Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Clutter Makes a Mess of Grief: How to Help!

[Source: Erika Mlejova, Openphoto]
Few people will admit that their possessions have crossed the line from "a little messy" to big problem. From time to time, we may all experience the problem--often in small doses:

  • The tee shirt drawer doesn't quite close.
  • The coat closet has no room for a visitor's jacket.
  • It takes significant excavation to unearth the potato peeler from a tangle of kitchen tools.
  • The garage workbench has lost its usefulness, covered with parts, packaging, and paraphernalia.

Fixing Small-Dose Clutter

A small-dose clutter problem can be resolved in fifteen to thirty minutes, restoring functionality to a space. Common sense consigns the torn and broken to trash; goods that have fallen out of favor become a bag welcomed by a charity store. Some of us logon to craigslist or ebay and turn stuff into cash; freecycle facilitates a feel-good way to connect with someone in your community who can use what you no longer need (craigslist also has a "free stuff" category, and my household has enjoyed many grateful handshakes.)

Heavy Environments

[Source: Kash, Openphoto]
Over the years, I've been in many homes bearing a lifetime's accumulated property. These environments bear a weight that exceeds the measurable:  
  • A burden of confusion.
  • An expense of duplication.
  • The distress of indecision.
  • The demand of nostalgia.
I have known people who's estate planning included diligently purging excess "to make it easier for my executors." And I have known folks who become infirm, look around their rooms packed with possessions and say, "the kids will sort it out." 

What is it like to die in a messy room?

No one comes back to complain, but Megory Anderson, founder of the Sacred Dying Foundation, encourages "establishing a sacred presence." She and her team offer many excellent resources for lay and professional use. In her free booklet of vigiling tips, De-clutter the bedside area is number 1! If you believe that death is not a medical event but a spiritual one, the simple practices that invoke honor, respect and sacredness are rich in love but trimmed of turmoil. During active dying, remove from the bed's radius those piles of medical and hygiene supplies, displaced household goods, and even beloved room decor that distracts and act like guy-wires holding tightly to the person who must detach and leave.

When grieving is literally 'a mess'

The time and process of sorting through the belongings of a loved one can be comforting and surprising. "I didn't know she still had that", "She really liked purses!" "Those cases of cereal in the basement are all expired." "Look what he stashed in the crawlspace." Understandably, we will all leave some degree of stuff to be dispersed or disposed of. The window of time to empty a room or residence can depend on a number of things:  policies of a skilled care facility, avoiding the cost of another month's rent, and whether a home will be sold or remain in the family. If your acquaintance with a survivor is familiar, consider offering assistance to sort, pack, and disperse property. 

Sympathetic support: a condolence 'gift'

It is imperative that your assistance be grounded in trust, and a plan of action that is acceptable to all legally responsible survivors. Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant and author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Spark Joy has some interesting tactics for decluttering that can certainly be applied to an entire home clean out.
  1. Tackle categories, not rooms (focus reduces the burden)
  2. Respect your belongings (take care of what you keep)
  3. Nostalgia is a trap (time spent in reverie and sentimentality blur good judgment)
  4. Dedicate efforts to the life of the decedent (express this out loud)
  5. What you keep you must truly love ("like" or "useful" don't make the cut for a legacy item. See my post on Keepsakes)
Whether your assistance is presented first, in your condolence note or, in a later companionable visit, your offer qualifies as a remarkable condolence gift.

Thank you for caring!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Condolence to Caregivers

Author photo
Over the past thirty years, I have been a respite visitor for hospice patients; for a time, I represented a church as a sacramental minister to the homebound. There were many similarities between those roles. I listened, discovering that others, too, often find it’s easier to confide in someone other than family. Thoughts on mortality, the fear or welcome of death, or private regrets can create unnecessary tension or be hard for loved ones to bear. So confidences were sacred moments shared. I wasn’t there to judge and, at this stage of life, they were not looking for advice.  Physically weak, frequently unable to carry on conversation, the men and women I visited listened to a poem, greetings in cards on their window sill, excerpts from scripture or an inspirational book.

And it was okay to simply sit quietly together. If they desired it, I concluded my visit with their favorite prayer, adding a personal word or two, and always, a touch. My role did not have me tending to things like bedding, hygiene or feeding, but caregivers who have such vital roles blended their skills with mine for the dignity of the whole person.

