Episode 56

November 10, 2023


#56 | Denise Brown | What to Expect After Caregiving

Hosted by

Tony Siebers Bina Colman
#56 | Denise Brown | What to Expect After Caregiving
Parent Projects - Aging In America
#56 | Denise Brown | What to Expect After Caregiving

Nov 10 2023 | 00:44:24


Show Notes



Denise began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched one of the first online caregiving communities in 1996. She now develops and teaches leadership development and training programs for family caregivers, former family caregivers, and the professionals who support them. Through their training, individuals learn how to support family caregivers through The Six Caregiving Stages, The 17 Caregiving Systems, and The 12 Caregiving Fatigues.


Website: www.caringourway.com


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00:00 – Intro

01:12 – Introduction to Denise Brown

02:22 – Denise’s Call to Action

04:00 – What Keeps you Going?

05:55 – A Carry

08:54 – Commonalities of After Caregiving

14:11 – ComForCare Ad

15:11 – Common Experiences After Caregiving

19:54 – GIving Yourself Some Space

28:27 – Illegitimate Tasks

33:37 – Holidays After Caregiving

37:28 – Dealing with Grief

41:39 – Where You Can Learn More

43:05 – Outro



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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: You okay? So I'm going to step back just for a moment and say that in 197, I was getting the same question over and over. Why me? Why now? What now? So I decided to stage the caregiving experience. So there's six stages, and the transitioning stage, which is the fifth stage, involves two transitions. And it's the transition before a Carrie's death. And that when we're transitioning from doing to being, which is a very difficult transition to make because you're so used to the doing. I'm going to find another specialist. I'm going to pursue another treatment option. And when that stops, you think I'm not doing enough. And so it's this idea that being is enough. [00:00:46] Speaker B: As our parents grow older, it can be difficult to guide them through their golden years while still respecting their autonomy and fitting it into our already complex lives. Welcome to the Parent Projects podcast, where our guests share practical wisdom to tackle the issues that impact adult children of aging parents. I'm Tony Siebers. Thanks for joining us today, everybody. Welcome this week into the Parent Projects podcast. And, you know, despite whether your caregiving has an ending of healing or it has an ending of finality, there is a next step in the morning. We wake up, put our pants on, put our shoes on, and there are steps that we've got to take and that can be difficult to wrap our mind around while we're in the throes of the moment. I'm happy to have Denise Brown in with us today who's going to talk about what to back after caregiving, what that looks like, what you might be able to anticipate and provide us some perspectives and ways to do that in a healthy way. Denise, thanks so much for joining us. [00:01:50] Speaker A: Thank you so much, Tony. I'm thrilled and delighted to be here with you today. [00:01:55] Speaker B: Well, the topic in which you've committed your life to is one that most of us have honestly probably avoided and would choose to avoid and want to be away from. Tell me, what is it that's drawn you in? And what is that basis that moves you each day to help families understand caretaking and healthy ways to process maybe the backside of caretaking? [00:02:21] Speaker A: So 33 years ago, when I was 27, I had a desire to change careers. So I'd only been out in the workforce five years. I was writing for trade magazines. I'm a writer, and no one was reading what I was writing, which drove me nuts. So I thought, there's got to be something else I can do out there in the world. And interestingly enough, I was looking for a part time job. I was going to do some freelance writing, and I needed another gig to bring in some money. And I was reading the Wanads. This was when print publications were all we had. And I was reading the Wan ads, and there was this wan ad to manage a congregate meal site in a little town along the Delaware river in New Jersey. I was living out east at the time. It was like there was a flashlight that God was holding that he put on this ad. So I applied, and I started working with older adults, which led me to work with family caregivers. And I managed a respite care program in this little county in New Jersey and then worked as an admissions director in a nursing home. So I was talking to family caregivers every day for a period of about five years, and I thought, we've got to do more to support these individuals. So I started a small business, and then I started an online community in 1996, which I managed for the next 24 years. And I sold that in March of 2020 to really focus on leadership development and training programs, not only to support those currently in a caregiving situation, but those adjusting to life after caregiving ends. [00:03:54] Speaker B: That's a tremendous dedication to such a difficult challenge. Off of that, what is one of the things that keeps you going to keep coming at that? I would imagine one thing we hope to do is to see fewer sad stories off of that. But I would imagine the beginning of almost everyone's story has maybe some level of sad story at the front end