Posted on January 5, 2015
1. Don’t overstay your welcome and pull from the minimal energies they have to sustain their life. 90 minutes is as long as they can tolerate at any one sitting.
2. Don’t Chatter and talk to fill the silence. Let void and space be OK.
3. Don’t fill their space with YOUR holiday traditions. Be minimalistic. They cannot digest most of the symbols of YOUR season. 3 Things that effect 3 of their senses are almost too much for them. So remember if you bring a small decorated and lit Christmas Tree you have already used up your total of 3: visual lights and colors, smell with the pine smell, and touch when they hold or touch it.
4. Don’t bring in the whole clan into their room. 3 People at any one time is the rule, and even that can be overwhelming. If you bring a child it counts for two because of their energy, heat and fast movement.
5. Don’t be quiet just because they cannot communicate to you in return. Hearing is the last sense organ to decline. They can receive you even if they cannot respond back.
6. Don’t use their room as a picnic ground, a TV watching station, or a place to reconcile old emotional wounds. Don’t use their vulnerability to dump your emotional litter on them or resolve differences between you or your siblings or other family members.
7. Don’t use their room as a place to bond with their hired caregivers, nurses or bedmates and family in the adjacent bed, to fill the gap and compensate for the discomfort, slow pace or lack of communication. Communicate with them outside of your sick one’s room.
8. Don’t show verbally or non-verbally your disgust for the smells in their room. Let the sick have their dignity and honor when you enter their vulnerable space. They have no control over the smells and they know it. It is embarrassing.
9. Don’t leave humor out of the most serious of situations. Humor and laughter even at the most mundane activity is a spiritual gift. Even reading the comics in the newspaper, telling them a joke or relaying a funny story can be a way to break up stagnation and aerate thoughts, grief, loss and physical weakness.
10. Don’t let their fragility stop you from touching them. Touch their hands gently, stroke their cheek, rub their feet or ears. Gently. Make them feel like they are not lepers and untouchable.
11. Don’t forget to tell them: “I love you.” “Forgive Me. I Forgive you.” “Thank you.” And “if this is your time I release you and you can go with love.” and say “goodbye.”
12. Don’t forget to leave a symbol of you, a letter, a surrogate “woobie” in your stead when you must leave your sick one’s bed. It is as if you are leaving them with your protection and a piece of yourself to watch over them when you must leave them to rest. (CHECK OUT the unique silken ‘Prayer Pocket’ from DrAvivaBoxer.com as an example.)
13. Don’t stay in their room because of your own unresolved guilt, fear, shock, despair, or anger. This is their sacred space and they cannot transform your emotions and schisms for you. They are using their own energies to feed themselves with spiritual food and cannot be distracted. If they attend to you for a moment or spark, consider it a windfall and a gift to you. Receive it with awe.
14. Don’t bring your pity to them masquerading as compassion. Your pity will weaken them even more, and make it more difficult to mitigate their physical limitations. It is emotional litter and makes the room heavy.
15. Don’t make loud noises with the closing of doors, clanging of trashcans, having loud TV programs, or have strong scents or strong light in their room. It is too much for their senses to digest and they cannot escape. It means they must shut down and go inward and recoil from you because of the environment being too much and too harsh for them.
16. Don’t try to heal them. Even ‘good’ healing measures can require their body to create homeostasis with the newly introduced energies to their body. They may not have enough energy to get their balance and find the new energies their rightful spot within them. Their resilience is low and it is hard to get their bearings even from slight changes. Resist the urge to make it better. Let them lead the way.
17. Don’t advocate for them with their attending medical staff in their presence. The amount of energy it takes to clarify their needs, while beneficial in the long run can exhaust and agitate the sick, if done in their presence. They hear everything. Do it outside of their presence. You can tell them later as a summary in a soft gentle way, when the time is right.
18. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently. Hospital borne diseases can be transferred from patient to patient or from your hospital visit to your home. But at the same time don’t overdue the wiping down the environment to make the patient feel like a leper or to create fear for them in an environment they have little control. Wash the clothes you wear to the sick room when you return home.
