I was listening to a discussion yesterday about the power of kindness which the Red Cross are adopting. It is so easy to be judgemental but as my mentor used to say a baby doesn’t ask to be born into a country, a religion or race and we are all brothers and sisters.
I remember her telling tales about when she was a Corporal Cook in the ATS and looked after the German soldiers who were helping her, giving them hot refreshments and treats. She remarked how they had been called up just as her husband (our Dad had) to be a dessert rat! She had also experienced prejudice herself being part Jewish and brought us up to be anti-prejudice of any nature.
Kindness to others is not difficult to apply and everybody has their own story, and often, very sad one at that.
Many years ago I published a fund raising publication raising funds and awareness for a cancer charity one of my lovely writers at that time donated a piece entitled ‘Empty Spaces’ which talked about the empty places at functions at his local cricket club as one by one his dear friends were gradually dying around him.
I am mindful that last weekend a lot of people will have experienced Father’s Day without their Dad, (myself included) and may have found the day difficult. I have heard it often said that grief is the price we end up paying for loving those we hold dear.
As I discussed over the weekend with a personal friend the intensity of our grief is related to the depth of the relationship we had with the family member or friend that has died. As usual, one of my positive reminders I like to share is to celebrate their life rather than focus on the way they died or what caused their death. I.e. Cancer, heart attack, stroke, a tragic accident and possibly suicide.
The time to tell those you love them is of course whilst they are here and you may just be saying it on a day that they really need to hear it and appreciate it. As always we keep those we love alive, in part, in our mind and in our hearts.
During my privileged experience of working with dementia clients and their families I always maintain that getting to know the unit is vital. Making my sessions personal and enjoyable for the person facing the challenge of dementia has been my daily aim this will include working with all the senses to act as triggers for positive and happy memories. Music is one way of communicating universally with people of all ages and with all challenges including children with severe learning difficuties as well as those with alzheimers.
Last night when attending a local talk I discussed how I feel very strongly that nobody should be forced to attend a day centre if that is not for them and/or to take up painting or any other activity – if they didn’t like it before then don’t assume they will now! Encouragement yes by all means. I have heard how people have become agitated when placed in unfamiliar surroundings and one of the best and easiest ways to dilute anxiety is to avoid it.
Carers wellbeing is just as important as those suffering with dementia and too often pride prevents them from asking for help from those that believe they are coping better than they are. They need a break away from the 24/7 life with dementia which may have become their way of life and often making them a prisoner in their own home.
Sometimes carers lead a withdrawn life as they feel embarrassed by their partners behaviour or others have made them feel uncomfortable – we need far more understanding generally towards those families living with dementia.
I often write about dementia being similar to a bereavement and talking to children faced with parents with dementia this is so often the best way to describe how they feel as they lose the person they love.
If you are looking for a new charity to support then consider the dementia charities -Alzheimers Society and/or Dementia UK they need your help to fund care, research and support.
Regular lovely followers will know that I like to help with dementia awareness and this week it is Dementia Action Week. An extract from one of my articles follows:-
Benefits of communication for people with dementia
We are all aware of how dementia changes people’s lives and those around them. I won’t talk about worrying statistics but what I can recommend is seeking as much help and advice as possible. Sadly for those loved ones who might be the main carer they may just stumble upon a few leaflets in the doctor’s surgery but do not find time to explore just what is actually available. I thoroughly recommend carers, friends and family to contact The Alzheimer’s Society – leading the fight against dementia. Please check out their website as they have an amazing library of extremely useful literature which is readily accessible and free. www.alzheimers.org.uk.
My theme for a Christmas project 2017 was ‘Love, Kindness and understanding’ and I see these three ingredients as vital for helping those who are fighting this challenging and cruel disease on a daily basis.
The Alzheimer’s Society’s National Helpline is: 0300 222 1122
Being kind and grateful feature frequently on my blog and I often say how kindness is not a weakness. Today I will quote a few words from ‘Alfie’ by the great Burt Bacharach to ponder:-
‘What’s it all about, Alfie
Is it just for the moment we live
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind
And if only fools are kind, Alfie…’
On speaking about kindness and being grateful with various pastoral colleagues it often seems that to some modern day people it’s uncool to be either…but I am an old-fashioned girl and believe we only get out what we put in and demonstrating kindness in all that we do, considering others… then we are happier ourselves. At the end of the day be grateful for any small achievement, success or happy moment and I promise you will wake up the next day feeling more positive and ready to face the day ahead.
Speaking to a recently bereaved gentleman yesterday; I reminded him to think about the good times and funny moments he had shared with his wife and after our unscheduled encounter he said he felt better and that made me feel grateful for my training too.
