About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

“Dark Matter” shows up between years 5 and 10. Otherwise referred to as depression

I've been meaning to write this post for a really long time and I keep putting it on the pending tray because I really don't know if  I'm able to do it justice in the written form. I've had this conversation countless times verbally but I've never tried to commit it to a written form and I am not sure whether or not it's possible for me to communicate myself clearly enough on this tenuous and somewhat indefinable subject area. I will give it a try.. I suspect I won't be able to explain it all in one post. When I'm explaining things I like to explain it all in one go but if I try to do that these blog posts just end up too long. (!)

By the way, I understand people have very different ideas about depression and medication so I want to assure you in advance that I have no objection to people making different choices than mine… I’m just saying here what works for me in my own experience. Take what you like and leave the rest as they say..

Basically in summary I would say that I expect 95/100 people who are performing a very diligent and capable program who are not taking antidepressants, to experience some form of what I call "dark matter" between the years of five and 10. Normally I see these phases show up in year six or seven, but I tend to have these conversations with people who are at year five or alternatively years six or seven. I see nothing "wrong" with these symptoms arising. I see it as part of the process. I think that this period can be very unsettling for some people who don't know how this pattern arises. They either blame the past, or they blame AA, or they blame their program. I don't see it as an issue of blame. But I do think there are things you can do to make this part of the journey easier.

My solutions are what I would call step 11 and 12 solutions. But I am very particular about what type of step 11 solutions I advocate for people with this type of problem. Basically I shop around for what I consider to be the most sane and mature step 11 community within relatively easy reach, and those are the people that I suggest sponsees spend time with if they are going through these uncomfortable patches. I don't advocate antidepressants not even for people I am sponsoring who are suicidal. So far anyway this approach has worked.

I could go into an entirely separate post just devoted to the use of antidepressants and the medical establishment and the way in which treatment has changed over the last 20 years in respect to the use of antidepressants, but I'm not even going to try addressing that particular subject in this post. Basically (for a multitude of reasons but mainly as a result of first hand experience in recovery) I don't advocate the use of antidepressants. I have sponsored people who were taking a cocktail of pills or prescribed medication before they met me in AA. I have always taken and sponsees through a recovery process whereupon they end up coming off, and not having to take the antidepressants. Basically they all come off the antidepressants and they are all fine. So far. The people who used to be suicidal no longer are suicidal. I've seen this process enough times at first hand to know that it appears to work. I wouldn't recommend it otherwise. Having said that, I have no idea how well it would work if you were simply to stop taking antidepressants and not build new daily routines into your program. Such as helping a newcomer every day. I've seen it work when people help newcomers every day and tell the truth every day to at least one person. In other words I've seen it work when people are selfless and they are going to any lengths to try and practice the instructions in the book. I think if you are a very self obsessed person and you rarely, if ever help a newcomer or do service in AA meetings, then I suspect you will feel very, very uncomfortable if you stop taking antidepressants. So basically when I'm helping Sponsees get off antidepressants or other drugs, it is only on condition that they follow instruction. If they are willing to take instruction and they're willing to go to any lengths then I am more than happy to work with them in the course of recovery, which would involve coming off antidepressants. If they weren't willing to go to any lengths I wouldn't want to help them as I don't think it will work if they stubbornly refuse to practice things that feel unfamiliar or uncomfortable. I would insist that they try their hardest to be honest with me every single day, and I would insist that they try their very best to be selfless in whichever way they can. It has been very labour-intensive working with people who come off antidepressants as I need to keep a close eye on them which can be quite hard work. Thankfully it doesn't last very long and they seem to come out of the woods fairly quickly if I'm steering them in the right direction. I haven't yet had the experience of taking somebody off antidepressants who has subsequently needed to go back on them, or has not been able to deal with whatever "dark matter" arises. This only applies to people who are helping newcomers by the way. It doesn't work and I've never seen it work for people who are largely self obsessed.

