Introducing our new Guest Blog

 

Six times a year we will be inviting a community member from either North or South Dundas to write a few words about Life Matters. They will write upon a variety of topics and we hope you will enjoy reading them and they will give a lift to your day.

This month’s writer is Cindy Morgan

Letter To My Younger Self

Dear Younger Self,

I believe you have just received the news that your husband is very sick. You are now about to embark on a unique journey. A journey of discovery, a journey of growth and a journey into the unfamiliar world of a caregiver.  No one can tell you what the journey will be like nor are two experiences the same but, now that I am older, more reflective, and wiser; I want to give you some guidance and advice.  When someone says, “Here is a number to call when you are ready”. You are ready now, so call that number. You do not need to persevere nor “wing it”. As I reflect upon that time, I think there are three really important lessons I learned from this journey, and I would like to share them with you now.

Take care of yourself too

Your world has been turned upside down. Your plans have changed. Your husband needs you in ways you never imagined. All these changes can be very taxing, and you will need to find some time to recharge. I have recently learned about meditation. It is a simple (but not easy) method of relaxation that helps me refocus and it empowers me. The internet is full of meditation resources. Look it up it is worth it.

I know the neighbour has mentioned Dundas County Hospice to you and you have no clue what that is. I am here to tell you give them a call. They are a great community resource. They have respite programs so you can have some time to yourself. You may want to clean the house and that is okay, do whatever you need at that moment to feel refreshed.

Much of your time is consumed with taking care of someone else. Don’t get forgotten. You need to care for you too!

Help is good

I don’t know how many people offered to help me and all I had to do was ask. The problem was, I didn’t know what help I needed. People want to help but, what can they do? I remember that we had a lot of people come to the house and stay for several days. It was important for family to be together but all that cooking and cleaning was exhausting! Perhaps, this is where all those people who volunteered their services could be of assistance. Maybe you could ask them to make a casserole for a crowd, mow the lawn, or shovel the driveway. You don’t have to do it all.

Sometimes help can be in the form of a coffee break and a listening ear.

I remember one time; the neighbour was able to drive our husband to the  hospital and spent the day with him. Your neighbour was there because you couldn’t and that is okay. As I said, people want to help all you have to do is say yes.

Be present

Several years ago, I was asked to review a Palliative Care Handbook for work. I wish you could read this manual. It is a wealth of information. The number one take away for me was to be present – talk, listen and touch. Being present means spending time together without distractions, without purpose – just be together.

There will be a time when your husband can’t talk so much but he can still hear. Talk to him. Tell him stories, reminisce, and read to him.

Enjoy your time together even in the daily tasks and appreciate the early morning chats. There will be new adventures. You will be doing things that you would not have imagined doing even the year before, such as helping him with a lymphatic massage. He marveled that you were willing to do it and you loved that he trusted you with it. Listen to the stories. Hold his hand.  There was laughter and tenderness. This is a time worth treasuring.

Dearest younger self. You are not alone. You are on a journey and there are many companions – both professional and personal- who will be on this journey with you. Remember to take care of yourself, don’t be shy to ask for help and spend time devoted to being together in whatever form it takes. It is time very well spent. The journey is challenging but, I know you will be okay.

Yours very sincerely,

Your older and wiser self.

 

 

About this month’s writer:

Cindy was an educator for over 30 years before recently retiring, and has lived in Chesterville for just as long. Since the lost of her husband in 2014 she has learned a lot about Hospice, and is always eager to lend a helping hand.

To read previous blogs, click here: Blog from Kathryn Boyd and Mary McMIllan