19. Don’t forget to bring in the outside nature into their room. Open windows and let the air flow, and the sunshine in. Note verbally the changes in weather and the seasons so the patient feels part of the cycle of life. If possible wheel them outside to enjoy the sun, breeze and greenery.
20. Don’t use negative language around them. Look for reasons to use optimistic language even in the worst of situations that look bleak. It helps them focus on what is possible rather than what is impossible.
Remember that entering the room or the bed space of the sick or bedridden is akin to visiting their home, their place of worship, their dinner table. Ask yourself if you would do what you are doing if you were in their home at their table or at their alter of prayer. If not, you have your answer. Our sick and bedridden hold sacred spiritual treasures. If we are open to them we will receive one of their gems. If, in fact, your bedridden loved on is on the trajectory to their final end then slow down your pace with them. Don’t hurry their journey. Let them savor every last minute here in a physical and spiritual sense.
DrAvivaBoxer.com elevates and customizes end-of-life with products, services and education that insures a quality of death and a Happy Death.
Posted on December 22, 2014
It may be cold outside but for the sick and bedridden their room is constantly warm, often stuffy, sterile or claustrophobic. They have acclimated to the slower pace, the regimented schedule, the various smells, the bland tastes, and the noise of painful calls for a nurse from neighboring rooms, while they bask under the yellowish hue of the fluorescent lights. You bring in the outside world. You break the monotony of the cadence of same. You might view this as welcomed, but you must think of it like putting too much red pepper spice on your chili. It seemed like a good idea to take away the bland, but too much can make one feel hot and want to escape with nowhere to go. Remember in assisted living centers and the bedridden less is more. Bringing in 2 things from the outside world is about as much as they can handle. And one of those things is you. When the sick and bedridden get overwhelmed and cannot leave the overwhelming stimuli, they close down. The window of opportunity to bond is closed So be very selective as to what you bring and how you want to bond with the sick and bedridden. Keep it simple and basic, almost boring to you. But, if you must spice up just for the sake of holidays, then make sure it is just a sprinkle, a spark, a moment: one or two things to nudge their memories and stimulate their senses. Otherwise neither you nor the bedridden will feel understood or honored. The bond will go unconnected.
Here are some ideas on how you can bring the outside world into the world of the sick and the bedridden:
6. Bring Natures symbols to them to stimulate their nervous system.
Let them see something natural: the sunlight, a leaf from outdoors, a fish in a fishbowl, an old cat, therapy dog, or quiet bird.
7. Bring them temporary heat and strength from the outside world.
Put something warm over their belly button like a micro waved bag of rice, millet or sand.
8. Let relics and everyday symbols trigger their memories to bring closure.
Let them be surrounded by their favorite objects. Bring it to them like a traveling museum. Take them back after the visit if they are in assisted living center.
9. Don’t bring them roses, treat them like roses…roses in winter.
When roses are prepared for winter, we cut the branches away all the way to the trunk of the bush. We coat the cuts with black protective oil to prevent parasites from entering. We lay nourishing soil, blood meal down into the soil for the roots to feed off of as the elements become harsh and the weather becomes cold. Cover the roses to protect them from ice burn and destruction when they are most vulnerable.
Treat our sick like we would roses in winter: Keep them warm. Keep them safe from battle, having to protect themselves while they are vulnerable. Keep parasitic people and experiences away from them. Keep their open vulnerable places coated and covered from harm. Let them be still. Require nothing of them. Let them use their energy to consolidate and to regenerate from the essence of who they are.
It is the winter of their life. They should be able to hibernate. Reflect. They need to sustain the resilience in themselves. Dance with their fears: reflect, rehearse, relieve themselves.
