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The Ribbon - Care for Caregivers
Symbolizing the way we are all woven together
in our fight against Alzheimer's Disease

Volume 5, Issue 9
April 29, 2001
1104A Murfreesboro Pike PMB 114
Nashville, TN 37217-1918

I have to let y'all know how the "Sister's Garden" turned out. Firstly, it turned out to be me, my sister, my daughter and my grandmother who had a great time working in the dirt. We've always said that my grandmother could stick a stick in the dirt and it would grow so we had her stick her finger in each hole and mess with each plant and then tell us exactly what to do. We had a wonderful time and the flowers are growing beautifully. The bed is between my house and my grandmother's so she gets to see it each time she opens her side door. (That's the one that is used all the time). She waters and tends to the garden and is really enjoying it.

We "girls" did get carried away much to the dismay of my hubby. We planted 2 bushes by my new brick mailbox and then 6 bushes in front of the house. We had such a great time and loved it so much that it has inspired my sister and my daughter to go to their homes and get some flowers out. I know it lifts my spirits everytime I go outside. I am hooked now. I'm looking for other places in the yard to do some planting now.


Birthing And Deathing

The phenomenon of life presents many similarities in the process of birthing and deathing. "We come into this world alone and we leave it alone", is perhaps the biggest reality we must face as caregivers. This is nature's life cycle. While there is so much preparation for a birth, why is it that we find it so difficult to prepare for death? Both processes involve physical, emotional and spiritual changes. One is the building up of a life and the other is the slow breakdown of a life that is closing down or coming to an end on the physical plane. Each process is a soul process as well. Those who are present in either experience are affected by the miraculous experience of birthing and deathing.

Until we experience a birthing whether or not we are the mother or the observer, there are many concerns of the unknown. The fetus which is nurtured in the comfort of the mother's womb via the placenta evidently undergoes a great deal of what we experience as we are preparing to leave our bodies through the deathing process.

A mother may suffer physically through out the pregnancy. This suffering increases at the time of birthing. In the moment of birth, the newborn undergoes incredible challenges and perhaps a great deal of pain to emerge into the physical world. What a trauma to give up all their comforts which they were automatically and miraculously provided for during an approximate nine month period, only to be forced to emerge from the womb in a tight channel or be removed surgically, if necessary. Immediately following their emergence, they are usually slapped to bring them further into their reality of life.(Fortunately, much is being done to make this entrance more loving and nurturing for the newborn infant)

So it is when an individual's time has come to slowly depart from their physical body. It is almost quite the opposite of the birthing process for bodily functions are no longer building to emerge but preparing to close down at the appropriate time when they depart their physical body. There are so many needs of the individual whose body is confronted with this process. New experiences, sensations and feelings occur that they cannot even express or describe. Why is it that we are not able to find the beauty in the dying process? Why is it that we can't even look at these issues and prepare for them as caregivers? Why is it that we cannot openly talk and share about these processes in general?

You must remember that when your loved one is slowly transitioning, they too,are suffering from loss, perhaps fear and beliefs that they are not in touch with. They are giving up their life, their family, friends, home, and all they have had in their life. For many, the belief in God or a higher power is not as strong. The unknown is hovering in right before their very life. Especially if it is an elderly individual who has never really been able to express their feelings throughout their lifetime, how is it that they are going to feel comfortable enough at this time to begin sharing now?

If we as caregivers to our loved ones are not aware of the needs they are going through, how is it that we can really be there to support them. If we are in our own victim mode, how can we move into being more loving and compassionate? Our own grieving and fear will keep us from moving into a place of love and healing, as well as understanding. Is this how you choose to experience the role you have been faced with? If you are harboring anger or resentment towards the loved one you are caring for, how will you be able to take full advantage of the beauty and the gift that has been placed before you?

There are many reasons. Denial, cultural differences, lack of intimacy in our normal daily lives, fear, grief, an unwillingness to let go and the reasons are unlimited. The universe is in a state of impermanence. Absolutely everything in this Universe is in a constant state of flux or change. The only guarantee in life is that there are no guaranties. Once again, I remind you that we come into this world alone and we leave on our own.

I believe if we become more aware and open to the ideas that are presented here, our beliefs will begin to shift, our hearts will be filled with more love and compassion, and we will be able to accept dying as a beautiful, natural process of life. It will bring forth more incredible growth experiences that enhance the quality of all our lives as well as the life of our loved one.

Take the time to meditate on these thoughts. Get comfortable. Perhaps you can light candles, take a bath, and listen to inspiring, peaceful music. Do whatever is necessary for you to truly create a safe space to be with these concepts. Take nice deep breaths. With each breath breathe in love and light and good thoughts. On each exhale; breathe out all your worries, your fears, your doubts and concerns. Focus on your breath and your letting go until you have reached a calm, relaxed state of being. It is when you are in this state that you are more open and receptive to ideas and understandings that you would not normally allow yourself to focus on when you are caught up in your daily activities and way of being.

