Sallie Felton, Life Coach, Weblog

July 22, 2011

Out From Under, Passing of A Parent

Filed under: Change, Transition, Depression, Life Transitions — Tags: , , , , , , , — Sallie Felton @ 3:50 pm

I received an email from a dear friend who just lost her father about a month ago. He had not been well for a while, yet still remained humorous to the end, but within a few months passed on. A death of a parent disturbs our roots and shakes our foundation whether you are a caregiver or not.

 

I remember in 1999 when my father was diagnosed with emphysema and congestive heart failure, hearing the doctor’s words, “Your Dad may have a year or two.” I was stunned; numb…this can’t be happening. My INNER child was screaming, “this is not OK, …I am not ready to deal with his death.”  This was not in the cards, cannot be happening….of course my parents will live forever. WRONG! 

We joked numerously with our parents that there was a reason they had 5 daughters…the constant caregivers. It’s not by surprise that my sisters are my best friends. It wasn’t always like that growing up, but we worked at it through the years, confronting each other and working through issues. They would each be by my side and I theirs at a moment’s notice, unconditionally.

It is because of that bond I believe we were able to rally around taking turns caring for Dad and later with Mom who was diagnosed with lung cancer the summer before Dad died in 2000. Both of our parents made it very clear there was to be no nursing home in their future, though there are families where that is not an option. We 5 gathered around and came up with options, plans, schedules and support systems. Some of which our parents thought to be overdone, overprotective and overly committed. However, when I asked her, “If you were taking care of me, what would you do?” BINGO! Same solutions. (The apple does not fall far from the tree.)

 

We spent wonderful days caring for him and later with Mom. Those two years gave me a greater sense of “giving” unconditionally than I ever thought I had in me. I looked at every task, either changing a Depend to changing a soiled bed to feeding a meal never as a JOB or BURDEN but of coming full circle. It was my turn to give back to them for all the years in which they nurtured me, tended to my soil from which I grew strong roots and blossomed. Though I do remember a comment Dad made, “I would like to ship off my daughters from the ages of 13-18, and then have them back.” Guess there might have been a bit too much estrogen in the household for one single male…lol . Whenever there was a tense moment, we used humor; we shared stories and memories and soothed each other with touch.

 

Before Dad died, my sisters asked if I would say something at his funeral. Dad and I were always joined at the hip, so I felt very honored. As I would visit him, I often wondered what I would say…and then I would begin to write and write some more. The feels poured out, even our butting heads came onto the pages. Then I did something I instinctually, from a cellular level, HAD TO DO. I drove down to see him one afternoon and asked if I could share with him what I was going to read at his funeral. He smiled! I sat beside him, holding his hand and began to read. Tears poured from both of us. I got to say what was in my heart. He knew for years how I felt, but how many time do we really sit down, take the time, and say it…really saying it. Of all the people in the world I wanted to hear those words and not when he passed, it was Dad.

 So if you are coming up from under and your foundation has been jostled by the death of a loved one and you hadn’t had the chance to tell them how much they meant to you, here’s something you can do. Take up a journal and begin to write, tell them what he/she meant to you…what you struggled with, issues you wished were resolved. Let it out…grieve… for the healing will take place in time. The ceremoniously burn it outside letting the Universe deliver it.

 

P.S. I put my letter into Dad’s pocket before he was cremated. My words are always with him.

March 3, 2010

WHAT ARE YOU MISSING?

You are busy everyday. The world goes on, never stopping to breathe. Do you find yourself on a treadmill, literally or figuately? Many do. So how do you slow down? Do you even slow down on your vacation?

Here are a couple of suggestions to slow down. Think about one thing you wish to do, start small: massage, walk, sit and read or spend 15 minutes with just you! In order to keep yourself fueled, you have to revitalized yourself. If you can’t read a whole book in a week…start small, read one chapter! It is all about starting where you stand, start small and make the committment to yourself.