10. Give them attention and study them verbally and non-verbally.
Listen for their take away life meaning. Make a core one liner for them as you sit. What are their repeated words, gestures, looks? What are their favorite objects? What is the meaning for them behind each of these objects? Help to refine to essence, the most important. There is no luxury for the irrelevant. Listen but expect to hear silence. Listen to their silence, their whispers. Watch the non-verbal. Speak to them without words. Less is more. Give them less. Give them basic. Give them a hint, a nibble, a whiff. That is all they can handle. But if you must take energy from them to focus and pay attention make it rich, quality and character driven in some spiritual language. Like very rich dark chocolate. A little is all you can handle, and it is more than enough.
11. Walk away with the gift of them and speak aloud for what you are grateful to them; what they taught you; how their modeling paved the way for you or how brave they are as they battle to stay alive. Try to understand what/who they would treat if they were a homeopathic remedy to help mankind? Speak the Language of Love. Words supported by the 5 senses. Bond with oxytocin. Make a memory like a recipe.
By protecting your bedridden loved one from too much stimuli from the outside world. As you wrap up your 90 minute visit with the sick and bedridden remember to pray with them. The holiday season is after all the season of light and miracles. Make only one: one prayer, one gift, one hug and one love. One connects the spiritual with the physical. The best formula for a sacred visit is to gather the ingredients of your visit: What sense organ will you stimulate in the 5 senses? Choose only one, otherwise they will get overwhelmed. Memory? Choose only one. Spark? Look of light and spark of energy from the outside world. Know there will be only one. It will be short and fleeting. Start to end your visit after you have seen it. Less is more. Then put that spark of energy together with your own energies carry that warm glow out into the world and light someone elses emotional candle with it. You will honor your loved one in this way. He/she will have given a gift to you and others, a spiritual gift, the best gift of all.
Want to leave a gift for your loved ones? We’ve created the Prayer Pocket, a silk envelope that holds prayers and love notes that can be velcroed to your loved one’s pillow or clothing. To learn more, go to DrAvivaBoxer.com, where they elevate and customize end-of-life choices with unique education, products and services that insure a Quality of Death and a Happy Death.
Posted on December 21, 2014
He’s all by himself on Christmas in that depressing assisted living center. You feel bad for him. But you’ve got your own family to think of and all the stressors of the season to go with it. And it is all on your shoulders: the food, the gifts, the decorations, parties and the thank-yous. Plus, it is such a downer to go there, see all those lost, lonely and sick people; smell the musty and stinky smells with nothing to say after, “hello”. Not to mention the diseases you could catch. You can’t afford to catch anything, and that contagious hospital MERSA bug scares you to death. You want to avoid the whole thing but it makes you feel so guilty that you think of it like a chore, even if you feel pity for him. After all, you never know when he might die and you want to make sure you’ve treated him with dignity. You feel like such a bad person who has lost the true meaning of Christmas just for thinking these awful selfish thoughts.
You are not the only one.
People in assisted living centers feel isolated and excluded. Residents may seem calm and peaceful on the outside but it may be the result of a permanent ambient despair. It would be so much easier to avoid them and not have to think about their decline toward mortality. But what if I told you there are riches there beyond your biggest dreams.
What if I told you that in 90 minutes you can take a quick vacation to your own spiritual part of yourself and feel connection, compassion and love in a way that is unavailable in the everyday, rush-rush material world in which you live.
Let me show you how to break through the camouflage of guilt, pity, sacrifice and dread. If you only knew the riches you can have there. And for most assisted living centers these spiritual riches are there for the taking; gifts waiting for the clever eye and open heart.
You speak an everyday physical language of people, places and things. They speak a spiritual language of love, character and values. They have nothing to lose. They already have… lost, that is. Lost their autonomy, their health, many relationships, connections, voice, choice and will. They have had to, out of necessity, built their life from the bottom up, from nothing. They have had to use memories, values, beliefs and courage, spiritual words, to move their lives forward. They have done this without the bounce-back qualities from childhood. Armed with only waning resilience, a clean spirit, and the love of life, they hibernate their souls in these assisted living centers.
So go. For 90 minutes hibernate with them.