Caregivers: A Remarkable Companion for a Difficult Journey

A difficult journey, author photo
Chances are, you have needed-- or know someone employing--a caregiver. The Companion Care agency notes that "very few families can sustain a demanding caregiving effort." They cite "an innate sense of selflessness and empathy" as the top characteristic of a good caregiver. Roxanne is one of these special people, and, though tired at the end of a 14 hour shift, she stopped to tell me about her vocation. As a private duty caregiver, Roxanne accepts assignments in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and senior residences. Unlike shift workers who have many patients and many duties, Roxanne sits in her client's room and cares for their needs. Her work is truly a "calling." I asked her about end of life vigiling with her patients. "I've sat with people in their final days, hours and minutes; I call it 'delivery,'" she shared.

Grief is not reserved for family

If you have known a professional caregiver who made a difference in a loved one's quality of life, consider writing them a thanks-filled condolence note when their job has been completed. A dedicated caregiver is not immune to a sense of loss. Consider including thoughts on any of the following:

  • Observations about their dedication and skill
  • Positive comments expressed by the loved one
  • Ways in which they eased your day
  • Favorite memory of their interaction 
I also encourage you to keep the caregiver informed of funeral or memorial service arrangements. Participating in this form of farewell and acknowledgement of the whole person whom they served, is a very comforting and healing ritual. Give the caregiver the option to attend. 

Thank you for caring! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Invisible Grief of Lesbian Widows

I have been working on this post for over a year. It is not an easy topic to do journalistic justice to:  sincere voicemail messages don't get returned; subject matter experts go underground (an amazing feat in the cyber age, perhaps only achieved in the literal, 6-feet-under sense;) and even google search results run thin. So during a recent random library browse, I was riveted to a chance encounter with Dewey Decimal spine number 306.7663 W577L 2006 wil (ISBN 1-56023-330-3):

Lesbian Widows, Invisible Grief

This 2006 publication of The Haworth Press, Inc., is authored by Vicky Whipple, EdD.

Whipple, a nationally certified clinical counselor, developed and taught university curriculum on counseling LGBT clients, and wrote this book after her own devastating widowhood. Finally, I had found a richly-storied research study on the grief experiences of two dozen lesbian widows.

Brushed Aside

In 2006, legal same-sex marriage did not exist in the United States, so these 'widows' were committed life partners who, in many instances, abruptly lost rights to the disposition of their beloved's body and shared assets of her estate; this was often exacerbated by the disrespect and animosity of the deceased's family.

Additional hardships were dealt when a partner could not take family leave during illness; invisible widows cannot receive survivor benefits to pensions or Social Security. This issue was dramatized in the 2015 movie, Freeheld; a detective has terminal cancer and wants her law enforcement pension to go to her surviving partner. It is a struggle for equality, simply stated: LOVE IS LOVE.


One of the key benefits of family life is sharing the hardest life moments; establishments such as hospitals and funeral homes operate by a system of regulations that give the trump card of decision making to "the next of kin." Being the Health Care Power of Attorney and/or Durable Power of Attorney for a sick or dying person ends at death. Whipple introduced me to the term 'disenfranchised grief,' "where a partner experiences a loss that is not openly acknowledged." Until same-sex marriage is recognized, a 'life partner' is not only adrift of traditional emotional supports but has no decision making authority in the eyes of a hospital morgue or funeral home. The lack of professional support services such as lesbian bereavement literature and support groups made for a lonely, painfully invisible and sometimes traumatized widowhood.

Not Just a Friend

Sarah Klockars-Clauser
Whipple began her study with one assumption any of us could have drawn:  That the amount of time that lesbian partners had spent together would influence the amount of anguish over the death. Yes, lesbians "date" casually, and may enjoy many great friendships, but when you meet your "soul mate," the measurement of time falls away with the wonderful depth of connection and the special intimacy of a shared reliance, that is common in a lifestyle deemed "alternative." This connection, when severed by death, precipitates greater grief challenges.

Whether or not the couple is "out" to family, friends, and colleagues does impact the degree of isolation and recognition of the loss. After Whipple came out to some colleagues during her dying partner's end stage, she received more support. The visibility of widowed spouses are favored with greater compassion and understanding; even the milestones of a committed but unmarried heterosexual couple garner a better flow of sympathy. There are many considerations to the choice of living openly as lesbian or gay, and doing so is not a blanket de-stressor solution.