of that. What keeps you going in this? [00:04:17] Speaker A: It is the story. So as a writer, every family caregiver has a compelling sTory, and they have all the ingredients of a good story, right? So there's a little bit of a mystery. There's drama, there's comedy. So the elements of a good story are all part of each individual's caregiving experience. And so I can never hear a caregiving story often enough. I connect with family caregivers every day, and their stories are so compelling to me. And the idea that individuals go through these experiences oftentimes in the privacy of their own home, without, really neighbors or the community really understanding what's happening is also very interesting to me. And so I've always wanted to be able to show up with a listening ear, a compassionate heart, and a curious spirit in order to support anyone who's going through that caregiving experience. [00:05:16] Speaker B: And you mentioned doing that or going through that alone in your own home. And I might even venture to say that many people do it alone in their own mind and even have a difficult time. [00:05:27] Speaker A: Right? Yes. [00:05:30] Speaker B: Having that conversation, even with other people just to the left and right for all kinds of difficulties. You've heard a lot of parent projects. You've probably heard a lot of parent projects as people have walked through those, whether it be family caregiving, I'm going to venture to say that aging in place, that downsizing and even the end of life kind of side of the house that we look at. So some strings. Are there similarities that you start to pull or things that you start to see across the board? When it comes down to the emotional impacts that we have in being a caregiver, I think you refer to it in your books as a cary. Is that right? [00:06:09] Speaker A: So the individual receiving care is our cary. [00:06:12] Speaker B: Okay. [00:06:13] Speaker A: We used to use the. Actually, I had this fabulous mentor, Merkel Labardi, who had started an organization in the mid 80s called Children of Aging Parents. And I was lucky enough to live by her. And she took me under her wing, and I was riding in her car somewhere, and I said something about, well, when we worry about caring for our loved one, I thought she was going to Stop the car. She said, sometimes we care for a family member who isn't a loved one. Please use the term care recipient. So then we used care recipient for many years, and I had bloggers on my online community, and one of my bloggers said to me, I feel funny calling my mom my care recipient. Can't we think of another word? So we had a contest. People suggested ideas for a replacement term. We voted, and Carrie was the term that won. So we refer to anyone receiving our care as a Carrie. [00:07:05] Speaker B: Now, how about in caregivers? I take it you just go with you caregiver, regardless of the child or anybody else that steps in there, right? [00:07:14] Speaker A: Family caregiver. Sometimes parent caregiver. If you're caring for children, I always like to include family and caregiver because there's so much confusion around which caregiver are we talking about? Is it professional? Is it family? So I use family caregiver, or even. [00:07:29] Speaker B: Within family, a spousal caregiver or something of that nature. You can really have different inclination, right? [00:07:35] Speaker A: Yeah. Actually, it's interesting you talk about this, because I really think it's important that we respect the language of that family caregiver. So if they don't want to call themselves a family caregiver, that is okay with me, because what I really want to know is, how can I help and support you? It doesn't matter what you call yourself. It only matters that I'm arriving with the help and support. That's right. [00:08:00] Speaker B: I love that approach. Okay, so I pulled you a little off topic from that. Commonalities. Right. And understanding. We're going to try to tackle a bit of this. And this is hopefully those that are joining us in this audience, whether it be now or this video that's coming up from them on the parent projects platform is because there's an indication that there's an opportunity here that they're thinking about. But what's life going to look like? I'll briefly set up in my former career, both in law enforcement and the military, emotional survival was a part of what's trained at academies or within training programs in the military to set myself up to be able to handle the downturn of hyper vigilance or of post traumatic stress or those other things that come. And without throwing a label over what we're experiencing, just in general, what are the commonalities of all these parent projects that you've seen? What are some of those commonalities of things that we can expect after caregiving? [00:09:02] Speaker A: Okay, so I'm going to step back just for a moment and say that in 1997, I was getting the same question over and over. Why me? Why now? What now? So I decided to stage the caregiving experience. So there's six stages, and the transitioning stage, which is the fifth stage, involves two transitions. And it's the transition before a Carrie's death. And that's when we're transitioning from doing to being, which is a very difficult transition to make because you're so used to the doing. I'm going to find another specialist. I'm going to pursue another treatment option. And when that