forgiving. Considering that negative thinking can be disastrous to your own health, you may want to work toward the positive habit of forgiveness. Here are some people that you may need to forgive along with reasons why you should. Read more →


The Candid Caregiver and Laura Mansfield met through our daily meander out in the Twitterverse. I was intrigued by the handle @geezerstories, thinking that this must be a couple of older gentlemen poking a little fun at themselves and their generation. By the time I found out this Twitter handle belongs to Laura, a caregiver who tweets about caregiving issues, I was already hooked.  Read more →