Also it's not as simple as just helping others. I tell people that it is not enough simply to try to be helpful. I tell them that they have to actually say something pertinent, targeted and strategically useful to the newcomer. In other words it's not good enough just to offer a encouraging words, although encouraging words are not useless in themselves. But I use the example ..let's say a battered wife who is also a newcomer. I would suggest that in addition to offering encouragement to the battered wife, that you might also offer some very useful targeted information that specifically addresses the fact that she's being beaten up by somebody every day. So I might suggest a shelter. Or I might suggest relying more heavily on her female friends for support in order to build up enough courage to leave the person who's beating them up every day. Occasionally people think that being helpful merely involves making generic encouraging remarks. I don't think this is good enough. I think it's a question of addressing the most glaring need at any given moment. If they are being beaten by their husband, I try to say something helpful about how she can not be beaten. If I am speaking to somebody who has just found out that their cancer has returned, I will offer useful information that I believe will help them address the cancer. If they have a bullying co-worker I will make suggestions about how to deal with having a bullying co-worker. I don't simply offer encouraging generic remarks. I try to address what I perceive at that moment to be the most pressing/important need. The pressing need changes every day. I believe that in addressing the most pressing need I am trying to be of maximum helpfulness. I don't pick up on satellite issues I try to address the core issue. or the issue which has the power to do them the most harm if left unattended to on that day.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I am very particular about what people do when they are coming off antidepressants, and I believe this has a lot to do with the success I've observed with Sponsees coming off antidepressants in the past. They come off antidepressants and they stay off antidepressants. That's been the case for the people I've sponsored is that they come off them and stay off them and they are okay even when quite "dark material" shows up.

Right sorry for that long winded intro, now.. I can get onto the subject of this "dark material" that shows up between years five and 10.
It's very hard to explain but I see the process of recovery as a predictable energetic unfolding of sorts. Although on a very physical level there is an immediate absence of drinking. On other levels there is an emotional and mental and energetic unfolding taking place. I watch people 'defrost' so to speak. The first five years of recovery are what I call "automaton". I think of the first five years of sobriety as about gaining core competency. It's very necessary, but it's a bit partial on an emotional and mental level. I've heard some people say that it takes five years to "clear the head". I prefer the term "automaton". I feel that the first five years is a bit disconnected. A bit frozen. A bit dissociated. Glib.  

Sometimes there is the 'appearance' of a lot of emotion in the first 5 years, but I find this range of emotion more about drama, thrashing about, blame or 'mushyness'. Sort of 2 dimensional. 2 dimensional compared to the depth and range of emotions that become evident from year 6-10 anyway. It's all relative. 

Anyway, sometime between years 5 and 10 (usually about year 6-7) a sort of defrosting takes place. Things inside that used to be blocked and stuck start to unwind. They uncoil. I see it as an energetic process taking place inside. It's not necessary to understand it as an energetic process in my opinion. All that is necessary is to understand that there is a softening going on inside. What is hard and stuck inside is becoming loosened. I describe it sometimes I say it is like that without realising it, all those years you have been emotionally constipated. And now everything is moving around inside and wants to come out to the surface. Which is its natural place. This is not something to be resisted. It is nature taking its course having been subjected to this spiritual life for a period of five years. So I don't see it as a problem although I do think that for most people it can feel very unsettling. The balmy spiritual environment has the effect of softening contracted places inside the body. This has the effect of loosening debris that has accumulated in various energy centres. Thoughts and feelings that have been lodged in various places, start to make their way to the surface. They can take the form of what feels like a more "heavy" vibe. Sometimes this process starts as early as year 4, but that’s unusual. 6 or 7 is more the norm.

