Quotes for Meshuganas

Bring Me a Sane Man and I will cure him for you. Carl Jung

A sane response to an insane situation is insane. R.D. Laing

God is a comedian playing to an audience that is afraid to laugh -Voltaire

The only fool bigger than one who knows it all is the one who argues with him

 The only people I know who are happy are those I don't know well.

The monkey may be off your back, but the circus never leaves town. Anne Lamott


 How To Be A Burden to              Your Kids

      The Gift of Years

    Thank God, We're              Miserable

 The "Oy" and Joy of Caregiving

   Didn't My Skin                 Used To Fit?

          Aging with Humor

I've Survived Damn   Near Everything

Strong At the Broken Places

 When the Heart                 Weeps

     Making Loss Matter

 Too Soon Old, Too              Late Smart

   When am I Old Enough to Know    Better?

Tools for "Suffering In Style."

Resign As General Manager of the Universe

Live in the Moment

Schedule Joy in Your Life

Think Like an Optimist

Think about Thinking

                                    Life Changing Books

A Gift from the Sea - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

If You Meet the Buddha On the Road, Kill Him- Sheldon Kopp, MD

Man's Search for Meaning -Viktor Frankl, MD

The Road Less Travelled - M. Scott Peck, MD

When Bad Things Happen To Good People - Rabbi Harold J Kushner

Less is More the Paradox of Choice - Barry Schwartz

The Search for Momma and the Meaning of Life- Irvin Yalom, MD

Flying Without Wings Personal Reflections on Being Disabled - Arnold Beisser, MD

« A Gift of Lovingkindness | Main | I've Survived Damn Near Everything »

Thank God, We're Miserable The Joy and Oy of Caregiving

Bring me a sane caregiver and I will cure him/her for you - to paraphrase Carl Jung. The Greeks viewed madness as a gift from the gods - the divine release of the soul from the yoke of convention.  The voices in my head my not be real but they have some good ideas. Caregiving challenges every belief you have about life and yourself.  It is that kind of boundary experience where one life ends and another begins - where every map about how things should be gets us more lost.  It's been said it's another country. We think we know what that means; we know our life will change but we have no clue. It shows that until you experience something it's all hearsay.  My caregiver group knows on a visceral level the helplessness we feel coping with this horrible disease where our loved one dies twice.  There's actually a diagnosis - caregiver syndrome.

Although each relationship has different issues - parent-child reversals push one set of buttons, a wife caring for a previously dominant husband pushes another.  There's a universality to the ways we deal with our pain. There are actually two modes of the heart - struggle or surrender to what is. Surrender is not giving up but rather letting go. A common denominator in all emotional pain is the need to change current reality. Our only is choice is meaning management - what story can we tell ourselves to ease the burden - so as not to ..."come back from hell empty handed?"

 Alzheimer's constantly reminds us that this moment is the only time any of us have and we want to make the most of it. The practice of mindfulness - an awareness of the present moment without judgment releases us from the neurotic pain we add to the real existence pain of life.  Culturally, this is difficult for me. The Jewish joke of the year was "two Jewish women were sitting quietly together minding their own business."

Paradoxically, the exhaustion and the grief that is the constant companion of the caregiver as more and more of the person is lost, is often transcended by those moments of grace when we feel blessed to be able to give to this stranger who loved us once - we have a sense of purpose.  Caregiver's live the most important lesson "meaning is all we need and relationship is all we have."

As the poet Tagore expressed:

I slept and dreamt that life was joy

I awoke and saw that life was service

I acted and behold, service was joy.

*And for those meltdowns when meaning and purpose don't help - forgive yourself, over, and over, and over and over again.







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