Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss and Renewal

Review by Phyllis Laudano, Staff Writer
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"Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss and Renewal"
by Beth Witrogen McLeod

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Caregiving

In a Nutshell: Beth Witrogen McLeod is a gifted and eloquent writer who has the ability to touch the reader’s heart with the personal accounts of her own caregiving experiences. This book will inspire and encourage as it uplifts the reader’s spirit bringing love, hope and new meaning to the difficult task of caregiving.

This book is a must for all those who are caring for an ill or elderly loved one. It not only contains a wealth of practical information, but also guides us through the spiritual journey and personal growth that is so often a the unrecognized benefit of caregiving.

"Caregiving" is a uniquely inspired book that blends practical advice with profound spiritual wisdom. Beth Witrogen McLeod’s experience in caring for her father, suffering from cancer and her mother, who at the same time, was deteriorating from Lou Gehrig’s Disease helped her develop a rare and enlightened perspective on the entire spectrum of caregiving. Rather then viewing caring for a loved one as a dutiful obligation to be endured and then forgotten, as is often the case, the author guides the reader down a different path. She came to the realization through a journey in which she endured intense emotional pain and grief, that by giving oneself to another we receive the gift of personal growth and strength.

The book includes practical advice offered by professionals in the fields of medicine, finance, spirituality and aging. The author touches upon such topics as stress, depression, home care, and end of life concerns. The appendix contains an extensive list of resources that would be of great value to any caregiver.

Topics Discussed/ Table of Contents

Introduction- My Parents Are Dying

Part I Setting Out on the Path of Caregiving

  1. What Family Caregiving Is – being suddenly thrust into the unexpected role of caregiver.
  2. Women and Caregiving – the traditional role of women as caregiver, women and long-term care, the loss of work income, life’s lessons, the spirit of Christmas past.
  3. The Medical/Financial Maze – the labyrinth of health care, financing long-term care, relying on experts, taking back control.
  4. Caring for Aging Parents – becoming responsible for a parent’s well-being, caring at home, extending families, placing a parent, soul keeping.
  5. Spousal Caregiving – the specter of loss, the loss of identity, the loss of partnership, loss of hearth and home, moving beyond loss.
  6.  

    Part II Emotional Wilderness

  7. The Nature of Loss – the cycles of grief and mourning, the path of initiation, death is a mystery.
  8. The Stresses of Caregiving – stress and anxiety, the problem of isolation, guilt, anger and resentment, feeling helpless or frustrated, the stress of multiple caregiving.
  9. Caregivers and Depression – Alzheimer’s and depression, clinical depression, breaking down, compassion fatigue, suicide: feeling there is no other way out.
  10. Hitting Bottom – to the stars through difficulty.
  11.  

    Part III Bridges to the Future

  12. Support Strategies and Everyday Miracles – traditional family and cultural supports, support groups, professional support, day care and care management, the internet, alternative health care, energy medicine, meditation.
  13. Caregivers, Religion, and Spirituality – Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism, Islam and Sufism, mysticism and shamanism, spirituality and aging.
  14. End-of-Life Concerns – ethical issues, euthanasia, hospice and palliative care, conscious dying.
  15. Caregiving as a Rite of Passage – myths and rites of passage, inner resources, turning points, taking charge, changing perspectives, crossing the threshold, returning to life.
  16.  

    Part IV Reclaiming Life

  17. Awakening the Heart – forgiveness, a touch of heaven, finding equanimity, transcendence.
  18. The Urge to Serve – an advocate for caregivers, fighting for research, nothing is impossible, the art of caring for others.
  19. Caregiving and Community – the importance of learning to give of ourselves to others.

Appendix
Resources, Further Reading, Web Sites

About the Author

Beth Witrogen McLeod lectures nationwide and conducts Internet chat groups on caregiving issues. She has written for Family Circle, SELF, Good Housekeeping, the Noetic Sciences Review, and the San Francisco Examiner, is a consultant and syndicated columnist for Third Age Media, and teaches a course in family caregiving through the University of California. For her writing and advocacy, Beth McLeod has received many honors, including the Society for Professional Journalists Public Service Award, the National Hospice Organization’s President’s Award, the Primary Care Journalism Award from Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Media Award for Outstanding Public Service from the Family Caregiver Alliance. She lives in the San Francisco area with her husband and two cats.

  - Read an interview with Beth...
  - Read an excerpt from her book (Caring for Aging Parents)...
  - Read an excerpt from her book (The Nature of Loss)...
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