Moni moni

End of life Care and the Dying

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End of life Care and the Dying

My husbands parents are 67 and 65. My father in law (FIL) has been primary caregiver to my mother in law (MIL) for years now. This past year she has transitioned into needing total care. Most of her life she has battled illness, and in the 6 years of my marriage I've watched her slowly decline. She ages about 5-10 years of each year.

2 months ago my FIL was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. He started "non aggressive" treatments which were supposed to allow him to continue carrying for his wife.  However his body did not so well and he ended up in the hospital, and I have ended up as caregiver. Not just one but two.  My husband shares some of the duty, but travels for work so is only available half the time.  I have had to learn to do things I never would have imagined.

The most difficult thing for me is witnessing her suffering, and the question of  why or what she's holding on to. To be honest I see her as a hungry ghost. We had to move them down to where we live and she has had a hard time letting go of her "stuff", and I think she enjoys being cared for. 

Of course I struggle with "WHY? ME?", and seeking my role as a spiritually conscious being in this situation. How can I help her transition? How can I see and understand the Karma in his experience and resolve it? How do I keep my sanity? How do I manage the resentment? I'm only 37 and I am giving up so much of myself to be caregiver.  I need to find the balance and a healthy perspective. 

In learning my way through all this, I'm also very frustrated that society doesn't teach us shit about end of life care. We know everything there is to know about conception, pregnancy, birth, etc. How do we awaken from a death phobic culture??!!?

Thank you for your time and dedication to all of us. 

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Hi Moni moni,

I feel for your situation, and can relate to it. When it comes to the care of family, wife, children, parents, brother, sister, there is always the temptation to help to the point where are own needs are not being met. To help in such a way that we are living our life more for others than ourselves, or at least so it would appear. But I think that comes from a perspective that to be a “good person” you must sacrifice for others. But then one might ask, are they really doing it because they desire to help the other person that much? Or are they doing it more to viewed by themselves or others as being “good”. And what does it mean to be “good” anyway if we lose our sanity in the process of trying to achieve it? All the while resenting what we are doing.

If we recognize our needs as being real, and our own well-being as no less important than anyone else’s, then I think we are in a better mental and spiritual space to provide help to others. It’s kind of like when they give safety instructions on planes and tell passengers to put their own air mask on before assisting children. If the adult were to do otherwise, they could lose consciousness before they were able to get the air mask on them self, or even their children. Human beings are a social species that, at our best, do take care of each other. It can be part of what we genuinely desire to do and bring us joy. But we need to keep this in balance with the rest our life in order to living a fulfilling life, especially when the care situation is long-term.

If this sounds cold, consider the golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Would you want someone to care for you to the extent they were sacrificing their quality of life and well being for yours? So, I would suggest starting of with an awareness of your own needs and a commitment to yourself to not sacrifice your life by making the needs of others more important than your own. Just being miserable in life, till you burn yourself out, or die and early death, or wish you would, is not an option. Let this be a truth that transcends the judgmental notions of good and bad or right and wrong. Let it be an inherent statement of the value of your life as an individual who’s life is no more, or less, important than anyone else’s. But the life, that you are most responsible for.

Once that bottom line is set, I believe one can think more creatively about how to best help others. For example, maybe what you do can be augmented by professional care providers. Or perhaps your husband can find local work that would allow him to take a more active role in his own parent’s care. Or perhaps you have relationship problems with your husband that needs to be addressed, as you find being his wife means embracing a life as a caregiver for his parents, and forsaking the things you wanted to do with your life. For me, I see myself as being born of the intention to experience joy through love. And that has certainly drawn me to situations where I help take care of others, but it also recognizing the priority my own well-being and happiness has to me. That is necessary for healthy boundaries.

Regarding how do we awaken from being a death phobic culture, I don’t have any suggestions. Just being awaken to our own needs and emotions is a challenge for most of us, including myself.

Below are links to some videos that may be beneficial to watch. I think you are wonderful, as we are but don’t always know it. I wish you and your family the best, and hope this helps. - Aaron

To Help or Not to Help? (Helping Others) -Teal Swan-

Personal Boundaries vs. Oneness (How to Develop Healthy Boundaries) - Teal Swan

How To Say No - Teal Swan

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