Are you like I once was, frustrated, frightened, and exhausted with the responsibility of taking care of someone you love who is very ill? Or maybe you’re facing the end of your Loved One’s life, not sure of the best way to handle all the critical tasks of the final passage.
I know how that feels. I know exactly what you are going through. Since I was very young, taking care of others has been a core aspect of my life. And that’s why I feel so compelled to support those who are caring for others during what are the most challenging situations.
You might say I was born to be a caregiver and death doula. It was a large part of my childhood and it seemed second nature to me.
My father was an Episcopal priest and the head of the Pastoral Care department at our local hospital. He also taught about death and dying during the 70s, before it was mainstream. If my father was on call during the night, the weekend, or a holiday, he was there for those in crisis. From a very early age, I was aware of other people’s suffering. It was part of being his daughter.
Over the years, Dad and I had many discussions about human suffering, illness, and life after death. At times, Dad had the gift of seeing spirits. He’d been with hundreds of people before they died and some of them were revived. He told me about what they saw and what they said. I was always fascinated by these accounts.
Illness and death soon became all too real in my young world. In my early teens, my mom was diagnosed with a rare blood disease, and was very sick for three years. Her illness taught me the many facets of caring for those with a chronic illness. Luckily, she survived.
When I was 16, another emergency arose. My grandmother, who lived out of state, was failing. Because my father had just learned he would soon go blind from glaucoma complications—and my mother was still on the mend—it was up to me to go help my grandmother. Within ten days of my arrival, I witnessed how life could change very quickly when a person can no longer take care of themselves. We soon moved her out of her home state to be closer to us.
My other grandmother lived a 5-hour drive away, and I would visit her every few months. As she aged, those visits made me very aware of what illness and decline look like, and how they affect our lives.
During my early 40s, I became responsible for my beloved Aunt Esther, who lived in another area of the country. I took care of her for seven years but those years weren’t dedicated exclusively to her.
Life throws so many curveballs, especially when we least expect it. During that time with Aunt Esther, both of my parents needed more assistance. Those seven years expanded into twelve years of caring for not one but three people.
In the beginning of my caregiving journey, I experienced so many challenges and difficulties. These weren’t just bumps in the road—some of them were full-sized boulders. I learned a LOT about people and human nature. I learned who I could trust, who was dependable, who was full of false promises, and who had their own agenda.
Everyone had their own idea about how things should be done. But one thing I knew for sure. I would do what was right for these family members that I loved so much, and what was best for them didn’t always align with what others believed.
It’s an honor to be part of a caregiving team for someone you love, but that responsibility can weigh heavily on your shoulders and your heart. As a new caregiver, it’s easy to second-guess yourself which adds even more layers of anxiety to an already stressful situation.
But even before my caregiving journey began, I had lost more than two dozen friends and family members before the age of 21. I could find no roadmap to help deal with those losses and when I became a caregiver for my beloved family members, I ran into another glaring lack of resources.
I dreamed of writing a book that would comfort those who had lost Loved Ones. This book would examine all types of death, because I had learned just how singular death can be. People die under different circumstances which create different needs that call for different reactions. Death is as unique as each person—the death of a Loved One is different for every family and as varied as every group of friends.
As the years passed, I didn’t write that book but I never gave up on the idea of it. And the calling to deal with caregiving and grief was still there. During the pandemic, I returned to school, earning an End of Life Doula Certification. That’s when I realized I wanted to do something to enhance that certification. I wanted to create what I so desperately needed when I began my caregiving journey.
That’s what Much Love, Lili is. This website, my one-on-one coaching sessions, as well as my upcoming book and priority planner, are the resources I could not find when I searched for them.
At Much Love, Lili, you’ll learn that you are not alone. I’m here for you. I pass on to you the skills and strengths it took me years to learn. And I pass them on with a great deal of love, from me to you.