stops, you think, I'm not doing enough. And so it's this idea that being is enough. And then the other transition happens after a Carrie's death. And that's the transition to this life after caregiving ends. And what's so odd about it is that even though we may expect our Carrie's death to happen, the finality of death is always a shock to us. You can't get another moment back. You can't get a repeat on anything that you said or do. It's the final act of life. And I think how we adjust to that is different, depending on circumstances, relationships, support. And so I think the theme around adjusting after caregiving ends is that it's personal. It depends on what your experiences have been like. [00:10:40] Speaker B: Okay. And you mean experience both your personal experiences coming into the situation prior to even being a caregiver, along with the layer of what caregiving, maybe the time you were a caregiver or how long that was, or all the activities that happened in the middle of it. Yes. [00:10:58] Speaker A: And what happened when you were caring for a Cary, let's say, especially at end of life, who supported you? Who didn't? What providers were supportive? What system navigation issues did you run into? There can be experiences outside of the family that can be very difficult to figure out. And so in some regards, sometimes you kind of feel robbed. So there are some situations where, for instance, you stepped outside of the room. Your Carrie is obviously actively dying. You step outside the room and your Carrie dies when you're not in the room. And you think, I got robbed of the final moment. And we know that sometimes individuals have to die alone. It's hard to leave when you're surrounded by love and the people you love. And so oftentimes, in order for us to complete that journey, we do it alone. But it's very difficult if you have been working for years for this moment where you are there to be a part of your Carrie's last moment and it doesn't happen sometimes that's an element that you have to work through and figure out and say it's know the other piece that you were talking about. I think about it as the hyper vigilance, right? We are so aware of what could go wrong, and I think we take on this responsibility that I must prevent it. And so we're hyper vigilant, so we're there to predict what could wrong, to catch the other shoe that's going to drop. And so at that moment, when a Carrie is alone at death, we think, oh, my gosh, he or she was alone. Alone, which is just a horrible. Can feel like a horrible image to us. And yet I think we can take much comfort in knowing our carriers never die alone. Never die alone. There's always help from the other side. The angels come in and really guide our family member home. So even if we weren't present, our presence was part of that final moment. [00:13:02] Speaker B: In the natural passing. That is fascinating, especially if you go in and you see other things. I remember years ago somebody talking about how strange it was. When a human being chokes, they'll often walk away from a group, like they'll go wander off to go be alone, to go fight that thing. And it seems to be something that's a part of, there's a normal part of that where our human condition brings us to do that. So you bring that in. That can provide a lot of relief for that. Okay. A lot of stuff that could go on. Obviously, everybody's going to be different. I think you've set a good tone against the difference between the life experiences you may have coming into it versus what your experience was there. We're going to take just one quick commercial break. When we come back from that, we're going to sit down and we're going to talk about a couple of examples or some ideas of what some of those situations might look like, what would be a common thing to expect off of that, and some ways you can begin to get in front of that. Stay tuned with the Parent Projects podcast and Denise Brown as we talk about what to expect after caregiving right after this. [00:14:12] Speaker A: Sometimes I'd like to smack old age right in the kisser. [00:14:17] Speaker B: I always get the best parking spot. [00:14:19] Speaker A: I think she needs a little more help Monday. What I really need is a boyfriend that can drive at night. I can make a fashion statement out of anything. I will be fabulous. I have a little crush on my pharmacist. [00:14:35] Speaker C: With comfort care at your side, you can live your best life possible. We know families can't be there 24/7 which is why we can help with as much or as little home care as you need, from medication reminders and meal prep to everyday chores and errands. So you can live in your own home on your terms. [00:14:54] Speaker A: I wouldn't let aging stop me from being me. [00:14:57] Speaker C: Call Comfortcare now and let us create your personalized care plan and find the perfect caregiver match. [00:15:03] Speaker A: Can you show that number again? She was texting. Together. [00:15:07] Speaker C: With comfort care, you can both live your best life possible. [00:15:11] Speaker B: Welcome back to the Pair Projects podcast. And this week we've got Denise Brown in with us. We're talking about what to expect after Denise heading into the break again, thanks so much for joining us this week. Heading into the break, one of the things we talk about is really there's a lot of complexity to our individual situation, and so there is not