Every Loss is Unique

The Condolence Coach visits this concept frequently, and it becomes an important mantra for all condolence:  do not compare. Every death impacts survivors uniquely so one of the best ways to avoid land mines of insensitivity is to direct your sympathy with tremendous focus.
  • Truly consider the person you are writing to. 
  • What have you observed in this relationship between decedent and survivor?
  • If you saw love, say so. If you saw devotion, say so.
  • When you can't imagine living with certain challenges, humbly admit it.
  • Celebrate special qualities of both partners with admiration and gratitude.

Ask How You Can Help 

William Ferrell
Commonly, grief can put a survivor in lockdown:  indecision, inertia, and pain seriously drain a day. Are there kids, pets, chores, shopping, cooking, errands or phone calls that you can offer assistance with? Whether in your note or a conversation, ask how you can help.

Two Months-Two Years-and Beyond

While it is not up to you to share the grief journey, it is up to you to respect it without opinions, advice or judgement. A lesbian grieving her partner deserves compassion and acknowledgement.
  • Ask "How are you today?" and listen to her response, however lengthy. 
  • Remember the anniversary of death and send a note, extend a gesture of memorialization.

Accept the Relationship

Really, it is almost 2016 and I would be delighted if this post soon contains OUT OF DATE INFORMATION on the right to same-sex marriage. Follow the link on this map's caption, to an excellent website. 
June 26, 2015, FreedomtoMarry.org

Thank you for caring!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nan Zastrow's 8 Steps to Tame the Holiday Blues

This article appeared in the November 2015 issue of one of my favorite grief support publications, GRIEF DIGEST MAGAZINE published by the dedicated people of Centering Corporation. Their motto:  "We give you support. We give you information. We give you hope." is a doorway to innumerable resources and sensitive support. I love that they even have gifts for grieving individuals: Because We Care- Care Packages. Need Spanish language grief resources? Centering Corporation is there for you and even carries a lovely sympathy card in Spanish.

Source: Oscar Murillo
A lot of people find the holiday season challenging. Traditions, extra gatherings and the expectations of

  • shopping and gift-giving, 
  • hospitality in a tidy, festive home, and
  • hours of baking and cooking
are a recipe for incredible pressure. Oh-- and if you are grieving, multiply that by one thousand. Nan Zastrow has been through it, and shares her strategies.

Taming the Holiday Blues   

 an essay by Nan Zastrow  

What can I do to help me through holiday blues during my difficult time?

Trust that the holiday blues are normal and they will pass. There isn't any single recipe that works for everyone and probably none that will cure the blues completely. But here are some ideas for taming the holiday blues that I've used in the past years to help my family and me.

Taming the "blues" #1: Cancel your expectations; traditions change. The pressure to be "happy" and "merry" over the holidays sometimes creates deeper sadness and loneliness. There are so many expectations to live up to--everyone's expectations but our own! Accept that it is difficult for family and friends to understand what and how you are feeling during this time. In most cases, it's not intentional. They want us to be happy like they are, and they think they are doing us a favor by enticing us to join in the merriment. It may be necessary to "ask for understanding and support."

Recognize that all family relationships change over time and so do traditions. So update your current situation to modify the traditions that will work for you. Your family and friends will also modify their holiday traditions at some time--and not necessarily because of the death of a loved one. You will see that as children grow and go off to college or get married, as parents and spouses die, family celebrations for most families change also. While this death in your life is the immediate source of your emptiness and grief, soothe your pain by accepting that changes are inevitable for many reasons.

Taming the "blues" #2:  Communicate, but stand your ground. You know you are feeling anxious about the pending holidays. You know what your fears are and what your potential problems will be. The rest of your family and friends don't know what you are thinking or feeling. If you clue them into your fears, they may try to understand the reason for your actions and decisions and it will be easier for them to accept. However, it's important to stand your ground. Sometimes, your family and friends will try to coerce you into doing something you aren't able to handle. If you feel very firmly that this wouldn't be good for you this year, simply say, "I'm sorry. Not this time (this year), but ask me again sometime."

