Posts Tagged ‘caregivers’

My last post – a death in the family – has had an amazing ride over the past five days! After I posted it on Facebook, I tried to “boost” it to reach more people and for some bizarre reason, FB deemed it to be unsuitable, objectionable content – they refused the ad and removed the message from Facebook! Magically, it reappeared a day later (perhaps because I appealed, though I doubt it!) And since then, an amazing number of people have read the post about my aunt’s last days. I am enormously gratified by the response and so glad my story reached so many people. Thanks to all of you!

It’s been a busy week, because this is National Hospice Palliative Care week. I participated on a webinar for the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association on living well, right to the end. Here’s the link to the show (I’m the first speaker, right after the introduction). I hope you enjoy it!

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Ten days ago, I had the opportunity to offer the inaugural talk at the launch of a series of community events sponsored by Beth Donovan Hospice in Kemptville, a town of 3500 people about 60 km south of Ottawa. The event was designed to help establish a caregivers support group and to expand the reach of the hospice into the broader community.

The evening was an unmitigated success in every respect. Despite the nasty rainy November weather, more than 60 people came out to hear me speak and read from my book, and to learn more about Beth Donovan Hospice. People in the audience shared their stories of caregiving and their questions with tremendous honesty and openness. I was deeply touched by their stories of caring for their parents, siblings, spouses, and friends.

At the beginning of my talk, I asked people to raise their hands if they were currently giving care to someone. Fully half of the room raised their hands. I then asked those who had cared for someone in the past to join the others in raising their hands. Finally, I asked those who anticipated being a caregiver in the next 5 years to join in. At this point, virtually everyone in the room, myself included, had their hand raised high. “Look around you,” I said. “You’re certainly in good company.”

Despite the fact that each of us will be a caregiver at some point in our lives (often at many points, in fact), caregivers often feel isolated and alone. They may feel hesitant to tell people that they feel overwhelmed by all they have on their plate, lest people judge them for not having it all together. One of my goals that evening was to reassure people that caregiving is really hard, and that they need and deserve support, concrete assistance, and breaks. Judging from the audience response, I think the message was heard loud and clear.

As Dawn Rodger, Executive Director of Beth Donovan, wrote:  “Katherine’s sense of humour and compassionate delivery of her personal account as a caregiver engaged the audience and brought a sense of understanding to those who are caregivers themselves.”

After the formal presentation, people gathered in the anteroom for treats and tea and conversations and hugs. As people came to have me sign my book for them, they shared details of their caregiving experiences and thanked me for understanding their experiences.

I left with a sense of enormous gratitude for having had the chance to meet and share stories with this wonderful community of men and women.

If other hospice communities are interested in bringing me in to speak at a community event, I’d love to come (winter weather permitting!)




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