The first thing people notice is that things feel different but they don't know why. There is a rich texture to this seam of feeling making itself present on a daily basis. It's as if they have inadvertently hit upon a seam of rich dark oil which is seeping to the surface of the ground and discolouring dry pale earth making it dark and swirly. There is a rising dark swirlyness that becomes apparent inside. This energy becomes apparent in their field of consciousness. It appears all around and sometimes coming from inside ..this unsettling swirly feeling. All they know is that this richness and swirlyness is present, and it wasn't present before. They start looking for reasons in their immediate environment why this "dark matter" should be presenting itself. Very often they attribute it to their childhood. Or perhaps to a difficult set of circumstances that has reared its ugly head or an emotional battle they are fighting at the time. There is nearly always a set of circumstances that will justify the presence of this "dark material". I like the word rich to describe this new seam of emotion because I think it is infinitely preferable to the emotions experienced in the first five years. I have no objections to people going through this process. And I will always tell people that I am much prefer the company of people who are able to access this type of feeling. 
I don't mean people who are overwhelmed by this feeling or are caught up very unconsciously in this feeling. I mean people who are readily able to access this range of emotion. I am much less content with the company of people who do not have access to this range of emotion.

This 'material' could be from this lifetime or a past life, or inter generational stuff from an ancestor that is working it's way out after many generations. Who ? knows. It might be something collective, or from someone else in your family, or close circle. All I know is that it 'shows up'. That's all I know. 

All I know is that you start 'cooking' differently at about year 6 to 7. Stuff comes up which feels heavier than before, and a different level of commitment to honesty is asked of you to make this part of the journey manageable. Simply trotting out all the 'positive' stuff you've  read in books, or repeating what your therapist told you just doesn't cut it. I call that a bit glib, defensive and unthinking. It's a different sort of a challenge. Something 'more' is being asked of you that is less bullshitty than what you were doing before. We never really outgrow the capacity to bullshit, so there is always room for improvement there. That's what I find anyway. 

By the way I would not assume that if you relentlessly talked about your emotions that you were any less prone to bullshit than someone else. Being long winded and almost exclusively preoccupied with your emotional temperature to me would indicate another manifestation of unconsciousness. So please don't think I'm saying the first 5 years are emotionless. I'm not. I'm saying they are different. More 'basic' or something. A more subtle art is required when things start feeling 'heavy' in this particular kind of year 6-7 way..

I see it like a piano with dark notes and high notes. In the first five years people sound like they have a very limited range of notes they can't hit any of the low notes. They have plenty of drama yes. But they lack the depth and lustre of a rich full-bodied range of emotions. It's like choosing a very rich dark blend of coffee instead of a very light blend of coffee. As it happens I also like to drink very high roast rich blend of coffee. But what I'm saying is this rich darkness arises in the consciousness of people in the years from 5 to 10. I think it is relatively challenging containing this new type of emotion, but I absolutely believe that it is possible and that it is doable. Even for people with very limited skills and limited intelligence.

This process is something I like to observe. My only regret with this transition is that a lot of people I meet haven't yet developed sufficient ability to be "still" and practice a meaningful acceptance of these swirly states enough to "bear with" this temporary discomfort.

I've heard people describe a process called "holding a space" for a transformation to take place. All I know is that when I am dealing with Sponsees I feel as though I am "holding a space" for their process to emerge. It's as if I am creating a safe place for their process to unravel. I provide some kind of energetic ballast for their destabilising experience. So they sort of have this wobbly experience, but my presence relays the understanding that "everything is all right" and this makes them feel safe. The reason I'm explaining this skill of "holding a space" is it because it is the same skill I would expect a Sponsee to cultivate in respect to their own swirlyness. I would encourage them to "hold the space" for this process of discomfort that is arising. I would also suggest that they do very simple pragmatic things such as keeping the lines of communication open. Speaking to others. Confiding in trusted people. Trying to be helpful in a selfless way.

On the other hand I often hear people saying they are "sitting with it". I'm not always convinced that this is the right answer. Sometimes you need to just go out and spend time with friends. Sometimes the reason you feel lousy is because there is an important aspect of your life hasn't been addressed. Perhaps you need to change into a new career. Perhaps you need to change the friends you are hanging out with. Perhaps there is something that is way past its sell by date that needs to be changed. So it's not as simple as just sitting with these uncomfortable states. Very often a way of life has outgrown its usefulness. A domineering parent needs to be dealt with. A chapter needs to be closed. Painful relationship needs to be walked away from. Someone who is being bullied needs to stand up to the bullies. A persistent longing to find a solution to emotional problems in relationships needs to be outgrown. A victim mindset needs to be outgrown. Some basic pattern needs to be outgrown. If there is a difficult and painful habit that you haven't outgrown, then of course you're going to feel terrible about it until something changes. So in these cases I don't see it as depression and I see it as drawing of one chapter to a close. Walking away from an old way of life.