I am on vacation right now and am replenishing myself in nature. Yesterday I took a 4 mile walk along the Snake River, seeing moose and soaking up the mountain air. I might have missed it looking around, but something inside me told me to look up. There above me was the most beautiful bald eagle. It must have been 15 feet above my head perched on the aspen branch. I stopped, camera out, clicking away…then I stood and spoke to it. It just stared at me, yellow beak bent low in my direction probably sizing me up if I were to be the next snack. I was taken by its’ curiosity of me. Our eyes fixed on each other. Its’ wings never expanded, content to be “hangin’ out” by the banks of the Snake. I took steps forward to continue my walk and noticed just by stopping and breathing in that encounter filled my heart with joy. When I met another human on the path, I would tell them of the eagle awaiting them and watched their eyes light up with excitement. I filled my soul with the wonderment of nature.

Now some people would not feel the same as I did, and that is perfectly ok. Find something to do that interests you, AND JUST DO IT. When you are emotionally refueled, you are emotionally available to others. So what’s missing?And how are you going to refuel?

January 29, 2010

Stuckedness and Getting Help by Conway Felton

Filed under: Change, Transition, Depression, Life Coaching, Life Transitions, Uncategorized — Sallie Felton @ 11:26 pm

When I was newly married at 25 years of age my wife, Sallie and I had not lived together prior to our wedding. It was a time when parents of the ’60s  were not quite ready for this new living arrangement.  Had we done so, it is exceedingly unlikely we would have married, given my mannerisms/behavior under this cloud of depression.

Sallie saw first hand my moodiness, snappiness, anger, directed at myself , as well as my low self-esteem. If she chose to stay in our marriage,  she knew that she needed to take care of herself first..she needed support too. Therefore, her discussions with her primary care Doctor was the first step. The Doctor indicated that I certainly could get help. Depression makes others around them walk around on egg shells waiting for another outburst. Now she had to convince me that the inability to make decisions,  finding it hard at times to get out of bed coupled with flu-like symptoms was NOT the daily NORM of people. Needless to say it took weeks as she was able to finally help me look back at a series of events that led to seeing and understanding a pattern of life that did seem flawed.

Could I have ever gone to counseling on my own? Not likely. But I had a wife that was willing to support me. Did I feel our marriage might be doomed unless I went to counseling, I don’t recall but subconsciously I probably knew that might be the case. So I feel extremely fortunate to have a soul mate to steer me towards getting help. 

Sallie’s notes: It is very important for any partner/spouse who is in a relationship with someone with depression find support for themselves as well. We were newly married and I wondered about my future.  Did I want to raise children in this environment? Was this behavior normal? There had been a pattern through his family. And speaking with family sometimes is not helpful, as they too need to be educated. So, was I to  just accept this at face value and do nothing?  IT AGAIN WAS A CHOICE I HAD TO MAKE. I continued to read and educate myself on the subject of depression. I would continue to share this information with Conway and slowly we began to talk about it. It was because of the support and communication that  made a  difference for him. He was willing to go seek counseling and begin the process. More to come.

January 20, 2010

Depression, IN THE BEGINNING by Conway Felton

Filed under: Depression, Life Transitions — Sallie Felton @ 1:14 am

How does depression start? Well, I don’t think there is a dramatic beginning. The light does not just suddenly go out, rather it starts to dim as if on a rheostat switch. It could be much like any illness that is mysteriously acquired and you don’t have any idea that you have “it”. Depression can lay dormant and only appear because of various internal or external events; internal: biological and external: traumatic event. Because you think the way you feel is normal, there is no reason to think otherwise. If this is the way “I feel and look at the world”, why would you realize that your feeling  was distorted? As a child, adolescent or adult, you judge the physical and mental weight as just plain normal. For those who realize they have depression, the how and why does not really matter. There are but two choices: either deal with it head on, or try to sustain some form of life by saying the proverbial, “I’m fine.” The “I‘m fine” choice could cost you many personal relationships and ultimately your own life and soul. I have known 4 friends who have taken their lives because of depression and I simply want to share the notion that that choice is unacceptable. More to come.

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