Guide for Caregivers
Create Your Own Caregiver Guide*
Is it possible to be inspired when meeting your own death even before you die? I found it to be true for me. This journey is about tending the soul. What inspiration could you or I leave behind as a legacy during our dying days? Would anyone be touched, inspired
with unforgettable moments? We don’t know. But it can make the journey of going into the unknown less frightening, more creative
when we contemplate ways to create beauty and thereby enjoy the journey.
My intention when writing to my caregivers is to guide them now while I am well, before difficult days may come. I begin talking to them on the page. Maybe you would like to try this for yourself or a family member? While we can’t control how our days unfold, we can participate in them, put some energy into inspiring others who take care of us.
What would you like to tell your caregivers before they are present in your life? You may want to journal your response. How would you express gratitude for them?
Introducing The Guide
The core concept of this guide is to invite friends, caregivers, family into the room of a person needing care as if they were coming on retreat. This image sets the tone for being present to one who is ill, depressed, isolated, even at peace and dying. The retreat also sets the tone for every day life, ways to tap into spirit and creativity. It is a time for shared intimacy, for reaching higher than the bondage of bodily sufferings, to find inexpressible, unexpected moments of joy.
Preparing your caregivers ahead of time can be a great gift to them. If you have not prepared them, they may know nothing about your values, spirituality, preferences. In creating a guide, your reflection on what inspires you to feel free, unafraid, alive with joy in the present moment helps them. What makes you feel whole and healed? This preparation may also apply to the vulnerable person in bed.
My spiritual quest has taken me to both Eastern and Western cultures. From the Judeo/Christian side of my journey comes reflection on scriptures and Psalms. From the East, Rumi, Kabir,Tagore and many others. Who and what inspires you?
Naming Your Journey
I titled my journey, My Last Dance, because at the age of 5 I couldn’t stop dancing and this continued into my 80’s. What will you name your journey, a name describing a core expression of your life? If you had one more chance at something you love, or a memory that stands out as expressing your life’s joy, what would it be? That one thing is the name you may choose for the title of your journey.
Blessings be upon this journey we take together.
Rendezvous with Death
Thirty years ago I had an experience in Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s aging workshop. He gave an experiential exercise, Facing Your Mortality. Today my version is called: Embracing Death, An Inevitable Journey. In discovering how to have a relationship with the end of life on earth, we grow into moments of joy, acceptance and hope.
Themes for inner reflection may deepen your time while sitting with your friend. It may also deepen your relationship with your inner self. You may decide to write your own reflective themes, use mine or seek inspiration from contemplative books that offer questions to awaken more of your soul life.
What would most serve your journey into the unknown? Make an intention to find something meaningful for your last days or those of your friend, something that shines a light on who you both are and what you value.
If you are sitting by a bedside for many days, weeks or months, the prompts given here are designed for a long journey. No need to rush or explore every one. And no need to do them at all. You may simply rest in the deep silence of waiting. Waiting as a peaceful presence by the bedside.
*Joan Englander©2019 Top of page