Those First Steps…

I’m retired… Not Really.

This is difficult to write.  How do you get friends, family, even strangers to understand that after 25 years of caregiving I am done with caregiving?  I need to make a living, like seriously, some thing that pays the bills and has benefits. I know this. But 25 years of caregiving without a paycheck is not what businesses want to see on a resume.

So I get creative on my resume.  I give deep thought as to what I really want to be. What I want to contribute to the world, what would feed me now. I have been fortunate to be an aide/sub at the local high school. These wonderful people have kept me afloat mentally, physically, and financially for a few years now. So grateful.

People freak a bit when I say I am interested in Hospice, in the journey of Death and Dying, in Grief and Bereavement. The connections I have made in the Grief Community leads me there- I want to help the caregivers as they journey through this part of living, dying, and afterwards with their loved ones. The western world for the most part does a bad job of helping in this portion of living.

Having been a part of the medically fragile world for so long, I see so many gaps in the care of the caregiver.  They are a stubborn group, facing unimaginable stress and trauma, but will do anything for their loved one’s peace.  They think of themselves last- even though they’ve been told a million times self-care is important, to put their mask on 1st, you can’t drink from an empty vessel, you can’t go on this way-what happens when you can’t do it anymore? But they do.  I did.  My body is completely falling apart.  I’m sure my mind is not far behind.

After the death of my sweet daughter, I spent time and energy trying to understand this journey.  I gave myself grace for a time, then out of necessity I worked.  Then Covid hit. Another pause. In this pause I spent a lot of inner work to figure out what I wanted to do. I volunteered at a Hospice, learning the ins and outs of the business as best I could from “teachers” who had walked my path before.

I am a Certified Grief Educator through the program by David Kessler. That name may sound familiar- he worked with Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Dr. Kubler-Ross wrote a number of books, one of her most known is “On Death and Dying” and the 5 stages of death.  The stages have been changed and analyzed over the years; most importantly David Kessler has reiterated that the stages are not linear.  David has written books with Dr. Kubler-Ross, and since her death has gone on to be a prolific writer, speaker, and wisdom sharer regarding grief, trauma, and the dying.

I’m now an ordained Minister through the Universal Life Church Ministries. What does that mean? It means I can marry people, reside over ceremonies, and follow my desire to help people. While this is a future ability, it is not my current focus. I wish to help caregivers.  

I’ve worn many hats on this journey.  I’ve been a caregiver, yes, but so much more.  I’ve been a doctor/nurse, a teacher, an advocate, a mentor, a writer, a “McGyver”, a photographer, a holder of memories, an encourager and mostly a Mom. Time to take these skills to a new level.