going to be a one size fits all answer to work off of any of those things. But there's a couple of principles that we started touching ahead of that break. We started touching a bit that at the backside of that hyper vigilance when you're trying to make that. Maybe that transition between doing to being those could be really difficult things that you're heading into because you're making that transition and there may be some remnants of things to deal with and how that went down or being present or not being present. I guess maybe what I want to try to do is just jump in here and think through maybe a couple of the most common experiences that people generally might have after, let's say it's a prolonged caregiving situation. You started leaning in really slow. They were taking care of themselves. You went through that maybe 36 month, 40 month, four years or so of just being there. That escalated and continued to escalate until finally you've been able to, or that things have closed, you're no longer needed as a caregiver. You are now maybe either in being or they've passed, and now you're transitioning. In that last transition, you talk about, what are some of the things you think we could be most prepared for at that moment? [00:16:54] Speaker A: Our body aches. I had heard about this and then I experienced it. And what was interesting is it felt like I had to get through funeral and service for both my parents and actually my brother. My brother died two years ago. My mom died a year ago. My dad just died in July. So three months ago. And after each death, after I had settled everything as it relates to the service, my body started really aching. And it was my lower back and my muscles. And it was interesting because I just made this very. When I tell you what I figured out, you're going to think, well, that's so simple. But it felt profound to me. So I think in a caregiving experience, we're always dealing with some kind of heartache. So our heart aches during caregiving. And what was interesting is that it felt like it moved itself out of my body through my body aches, and I felt like being gentle with my body was something that was really important to do. And I wish I would have known that a Little bit better, Especially after my brother died. So we might need to sleep more, we might need to rest more, and it might be difficult to really get back into a sleep pattern that works for us. So during a caregiving Experience, Sometimes your sleep is disrupted because you're getting up, you're helping, and you're also paying attention to what's happening. Night, there's something could happen. So you might not be sleeping through the night for an extended period of time, especially at the end, when you're really providing the intensity of end of life care, you're dispensing pain meds every 4 hours, so you're not sleeping. So to get into a pattern of being able to sleep can take a little bit of time. I think that was the thing that was so Interesting to me is the disruptions took time, and the Disruptions actually came through in the body aches. And I felt like once my body started Feeling better, I started Feeling better. [00:19:10] Speaker B: That is fascinating. So I had had lower back pain after losing, after lose my sister as well, and going through some of those losses, but I thought that was because I'd had a back injury in the military and it had back Surgery. And I figured, oh, okay, well, that's just where that is. But I also recognize now, as I get a little older, I carry stress in my back. I don't know why I do. If I'm stressed, my back's going to Ache, and it's just a matter of that. That is truly, Truly Fascinating and how the body is using that. That must be where my body is able to store and work through that. I can do a whole episode against that. Yes, I got a note on that. We pull some back Surgeons in, we can have some Conversations there. [00:19:53] Speaker A: Yes. [00:19:53] Speaker B: Okay. What are some other major things that we can. Well, actually, let me say what I also heard you say in there was giving space for that rest, maybe Planning for that downtime on the backside, not trying to jump right back at something, but really giving time to be, I think you said, gentle with your body. [00:20:14] Speaker A: Absolutely. [00:20:15] Speaker B: Giving it space, even if you fly through it, giving it that time to be able to do that and have a couple of nights just real good night's sleep or good solid sections without being interrupted to try to allow your body just begin the norm. [00:20:30] Speaker A: Yes. And our relationship with our phone changes, too. After caregiving end, so we are constantly looking at our phone. Who needs our help? What do they need help with? What went wrong? Who's trying to reach us? And it can feel very difficult to actually leave your phone for a little bit. So I'm three months out after caregiving ends. I actually went out without my phone one day because I thought, I don't need it. I don't need my phone. And it was so stressful because I had been in the habit where I was available at all times for whatever emergency, so not having it, even when I didn't need it, was so stressful, I had to return home. So this idea that relationships change, including our relationship with our phone. But then there's the relationship with family members, and sometimes the worry about what the family unit looks like after caregiving ends