Taming the "blues" #3:  Be socially flexible and escape. Don't make plans for social events and dinners too far in advance. But keep the option open to participate. Sometimes it's easier to say, "I'm not going to go to the church recital or to Grandma's for Christmas dinner," because you believe that it would be better to just be alone, but this isn't always true. Feel free to tell people that you are taking one day at a time, one hour at a time, or one event at a time. Most family and friends will respect your need to reserve a last-minute decision. Also, build in an escape. Drive your own car so when you are ready to leave, you can leave. Notify your host prior to coming, that you aren't certain how long you will stay. Prepare an excuse if you feel you need one to allow you to leave with no questions asked.

If you feel you really want to hold a social event in your own home over the holidays but aren't sure if you can "handle it," set limits. Invite guests, but give them a beginning and ending time such as 7:00-9:00 p.m. Ask someone you know well to be the "lead exiter" when it's time for company to leave. This will give others the hint that it's time to go, and it also gives them permission to leave without offending you.


This makes the event bearable because you can control whether you go and when you leave. There's no need to skip all of the holiday social events, but I can certainly attest to the fact that often emotions can get in the way. Remember, it's okay to be social; it's okay to laugh and have fun.

Taming the "blues" #4:  Decorate your heart first. If your heart tells you that decorating would be nice and would soothe the painful thoughts of the holidays, by all means decorate to your heart's content. If decorations and the thought of them scare you, don't put out any more decorations than your emotions will tolerate. In other words, do only what makes you feel good.

If a nativity instills the real meaning of Christmas, put it up. If a tree with keepsake ornaments is painful, forget the tree this year. I tortured myself the first year, but I felt I was making a sacrifice for my family. My daughter and Chad had received a keepsake ornament every year that was theme based. Jalane wanted to put the "kids" tree up; Gary thought it might be good for me. I did it, in private, and cried through every keepsake ornament I hung. Once the tree was decorated--a few days later--it was a source of loving memories.

I didn't hang stockings. I didn't send holiday cards. I didn't attend the usual church and social events. I didn't bake cookies. I struggled with buying simple gifts. I didn't watch the favorite holiday videos. I didn't put out my Santa collection, but I did add to my angel collection. These were some of my limitations and my sources of comfort.

Taming the "blues" #5:  Seek support, not sympathy. Rethink your attitudes about the holiday season and be honest with yourself. Are you rebelling because you are feeling sorry for yourself? Or are you truly feeling helpless, blue and a need for quiet, private time to sort out your thoughts? Or do you need someone to talk to, give you a hug or spend some time with you?

Sympathy will come automatically. How could anyone who cares about you not sympathize with the loss you are feeling? I don't believe for a moment that a loving human being can deny the evidence of pain and deliberately withhold comfort. Disarm your feeling of helplessness and use the feeling of sympathy to gain control. Ask for support. This is something everyone can relate to and rally around. People want to help, so tell them what they can do to help you.

If your blues are part of multiple past losses, and you are feeling the magnitude of loss, recognize that when you grieve wholly, you will be able to experience good feelings when you reminisce. You may feel a twinge of sadness, but the deep pain will recede.

Coping with and enjoying the holidays doesn't mean that you don't miss the person who was a special part of your life. Nor does it mean that you don't miss times the way they used to be. It means that you will continue to live after this difficult change. And you will honor the memory of your loved one in new ways.

Surround yourself with people who understand that the holidays may increase your grief and you need their loving support that honors your feelings and helps you express your grief as needed.

Taming the "blues" #6:  Forget words; find ritual. This is a lesson we learned repeatedly from Dr. Alan Wolfelt. Rituals can emphasize loving memories and give expression to feelings far beyond our vocabularies. As an individual or as a family, find a ritual that demonstrates your heartfelt feelings and do it! Memories are your keepsakes; treasure them. Take some time during the holidays to talk about good memories, share pictures, light a candle, place a wreath, contribute to a charity, or anything else that makes you think of your loved one.

Taming the "blues"#7:  Seek treasures of the soul. Going forward into the New Year is often difficult, but it can also be a time for cleansing and rejuvenation. Spend some time thinking about the experience you have been going through. What does it mean in your present and future life? Think about purpose and assess yourself as an individual. How can you help others through difficult times? Think about the positive things in your life and how you can use them to help you cope. Find a renewed sense of faith or discover a new meaning for existence.

Taming the "blues" #8:  When the giving hurts, keep on giving. We are nurtured to believe that when something hurts, it's time to pull back, quit or change what we are doing. Not a holiday has passed since Chad's death in 1993 that hasn't caused me to hurt in some way. So Gary and I decided if it hurts anyhow, we may as well "give" until it hurts a little more.

