Q & A with Bernie – January 14, 2013

Question for Bernie:

I’m trying to get my father-in-law to attend talks or join a support group for primary caregivers.  He is the primary caregiver for his Alzheimer’s Syndrome-stricken wife.

father and adult son walking in parkHe sees himself as having no options. This is his plight (as if he were Job).  He seems to be very self-pitying, very depressed, and feels completely unappreciated. He is also coping with difficulties between himself and his two adult daughters, one of whom lives with him.

It is truly a mess but he has done nothing to help himself as the situation worsened over the past few years. My wife, the only kid without problems like her sisters, lives with me in DC and works killer hours as a partner in a huge law firm.  She really doesn’t have enough time to assist on a daily (or even weekly) basis.

I believe he really needs a support group that meets regularly and probably a good psychologist. I suggested that he talk with his Rabbi as an option but he says that with all he has been through, he has lost faith.  Do you have any recommendations for getting him into a support group, or other thoughts?


Bernie’s Answer:

listeningIt is hard to get men to join support groups and share feelings.  What is often more effective is for someone—and that would mean you at this point—to be an active listener for him.  That means let him talk, but show with your facial expression, eye contact, and body movements (like turning toward him when he talks or leaning forward to show interest) that you are really listening to his words.  The more he can talk without interruption, the more likely he will begin to hear himself more clearly and realize what he needs to do.

Tell him that one powerful way to find resolutions is for him to ask himself, “What am I to learn from this?”  Tell him that he should ask that question of himself separately for the situation he finds himself in now as primary caregiver for his wife, and then ask it of himself the question again focusing on the difficulties he is having with his daughters.


Question for Bernie:

Thank you seems so small for what you have done for me and my family!!

In 2010, at the age of 61, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney cancer.  Otherwise healthy, active, and weight appropriate, with no history of this disease in my family    I was stunned and very frightened.  Your books gave me the hope I could not find anywhere else.

After the surgery which removed my right kidney and a tumor which, in the words of my doctor, was the size of a “small watermelon” I underwent two weeks of radiation to stop the cancer in my hip.  I then signed up for Interleukin II treatments at the University of Colorado Hospital with, again, great fear.   I decided to e-mail you and when you actually answered, I cried tears of joy.  You told me to fill myself with love and release the fear.  I did not know how I was going to do that, but I was determined to try.  I used your meditation tape to help me.

I was hospitalized six times for treatment.  They feel they have cleared the cancer from my lungs and liver except for one lesion; the lesion in my hip remained unchanged.

motorcycle on country roadLast summer my husband and I had the kitchen remodeled—something we had been going to do ‘someday’ for 20 years.  I am back to feeding and riding my horses, irrigating the fields, skiing, and riding on the motorcycle with my husband.  I am leading a far more joyous life now than I have in years!

I am living—yes, with Stage 4 cancer, but living, not just surviving.  I am living with joy and gratitude for every day, and I thank you so much for the huge part you played in that!

I hope your New Year is awesome, and I send you love and deep gratitude.

Bernie’s Answer:

horses playingThe joyous life is what your body will respond to.  Loving your life and body creates an internal message telling you to live. Fear does the opposite.

So keep on enjoying each day to the fullest.  Let your horses be your role models.  Animals are the best examples of how to live in the moment.

I can’t resist—use horse sense when making decisions and let your heart make up your mind.  Keep the reins loose and just roam free—you will find the right path.