So on the one hand I advocate holding a space for these uncomfortable emotions, but I would not say that I was advocating "just sitting with it". Because I don't think that's what I suggest. I would also advocate exercise and a good diet. I would also advocate looking for areas of your life which are long past their sell by date. I would also advocate seeking out nourishing friends. I would also advocate attending a high-class meditation group in order to learn how to "hold a space" for these uncomfortable internal states.

All I know is that this chapter of "dark material" rising is much more likely to happen if you are from a background of some form of abuse in your childhood. Abuse is very common and so in most cases alcoholics will have had this experience. I don't want to say this to reinforce the idea of victimhood, it's just an observation. People who don't have this type of background may very well avoid this all together. But nearly every single alcoholic I meet encounters this dark swirlyness between five and 10.

When I sponsor people I always warn them about the years 6 and 7 in the first few years of recovery. I also encourage them to attend very grown-up meditation groups as early as possible, so that when this material "hits" so to speak, that they are strong enough inside to contain it without getting too disturbed or alarmed by it. In other words they have developed a sort of inner steadiness from helping newcomers and doing service in a day from attending grown-up meditation groups. This inner steadiness means that they are protected during this dark chapter. Sometimes people I have sponsored get therapists during this chapter but I don't think it matters you can do it either way. When somebody tells me that they have had a difficult or abusive childhood, I try to introduce them to a grown-up step 11 practice soon after they finish step 9 because I know they will encounter this dark material with some force later. I tell them this in advance that they are likely to encounter this chapter of dark swirlyness, and that this is why I am recommending step 11 before this period hits. This makes it a little bit easier when this chapter shows up. It's still very difficult because going through this dark swirlyness has a very negative effect on the thinking. But it does make it a little bit easier because I feel as though they have been forewarned and they know what to expect.

I get annoyed with Sponsees who haven't started practising step 11 by year 4 or 5 for precisely this reason. I get quite concerned about the prospect of this material arising at year six and seven without adequate preparation. Occasionally people don't decide to practice step 11 in earnest and I have seen people in that category drift off and become reliant on antidepressants when life delivers some uncomfortable chapter.

Even when all these preparations are in place, it's still a uncomfortable process when they enter into this dark swirlyness chapter. They can get temporarily quite angry and shirty. I know better than to take these spells personally. As long as they are helping others and service is a way of life for them, I feel no fear when they encounter this chapter. I am sure they will be looked after. Very often it is their service commitment that is the life raft. The mountaineering rope that keeps them moored to a safe place.

I suppose I am most comfortable about somebody's recovery when they reach year 10, because I feel assured by this stage that they have almost certainly encountered this dark chapter and have moved through it without drinking. In other words I feel they can navigate this dark stretch of emotions safely. I am confident that they have the ability to use resources to cope with this chapter without drinking.
Having said that I have met people who I haven't sponsored  who reach 10 years sober, but who I don't look upon as having developed this ability. So in other words even if you are 10 years sober I wouldn't automatically say that you have this ability.

I suppose the way that I sponsor people is very heavily dependent upon helpfulness towards newcomers, and helpfulness towards other people generally. I always say that I expect them to sponsor somebody else when they complete the first nine steps. It's not an option for them simply to not sponsor people. It's also not an option for them not to talk to newcomers after meetings. It's not an option for them to lie cheat and steal, and it's not an option for them to avoid step 11. So I don't think I'm particularly typical in that regard. But what I'm saying is that within that context I have seen people very safely navigate through this unsettling chapter and reach year 10. I see people come out the other side looking very different and breakthrough into a new and different life. It's not as if they are dragging themselves along maintaining that they are grateful. It's like an different way of life is opened up to them. It's like watching a caterpillar shed its skin and become a butterfly.