Imagine all of what we have spoken here in terms of the birthing process. See in detail in your mind's eye, the beauty from conception, and the process of the pregnancy right through the birthing. Visualize as much as you possibly can to really get in touch with everything that is involved. See the expressions, feelings and thoughts of family members, the unborn, throughout these stages.

Next move into the slow deathing process, visualizing as clearly as you can the various stages that your loved one is going through. Try to imagine what they are experiencing as their body is beginning to slow down. What are they feeling? What is the body going through? What emotions are running through their minds? What are their fears? What is the unknown?

Pay attention to what you are feeling. What is going on for you during this process? What about your beliefs on your own mortality? Are you living your life as fully as you can? Let yourself process through as much as you can.

You will find many things are revealed to you in this process. I do suggest that when you come back into the present moment that you detail in writing about all that you experienced. I also suggest that you do this visualization two to three more times. As you become more familiar with it, you will open and heal on deeper levels.

There is a lot to ponder on here. This is work. But in making a commitment to open yourselves to heal, you will find that you will come out with more strength, understanding, forgiveness, and most of all, you will emerge into the healing power of love.

Blessings to you. May your journey be safe and nurturing.

Gail R. Mitchell is the creator of the Empowering Caregivers Site at She is the spokeswoman for the Caregivers Area at the Boomer's International site at Her articles have been published in the National caregiving magazine "Today's Caregiver" here in the United States and in Canada's National caregiving magazine, "CANGO QRTLY". She is a freelance consultant to many other caregiving sites on the Internet. You will find her hosting chats at the Empowering Caregiver's Site, AllHealth / IVillage on AOL and appearing at various sites online as a guest host. She offers workshops on Empowering Caregivers offline. Currently Gail is working on a major vision for a "Universal" Caregiving Portal on the Internet. You may contact Gail at or 212-807-1204.

Editor's note: We are proud to welcome Gail as a contributor to The Ribbon and look forward to future articles.

From website

Over 6.5 million older people need assistance with activities of daily living, and that number is growing rapidly. Many of these elderly citizens can find enough help to stay in their own homes. Others, however, choose to move into one of the nation's many assisted living facilities.

After intensive, state-by-state research and quality checking, CareScout is proud to unveil a new, up-to-date, nationwide database of over 35,000 assisted living facilities. This is the most comprehensive assisted living database available--a wonderful tool for you or a loved one who may be considering such a facility. Come to CareScout's Assisted Living database and search by:
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We are happy to announce that we have had 15,000 hits now on The Ribbon website. Karen, Kevin, and I are truly amazed. It has always been our goal to help others in their role of caregivers as others have helped us. Thank you for being loyal readers and contributors.

The Gathering Place

Just a note to remind you that The Gathering Place support group is now affiliated with The Ribbon website. This support group can be attended by anyone. It does not matter which Internet Provider you use.

There are great hosts who will try to help you with questions, share ideas, give a hug, or laugh with. The room is hosted Monday thru Friday 9-11pm EST. You will meet some great people there.

If you need any information or help getting there please contact

Welcome to The Gathering Place

Email Bag

From Nancjo

The Ribbon is a very helpful part of my well being at this time of my caring for my love one in this time of our lives, Thank you for being there for us

From JDunn56760
in re: Acceptance by Datel123

I feel as though I was reading my own thoughts in your letter to this Easter issue of the ribbon. My let only had this awful disease for four and half years before he went to Jesus last June. I have been loss in my grief. I have gone to support groups and led them. Please keep enjoying the precious moments as they are gone too soon. Let was in a home for only fourteen and a half months and he was a small man that had a mean hurtful kick and punch so size is not a factor in their anger, its just another part of disease. We had been married almost fifty-three years but the last few were lost to us as my future years are lost without him. Someday we will meet up again.



... I just now read the 1998 newsletter and gee, how wonderful to have someone tell you exactly how it is.... I've been tryin to stress to my brother in Calif, as his wife had a massive stroke two months ago, of how important it is to take care of one's own self and get the proper rest.... My husband Rocky has Alzheimer's Disease, and I know that I do get my proper rest, and I do take care of myself, to the best of my ability, and to heck with the house.. I only worry about cobwebs, if there's a spider in them!!! ( I'm just kidding of course, but all of you get the idea, I know... ) in plain english, I would rather give my husband my time, than cleaning house for ???????? and in order to have a fairly good day with him, it all boils down to "two things". "Go along, in order to get along.." and "get my rest".. you'd be surprised what a difference this makes... thank you so much

All of you... I send you prayers that you had a Blessed Easter....

God Bless All of You

Keep those cards and letters coming in. We love hearing from you. Until next time we wish for you

Hugs and Peace,
Jamie and Karen

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