becomes the reality. So we have to be open to what the family unit looks like. So in my family, there were five children. My parents had five children, and my oldest sister removed herself from the family in 2015. So working through that and my mom's heartache about that was very difficult. So we went through a process of, how do we manage her around crises and deaths? And what we've finally come through on the other side is it's okay that our family unit looks like it does without her. So we wish her well. We love her. We know that there are things going on in her life that make it difficult for her to be a part of the family, and that's okay. So there's no judgment around it, so to speak. There's no bitterness around it, so to speak. So coming to terms with what the family unit looks like can also take time, and it also can be temporary. So what it looks like today, meaning maybe there is a sibling or another family member that takes a little time away, does not mean that that's permanent. So I always remind myself to keep love in the heart, even if the relationship isn't necessarily a physical one. I don't see her, I don't talk to her, but I keep love in my heart for her. [00:22:46] Speaker B: I love that. Years ago, I had had an opportunity to have lunch with, to attend a funeral, actually, with a friend who was 103, and his little brother at 101 had passed away. And he would come into our group, they'd go get him and bring him to this luncheon group that we are with. And so they went and got him. And afterwards, everybody went to KFC before they took him back to the home that he was at. Right. It was profound on me because he explained what it was like to know another human being for 100 years, and what you say really touches back off of that. It was an awesome experience that I could get that got to give me that opportunity to be able to hear that perspective. It changed how I looked at a sibling and at family and the permanency of stuff, because he was explaining how they had lost one of their parents. I can't remember which one, when they were younger, but they had gone a couple of decades. They'd gone decades without talking to each other. And then at the loss of the other family member, at their other parent, things came back together and they knew each other like, another 50 years. I didn't even get to know my sister for 50 years. That was incredible to be thinking against that in just that context. So it feels, especially when we hear a lot. I've seen a lot of parent projects where even families that are. Things are just really clicking. Well. Rubber meets the road when they get into that hospice situation and someone describes to them that poor hospice agent that comes out there talks them through of if they fall or they break their leg, we're not going to call an ambulance. And that Whole conversation of finality of, hey, this is where we're going to ride this out. This is the Alamo. And that can cause all kinds of positions to change a lot. And I don't laugh out of just the experience is probably a release of the stress of knowing what that moment really felt like, too, and then hearing a lot of other families go through it. So I think I love that you lay out that could be temporary. It's likely there's going to be some evolution from that and leaving your heart open to allowing that to process. And just don't give up hope. Don't let that go away. No matter what that situation feels like there. Don't give that away. There could be that opportunity. Okay, family time. [00:25:19] Speaker A: Yeah. And I think it's also that we don't want to give up love. So if we hold love in our heart for others in our life who aren't physically part of our life, we always hold on to love. And I think that's such a nice way to be because it's easy to get bitter. It's easy to be angry. In many ways. It's almost like an addiction sometimes, that bitterness. And I feel like I move through my day better if I just hold on to the love and. Really. Yeah. And the other piece of it is so oftentimes people would say to me, you care for your parents because you love them. And I would say, I care for my parents because I love myself. I know what my values are. I know what my priorities are. It's very important to me that I live, that I love myself when I live my values and priorities, and that includes being there for my parents who needed help, support, all of that other part of caregiving. So it's about the self love. Even if it's really about a relationship, it's about the relationship you have with yourself. [00:26:29] Speaker B: We touch on other guests and other talks on. And this is something I've really picked up. I've really, really picked this up and, and adopted this, too personally. It's. It's a healthy way to look at it. One of my guests had kicked a door open once and said, okay, people aren't going to like this, but I'm going to tell you, it's not your obligation to take care of your loved one. And I was like, okay, go on. Like, you got everybody's attention. And she came on to say. She said, no family member wants to be dealt with out of obligation, including your parents. And you don't want your children to be helping with you out of obligation. But if the person you want to be remembered of is a person who stepped up and did this thing or enjoyed doing this for their family member or their loved one as a caretaking, those are good, healthy places to come from and to