1. Merge with their lane.
When you are with them let yourself experience nothing, space and void. Slow down to an ultra slow pace and minimal intensity. Put yourself second, them first. Value where they are and join them.
They are still. Reflective. Introspective. It is their winter and their body is hibernating; nourishing only the seed of themselves. They can dance with their internal fears, review all that they learned from all the responses in their life. They can recall the wisdom they gleaned from their experience in their life.
Allow yourself to merge with them, feel with them, get in their shoes as an exercise for your compassion, even if you cannot make things better for them.
Piggyback on their experience of “winter” and dance with your own fears of mortality. Be reflective, self introspective. Be still. Block out the external world. Bond with self. If you were to die today what would have given your own life meaning? What did you yourself learn so far here on earth? What is the essence of your own life meaning? Take the inventory of your own life and share it with them. If they are verbal and have a spark of energy with your presence, ask their advice like you would Dear Abby. Do not interrupt. Make an audio of it with your cell phone.
2. Bond with them.
Bond with their 5 Senses: Touch, Hearing, Tasting, Smelling, Seeing and Taste. Here are a few examples:
Taste: Fill their water bottle with fruit, herbs, and vegetables to give experience of the 5 flavors: Bitter, sweet, pungent, sour, salty or umami. Dab it on their tongue.
Hearing: Play their favorite song from a pinnacle life passage moment like a wedding, a birth, a first dance, bar mitzvah or a quincinera . Let them share the memory with you if they can speak.
Sight: Look through their old photo album with them and let them recall the stories and memories. Ask them about people in the photos and memories they have had even if they are non-verbal. Carry on a conversation with them even if they say nothing. Share your idea of the memory, even if they cannot.
Touch: Feel their parchment-like skin and enjoy the soft silky feeling of their skin. It is a lot like a newborns soft skin. Massage gently their hands and fingers. Push together the joints of their hands and wrists. Or just hold their hand softly in your own as if it is a baby bird in a very still fashion.
Smell: Make a dish you both have shared, even if they cannot eat it, and let them smell it so it brings back a memory. Share their memories associated with smell. Or bring in a scent known to clean out a room with stagnation like sage, frankincense, etc. It will freshen their space and clean out old musty suffocative scents that make them feel confined.
Help to bond them to themselves. You will bond to them. You will find you bond you to your own self. Experience the 5 senses their way. Ride their wave, their senses. Capture their life meaning. Capture your own life meaning in the process. Get their advice. Learn from their wisdom, from their adversity, from their experience.
Give them stimuli that will trigger their self-review. Use the 5 senses to access their memories and your own. Let them remember what gave their lives value, meaning. Let them eek out, distill down to what was and is most important in life to them. Grab it for yourself too.
3. Speak a spiritual language with them.
Speak with them about character, values, and beliefs. Speak spiritual language.
Give them a memory to recall. Walk the path of memory with them. Ask them the moral to their life story. Clean out. Make space. Make void. Take away all outside stimuli. Block the outside world, the irrelevant stimuli that may be important to you but not to them. Experience the feeling of nothing, of closing down, keeping out.
4. Play in their spiritual playground with them.
Breathe next to them. Hear their breath. Sync your own breath with theirs in tempo, length and force and intensity. Lie next to them and share your warmth. Brush their hair. Massage their scalp. Stroke their forehead. Kiss the tip of their nose. Trace their wrinkles with a very light touch and your forefinger.
5. Say their Name out loud frequently at least 3 times in your visit with them.
Their name, their full birth name resonates with their nervous system and soothes them. Nicknames and endearments will trigger memory but not their own nervous system. Both are nice, just the former is deeper.
Remember the bedridden’s perspective of the holidays. It is even more stressful for them because they are unable to reciprocate; they have no energy, attention or autonomy. They often feel weak, helpless and out of control. They remember how it used to be for them at the holidays, and they are comparing it to today. There is a feeling of resigned loss for them as they compare. You on the other hand don’t want to leave them out. But you don’t know how to include them in the joy of the season. That is why it is so hard & why people want to avoid them and end up feeling guilt, pity, that it’s a chore, or they fear their own finite mortality. You talk a physical language. They are talking less a physical language and more a spiritual language. For them it is less about separateness, uniqueness, individuality and more about commonality, union, intangible language of love, character values etc.
