We have a long history being unable or unwilling to meet the needs of older and even younger people with disabilities without warehousing them in nursing homes. Yes, there are standards of care that these homes must meet; but people often only want to provide minimum standards of care so that the home will be reimbursed.
Recently a friend of mine was admitted to a nursing home and I have visited there several times. The thing that I noticed on my visits there were the people who looked like “zombies”. Previously I had only seen people who were catatonic schizophrenics that looked like “zombies.”
The people I saw in the nursing homes were neatly dressed and had their hair nicely combed, but they sat silently and immobile in a chair or wheelchair. At mealtimes, their chairs were moved so that they sat up next to the table. These women and men posed no problems as long as they remained that way.
They had joined the troop of the forgotten. They caused no trouble for the staff and would stay anywhere the staff had put them. I guess you could call them the living dead or “zombies.” It seemed like they had just given up and the staff saw them that way too.
I always called myself an eclectic psychologist but I have now realized that I actually am a Humanistic Psychologist ala Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. I feel that the person’s inner concept of who they are directs their life.
People are also looking for the answers to life. One of the areas that people are looking into is spiritual psychology. This has not been an area of psychology that has been studied. Many psychologists avoided working in this area based on the idea that you can not scientifically prove that things that are spiritual (like mental telepathy and prayer) actually work.
That is not true now. The scientific studies are now out there and even atheists can’t ignore them because of the scientific proof that now exists. Especially see the book, “Measuring the Immeasurable” by Sounds True publishers and Message From Water by Dr. Masaro Emoto’s The books cover his experiments on water crystals.
My study of the spiritual began when I met Dr. Elisabeth Kubler –Ross , a psychiatrist, who worked with terminally children and adults and who heard about many near death experiences from them. Elisabeth was a very sincere woman and when she talked, it was a mesmerizing experience and the listener knew that she was telling the truth.
Elisabeth never made any money doing this. Her and her fellow leaders only collected enough fees to cover the expenses of meeting for several days in a “bare bones” retreat facility with room and board included. The only other expense was a participant‘s travel expenses to and from the retreat. The leaders volunteered their time. These workshops were often life changing experiences for the participants.
How you grieve can not be predicted nor how long. Also it can not be avoided or it will cause irrevocable damage. Grief over the loss of a child can cause relationships to fail especially when communication shuts down. Grief can’t be easily avoided or ignored. A person can grieve for any loss or impending loss such as the loss of a job, having a child leave home, etc.
The longest I grieved was five years (and it’s really not over yet.) and the deaths were unexpected and tragic. I never have forgotten my dear, dear, friend (who was like a sister to me) who was pregnant and her toddler daughter who died on the way home for my friend and her husband to tell both sets of grandparents she was expecting. Shock is hardly the word for how I reacted. They have always been in my heart and mind and I marked the occasion for several years on my friend’s birthday.
There are several stages of grief and a person does not go through them in any particular order. This statement was made by Dr. Elisabeth-Kubler Ross herself at a workshop I attended. Different sources on the internet say different. They say that people progress through these stages in a particular order. Actually a person can bounce back and forth between them. A person may think that they have completed a certain stage and then he or she goes back through one of them again.
The stages are: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. Denial is not being able to accept the the loss has happened or that the impending loss will occur. Such as “No, no, he or she can’t be dead” or not accepting a diagnosis of terminal illness. Pretending that a spouse who leaves is not gone for good and is going to come back when he or she returns to their right mind are other ways that a person can deny that a loss has or will occur. Bargaining is making a deal with God or other sources of power that the person will not die or some loss will not occur if the person who is doing the bargaining does some particular thing. A person can be angry at the person or situation that caused the loss or at the deceased for leaving them alone. Depression occurs when the person realizes that the loss is permanent and the person left behind doesn’t know how they can be able to stand it. Realizing that life will go on after the loss or that no matter what a person does the loss has or will occur is part of acceptance.
What is dangerous is that people who are grieving will isolate themselves and not encourage anyone to console them. People in different stages of grieve often clash and harm rather than help each other. People who grieve can project their anger on to others and even go so far as to seek revenge. Many people who grieve feel helpless and unable to cope. They can even become irrational and impossible to reason with. Many deaths are just senseless and can’t be rationalized in any way. For example, a random killing by a person bent on killing someone and doesn’t care who it is or a death or deaths from an auto accident killing whoever happened to be there at that place and time such as in my girlfriend’s case..
For example, years after my father died I got to see his death certificate and found that he died from multiple bed sores which was probably the fault of the nursing home. My father had dementia and was irrational and unreasonable at times. He remained a strong man and my mother could not handle him. We grown children all lived away from home and she relied on neighbors and other family members to help her with him when he became aggressive. For over a year after my father’s death, she couldn’t be reasoned with because she continued to constantly blame herself for putting him in the nursing home. We all thought that she should have given up taking care of him by herself years earlier. Now I know why she wouldn’t listen to us when we tried to talk to her.
(No media have been added because to do so might make light of this tragedy by focusing on the “clown” not the person.)
