Everyday I am asked, “Are you ok?” or, “How are you doing?” due to my mother’s recent terminal diagnosis and failing health.
But how healthy can a mind or body be during major transitions and loss?
Care-taking for a loved one while experiencing our own associated feelings about their declining health can often lead to our own deterioration in health and general wellness.
Care-taking for the terminally ill friend or family member is time intensive, but make time for self care too. I often feel selfish identifying that I need to nourish my own body and mind, but it’s a necessity. It is important to set boundaries, even though it can be a difficult task.
Saying “no” can be hard, but I am practicing and learning how to say it more frequently.
It’s important to make time for quiet spaces. Find time to nourish your body and mind. A few moments to meditate, take a walk or sit in silence is crucial. Ugly thoughts and negative cognitions may arise in these moments of stillness, they are a normal part of grief. Allow these cognitions in, recognize them, but do not entertain them.
Often, friends and family will give well-intentioned but unsolicited advice. I listen, but frequently choose not to respond. Opinions about health care options, how many hours should be spent with the terminally ill family member/friend and a general discussion about how you are coping can be topics of conversation. My typical response is, “Thank you, I am doing my best.”
I appreciate that the advice is sent with loving intentions, but after these conversations I am often left feeling that my best isn’t quite good enough.
I acknowledge and sit with my own apprehensive, negative cognitions. I accept these thoughts are a natural part of the grief process and they do not define me. I work to live in the present to avoid unnecessary distress and anxiety about past experiences and future expectations. After all, I have the future to grieve my mother, I want to experience the present moment, the now.
I work to find balance and peace amidst loss. I will honor and love my mother until the end.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: James Jordan/Flickr