Thank you, Sheryl Sandberg, for Option B.
Although you don’t know me, I have been living Option B my entire life. I have not always been successful at choosing the right option, and sometimes B has turned into C, D, and has climbed further up the alphabetical ladder. However, as long as I am a living and breathing soul on this earth, I refuse to give up.
We all face adversity and sometimes it is as emotionally and devastating as yours, losing your husband so expectantly, who was not only the love of your life but your soulmate. One moment he was there and the next poof, he was gone. You didn’t have time to say goodbye, and even if you had, goodbye is not what you would have wanted to say!
Life is full of grief, and today I too could share a laundry list with my blog readers and podcast listeners, but that is not what this is all about. My list is your list, and yours is mine. Grief is not just the death of a loved one; grief can mean many different things to all of us.
1. I felt like an outsider growing up
2. I moved from one high school in one city and state in my senior year only to graduate from another high school in a different city and state (knowing no one.)
3. I struggled in my first two years of college – lying to my parents – they never knew I had obtained an Associate’s Degree in Communication (I didn’t think they would be proud)
4. I have been married and divorced
5. I remarried and struggled to be in an intermarriage
6. I had to fight in court for custody of my first born
7. I watched as my first born chose to live with his father
8. I went through three years of infertility and miscarriages before giving birth to Alex
9. Suffered additional miscarriages after Alex’s birth
10. Alex was born with medical problems (unidentified for three months)
11. Alex was later diagnosed with Asperger’s at age six – we lost friends and support
12. Rich and I had to balance work and family, losing income and insurance, declaring bankruptcy
13. Alex faced bullying in school
14. Rich and I were bullied
15. Rich was diagnosed on the spectrum
16. My migraines increased with more responsibilities
JOIN IN & UNDERSTAND
However, despite adversity, I learned that you put one foot in front of the other and you WALK. No one understands until they walk in your shoes and you must help them fit into your shoes.
My beautiful DVasha taught me to never wash my dirty laundry in public. However I believe as Sherly Sandberg, and Adam Grant suggests unless you talk about the underlying grief you cannot move forward to make it to the next step in living. If I had allowed myself to continue to feel like the outsider growing up, I would not have met the friends I did in youth group. Whether I realized it or not, my connection in youth group and the happy person I was in that environment must have shown through because today, many of those classmates from high school think of me as their friend. I didn’t allow the adversity of what I sensed as the bullying destroy me. Yes, I cried and ranted and raved at home, but when I walked out the door, I smiled and found my niche. Was it difficult, you bet! But what was my choice? Sitting in my room crying, “Oh Whoa, is Me?”– No Dorothy Freedman Moss, DVasha, would not have allowed for that!
When Alex was diagnosed on the spectrum, both my husband and I were in disbelief. Of course, we knew there was something wrong, different, but Autism? Now what? When we turned to our parents for help, they looked at us as if we were crazy. They only saw a sweet, active, sometimes odd six-year-old having tantrums. They didn’t see the tantrums turn to meltdowns, as well as sleepless nights, and what at times sounded like speaking in tongues. Again, we heard the words, ‘Shh! Don’t hang your dirty laundry for the neighbors to see.” We lived in a bubble for a short time, maybe a week until I became vocal, in 1996 and I hung out our laundry. Our laundry was clean! I explained the facts and looked for answers. I offered my support to others and asked for help in return. This was the only way that I knew we could get through what felt like hell. Many of you know the rest of the story, and MY I’MPOSSIBLE DREAM is still developing…. http://myim-possibledream.com/, please check out our website, I update it regularly.
DVasha was my antagonist when it came to Alex and Autism. For many years, I didn’t understand her position on this, and it upset me to the core. We used to argue about it as she would ask when will ask Alex be cured. It was awkward explaining that there is no cure. However, Alex was adapting and living a full achievable life. That would take us full circle when she would say, “Well, maybe there is nothing wrong with him, did you ever think of that?”
Today when I think of those words I think of all the biting words that were said with love that I didn’t understand at the time. I would be sitting in Cleveland, Ohio talking to her on the phone on Saturday morning hearing the same words over and over and all I wanted to do was scream at her and say, you’re wrong, I’m right. I wanted my mother to hear me and understand I needed her to know what I’ve been through in life and that I just need some TLC and not words that felt like knives slicing into me.
In the Fall of 2016, I finally got to know my mother. I finally got my Option B, and I don’t want anyone to miss their options whether it is with their mother, father, children, the next love of their life or themselves.
(I must let her dreams Hug Me!)
While my mom spent 2 ½ months bedridden (dying), she was talkative a good portion of the time. Briefly, mom suffered a major stroke on August 2, 2016, that left her blind, and in the beginning stages of dementia at the young age of 96 ½ years. Mom did not know she was blind and we were advised by the doctors not tell to her as she would not understand, her brain was telling her she could see. In fact, she was describing images to us all the time.
I moved in with my mom and her caregivers (my Option) giving me the opportunity to talk to her about anything and everything. One of the many conversations we had was very poignant. My mother shared that despite all the talents everyone else identified she had, DVasha had very low self-esteem. One of my mother’s biggest regrets was giving up going to college. She sacrificed her dream so her brother Dave could become a dentist. I learned that my mom wanted to be a teacher.
My mother was an entrepreneur she started many home businesses through her lifetime, despite others snickering behind her back. DVasha is my heroine; I am much like her. The days we spent together I realized those words she had been using all those years were not biting all. If I had been listening with my heart I would have heard the pain she was feeling. She had no answers for me, and all she could do was spur me on like others had spurred her on. The more people implied it couldn’t be done; she did it. The more my mother suggested something I didn’t like, I proved her wrong, and she smiled.
The day I completed my advanced degree with honors my mother said, “So why did it take so long?” No Mazel Tov, no congratulations. Five years ago, those words made me cry; today they make me smile from ear to ear.
The DVasha series is about starting the journey before your parent gets ill (if you can), take the time to talk to them, prepare and understand the aging process. Know that you and I are next in line and we need our children, friends, and family to prepare as well.
Start mending fences, no one wants to spend the last days alone.
Get to know what caregiving is all about and begin the caregiving discussion, not just with your parent but with the many agencies and services available.
Know the difference between in-home and assisted living services.
Know your rights and your loved one’s rights.
As an adult child who has secured caregiving for my mom I recommend the following:
Caregiver- although this is a job, when caring for someone it must be with compassion and not just as a job and a paycheck. If so, you are in the wrong career. You are not just caring for the parent, the family needs your support to, and in exchange, they will help you. There must be communication between family and caregivers. If not, you are not matched correctly.
I must give a shout out to an EXCELLENT CAREGIVING GROUP this goes out to JCARE at Jewish Senior Life in West Bloomfield, Michigan, I will be speaking there this Wednesday, May 17th. The JCARE Staff (each one of them) cared for my mother with TLC. Some of these women knew my mom; some met her for the first time when they began caring for her. If a caregiver was not a good fit, not because they weren’t good, but their personality didn’t meet my mother’s needs, they were rescheduled to another case, and someone else was assigned. Kudos to their management team.
Life is full of grief. However, we can make our own joy, but sharing, caring and living life. Take the next Option, and a special thank you to people like Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant who have confirmed that I have been living my life correctly. I’m in good company. Now join us and let’s get the DVasha Series to your group and let’s talk MOMs (or Dads.)
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