Saturday, May 15, 2010

Loving What Is

The title of Byron Katie’s book resonated with me on so many levels. When my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I was devastated. All of a sudden I was responsible for taking care of the one person I had leaned on all my life. She had always been my greatest supporter. Now I was responsible for Mother’s well being. Providing for her and if possible finding a way that she could still experience happiness and joy in her life. I was committed to caring for her as I grieved for the loss of the articulate expressive woman I knew.

I missed the woman she was, I missed being able to call her for advise. Throughout all the changes she kept her sense of humor and her loving spirit. She touched countless people. Strangers would stop us in the stores. Many would recount their own stories. Many just wanted to give her a hug.

I know when I was caring for Mom I was often functioning at survival mode. I did not know how to achieve more. Some days it was all I could do just to get through the day. It is during these times that you need to take extra care of yourself. It means finding a way to get the needed respite so that you can continue to care for your loved one. Finding time to sooth and restore your energy and refresh your soul isn’t just a luxury. It is critical for both your own well being and the well being of your loved one.

It is also during these vulnerable times that family dynamics usually take center stage to play out. Sometimes taking care of yourself and your loved one also means addressing the past and the unfinished business of family relationships. Families in crisis often need to work through painful family issues and memories. These memories and feelings frequently resurface during times of crisis.

We have stuffed our feelings and memories so long that we are surprised when they erupt in our face. We often are at a loss of how to resolve these issues of anger, resentment, feelings of rejection, competition and jealousy.

Byron Katie’s book “Loving What Is: Four Questions that Can Change Your Life” has some thoughtful suggestions for exploring personal issues and stories. There is never a convenient time to examine the feelings we have stuffed. If we leave these issues unresolved, family crisis’s often result in bigger rifts and greater pain for all involved.

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