Saturday, October 27, 2012

Spouses - Family & Being Prepared

-- Quote of the Day --


“…What I have learned is that both spouses should have knowledge about the finances – what you have, where the resources are, how to pay bills, and what to do about taxes. It is a good idea to have a financial advisor – elder care lawyers can help you with basic wills, advanced living wills, advanced directives, powers of attorney… pay for or plan a funeral ahead of time. …When you’ve got too much on your plate you have to pace yourself - You have to store up your energy for a more stressful time later on in the day. Prioritize, you don’t have to get everything done; pick out the most important thing. Try to focus on one thing at a time rather than thinking of everything at once. Slow down; and savor the good moments. ”

Terry Corcoran

Today’s quote originates from the Conscious Discussions Talk Radio episode titled: Spousal Caregiving

 (*Click on the title to access the full discussion)

 -- Importance of Family --

Today we are featuring the final installment of a 3-part article series produced by Steve Brannon, a teacher, ex-military (US Air Force and US Navy) and former management consultant at Vanderbilt University. Currently, Steve offers support groups for those suffering from mood disorders and their families. This work is done through DBSA Jackson - his not-for-profit organization (501 c-3) which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Steve is also the author of the book: The Two Agreements.
To connect with, or learn more about, Steve visit:

Family is a vital element that I include in my inspirational approach. Many consumers lose close relationships they had before a major episode occurred; they may have even intentionally broken off relations with family and friends in order to become well. These folks often come to group with few strong relationships.  That’s why I foster an environment for group members to become each others’ “family”. As such, they express understanding and acceptance for each other. Members are expected to use their talents of hospitality, their education, and even their work skills, in the functions of the group. Some individuals can help by providing transportation; other, higher-functioning members are encouraged to create mentoring relationships with lower functioning members.  In short, the group/network is presented as a safe place to practice creating healthy relationships, as ironic as that might sound to the outsider. I take it as an indication of success when group members spontaneously meet for lunch or a cup of coffee.

Another element is faith. The expression of faith, as I define it, is a way of showing reverence for the mystery of life. A major mental health crisis often leaves patients devoid of faith in anyone and anything, including themselves. That’s why we begin every meeting with a moment of silence (humorously referred to as our moment of sanity).  We often use that moment of silence to remember those suffering in isolation, without the benefit of such caring support. We do this by stating, “Let’s remember those family members we’ve yet to meet.”  As many members are “spiritual but not religious”, we structure the group around acceptance and understanding so that we may rebuild everyone’s faith in self, others, the world, and a Power greater than themselves. This collective plurality of faiths, all showing respect and love for one another, is one of my favorite aspects of the group.

New attendees often arrive feeling as though they can never laugh again, much less pursue their dreams. Hope for the future is so important in the healing process; that’s why I often encourage members to address the question, “If you had plenty of money, where would you live and what would you want to do?”

The meeting-after-the-meeting always makes me smile. In fact, there is nothing that encourages me more than when I see our members going from the support meeting to a local restaurant. There, they can spend a couple of hours cementing their bond in a social situation.  

I have been blessed with a steady turnout for the meetings, and I attribute this in part to friendly reminder calls. The callers are those who have experienced a remarkable change in their health because of the group’s emphasis on wellness and support. The recipients of the calls take them as a sign of genuine concern, and they often voice their appreciation at the meetings. These calls are priceless.

The remaining elements of my approach to facilitating an inspirational support meeting are enthusiasm and belonging.  Enthusiasm is contagious! That’s why, in addition to those making the weekly reminder phone calls, members post flyers and tell others about the boost in health they received from attending group. I refer to this as “personal campaigning”, and it keeps newer members motivated. It is a fact that individuals who regularly attend our meetings are much less likely to be hospitalized in that year.

Everyone needs to feel as though they belong; however consumers often feel like they are on the outside of life, looking in. Nothing can take the place of the comfort that comes from being a part of a larger group. The support group experience meets that need for individuals who, in many cases, lack the support of biological family members. In order to meet that need, the inspirational meeting and network reaches deeper into the recovery and wellness experience. The wellness approach I designed addresses to two basic needs of the consumer (and the rest of humanity as well). Straight on, I address actual “needs” (vital, necessary for happiness and fulfillment) versus “wants” (as in, something nice, pleasurable). The first need is to feel that at least one other person loves us, demonstrating caring and acceptance. The second need is to feel that at least one other person understands us, “gets us”—no matter what is going in our life. 

In our understanding family, members and new attendees feel the acceptance and understanding attitude that are tangible in the group interaction.  Thus, the inspirational support meetings assist in the recovery of health and wellness for some members to avoid another hospitalization and remain on their job, keep their family together, and dream of a better tomorrow.   

* Find Part 1 of this article series via the Oct 6th archived post; Part 2 via the Oct 13th archived post. 

Find Dave and Lillian Brummet, excerpts from their books, their radio program, blog, and more at: * Support the Brummets by telling your friends, clicking those social networking buttons, or visiting the Brummet's Store - and help raise funds for charity as well!

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