Monday, March 21, 2016

So Sorry For Your Loss . . . A Singular Identity

Maybe it's just me.  Wonder if others feel/felt this way? To want that statement "So Sorry For Your Loss" to not be said . . . again.

Is that what happens after a longer time spent "without" the other person?

The loss, the movement from "we" to "me" and from "two to "one" does NOT define me just as being "married" was not the ultimate way I defined myself.

I wasn't focused on the dream of marriage as many young women were and are today; I knew the reality of marriage wasn't finding a "Prince Charming" and "living happily every after" as a child of an alcoholic, divorced parents and significant life challenges for my mother struggling to provide a life for both of us.

I recently revisited another Lewy Body Dementia website went to the writer's new portal (she separated her sites into two, before and after) and her connection to a "widow's website". 

There were those beginning words .... I'm so sorry for your loss.

What else do you say? What's proper? What's expected? What words would be better? I've been on the other side, meeting someone or attending a funeral and at a loss for words.

Society makes me feel like I didn't just lose my husband, I lost an identity I'd had for decades and society keeps reminding me of that loss by ensuring I check the space "widow" instead of "single", for example.

Once married do we retain this identity until/if we marry again? Why?

It isn't that I don't value that association and make it myself, it's when society keeps using the designation of "widow" to classify me -- what I should be like, what I should think, how I should act, etc.

As I mentioned above, I didn't identify myself solely as "his wife" just as I didn't identify myself before we were married as "not someone's wife".

Now, though, I struggle to regain what I had before, my individuality and my "self"; a part of me I never felt so without when we were together. Strange change of identity, now.....

Yesm it's an "appropriate comment" socially to respond with a "sorry for your loss", but it's so flat and it keeps the conversation stuck on the loss, on the challenge and even on the "pain".

Widow. Reduction. Removal. Loss.

Ironically, we've chosen as a society to make light of the word by referring to women whose husband is "away" for a period of time or doing something without her as a "widow" -- i.e., sports widow, golf widow, business travel widow.

I was a "business travel widow"; my husband traveled almost every week for many years. 

I sometimes accompanied him in the early years but sitting in a car, moving from town to town to make "sales calls" because his business was done that way, was, quite frankly, boring to spend hours and days -- even though we were somewhat "together".

That opportunity, to be together no longer exists. 
This widowhood is permanent, non reversible and constant.

How do you heal when you're constantly reminded by society that you have a LOSS of something?

Society on the whole does not seem to know or does not seem to practice how to meet life's challenges: death, loss of an ability, separation, change in life. We're seldom taught in schools and it's not until the event happens that we look for ways socially acceptable to respond, act and go through the experience.

I went to Thought this eminent contributor to all things "social" and all life's events and possibilities would surely have written about what to say, how to act and how to move through that challenging moment when you learn of someone's death you may not have known but want to express you are a concerned human being recognizing the other person's loss.

Actually, couldn't find a reference except directives to "widows" and "widowers" on the most acceptable forms of response to receipt of flowers and condolences and other more "funerally" things.

The funeral lasts a day; the loss continues for all the days that remain.

I suppose something has to be said, socially, that is. After all, if you "learn" I'm the "surviving spouse", what else can you possibly politely say?

While it's a part of my life, it can't remain a central focus or I lose MY ability to focus and it's taken me all this time to realize "I" count, "I" want and "I" need -- although I'm still focused on my "children" -- grown as they are -- and grandchildren and when they're in need, they rise to the top in the "counting order".

It's not selfish, it's not self centered -- it's survival!

It's awkward, I understand; what do you say to someone when you learn they're "without" someone? Husband, mother or father, sister or brother, etc?  We say the ritual, "I'm sorry" or "I'm so sorry" for your loss.

Then we move on. We who have "other lives". We who have other things to "talk about". I get it. It's acceptable and it's understandable. 

However, it's time to move forward and that's taken a very long time to accept especially because of the struggles we had financially and with the Undue Influence we were left to survive on our own, by ourselves, because no one else wanted to see it, wanted to believe it -- when it was easier to believe Grandmother was still the person they remembered from their childhoods and not someone with Lewy Body Dementia.

I've reached a point where the words "I'm sorry for your loss" is a constant reminder of the "loss" and I've worked very hard to get past the focus of that very real, very lasting, life experience. Please find other words to recognize you care about me.

We don't wear black for a year anymore. We don't wear a widow's veil. We don't stop our lives or throw ourselves on the funeral pyre or practice forms of self abuse for the loss.

We widows and widowers are who we were and remain -- individuals, someone's daughter/son, someone's mother/father and all the other relationships and levels of friendship.

Since when did we revert to this "classification" and "needing" to change "socially" -- meaning on the web, on facebook or wherever we want/can -- or for that matter, with groups, organizations, etc. 

Since when did we have to have others question our "announcing" our "singlehood" to the entire world?