tackle that. You'll find that you do that in a healthy way. And those things that you don't want to do, there are great, qualified people that want to go do those things. They're really good at it. They enjoy, they find joy in their life providing those services and helping there. Leave yourself open to let them come in and do that. And then everybody's approaching from that healthy area. I hear a lot of that in yourself, that loving yourself that way. And especially my faith is I have a Christian faith as well, and that Catholic Christian faith for me says love your neighbor as yourself. Understanding that as well, coming at something not out of pity or out of that obligation, but instead out of that desire of what it is you're going to pour into, that resonates a lot in being able to set yourself up for a better picture. That said, I have a lot of friends and I've heard a lot of family members who, they didn't hear that message as they got through it, or they have a community around them that makes it really difficult for them to practice that and put it into play. The community is just on top of them. This is your obligation. You must do this. This is what you're accountable to. And in those cases, what can you do to start processing some of that at the backside, that responsibility, when it gets thrown on you and you struggle off of that, because that seems to be a very normal struggle that we hear a lot of people with. And probably because it's not a normal thing we're supposed to be. It's just something that we kind of have on us. How can you help us with that? [00:28:44] Speaker A: Okay, so there's this Fabulous term that I heard that applies to the workplace, and it applies in our caregiving experience, and that is illegitimate tasks. So tasks we have to do that are unreasonable and unnecessary. You could say every piece of caregiving includes something like that. Why do I have to keep calling the doctor? Why is it so difficult to work with the discharge planner and hospital discharge Day? Part of that is what we deal with every day. There's always something unnecessary. There's always something that we feel like this is just not logical. So I think if we have this idea of okay, this is totally not fair and I'm going to be okay with it. It's not fair. And I also think we have to be aware of when we are giving to get. And that can happen sometimes during our caregiving experience. I'm giving help to my parents who were not necessarily great parents. Let's say, for instance, because I want to get love from them, I want to get approval from them. And if they haven't before, chances are they're not going to now. So we have to be careful about this idea I'm going to give to get, which is why if we keep it with okay, what is it that I value? What are my priorities? I'm going to line my actions with that. It can help us stay in a healthier place. And it is important for us to remember we do what we can and let others do the rest. We are not here to do it all. We have to keep a life during a life of caregiving, because our life after caregiving ends is going to require that we have a life. And it's harder to rebuild when you're rebuilding from a negative versus rebuilding from at least an even place. [00:30:33] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:30:34] Speaker A: So I had been thinking about what is it that we're doing after caregiving ends? And it's healing. So what does that mean? So I wanted to create a process that felt easy for people to implement. So it's a three step process. You name what hurts. So what hurts today might not hurt tomorrow. So you want to focus on what is hurting me right now. The lack of my mom's company, for instance, or that I'm no longer of service in the way I was during caregiving, or that I feel lonely. So we name what hurts and then we think about what's a strategy that could help with what hurts. So if I'm missing my mom in this moment, I can think, you know what? I can talk to her. I can put on some jewelry she left me. I can pray to her. I can pray with her. I can be in company with her in a different way, Because I want to heal, to love. So the three step process is, you name what hurts, you, create a strategy to help that hurt. And then you decide where do you want to take that, where do you want to land so that you feel better, to love, to peace, to acceptance, to release whatever it might be. And what's helpful about the process is you're actually creating this library of strategies so that when you have a day where you think gosh, I just hurt and I don't know what to do about it. You can think, well, yesterday I tried this, last Tuesday I tried that. Maybe I'll try that. So you have an option. Oftentimes during our caregiving experience, we just endure. We endure insensitivity, we endure not enough sleep. We endure really long days. And I think after caregiving ends, we want to break that habit of enduring. We no longer have to endure what's painful and difficult. We can release ourselves to find what will help me feel better. I deserve to feel better. [00:32:30] Speaker B: Brilliant. A big piece of where we were going to go. And maybe we'll just even tap that onto here. Tag that onto here would be the holiday process of stuff. But that strategy you just laid out is just phenomenal at that. So maybe we could just tag on that conversation, really give it a moment here. That first birthday, that first Christmas, the