Laugh clown, laugh. Could it be that comedians and persons with depression who commit suicide are some of the most misunderstood people in the world.
We all enjoy laughter. It has even been proven scientifically to help people fight cancer. Why do we laugh when others put themselves down? Why do we laugh when we put ourselves down or worse yet why do others put us down and expect us to laugh about it?
What people don’t realize is that if people feel threatened enough to put us down that we may be more powerful and talented than we think. Otherwise why we would be seen as such a threat?
Things people say about us create mind chatter. It may even have a little truth in it. Also most of us believe it is better to laugh than to cry. But why would someone who loves us do this to us anyway?
Have you ever been told that you don’t have a sense of humor when other people make jokes about you at your expense. Maybe it is a way for comedians to control being put down this when they make fun of themselves. Other comedians ridicule others to get the same thing.
Deep underneath what does it do to one’s self-esteem? As the thoughtless mind chatter is repeated over and over, it can become the truth at least from our point of view and maybe others too. Ridicule is not funny and eats at your insides. It is worse enough when others do it to you but what about when you do it to yourslelf. Traitor!
When you get real good at it, how can you stop yourself when other people begin to expect that you will put your show on any time, any place. Can you imagine a comedian at his or her spouse’s funeral making a joke of it. I can. What a Sad Sack.
If you get recognition and also re-numeration for it; it must be be worthwhile and it often becomes who you are. Then why are you so unhappy? Why would you commit suicide to get out of the situation? You can’t or shouldn’t always take work home with you; but comedians do. On top of that no one wants to cry with you when all they expected from was a few good laughs.
Imagine a prostitute who doesn’t enjoy her work. Doesn’t a comedian somewhat prostitute him or her self to make it in the world. You can’t just pretend to be or act happy to be happy. Only the real thing works.
On top of this, put depression, the dark night of the soul when a person feels hopeless, like the worst person in the world ,and possibly even deserving of hell if they commit suicide, even if it doesn’t seem reasonable to others. It is a job hazard associated with being a comedian especially if the depression feeds a dark sense of comedy which makes other people laugh at and accept him or her. This could be considered as reinforcement for being depressed. Drugs are also a way to self-medicate and they work for awhile but eventually can lead to self destruction and death and/or an “accidental” way of committing suicide.
Add to this the possibility that a person is not only severely depressed at times but also has manic states, possibly extreme manic states, which fuel their comedy and creativity and impair their judgment. Often to medicate this state results in killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
Please do not condemn Robin Williams for ending his life as he saw it and not as we think we understand it. Aren’t suicidal people often in hell on this side before they ever go to the other side? Who are we to condemn them?
You can’t take it with you. Or can you? Some people think they can and do. Did you ever wonder why people shoot to kill other people and then commit suicide? They are so angry inside that they want to die and to take other people with them.
Depression is anger turned inward. It takes an awful lot of anger inside to want to kill yourself. Anger when turned inward is very explosive and even more explosive when turned outward.
When a person feels hopeless, worthless, and maybe even consigned to hell, this generates a lot of anger at the world and the other people on it who either made him or her that way or who have or have had it better than him or herself. This anger can then be directed outward at those hateful persons and the lucky stiffs.
The reason for this post is that I have often have had people say to me why do people who commit suicide take other people with them? Worse yet some people who commit suicide take the loved ones of people they are angry with with them in order to hurt these people even more than if they killed them. These people have to then live the rest of their lives without their loved ones.
Please stop before you get that mad if you are depressed.
When are you helping and when are you medling. Do you think of something somebody has shared with you as juicy gossip or an unspoken prayer. Do you actually make things worse? Understand always. If it is not your personal business, be sure whatever you do helps, not harms. Do what the other person wants even if you think you know a better way. Help is not help if it is not what was sought.
Sometimes control of a situation is the only thing a person has left when they are at a lost as what to do. If someone has a problem, don’t make it worse by gossiping about it. Above else do no wrong. You may not agree with them; but this may be the only shred of dignity the person has left. Controlling how the news gets out is the only thing that they have left that they have any control over. Don’t take that away from them. In this case, it is not all about you. Don’t make it that way.
Don’t be a drama queen and be the first one to tell the story even if it is not yours to tell. When somebody has a problem they like to focus on themselves and the other people personally involved not other people who want to grab the attention for themselves.
How many times have you started to talk about a problem and someone interrupts you to tell you about their similar problem which (at least to them) was much worse. What you can do is just pray. For this you need no audience.
Making your way out of the swamp of denial or helping someone make his or her way out of the swamp of denial may have many causalities, yourself included. Too many people do not want to pay the price; but they have to pay the piper eventually. Seniors may put off making the adjustments they need to make in their chosen lifestyle as they get older and need more help. They are often not willing to face the consequences and often have put it off for way to long and it doesn’t get easier, it just gets harder and harder to do. Not taking personal responsibility for some of their life decisions as not working is something that gets in the way. They can get angry and because of their denial they take it out on the very people they need.