So, tell me, do they ask the "divorced" to recognize their "singleness" as frequently?  

Where's the stigma attached to "never having married" -- where's the identifier for that category?

When you learn of someone who's divorced, do you say to them, "Sorry for your loss"? 

Let's refocus:

Let's stop the "sorry for your loss" and instead say something like "Your life together was a special time, I'm sure. I wish you many more life gifts of special times."

Acknowledging what was. Giving hope for what can be. 
  • We who walk this road are often walking it for the first time. 
  • We have challenges standing tall, facing forward, moving in needed directions.
  • We are facing uncertainties as we've done throughout life.
  • We change. We regress. We remain .... individuals.
Come, walk alongside. A step or two or the entire journey.

We're not always sure where we're headed but that's been true other times along our life's pathways.

Yes, remind us in loving ways, those who were also close to the one no longer close to us, and memories about the person, with positive and caring comments and actions....

Remember . . . we are sorry for our loss and we face each day with that loss, making of the day a time to remember.....

One thought in closing:

You never walk alone . . . there are many of us walking the same direction..

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Hospitalization: What's the Difference Between Holding for Observation and Being Admitted?

Daughter and I took advantage of a free lecture by an Eldercare Attorney group a few nights ago. 

As with so many of these "free" offerings, I usually hate to attend because there's a catch, a push. I usually avoid the postcards or invitations to a FREE dinner or talk because I don't like to be placed in a position of feeling obligated -- which is exactly what many want you to feel.

Happy to report this was a positive return on our investment.  Great opportunity to learn and to pass on to you, who are interested and can benefit from information that's usually difficult to come by, hidden deep inside many long and tedious publications, articles or documents but so very necessary to have in your personal portfolio of critical aging survival information.

One topic was the expense of medical care as we age or provide care for loved ones and focused on what I've been writing about "How Medicaid has become the long term care provider for the middle class."

The speaker provided some excellent information and the company provides a Resource Center on multiple topics with publications lining their walls from various respected resources. 

I asked what they had on Lewy Body Dementia. One thin pamphlet brought forward while literally shelves and individual displays filled with Alzheimer's information was available. 

Need to remedy that shortage and change the presenter's reply to the person who asked what was Lewy Body Dementia; she said it was "another form of Dementia" and that was the sum and total of her remark. 

We who experience this still unacknowledged devastating medical condition know how important it is to see and understand Lewy Body Dementia.

The time was well spent at the presentation. No blatent taking anyone aside, no feeling you couldn't leave if you wanted. Appreciate this approach; this dedication to the cause we all face of aging and helping others age positively.

As much as I've researched and through all the laborious experiences and challenges I've had, there's still a great deal to learn.

Did you know, if you take your Senior loved one to a Hospital and the hospital says they'd like to keep the person "for observation" that this is not the same as "admitting"?  

What difference does that make in their care? 

The bottom line is what Medicare will pay and what they won't and I believe you, and I know I, don't/didn't realize there could be a significant difference.

There are major differences and they may affect the level of caregiving, the suggestion for treatment and various other inclusions or exclusions the hospital or individual doctors may make or give.

With Medicare, "observation" is referred to as being an "outpatient" while admission is considered an "inpatient".

This "distinction" is very important because the monetary responsibility paid can be significantly higher and the level of coverage (read that as percent and/or dollar amount) can be very significant.

Here's reference from the source,  click through to this short explanation: Medicare 

The costs of your decisions can be signifcant and the coverage, or amount you/the Senior pays, can be a financial shock; it can even put you on Medicaid long before you/they need to be.

Please don't expect someone to counsel you at the time. Social Workers in the hospital are simply referral agents -- referring you to possible organizations who "might" be able to help; usually with pamphlets or a hospital designed resource.

Hospitals and Doctors give general information. 


YOU are responsible for getting the facts and it's knowing the questions to ask, the BEST resources to use -- all, usually, in a very small amount of time.

IMPORTANT:  The 8 page article is very informative about coverage in a Long Term Care Facility, also known as a Skilled Nursing Center. It's worth a second reference:

Here's the click through again:

Reading these 8 pages can be a lifesaver and a ways and means of ensuring your loved one/you receive the best level of care -- or at least are prepared when presented with the bill.

Within this blog is a goal to educate, to raise awareness, to start conversations, to create collaborations, to bring to light so much that has remained in darkness . . . and above all, to place a higher value on those who do not have the ability or the knowledge and give them information and capability.

It's one of my concerns we will all end up on Medicaid if we live long enough --a
nd today's Medicaid is not a system of hope and a means of a lifeline -- it's not the support we believe it will be when we've reached a point where we can no longer provide for ourselves or for those we love and cherish.

It's a system. It's a procedure. It's minimal. It's degrading.

Caregivers and those in need of medical care are being torn apart emotionally and physically by a system of healthcare that needs significant change.  

What will you do today to spread the word reforms are needed for the aging and for all who need medical support?