To the icecream man who gave me a free icecream this week after a hot afternoon invigilating- thanks for that tiny act of kindness Mr Whippy. You made an old girl very happy.
I am pleased to see so much media coverage recently about dementia awareness and the importance of support for the carers and family. This is a very cruel disease often stripping a loved one away beyond recognition.
Families who are bewildered by the challenge and naturally untrained to deal with the personality change in their loved ones are often left to struggle. Please, please seek help, look towards The Alzheimer’s and Dementia charities for valuable information and support.
Today we hear Barbara Windsor’s own personal fight has become public and fans will wish her and her husband well. It is a brave step but one which will raise the profile and highlight the ever increasing cases in the UK. I heard today one case is diagnosed every four minutes and of course many cases remain undiagnosed as patients put symptoms down to just the ageing process.
Here’s to all the carers out there today that give of themselves so tirelessly and devoted to those they love. It is important that partners/carers have respite and time to continue pursuits they enjoy too though many feel guilty if they do… unwarrantedly.
Yet again I feel compelled to rant about the lack of support for families with a loved one facing the challenge of dementia. It is like a form of bereavement as partners and children see their loved one seem to disappear beyond recognition.
As a carer it is so very difficult to have any resbite and so often the carer becomes ill and emotionally drained. After all they are not trained experts but are sent away from a doctor’s surgery with very little knowledge or information on how to communicate with somebody who is living in a very scary if not frustrating world. Too often dementia patients are taking to day centres where they may not actuualy want to be, it can be intimidating and perhaps one-to-one interaction would suit them better so seek help from a professional locally to you.
For those that are struggling please seek help and remember the Alzheimer’s Society have great information available and all free. If you are looking for a new charity/cause to support then please put this illness on your list.
I have just returned from a funeral and we all take what ‘fits well’ for us from the minister’s address. What was particularly nice today was the minister knew the deceased and her family well and it was personal. What I really liked was how he reminded the bereaved that the community were there for them, and in this case it really was true. We were all there to celebrate a life and were united in that.
As I always say in life we only get out what we are prepared to put in and when people give of themselves to others it is no hardship for that kindness to be returned. During the day’s events I had some interesting discussions with various attendees; both friends and family members who openly shared their feelings about loved ones they had lost.
I had a great chat with a lovely elderly lady and we agreed how comforting it is when nice things are said…but more importantly we discussed how it is also true of telling those we love them and appreciate them when they are alive.
I often post saying tell those you love today and every day. Live your life well and as I said to one lady have that second ice-cream..especially on a hot day like today.
Not only have we been blessed with amazing weather this weekend but many of us are blessed with having a loving family. I count myself in this category and had a beautiful day Saturday at a family wedding. I won’t name names but my niece looked absolutely stunning, and, as she walked to meet her wonderful hubby-to-be a few tears were shed by many a woman…and a few men.
There is nothing better than being surrounded by all generations of family at such special events, and our family has many interesting layers including second marriages. We are really lucky that we all mix well and enjoy each other’s company…we are family and that is all that matters. For a lovely lady that reads my blog you looked fab in that pink dress and you rock that sparkling cane!
I am apologising publicly for my ‘mum dancing’ no excuses as I was sober – that’s the way I dance!!
Along with the joy of celebrating a beautiful union of a great couple there were moments of reflection of those who are no longer with us to share the day. Indeed, this was even acknowledged within the speeches. At the end of the evening I collected flowers from the tables and yesterday placed them at church in memory of my own mother who I know would be so proud of all her children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren.
I had an interesting chat with my local minister and we agreed that it is only human to think of those we have loved and lost at times of celebrations and shed tears of happiness for that love we remember and hold dear.
If you know somebody who is recently bereaved make time to see them and allow them to talk freely about their loved one it really does help.
After the loss of a loved one it is very hard for the bereaved to move forward and accept a new era of their life without them. For many older married couples the remaining spouse may have been a full time carer for sometime and that became their life’s role.
Speaking to a recently widowed lady I know it is not uncommon for the older generation especially to do everything together and this in itself can make it hard to venture out alone in search of new hobbies.
As with retirement many people find that they at last have time to persue the interests that previously may have been out of the question. With bereavement it is so often the case that a love one will feel an unwarranted sense of guilt to be seen to enjoy themselves.
Whatever your situation it is always a one step at a time process and regaining one’s sense of purpose takes time. For anyone recently bereaved please seek help and talk honestly to those that can offer support. Remember that you do not have to be a regular church-goer to speak to a local minister they are trained professionals and bereavement support is part of their community role.