Journaling saved my life.
That is a bold statement, but one born from a lot of thought. I journaled while Maureen was sick with dementia, to help me focus on the good times and not crack from the pressure. I journaled after she passed, to cope with the trauma of losing her and to never forget the good times.
I encourage journaling for the members of the caregiver support group that I lead for AFTD. That time is meant for them to share what is eating at them in a safe way. Sure, sometimes they are seeking technical advice, but mostly they want to just share their current hardships. I welcome that. They do not get to do that all the time in their personal lives, but they know there it is safe.
I make sure of only three things: it is a safe place – confidential and free from judgement, I move the discussion around the room, so everyone is heard, and I nudge them toward finding something positive.
That last one is hard. Life as a care partner can wear you down. I know. The sheer magnitude of challenges typically far outweighs the moments of magic. It is easy for those nuggets to get lost. That is where the journaling comes in.
It need not be every day and need not be a novel each time. Writing a few words can make the difference between looking forward to tomorrow . . . and not.
It is not the miraculous either. It is often the ordinary. I have told people many times, “Celebrate the magnificence of the ordinary.” It can be as simple as their loved one ate, when they had been refusing food; they reached for their care partner’s hand out of the blue; or they simply were not as on edge one day – perhaps a bit contented. That simple mindset pivot has made a difference in some of their lives.
I know it did in mine.
This website is based off of that premise. Six weeks before Maureen died, when words were scarce, she told me in the still of the night, “We are us.” Your loved ones are always inside there. That served as a powerful reminder. I wrote it down that night when I got home. It was just a few lines, but I kept it. Months later as I went through items from the FTD days, I saw those words again. They were good moments during the darkest hours – rainbows among the ruins.
Maureen helped me celebrate the ordinary during our whole lives together. That journaling; that jotting of just a few words, feeds my spirit now, two and a half years after her passing.
I encourage you to feed your spirit. You do not have to be a writer, just someone who cares – you know, a care partner. Capture the moments. Words can change the world.