I think the most valuable thing Sponsees learn in preparation for this inner swirlyness is the ability to consciously "hold a space" for this swirly internal state. It means holding a space without judgement and without alarm. Being still. Being present. Being unafraid. It is my belief that it is the process of step 11 combined with continued work with newcomers and doing service that keeps them safe. People who 'give themselves' in terms of service are always looked after it seems. That's what I've noticed. But in addition to that a good step 11 practice enables you to have an internal steadiness when this swirly dark material shows up.

I wouldn't describe it as particularly comfortable or pleasant, but it is eminently doable. And you don't need to do it 24 seven, you can take a break and go to the gym or watch a film or spend time with friends or develop areas of your life that are very healing and balancing. I think very often these periods of dark swirlyness often precipitates the letting go of a chapter of your life that is long past its sell by date.

Anyway I am very sorry for rambling on at length like that. But as always I have no idea how to explain things briefly. I know that I haven't fully addressed the issue of the medication and  I'm not even going to try because that's quite complicated. But all I'm saying is that within the context of sponsorship the way I have taken people through the steps it seems to work when people come off medication. I haven't seen it not work. I've seen it not work when people are not helping newcomers and stop telling the truth. But I haven't seen it fail when people are going to any lengths and are helping others and are telling the truth.
I normally avoid the whole subject of medication like the plague because it is quite contentious to say the least, but I'm just saying that's my experience. My experience is that I've seen Sponsees come off medication and stay off medication when they do the things that I do, which is try to help others, develop a step 11 practice, and confide in others when something is wrong. A fairly ruthless commitment to telling the truth at all times. Even when its very uncomfortable and embarrassing.

Well I hope you find some of that useful and  I'm very impressed that any of you find the time to read this. I've had to resort to software such as ace reader pro in order to get through lengthy posts like this one. I'm not sure how anyone else does that. But I rely on speed readers.

The weather is very hot over here and there's a great deal of preoccupation about the prospect of imminent financial collapse, Olympic explosions and other sorts of other disturbing world affairs which I'm not going to go into right now. :)
I hope that your’re all enjoying nice summer weather wherever you are, and thanks for taking the time to read this.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thinking of others who are in the bereavement process..

I've been thinking a lot about how death affects people recently. Reading Syd’s blog post about a good friend who passed away recently and his thoughts about what he could do for the person who is either dying or recently deceased. Plus all the poignancy that comes to the surface when a good friend dies. 
I was speaking to somebody else in the programme recently about a sibling who died. Similar to Syd’s in that they knew of the imminency of the death. The person had been ill for a while. I mentioned a passage to both those people about what Ken Wilber did when his wife died. I think it's useful to inspire the disembodied person as they are 'on their way.' I think if I had just died, I would want people to direct clear reminders of my true nature in the period just before I died and a little bit after. It must be like getting used to driving a new car or something. ..must be a very strange experience not having a body initially. If I was more diligent in my meditation practice I would be more prepared for the experience of being disembodied at the point of death. In the Tibetan tradition it's a fairly standard understanding that one of the main points of meditation is to train the mind so that the consciousness can move freely around outside the body. The whole point being that it's in preparation for death. It's like learning how to drive without a body in preparation for the point at which you are disembodied I suppose..
On the one hand I feel that death is a very positive thing because it has this wonderful ? 'shimmering transparency' that it brings to the quality of life that shines in the presence of the dying person. It's as if the veil between this world and the other is incredibly !! thin. Very magical and auspicious. On the other hand it is supposed to be terribly poignant and to involve a loss of one type of life in exchange for another. In other words it's supposed to break your heart in some form or other. The problem isn't the feelings as such, the problem is getting very attached to them or wallowing in them or pushing them away. In other words it's the relationship to the difficult feelings that is the problem not the feelings themselves. A bad workman blames his tools as they say.
I suppose I am saying that I am very conscious that people that I have got to know in a programme on going through this process of grief, and it kind of 'sits' in my awareness constantly that these people I know are having this experience. It's a little bit like walking through treacle because it is like you're operating in a different gear. Like walking in slow motion In a dream. It's a different sort of life having to process grief on top of all the other daily tasks. I also think that if we have developed our spiritual life, we are much more useful to be other people who are grieving and the deceased person. It is as if we are donating pints of blood every day energetically to the family and to the deceased person through our good will.
Anyway I feel for Syd and the other friend who is undergoing grief and the experience of recent bereavement. There is a whole other dimension to your recent bereavement if you have developed sensitivity. There is a much more keen awareness of the deceased person which is a bit strange to say the least. Not quite as dramatic as the little boy in the film who kept saying "I see dead people" but there is a much less dramatic awareness of the presence of the deceased person.
Probably all that has very little to do with recovery, but that's what's on my mind at the moment. I feel like I am with these people on their journey because of the feeling of fellowship that AA has created, so I suppose their experiences feel as though they are part of my experience.
Anyway..I hope you are all well and I will make a point of visiting a few blogs in the near future.. :)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Never underestimate how crazy family members can get when somebody dies

