13 01, 2019

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 11

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 11

Choose Our Attitude

Caregiver attitudeIn the early 1960‘s my mother read the book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, by Dr. Viktor Frankl, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. About two years into his imprisonment at Auschwitz, Dr. Frankl realized that it wasn’t always the youngest, strongest, or healthiest people who survived. Obviously, no one has any defense against a gas chamber, but for those who were forced into hard labor in the camps, he noted that often attitude was the main difference in the people who survived and the people who didn’t.

There were two statements in that book that really resonated with Madelyn.  Dr. Frankl wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last […]

5 12, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 10

Letters from Madelyn – Chapter 10
Caregiving Buddy

caregiver celebrates a new beginning

In an article Dr. Susan Babble wrote for “Psychology Today,” she suggested that having one meaningful, connected conversation every day could be an effective strategy for coping with compassion fatigue.

I think anyone who is caring for a loved one needs a “caregiving buddy” with whom you can talk, laugh, and cry. This person needs to be someone who will listen without judging, criticizing, or telling you what you should or shouldn’t feel.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was my mother’s caregiving buddy. She wrote letters to me, and I called her on the phone. I told her everything that was happening […]

28 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 9

What’s Fun for a Caregiver?

What's fun about caregiving

Have you ever stopped to wonder what’s fun for a caregiver? How do you find joy in the middle of illness and suffering? How can you have a good time when you can no longer do the any of the things that used to bring you pleasure?

When we’re young and healthy it’s easy to have fun. Even if we don’t have money, there are countless ways to have a good time. When a loved one loses his/her physical or cognitive abilities, a lot of the fun things we used to do are no longer possible, and finding pleasure in our daily life can become quite challenging.

My mother wrote about this when a friend said […]

27 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 8

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 8
Dealing with Preparatory Grief

We generally think of grief as the process we go through after someone we love dies. What many people are not familiar with andpreparatory grief don’t completely understand is preparatory grief, which the process that caregivers frequently experience as they have to continually adapt and adjust to the ongoing losses and changes suffered by a loved one who has a long-term, progressive and degenerative disease.

Preparatory grief is not a linear process. Every time your loved one experiences another loss, you grieve that loss and you go through a period of adjustment. You eventually come to accept this “new normal,” and you think you’re getting along just fine. Then something happens that reminds you of what life used […]

25 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook, Chapter 7

“Letters from Madelyn” – Chapter 7
Caregiver Socialization

The importance of caregiver socializationCaregiver socialization is often overlooked as an important self-care strategy. Maintaining old relationships and developing new ones can help caregivers avoid becoming isolated, lonely and depressed.

There were no support groups in my mother’s community during the time she cared for my dad, so when she was invited to join the Friday Morning Coffee Group, it was a very big deal. It provided her with a new social network and it gave her something to look forward to every week.

If you are caring for a loved one at home, I hope you will listen to today’s installment of “Letters from Madelyn”. Like her, I hope you’ll find a way to take a […]

21 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 6

Letters from Madelyn – Chapter 6
“Oh Poop!”

Caregiver hanging on for life

Adapting to caregiving and all of the dreary tasks involved with caring for someone who can no longer care for himself can be extraordinarily difficult.

In this episode of “Letters from Madelyn”, after my father has struggled with uncontrollable diarrhea for more than three weeks, Madelyn realizes that she has to make some adjustments. She does several things that I have included on my list of Caregiver Survival Tips:

1. She comes up with a plan to make the house more handicap accessible

2. She releases her fear of the things over which she has no control when she decides to “Let go and let God”

3. She exercises regularly

4. She concentrates on developing her […]

9 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 5

Letters from Madelyn – Chapter 5
“A Caregiver’s Faith”

Caregiver struggles with faithA caregiver’s faith is often the most powerful weapon against despair. At the same time, most caregivers have a lot of questions for God: Why do good people get sick? Is there any purpose in suffering? What are we supposed to be learning from all of this?

My mother’s faith was deep, but it was far from traditional. She questioned and challenged everything. In today’s episode of “Letters from Madelyn” I hope you’ll listen with an open mind as my mother talks about attending a World Religion Class at the local college. You’ll hear that she didn’t have much use for the Old Testament. She wasn’t the least bit afraid to challenge […]

7 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 4

Letters from Madelyn – Chapter 4
“And for This I Take Vitamins!”

Caregiver questions why she should take vitamins

I was asked to speak at our church on Mother’s Day, 2004 about mother-daughter relationships. I wanted people to know who she had been in her own words, so I went out to the garage and pulled down a large cardboard moving box my husband had labeled “Letters from Madelyn.” I read dozens of letters looking for this one.

After I did my little presentation, people came up to me and exclaimed, “You have to write a book!” I knew they were right, and I started on it the next day.

In this letter, Mom wrote about how she found peace and happiness from within by maintaining […]

3 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 3

Letters from Madelyn – Chapter 3
“Fire! Fire! Madelyn Gets Mad”

caregiver angerMy mother was not a saint. Like most people in a similar situation, she often experienced caregiver anger. She wrote this letter after Dad got involved in putting out a wheat field fire the first summer after his stroke.

She believed he’d suffered the original stroke as a result of working too hard and getting too tired. She was afraid if he pushed himself to the limit again that he might have another stroke. She knew it could kill him. On the other hand, she knew it might not. If he had another stroke and it debilitated him to the point that she could no longer care for him at home, she […]

2 11, 2018

Letters from Madelyn Audiobook: Chapter 2

Letters from Madelyn – Chapter 2
“Grandma Tells It Like It Is”

Caregiver Tough Love

In Chapter 2 of “Letters from Madelyn”, my mother writes a “howler” letter to my son Eric on his 18th birthday, and she dishes out a healthy dose of caregiver tough love. (As I may have mentioned earlier, Mom never sugar-coated anything!)

I had gone through a horrendous divorce and a devastating job loss. My kids and I were all in a state of sorrow and confusion. As my mother was adjusting to her new role as a caregiver, she was also doing everything she could to emotionally support my struggling family.

Caregivers don’t live in a bubble. Often people who are caring for a loved one are also working a […]