first thanksgiving, those things that come around, I hear in your strategy, in naming that hurt. Understanding, then building the strategy to get through that moment and then understanding where you want to land is very much how a lot of therapists would work with somebody to accept where you're at in the moment. It's based off of a real situation, challenge what those ideas are, what you know, what you don't know about it, and develop your solution off of all that. And then take accountability and know where you're going to go and move. I hear a great truth in what you're saying for that. When we start coming into a holiday period or when there's that extra kind of layer of missing somebody, of longing in those things or nostalgia touches in. Right. Those things come. What could we do here to kind of help us work through some of those in particular? [00:33:57] Speaker A: There's a couple of things, and I think we're spending the holidays with others, and we might have this expectation of how I feel about the holiday is how my sister feels. And it's important to remember that everybody has their own process and their own experiences, and everybody grieves a little differently. So, for instance, last Christmas, my mom and my brother had already died. My dad was alive, but he tested positive for COVID on Christmas Eve. So it wasn't necessarily a great holiday. I was at my sister's house on Christmas Eve, and she could not get herself together. So dinner was a couple of hours late. It wasn't fully cooked. And I was just kind of looking at her like it didn't add up to me. For me. So then I was talking to my niece the next day, and I said, this is what happened. And she said, well, she was grieving. I thought, oh, my heavens, of course. So grief also doesn't necessarily present itself in tears in a way that we say, oh, that's grief. It could show up in very different ways, and it's going to show up for us in different ways, too. So we have to be aware that maybe my short temper is because I'm grieving, I'm mad. I'm mad that this is what the holidays look like. Maybe my sister not be able to get the dinner on the table fully cooked and on time is because she just couldn't be in that holiday. She didn't want to be in the holiday without my mom. She just didn't want it and I just didn't get it. And so we can be compassionate with ourselves and with others when we feel like just feeling off, well, it's the grief, it's the missing, it's the ache. It's what we're aching. [00:35:50] Speaker B: Yeah, it's definitely something that we're clearly we're approaching now as we're coming in towards those holidays. And I will say, I think in my own experiences, we revisit it every holiday period. It aches less, things ache a little bit less as you work through that. But they manifest in different ways. You can see it manifest from different family members in different ways there. And so I love that advice of not understanding in ourself and giving ourself a break for what that is. We still have accountability and we have to make sure that we're challenging that and accepting that where that is. But then before we act, making sure we know where that's at, but then making space for other people where they're at there to be able to handle that with a level of empathy because it manifests so differently in so many different people. Back to your original point, it looks so different for all of us based on where we came in. Amazing. I have five children and today they all have generally, I mean, they're so different individually. They have a very similar lifestyle. I can't imagine when they're going to seat out and they're going to go five different places for 30 years, and then they're going to come back together and they're going to have to make some really difficult decisions or be around and have to advise and come from all that after living this life off of. Sure, they started in a path that was somewhat similar, but they were already different people. So leaving space for all of that personality plus life experience and other things that's going to look different from everyone. Probably also a great opportunity to draw some value off of sibling at that point in time and maybe how they might have dealt or seen somebody else deal with it or maybe find a different type of relationship to help change that up when you go through. [00:37:43] Speaker A: Yeah. And I also think there's times when we're just not going to love being in a room with our siblings, and that's okay. It's a temporary moment, and in that moment we can wish them well and then we're going to find our love for them again. And that helps. I think what we're trying to do, especially during the holidays, is not add to the drama. And if we can look at this as this is what it is right now, this is our temporary holiday. Making adjustments, for instance, for how often and where you get together and what you provide in terms of food and other times of rituals, whether or not you're ready to decorate the house or not. It's temporary. It's this holiday season. This is what I can do, this is how I feel. And then to communicate that with others, I think we have this idea that people can read our minds and they can't. So rather than leaving people, guess why is she doing that? She never did that last year or the year before. We can instead tell people, this holiday season, I'm feeling more exhausted than I thought, and this is