In my previous experience of caregiving for a spouse, I refuse to accept the obvious: my wife had a serious head injury that would probably have a permanent effect. Instead of exercising or finding healthy ways of dealing with this painful situation, I chose to “numb-out” and used alcohol to “deaden” the pain. Obviously, this is only a temporary fix at best and has the potential to create additional problems. Eventually, I became so depressed and so empty, I felt my very survival was at stake and separated from my wife. This added guilt to an already devastating experience. Thirty years later, when confronting my second caregiving experience, I vowed to do it differently. First, I accepted “what is,” instead of trying to avoid it by “numbing-out.” Then I made myself vulnerable by being willing to share my doubts and fears with friends and a support group.
This time I was present throughout my wife’s illness and felt no guilt or shame after her transition. Acceptance and a commitment to be consciously present were key for me.
Acceptance is an awesome force. Accepting reality is the first step. You also can learn to cope in delving into the mind, life and acceptance of life and death that is the heart of Coy Cross’s experience related for all to learn from in “The Dhance”
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