Read my next blog for 20 Precious Holiday Gifts You Can Give The Sick and Bedridden: Part 2, and make this holiday season fill your heart and theirs too.
Posted on December 14, 2014
Ninety-eight year old Harry wanted to make sure his spirit could recognize his deceased loved ones who passed over into heaven once he arrived. I guess you would call what he put in his Prayer Pocket a ‘Heaven’s Passport’. He wanted to make sure there was no mistake and he could control his fate in the afterlife. Harry was a visual person who had become blind. He wanted to make sure he could see in the afterlife, and use his memories from here on earth to identify the people that mattered to him, those who he loved and missed. He anticipated his spirit memory would be jogged with a picture of each of the people he loved here on earth. So he gathered pictures of his children, his x-wives, his best friend, sister and parents. His prayer pocket was full. His spirit was ready in a Boy Scout kind of way. He velcroed his white silken Prayer Pocket to his pillow each night next to his head, so that if he was taken in his sleep his memories would go with him. His instructions were to put the Prayer Pocket in his coffin, right next to his head. Because he would need his ‘Heaven’s Passport’ where he was going. I wonder if God is smiling at the innocence and naivete of Harry’s thought. As God waits for Harry to come home, soon he will know there is no soul that is blind and the language of love lets the mute speak and be recognized in bliss.
If you want to know more about the Prayer Pocket go to DrAvivaBoxer.com, where they elevate and customize end-of-life choices with unique education, products and services that insure a Quality of Death and a Happy Death.
Posted on May 11, 2014
As I said in my Mother’s Day Post Part 1: Thank you Baby Songbird, I speak of Mother’s Day as a day to give thanks to the people who made it possible for you to be a Mother in the first place-your kids. In my case, my two daughters are the ones for whom I am thankful for on this Mother’s Day.
Your kids are the people who speak your unique spiritual language more fluently than anyone else on the planet. Notice the small nuances they’ve picked up from you that reinforce your personal bonds: their tone, pace and intensity of their voice sounds just like you. Notice how their gestures and quirks look just like yours. Notice their preferences and aversions, talents and flaws look a lot like yours. They are so loving to be such clear mirrors to our own strengths and weakness’ in how we treat ourselves.
My daughter Lindsay, is a wise sage from another place and time. From the moment of conception, as a preemie, until now she was a fighter. She fought for just the basics that we take for granted but were due her: breath, attention, protection and a voice. She has a voice today that she shares with me the wisdom of the sages from another time and place.
I will forever be grateful to my daughter, Lindsay, the wise sage, who gave me many of the most powerful lessons in my life. She did it in a gentle whisper that could have gone unnoticed had I not been paying attention. I could have missed her brilliant wisdom. This story reflects just one of her life changing wake up calls that she gave to me as a gift of life:
The day was my graduation day, or should I say her graduation day from college. It was the end of an era for both of us. I remember getting really close to her in a private moment with all kinds of activity swirling around us. I said, “Honey, our lives have been all about healing, advocacy and the overcoming of adversity. How will we now be with each other now that this common bond is no longer what defines and connects us?” In her whisper wisdom, she put her arms around me, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mommy, all the healing, advocating, protecting, teaching and loving you have done for me has been very good practice for you. Now you know you can do all of those same things for yourself, but this time for real, for you.” We cried. She had handed the torch right back to me. We felt the loving bonding heart juice between us that was squeezing out of our hearts. I thank you my sweet daughter for letting me use you to learn about me.
And today, that same wise sage is pregnant with a little girl of her own soon to be birthed. And so the wheel turns, and life gives her the same Mother’s Day opportunity she gave me. Now her ‘practice’ begins. Thank you wise sage. Happy New Mother’s Day!