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Many well spouses have written to say that their partners' behaviors has changed drastically, making life very difficult for the entire family. "What in my spouse's behavior is choice and what is a result of the illness and beyond my partner's control?" It is a question that tortures many spouses of the chronically ill.
As we saw last week, the response to the articles entitled The Loss of Femininity (July 3, July 10, 2009) showed an overwhelming number of women identifying with the loss of femininity as they care for their ill spouses. Along with this loss came letters expressing the loneliness they feel, because their spouse's illness prevents many caregivers from attending s'machos of friends and family.
When you lose your spouse, whether s/he was sick or healthy, whether it's through divorce or death, the transition period into the next part of your life is a difficult one. Many new singles find that they no longer fit into their old friendships. They are no longer part of a couple, so associating with couples can be uncomfortable.
Last week I wrote about how female caregivers are affected by the role reversals that take place as they care for husbands with chronic illness. As the husband's illness progresses, and he is able to do less and less for himself, his wife ends up doing more. And, as she continues to take on the traditional male roles, her loss of femininity may escalate. When this happens, it is reflected in how she cares or perhaps in how she stops caring and taking care of herself.
For most women, care-giving means taking on many of the roles that were routinely filled by their husbands, in addition to those things they were already responsible for. For many of these women, this has been hard to deal with. Not just because of the difficult physical nature of these new, additional roles, or even the tremendous emotional burden that has been added to the women's daily routine.
My mother's recent yahrzeit after Pesach, coupled with Yom HaZikaron and recent Yom Tovim and Shabbatot spent with my children and grandchildren, has cemented my belief that I was robbed of a major life asset - my grandparents. While I knew that having them was a life-enhancing relationship, I didn't truly comprehend it until I became one.
Dear Rabbi Horowitz: Our family is recovering from the terrible, unexpected loss of a loved one who passed away far too young. My husband and I have differing views on seeking professional help to help our children cope with the tragedy. (Thankfully, at least on the surface, they all seem to be doing well.) I am strongly in favor of seeking this help, while my husband, who is an amazing father and has been our bedrock throughout this ordeal, thinks that we should leave well enough alone and not subject our children to the agony of pouring their hearts out to a stranger. We are regular readers of your columns and recently re-read your "Open Letter to Teens Who Lost a Parent," where you very clearly encourage them to seek help if they are having difficulty dealing with their grief. But what if they don't seem to be exhibiting any such signs? We would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this matter. Respectfully, Susan
A TIME is widely recognized and venerated as the nation's leading organization to offer support, advocacy, education, guidance and referrals to Jewish couples struggling with infertility. In order to accurately portray all that A TIME accomplishes on any given 24-hour period, I decided to spend a day with them and take note of the goings on. As an inconspicuous observer, I watched in awe and amazement as this group of special individuals took on all the daunting aspects associated with infertility.
The moment we can't remember where we put our keys, or the few seconds it takes to try to remember where we parked our car causes fear in everyone that I know who is over 50.
I collect cookbooks the way other people collect coins, shot glasses, or miniature teaspoons.
Dear Dr. Yael, I think it is imperative that you print this letter because this is an ongoing problem in many families. In these families, the children stay in their parents' summer home for the entire summer, and everyone is supposed to live happily under one roof. This can get difficult if a brother-in-law picks on his sister-in-law or vice versa. This past summer my brother-in-law called me names, causing many hurt feelings.