Denial is not conducive to rational thinking or to making an objective assessment of the consequences of choices people in denial might make is close to impossible. Seniors, especially, may have always thought, “I don’t want to think about that yet. It couldn’t happen to me. I like things just the way they are.” Honor thy father and mother is the commandment which gets harder and harder to obey. In fact these people may drive away the very people they need.
Such people in denial (like some seniors) often have had a position of status quo that was comfortable for them and which they never had to compromise. It is hard for these people to make the necessary adjustments when they never wanted to or had to before. At the same time their off spring or local support group runs out of patience with them because some seniors who are in denial won’t accept the help they have to offer and these seniors even get (sometimes) hateful with them.
God Bless you (friends and family) you may be in for a hard ride with no thanks or gratitude or cooperation for your effort. The problem may be impossible to solve if the person who needs to change is in the state of denial and stays there. You might even think you are going crazy. You say to yourself,”This can’t be real.” You think that no one would deny something like that when the handwriting is clearly on the wall.
I have a hard time with condemning people to hell and with not burying suicide victims in a consecrated cemetery. Even those who believe in reincarnation do not give an
come right back and deal with the same situation that was associated with their suicides. I have noted recently a change in attitudes toward homosexuality and homosexual marriage by politicians who have discovered that at least one member of their family is a homosexual. What next? Will there be a change in some prominent people’s attitudes towards suicide when one of their family dies that way?
Suicide is often committed when people are experiencing the dark night of their soul. Mother Teresa had one of these experiences, but I don’t know if she thought of taking her own life when it happened. At one point I even thought of giving my own life (which I felt was worthless except for this purpose) so that others could be saved. Martyrdom is overrated. How can people come to think of themselves as so worthless?
People are constantly competing with each other to be better than somebody else. Some people become suicidal when they think that they have lost this competition. Others have so many demons that their life is torture. For some people dying a “natural” death is so agonizing and costly for the survivors that they want to save themselves from the torture and not handicap the survivors who are already grieving with medical and funeral bills. Combat veterans realistically relive the horrifying nightmare of combat over and over again without any relief.
Believe it or not, I am not encouraging suicide. I am just trying to get you to see the state of mind that some people are in when they are thinking about suicide. At the time, there appears to be no way out, but suicide. Suicidal people often feel that they are alone and friendless and have exhausted all other ways to solve their problems.
Wait a minute. There are people (often with personality disorders) who repeatedly make suicidal gestures, but even they can miscalculate and commit suicide when they didn’t intend to. A dosage they thought was not lethal turns out to be lethal or the person that they counted on to rescue them does not turn up on time.
What a debt of gratitude we owe to those who volunteer to do dangerous things. It is a huge step in moral development to do this and (I think) a step backwards for those who, not only don’t do it, but also don’t appreciate it when others do it. First responders are an obvious example. The military and especially special forces are another. There are other people that people don’t think about who either live a reduced life style to do the work of helping others and/or perform their jobs in dangerous situations.
What is also astonishing is the amount of preparation some people need in order to do their jobs like these and also that some of these people never complete the training having been washed out after already exerting a great amount of effort. They don’t even get a chance to be in the limelight ( if there is any ) that others who do not fail are able to share when they graduate.
Some of these jobs unfortunately don’t have prestige associated with them and those that perform these jobs are sometimes even shunned. These jobs usually involve thankless tasks that no one else will do, but have to be done. Can you think of any?
You don’t know how it is to be handicapped unless you have been there or been intimately involved with and caring for someone who is. I have traveled both routes. In fact, when I started out in this field, I didn’t want to work with the handicapped. I avoided institutions for the developmentally disabled and nursing homes and wasn’t nearly as sympathetic towards my aunt who had polio and my mother who was shut-in in her later years as I should have been and I have since thought this over many times with increasing insight about how it might have been for them and what major adjustments they had to make and should be unfortunately post-humusly praised for by me.
I live in a rural area and found some limitation in job opportunities even when I traveled some distance away. I worked in both homes and workshops for the developmentally disabled and in nursing homes. (I’ve also worked in prisons, but that’s another story). (See also my blogs on mental institutions.) I learned many things that influenced my views in life.
I could never abort a child even if I knew via amniocentesis that he or she would have Down syndrome In fact, I considered that before I got pregnant with my last child at thirty nine and I found out, shockingly so, from two different obstetricians in two different towns that I would have to sign a paper saying I would have an abortion if they found the fetus had Down syndrome. I found out several things. An abortion at that late a stage of pregnancy was only allowed in these special cases and I read about what the procedure for such an abortion would be which was shocking. I knew what Down syndrome persons were like from working with them and I realized I couldn’t abort my child just because he or she would be a two year old (or four year old or six year old, etc.) the rest of his or her life. I also didn’t want to take the risk; however, how slight that the amniocentesis might hurt the fetus or cause a miscarriage or still birth. I tell this story, because I never heard all this before and everybody that I talked to about it hadn’t either.
There is more to this post on being handicapped and I will continue it tomorrow.
CAUTION: These links are obviously Pro-Life and are somewhat more graphic than my post. I realize there is an opposing point of view and I invite you to comment on this post about abortions and the handicapped and to propose links with an opposing point of view.