Each year, we host a "When the Holidays Hurt" workshop for the community, and in our hearts we feel the newness of the pain everyone in our workshop feels. We've walked in their shoes. But it's our way to give of ourselves and remind them that life goes on--and we need to catch up or it will pass us by. We also give to charities, but the most upsetting of these was a program we participated in that purchases gifts for unfortunate children and food to fill the family's refrigerator. Along with Santa, we delivered these gifts to the door and saw the beautiful smiles and laughter of children whom Santa wouldn't have visited any other way. We also felt the thankfulness of parents who were grateful for blessings. It was a beautiful "hurt" and it felt so good to give.
Giving of self to others is by far the best antidote for holiday blues. 
Source: Nexu4.deviantart.com
When you wipe away the tears, clear the frog in your throat and calm the racing of your heart, you know what love and true joy are all about. There is no louder message that speaks of infinite peace on earth, goodwill to men.

 I know that Chad and my departed family will be looking down on us--missing the good times we had together--but giving us the grandest "atta boy" of them all.
Published in the Wings magazine, Vol. X, No.4, 2003. This piece was taken from Grief Digest Magazine, Oct. 2005. For a full copy of the article email: centeringcorp@aol.com.

Do you know someone who might find this post helpful? Please pass it on!

Read another Condolence Coach post about the holidays:
Condolence During the Holidays

Thank you for caring!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Veterans at the End of Life: An Essential Salute

Veterans Day: "Some gave all, all gave some."

Veterans Day Service [Source]
In the United States, Veterans Day is a federal holiday, observed annually on November 11th. Not to be confused with Memorial Day (remembrance of fallen soldiers,) this is an occasion to recognize the service of men and women who have served in the armed forces. Their service was in a wide variety of capacities, in locations near and far. Some soldiers never used a weapon after basic training, and some rarely put theirs down.

War has shaken the world and mankind, innumerable times, so it is no surprise that Veterans Day coincides with other nations' Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, as well as being the anniversary of the end of World War I. And I use the word SHAKEN, deliberately.

I will never forget my vigiling experiences at the deathbeds of some veterans, who shake in their final hours. Agitation is a common occurrence in the labor of dying; Barbara Karnes, RN notes that "restlessness can be from a lack of oxygen but more than likely it is fear."  Support is frequently dispensed with medication, comfort care and calming words. But when a dying veteran experiences agitation, we can and should offer specialized support.

Scott Field, IL circa.1942. Library of Congress

Discharged from duty

 This summer, along with other hospice volunteers, I attended the Hospice Foundation of America video program, "Improving Care for Veterans Facing Illness and Death." It is important to recognize that not all veterans carry "emotional baggage" or bear a stoic, "battle ready" sensibility. Your patient or loved one's branch of service, rank, and job(s) may or may not impact their unconscious mind. One of the program panelists, Deborah Grassman, ARNP, shared great insights from her career as a hospice nurse at the Department of Veterans Affairs. I encourage readers to follow this link to Grassman's excellent essay, Wounded Warriors: Their Last Battle. She includes a long list of questions suited to end of life counseling when it seems necessary to discharge the veteran from the troubling demons of unfinished duty or guilt. But Grassman cautions professionals and companions:
"don't keep pushing; plant a seed."
"Golden Wings" by Suzy St. John

 Bedside basics

Some of the best bedside skills during an end of life vigil revolve around silence--though soothing or "favorite" music is appropriate at times; calmness in the room and gentle touch also promote a peaceful death. But when the person you are companioning is struggling with agitation (symptoms may include shaking, thrashing, groans or other distressed vocalizations,) beneficial intervention can go beyond medical options.

  • If your loved one is conscious, gently ask him or her to share a thought or feeling. 
  • Showing one or two service-era photos can prompt expression.
  • Symbols touch and access our deepest selves; this is true even when dementia is present. Expressing gratitude and recognition of service through the use of ceremony and symbol is significant. 
    • A hospice or veterans organization may be able to conduct a brief Honors presentation "on behalf of a grateful nation." But don't hesitate to step up with your own veteran tribute:  say a few words, play a patriotic or branch-of-service song, and attach a flag pin to their shirt. 
  • Often, as death nears (this could be days, hours or minutes) the person is unconscious or 'nonresponsive' (despite movement or talking) and yet, these bedside basics can have a profound impact. I would encourage the Honors tribute even at this stage because the sense of hearing is still active.
  • One of the most powerful interventions for agitation, advocated by Deborah Grassman, is the Hand-Heart-Connection: 
    • Put your hand on the person's chest,
    • take their hand and hold it on your chest, 
    • breathe calmly and deeply.