Firstly my apologies for being away for so long. I actually enjoy writing. And I enjoy reading what other people have to say. I also enjoy the online community of bloggers. It's an extension of my network of recovery that have in real life. I am looking forward to being a bit more diligent in posting a on regular basis. I hope everyone is well. There are one or two bloggers who were sharing that things were difficult and who no longer post and I wonder where they have gone. I wish them well wherever they are.

As for the subject of this post well, it's been 'interesting' ! to see how family member’s behaviour either degenerate or they avoid dealing with difficult situations when somebody is out of hand. I've spoken to a lot of people who have had this type of experience with their families. And I suppose that surprised me. But almost every family has one domineering overbearing member who sort of charges through the situation like a bull in a china shop and won't take no for an answer. Then there are the other family members who seem to do absolutely nothing while the domineering person charges around like a bull in a china shop.

They seem to fall into two categories. The controllers and those who stand by and do nothing, who are oblivious to the cruelty or bad behaviour. Basically some people have a kind of meltdown and behave badly. And others avoid acknowledging the elephant in the room for whatever reason. They simply do not confront the person who is acting strangely. Or perhaps they don't even see it. I have no idea. All I know is that they seem largely oblivious unless it is spelt out to them in the simplest possible terms and even then it eludes some of them.

So if your family includes someone who is at an age where they might die, or is dying already, then these are the things that I would recommend to be on the lookout for 3 to 6 months or a year before that person dies.
Theft. Look for items going missing from the dying person's home. Take photographs of items in the house. Try to obtain an understanding of the value of the house contents. The owner is the person most likely to know which items are valuable and which aren't. Once you have discovered which items are valuable or you suspect will have key sentimental value, then you can draft a document listing those items and make a statement along the lines of "this list of items in my home will not be distributed to individuals prior to my death, and are intended to form part of my estate, the distribution of which will be in accordance with the terms of my will." Get them to sign it, and somebody else can witness it and sign it as well. Make a note of the date on it. Photocopy the original. Keep a photocopy at home and post the original to a solicitor or a lawyer for safekeeping. The reason this is a good idea is that thieves will rely on the defence that the dying person consented to them having that item before they died. A document like this would make it very difficult for people to steal property from the dying person's house. Theft is actually very common when people are either dying, very physically vulnerable, or deceased.

Basically people who are preoccupied with money are the first to act when somebody is physically very vulnerable or dying. I tend to call them "money grabbing whores" but it doesn't really matter what you call them. It amuses me to use that particular term so I apologise if it offends. It makes me smile. The term I use for people who are not predominantly preoccupied with money, status, cash etc are "hippies." I understand that these terms are completely inadequate but they just happen to be the terms I use because I get tired trying to describe the people each time. The amount of money somebody has is of no relevance. You can have huge amounts of money and be a "hippie" and you can have a tiny tiny amount of money and be a "money grabbing whore." I find that people who are terribly preoccupied with money can often end up focusing on that and accumulating a lot of it, but it's not a hard and fast rule. It's a mindset that's important not the amount of money in the bank.

