Tending to a loved one who is chronically ill or dying often leaves caregivers feeling overwhelmed or alone. Three new books seek to make the process less stressful and more fulfilling through practical tips, emotional support, and spiritual inspiration.
Strength for the Moment: Inspirations for Caregivers (Image, Mar.) by Lori Hogan provides inspiration and tips for caregivers in a devotional format. Hogan is the co-founder of Home Instead Senior Care, a company that provides services for seniors through more than 900 franchise locations worldwide. The book’s 52 real-life caregiving stories include several from franchise partners, and each reflection is accompanied by a scripture passage and a prayer.
“I wanted to explore the emotional side of caregiving,” Hogan says. She plans to hold discussions of the book at several franchise locations. Hogan says the title is meant to remind readers that any caregiving situation can change rapidly. “We forget to stop and look up and ask the Lord for help,” she says. “I would love the reader to remind themselves they’re not alone and remember there are others there to help.”
When Stan Goldberg was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he decided to become a hospice volunteer as a way to make himself more comfortable with the thought of his own death. But more than anything else, he said, the experience taught him to live. This lesson and others are chronicled in Leaning into Sharp Points: Practical Guidance and Nurturing Support for Caregivers (New World Library, Mar.). The book has advice for both those providing ongoing caregiving and those handling surprise diagnoses that may lead to a rapid change in lifestyle.
Goldberg says that the relationship between a caregiver and a loved one is reciprocal. “There are certain things that caregivers can do, like giving a loved one permission to die, that not only help their loved ones have easier deaths but allow the caregivers to reduce the severity and duration of their grief,” he says.
Lani Leary, a thanatologist and psychotherapist, has read a great deal of theory on death and dying. She’s also come close to experiencing it. A near death experience, as well as the experience of dealing with the deaths of her own parents, also gives Leary the unique perspective offered in her bookNo One Has To Die Alone: Preparing for a Meaningful Death (Atria, April). In it Leary offers practical tips on both caregiving and grieving, with the hope of offering readers new skills and added confidence.
“In our culture, no one spends time talking about end of life issues, and we shy away from subject of dying or pain. So many people feel helpless as a result,” she says. “Too often, people don’t accept the opportunities to help.”
Teaching someone how to listen, how to touch, and how to help someone make plans for the end of their life can significantly impact how the dying person experiences his or her final days, she says. “Dying people aren’t afraid of physical pain,” Leary says. “They’re most afraid of feeling emotionally abandoned, and that is what I know we can change.”