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.

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..