“All travel has its advantages" said Samuel Johnson. I'm not sure if this is quite what Mr. Johnson meant, but on one of my trips to my long distance grandkids, I discovered the truth of this statement while I was browsing in a new-to-me bookstore. I happened upon a great book for all of us in the Sandwich Generation, Farewell My Friend, by Beatrice Toney Bailey. It is "a step-by-step guide to handling a serious illness and even the death of a loved one."
Unfortunately, one of the facts of life for all of us elder caregivers is that we will usually be called upon to walk with the beloved seniors in our family through a time of grief in their "walk through the valley of the shadow of death" which may include hospice and their passing.
Ms. Bailey and her husband dealt with this season of life over a period of many months after her husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. So much of what she described in her interesting and resource-full book mirrored what I went through during the time my senior dad went through the end stage of his Parkinsons Disease.
I really wish I'd had this book then as it would have been a big help – both in preparing me for what was to come as well as providing great organizational ideas to help with all that goes on during this difficult time in our lives.
Written in an easy to read and engaging manner, combining deeply serious subjects with a sweet sense of humor, she shares the various emotions they dealt with, the many charts she prepared, how they handled respite care, legal documents she used, and even covers well the topic of caring for the caregiver.
Some of the chapter headings include:
- Meeting with the healthcare professionals
- Organization and time savers
- Legal matters
- Those who want to help
- Funeral plans
- Death of a loved one
One thing I especially appreciated was her discussion of some of the signs of an impending death. That was something I researched extensively while caring for my elderly father and it helped me to know what was normal and what wasn't. She listed some I recognized and some we dealt with that weren't in my prior lists.
Ms. Bailey is a Christian and her love of God shines out through this book. However this would be a great resource for all in these difficult circumstances, whatever their beliefs might be.
While I am not currently in the throes of "the valley of the shadow of death," my copy of Farewell, My Friend is now well dog-eared and underlined in preparation for the future. It's definitely one of the best books on grief and loss that I've read and I highly recommend it to all of us in the Sandwich Generation. It was definitely a great advantage for me to find this while traveling!