what I can do. What works for you guys? Having a conversation about it and trying to take out the judgment about what someone else decides or can do. So, for instance, my sister in law, my brother's wife, my brother who died, she cannot celebrate the holidays with us. It's too hard for her to be on that holiday with us. So instead we celebrate with her in other ways. And that works. We always ask her, what can you do? What would you like us to do? And then we respect wherever she is and whatever works for her. And that makes us feel good because we know how to support her. I think if others understand how to support you, they can actually then support you in a way that feels better. [00:39:37] Speaker B: And there's a good understanding and I can just capture it in your words, in your actions and what you're conveying here, too, there's that hope, that, too, when you make that room for that to make incremental steps, incremental, healthy steps, it can be different. Tomorrow you can go in there suspending a year of how that looked before. You don't have to figure out the new dynamic this year. It doesn't have to be done right away off of all of that. And it likely is not going to be the way that it's always going to be for the next, like 30 years based on that one there, giving it that time to just take that pressure off yourself of having to throw that on there and give that credit there or that space to yourself and to your family to be able to grieve or to work through that. That's great advice. Great advice. [00:40:26] Speaker A: And it could be that you felt like you could go to a function and then you got there and an hour later you think, I can't. And I always think it's helpful to have an exit strategy. And it could be an exit strategy that gives you a couple of minutes. And we know that the bathroom is a great exit strategy. Oh, excuse me. I'll be right back. And you can go into the bathroom and have a few tears or whatever it is that helps you take a few deep breaths or whatever it is that makes you feel like, okay, I'm okay. And then it could be an exit strategy where you just have to go home. And that's okay. You can tell your hosts, I'm so glad I was able to join you tonight. It's time for me to go. I'll touch base with you tomorrow. I hope everybody has a great time tonight. And that's all. We don't have to apologize. We don't have to ask for approval. Is everybody okay if I go? We can just decide. It's time for me to go and be grateful and gracious to your host and then be on your way. [00:41:29] Speaker B: Well said. You could actually even tie a bow right across a conversation. I thought that was absolutely brilliant. Way to bring her home, Denise. Really, it has been a joy hearing the perspectives that you have and coming from that. I think these are great practical experiences. Let us know where can the audience learn more about you and what you're doing today. Your books that you have that are out, please feel free to. Why don't you talk to us about it and then we'll put down in the comments section down below how people can find tHem. [00:41:58] Speaker A: Yeah. So we have a community called Caringourway.com and you're welcome to join us there. We have free classes for you during and after caregiving ends. You can connect with me. We do workshops and events on a regular basis. Every year we do a beginning again retreat where we help you find your next steps. After caregiving ends. I have a couple of books specific to after caregiving ends. One is after caregiving ends. A guide to beginning again. And then there's the daily Healing Plan, which I had just mapped out, that three step process. There's a journal that actually gives you some ideas of situations where you might hurt, and then thinking through what can I do? Where can I go? And it then creates a routine of actually healing your way through with this journal. [00:42:50] Speaker B: Absolutely brilliant. Denise, again, thank you so much for joining us and for sharing your time, talents, and treasures with us here on the Parent Projects podcast this week. I look forward to having you back many times. [00:43:00] Speaker A: Yeah, thank you, Tony. This was a lot of fun. [00:43:07] Speaker B: Well, that's it for the team this week, and thanks for joining us. If you've enjoyed the content, remember to subscribe and to share this episode on the app that you're using right now. Your reviews and your comments, they really help us expand our reach as well as our perspective. So if you have time, also drop us a note. Let us know how we're doing for tips and tools to clarify your parent project, simplify communication with your stakeholders, and verify the professionals that you choose. You can find us on YouTube, follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks again for trusting us until our next episode. Behold and be held. [00:43:39] Speaker D: Thank you for listening to this parent Projects podcast production. To access our show notes, resources or forums, join us on your favorite social media platform or go to parentprojects.com. This show is for informational and educational purposes only. Before making any decisions, consult a professional credentialed in your local area. This show is copyrighted by Family Media and Technology Group, Inc. And parent Projects, LLC. Written permission must be granted before syndication or rebroadcast.

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