"We are called to be strong companions and clear mirrors to one another, to seek those who reflect with compassion and a keen eye how we are doing, whether we seem centered or off course ... we need the nourishing company of others to create the circle needed for growth, freedom and healing."
- Wayne Muller

Thank you for caring!
Read more about my vigiling experience in Silent Night Holy Night: Sacred Dying is another reason to write condolence

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Long Goodbye, Part 2: The Empty Sigh After Alzheimer's Disease

This is the second in a series of posts about what it is like to live with Alzheimer's Disease, what comes after the death, and how to compassionately support a family during this journey.

Richard Taylor, Ph.D.
In Part 1. The Long Goodbye, Alive Though Different: Anticipatory Grief During Alzheimer's Disease, we followed the story of Richard Taylor, Ph.D., the remarkable author and psychologist, who lucidly lectured to sensitize others about living with the disease. Among his films, "Be With Me Today" stresses: There's is a person in there!" 
Richard died July 25, 2015.

Part 2. The Adjustment After Death

What is left of the grief process after Alzheimer's Disease finally takes your loved one?
"Caregivers' depression often improves following the loss, but not always," says Co-Director of the Center for Research on End-of-Life, Holly G. Prigerson, PhD.
"The emphasis is often on the great relief that occurs following the death, once the caregiving and agonizing is over. They think it should be downhill after that, but it's not as easy as that. These people typically have been caregivers for about 10 years -- that has been their identity and mission -- and it can be very difficult for them to regain their life." [Source]
Some bereavement comments on the alzconnected.org message boards included:

"My father died almost 4 months ago from Dementia/AzD [Alzheimer's Disease], but really, the goodbye process began last spring when we placed him into assisted living.  It was a year long good bye that was harder some days than others."

"What I miss is her company. But it was quiet around here for so long that a lot has not changed in my routine. I don't have to worry about her any more. I am surprised that I have not felt a surge of grief but I think it had just lasted so long that I am grieved out."

"It's been over six months since I sat with mom as she took her last breaths. There was a sense of relief as well as the sorrow. My emotional side goes up and down but I'm dealing with life and have moved forward."

In Time...Healing
Source: Diane Zilliox

I was struck by two of the healing factors identified by Dr. Prigerson, in a presentation on Meaning-Centered Grief Therapy:

  • The survivor must reconnect to sources of meaning for their life: creative, experiential and attitudinal.
  • The survivor must reframe their arduous caregiving experience as an important part of their life story (and the life story of their loved one.) 

These steps--though they will take time--remove the "log jam" that may have dammed up the vitality and fulfillment enjoyed before caregiving. The natural flow of life is gradually re-established, and the legacy of the deceased is now heartwarming rather than gut-wrenching.

One message board contributor wrote:
"Mostly now, I remember her as she was. Full of life and always having a positive word for everyone."

Your Compassionate Response

Your compassionate response to the Long Goodbye begins as a listener. In various settings, I have found myself listening to a caregiver pour out weariness and frustration. Give someone five minutes of your time; let them vent. It helps.

If you are able to provide some support during the caregiving phase:  a respite visit, chores, a nourishing treat--it helps.

After death, being a good listener will be an important compassionate response, and avoid impatience! A long goodbye can be followed by an equally long recovery. Be attentive to cues that the surviving family/caregiver(s) is ready to:
  • Receive gratification from new experiences
    • You may be able to encourage or lead the way to a subscription, a hobby, a concert, a vacation. 
    • Teaming up in a volunteering project can create a bridging experience after caregiving, for feeling useful and gratified. The direction of volunteering may not be linked to the deceased's disease. Follow your friend's lead.
  • Gather the fruits of legacy
The Coach reminds you to be heart-centric:  do not assign projects or set agendas. Listen, be encouraging and "brainstorm" with your friend as topics arise.

Finally, mark the date of death on your calendar, and remember the family with an anniversary note. It will be a great comfort.

Thank you for caring!