Caregiving: How Death Prepared Me

I am sitting in my 92 year old mom’s living room, with its eccentric, international decor, beautifully cluttered art, and mid-century style disheveled furniture. It’s beautiful. She’s asleep in next room, and I am having a glass of wine.

We had another good day today, mom and I, breakfasting out with my younger brother, taking him to the airport, playing with the dog, napping, watching the news, and sharing dinner together. Then meds and bed, and of course, the usual and many extras that go along with being a caregiver. If you are one, you understand.

At one point this afternoon, as I watched her hobbling through the house, I was reminded of what a blessing it is to still have that moment, with her, there and then. We both know, and we talk about it, that the end could come at any time now. Death comes sniffing around more often nowadays.

And that’s why I’m grateful I did the podcast about death, dying and the afterlife. It was a two year death meditation of sorts, always with wise and wonderful guests. Our discussions helped prepare me for being a caregiver in ways I couldn’t foresee with my conscious mind.

Nowadays, when the subject comes up, mom and I talk about it, naturally, covering the dark and the light of death, and the in-between.

But at least we talk about it, from time to time, and I know exactly how she feels and what she wants. There is clarity. That’s a good thing.

I will keep the door open to death (as I must), and I might even do more shows about it one day. For now I am focusing the show on other things.

For those who want to experience their own death meditation, I highly recommend Dr. Karen Wyatt’s podcast at the End-of-Life University and her excellent book What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying. Karen deep wisdom and gentle style is a comforting guide on what can be a challenging part of your journey.

But as Joseph Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.”

Discovering that treasure will help you help others.

***

I interviewed Karen in 2014, when I was first starting my podcast. Back then I only knew her through her book, but since then I’ve had the occasion to hang out with Karen and her husband, and we’ve become friends. A gorgeous person in all ways.

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