Anyway the second thing that's worth doing in advance if you have a vulnerable person in the family who might die is: nominating the most compassionate person in the family to take the role of power of attorney should the need arise. Also to nominate the most compassionate person or people in the family to take the role of legal guardian should that need arise also. Basically there are other legal roles such as power of attorney or legal guardian that money minded people tend to want to obtain. The problem is that if they succeed in getting their name on the sheet of paper which allows them to act in that role, then it's very difficult to undo that authority once the document Has been signed.

Basically, the vultures will move in get the dying person to sign a form that entitles them to access to their bank accounts or gives them the power to decide what sort of treatment they receive, and this is a tragedy if this happens because it's very difficult to undo. So don't let it happen in the first place. Don't let the vulnerable person be talked into getting the money minded person to have any authority over them. Figure out who the most sensible compassionate person is in the family and allow them access to the dying person's bank accounts. This is the only way you can avoid the money minded person stepping in and filling that role. If you wait until the vulnerable person is very ill when you've left it too late. You have to make decisions about this stuff while the person can still talk and think clearly. You can make this decision years in advance if you want. The good news is that when somebody dies their bank accounts are frozen. The problem is before they die. If the money minded person has obtained power of attorney they will probably know that the accounts will freeze on that person's death, so they will get busy spending money before they die. Thieves are quite devious unfortunately..

Expect people to lie and get hostile and attack you. It becomes very clear who has ways of managing their emotional states and who doesn't when somebody dies. The people who have no insight into their emotional natures throw a wobbly. They become hostile, making personal attacks and being very critical usually toward the person who is the most sane. Sane reasonable people are an easier target to somebody who is a bully or flying off the handle. People who are in recovery are more likely to have reasonable coping mechanisms in place. Although there are probably regular nice people in the family also who are not in recovery but are self aware and honest. So basically people go a bit crazy and start stealing things while other people stand by doing nothing which is equally as exasperating. Sad but true. Extremely common from what I can tell.

I would advise taking as many precautionary steps as possible before someone gets very sick. Put roadblocks in place that would prevent people from helping themselves to house contents either before the person dies or after. I would also put roadblocks in place that would prevent money minded family members from obtaining power of attorney or any other legal authority over the vulnerable or dying person. You can do this in the form of statements like the one I recommended earlier. The statements can say these items are part of my estate and they are not to be removed from my property until distribution in accordance with the terms of my will. Or you can say these are the people who I nominate to be powers of attorney or another legal authority should the need arise. They can say these people are not to be nominated for the purposes of power of attorney or other legal authority should the need arise. This would have the effect of road blocking the money minded person from obtaining access to the dying person's bank accounts, or from obtaining power over the ill or dying person. If you put together a statement such as the one I suggest it should be signed by the dying person and another person should witness it and sign it. It should be dated. You can make a copy either by photographing it using a digital camera or scanning it or photocopying it. Then send the original to a local lawyer and put their phone number and address on the statements so that the original can be obtained.

A good way to keep documents like this on file for your own reference is to e-mail yourself a scan or a photograph of the document. Most e-mail accounts nowadays stay open indefinitely. Things like Gmail will retain this e-mail forever so you can always have access to it at a later stage. Make the subject of the e-mail legal document pertaining to any legal authorities in relation to me and property of my estate. If you do this then a nasty person would find it much harder to swoop in and gain control of the bank accounts or gain control of the dying person's hospital treatment.

So yes the moral of the story is expect people to lie steal and become hostile when somebody dies. It happens far more often than you would realise. And don't expect other people to see things as clearly as you do. Most of the time they don't. They are much more likely to not see the elephant in the room unfortunately. Everyone will avert their eyes nervously and look the other way, which places a much greater responsibility on that one person can see what's happening. It's a huge responsibility, because the vulnerable person doesn't have to be the ability to be discriminating when they are dying.

One day I will learn how to make shorter posts :) Meanwhile I really hope that you are all well and recovery is working for you. My experience is that "it is a design for living that works in rough going." I had better get on with today's list of things to do.. I hope you have a great Sunday..