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Self care for the caregiver and single parent

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Amanda Cothern, LPC, discusses how caregivers (particularly those who are single) can care for themselves

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Self care for the caregiver and single parent

  1. 1. SELF CARE FOR THE (SINGLE) CAREGIVER AMANDA S. COTHERN, LPC LGS CONFERENCE NOVEMBER 10-12, 2017 ORLANDO, FL
  2. 2. AMBIGUOUS LOSS A newly identified type of grief, considered by many to be the most difficult, because there is no closure, ambiguous loss complicates relationships, and leaves families and loved ones confused (Boss, 2009). • “An immobilizing grief characterized by the uncertainty of what will be lost next” (cognition, mobility, etc.) • Ambiguous Loss (lack of clarity) leads to ambivalence (conflicting feelings) about the loved one (i.e. a wish for something different AND guilt for having that wish) (Boss, 2016) • Physically Present, Psychologically Absent • Child with LGS • Psychologically Present, Physically Absent • The child’s other parent who is no longer in the picture
  3. 3. WHAT IS AMBIGUOUS LOSS? • Ambiguous loss is unclear loss. • Ambiguous loss is traumatic loss. • Ambiguous loss is a relational disorder. • Ambiguous loss is externally caused (e.g., illness, war), not by individual pathology. • Ambiguous loss is an uncanny loss—confusing and incomprehensible. “how is it possible to lose half a person?” – the wife of a man with dementia
  4. 4. SELF CARE FOR THE SINGLE CAREGIVER Six Guidelines for Increasing Resilience: 1. Finding Meaning in the Experience 2. Adjusting Mastery of the Experience 3. Reconstructing Identity 4. Normalizing Ambivalence 5. Revising Attachment 6. Discovering New Hope
  5. 5. Communication Connection Vitality
  6. 6. I asked three single mothers of a child with disabilities: “what are the top three things you wish people knew about being a single mom of a child with disabilities?”
  7. 7. COMMUNICATION “I would love to have free time for myself without asking family because I won’t burden them with my problems.” Who are you afraid of burdening with your requests? “No matter how many times I share my story, no matter how many times I break through that vulnerability, it is still extremely hard to ASK for help.” Who can you vent to without fear of judgment? Insane choices Safety plan: three people to call when it is NOT an emergency but you are feeling the signs of being on the edge Who knows your story? Birth, diagnosis, present day – write it, share it.
  8. 8. CONNECTION “For most women, especially ones who are married and have children that don't have special needs, an invitation with a girlfriend or friends for lunch, shopping or maybe a movie is a doable thing and something that doesn't necessarily mean a major event planning skill! Sometimes no matter how much I would enjoy having the time to spend with a friend out like that, it simply is not always an easy undertaking. By the time I arrange to take him someplace, coordinate the time away so that I have him where he needs to be in time for me to be where I need to be, I'm tired before I even leave the house. . . Sometimes it feels easier to just not go” How many people do you text regularly who are not a medical or school professional working with your child? “I have brothers and they will help if it’s an emergency but never volunteer to spent any time with him”
  9. 9. CONNECTION In addition to the LGS foundation, who are you connected with on a personal level? “I truly wish people weren't scared of [child] and could take a walk in my shoes to better understand what special needs parenting really looks like.” Do the people in your life add or subtract to your energy level? “I would love for my son to have a male mentor” Who knows your personal story – dating life, divorce, widowed?
  10. 10. VITALITY “[this is] One done with unconditional love but the position is 24/7.....no breaks, no time alone more than a couple hours here and there (if you are lucky enough to have family or good support)” “A single parent leaves work early or misses completely when they[child] are ill and forget about sleeping if they[child] can’t.....it's not going to happen.” “They need to hear that things will be okay...that they can do whatever they set their mind too. You have to have faith in that so they will.”
  11. 11. VITALITY Non-negotiables – write out three (ex.: prayer, reading, journaling)  Practical tips in an impractical reality Bottle of water next to your bed Your own personal playlist that is not made up of your child’s music Meditation app on your phone (e.g. 10% Happier, Headspace, Calm) Movement – imitate your child’s self stem (jumping, pacing, shaking arms), 20 minutes of walking, stretching, etc. Nostril exercise Gratitude Self care must become a priority. . . “There are not enough resources for hands on direct care, respite services or support services for medically fragile kids.”
  12. 12. Now, let’s talk . . .
  13. 13. REFERENCES • Boss, P. (2010). The trauma and complicated grief of ambiguous loss. Pastoral Psychology, 59(2), 137-145. • Boss, P. (2016). The context and process of theory development: The story of ambiguous loss. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 8(3), 269-286.

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