Review of : 10,000 Joys 10,000 Sorrows

Recently I read Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle’s ‘ 10 000 Joys, 10 000 Sorrows : A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s’.

Her quote ‘enjoy the passing show’, meaning live fully in the present, reminds me of a recent cruise my parents took to Alaska. I thought of them sitting on their balcony, sipping cool drinks and watching the beautiful scenery.  Her other quote is ‘death behind the door’ meaning, that you should be ready for death at any moment (as we are in life, so we are in death). So as a caregiver I often think: how much longer do I have with my parents? Maybe I should make the most of this moment together.

A lot is going on in the field of Alzheimer’s. Organizations like Alzheimer’s BC promote awareness with their annual ‘Walk for Memories’ every January.  Alzheimer’s research is taking place in the new Djavad Mowafaghhian Centre for Brain Health at the University of British Columbia.  You can visit a very user-friendly website on Alzheimer’s and related dementias at the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

I highly recommend this moving book, however, it can get quite intense at times. It is not light reading.  It would be an excellent book, for example, to read in a book club.  This would allow readers the opportunity to discuss passages they found particularly moving. As it happens, this book is available at the North Shore Community Resources Caregivers Library.

Stay tuned for a review of the book ‘Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No’ by Cloud and Townsend, also available at the Caregiver’s Library as of mid-August 2015.

Happy reading!

Calm Pond


Mindful Monday no. 3: Metta Meditation

Full Moon Meditation

“Hatred cannot coexist with loving-kindness, and dissipates if supplanted with thoughts based on loving-kindness.” – Dhammapada

Metta meditation is a practice that focuses on feelings and thoughts of loving-kindness. If you sometimes feel like your mind is filled with anger and frustration towards yourself, family, friends, co-workers, or simply the world in general, this could be a helpful meditation practice to try.

Metta meditation begins by developing a loving acceptance of yourself. It helps people to calm and heal their troubled minds by focusing on four qualities of love: friendliness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity (mental calmness). Metta meditation then focuses on four types of people in your life: a respected, beloved person, a dearly beloved (someone very close to you), a neutral person (someone you know but have no specific feelings toward), and someone you are currently having difficulty with. By shifting thoughts from anger to loving-kindness, it can be possible to overcome a negative head space so one can be more caring, loving, and present in their day to day life.

For more information on how to practice Metta meditation, visit Christopher Germer’s page! 

Fantastic Friday no. 4

Summer sun [explored]

Need a boost? Read this good news story about 9 sneaky nanas!

Have you seen our July/August Family Caregivers’ Grapevine yet? Read it here! 

There are pianos all over Vancouver this summer that anyone can play! Visit Parkgate Community Centre in North Vancouver to play a piano painted by local artists.

Frozen is playing this Friday, July 24th in the Civic Plaza at 14th and Lonsdale! 7PM-9PM. A great event for grown ups and young ones.

8 tips for new family caregivers.

Tides of grief

Roberts Creek beach

   Tides of a caregiver’s grief

    “Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” ― Vicki Harrison

    Sometimes it is helpful to have a visual image in mind that describes the emotional meaning of an  experience.  In the role of caregiving, I liken the experience of ongoing loss and grief to that of an ocean tide that ebbs and flows. As a care partner’s health condition causes their mind or body to change in significant ways, there are many losses for the caregiver. Adapting to the introduction of difficult symptoms such as pain, lowered energy levels, and mental disorganization does take enormous amounts of physical and emotional energy for you, the caregiver. These health changes often cause shifts in how you can relate to your care partner. The loss of close relationship, familiar routines, and sense of security can happen either in slow and subtle changes, or sudden and dramatic shifts.

All of this is a lot for the caregiver’s heart to hold.

Because the link you have with your care partner is distinct, and you have an important story that has been woven together over time- there is no simple road map to follow in navigating the emotions of grief that arise. Sadness, disbelief, guilt, frustration, and uncertainty on how to continue forward are very understandable feelings as you walk this challenging territory. It is normal to feel many different emotions throughout the day or week, and some days the sadness may feel intense and all consuming. Finding ways to honour your feelings and to express them will be helpful in your practice of self-care.


Here are a few books on grief and loss you may wish to read:

Good Grief Rituals: Tools for healing. Elaine Childs-Gowell.

Grief’s Courageous Journey. Sandi Caplan and Gordon Lang.

Life after loss. Bob Deits.

Healing a Spouse’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Husband or Wife Dies. Alan Wolfeldt.

Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart. Alan Wolfeldt.

A letter of consolation. Henri Nouwen

Relevant Links:

Centre for loss and life transition:

Family Services of Greater Vancouver: Counseling Support

Lower Mainland Grief Recovery Society

Remember to find little ways of being kind to yourself as the tides of grief come about. You have shown dedication in doing the best you can with the resources you’ve had available. It may be helpful to decide which of your friends and family members you feel able to share your feelings of loss with. Learning to let others into your most heartfelt experiences can be a profound way of deepening the care and support you receive from those in your life.   

 I invite you to make a kindness date with yourself once a week. This might include setting aside a little time for a nourishing activity such as a massage, or going for a walk with a trusted friend. Scheduling something in your week that focuses on your well-being will help to uplift your heart, mind and body just that little bit, which can make a world of difference.





Follow-up Post: The Three Conversations

Recently I posted a review of the book “Difficult Conversations” by Stone, Patton, and Heen.  Essentially the book boils down to the 3 conversations, and what they mean. The first conversation is the “What Happened” conversation. In this one, it is important to disentangle what the authors call “impact from intention.” For example, if someone said something to hurt my feelings, the impact of being hurt is clear, but the intention may not have been to hurt me at all. The second conversation the authors call the “Feelings” conversation.  In this one it is important, no essential, not to hide your feelings, and to begin with statements like “I feel..” The third and final conversation they call the “Identity” conversation.  Supposing I ask my boss for a raise, and he says no.  Then I might question my identity as a good worker, I might have, what the authors call, an “identity quake.”


Above all, it is important that all conversations be “learning” conversations, where neither party feels ignored or left out.  In this way the result is a “win-win” for both parties.  Or at least, you can “agree to disagree.”

Finally I leave you with a link to their website.  Just click on the “Help Yourself” tab to get helpful worksheets or translations of the book in other languages.

All in all a useful and timely book.  Stay tuned for my next posting on the book: “10 000 Joys, 10 000 Sorrows” about a caregiver’s journey with Alzheimer’s.

Happy reading!


Calm Pond

Fantastic Friday no. 3


Do you have some little ones in your life? Why not stop by North Vancouver City Library for a free outdoor movie! Tonight they’re playing Into the Woods. 

The beautiful St. Andrews United Church is hosting the Maryland Boys Choir on Sunday, July 12th at 4PM! The show is free and will feature a variety of music.

An extensive list of books for those wanting to understand more about Alzheimer’s.

A lovely article on Paul’s Club.

Some practical tips for incorporating self-care in to your life.

Mindful Monday no. 2: Compassionate Curiousity

While reading Dr. Gabor Mate’s book, When the Body Says No, I was introduced to the idea of “compassionate curiousity.” 

The premise is as follows: when a judgment comes up about yourself, a situation, or another person, acknowledge the thought, then instead be compassionately curious about that judgment. Essentially, it is an exercise that invites you to swap judgment for curiousity. As Walt Whitman once said, “Be curious, not judgmental.”

When I read about the idea in Mate’s book, I was amazed at how simple the idea was and how seldom it is put in to practice. How often do we make a mistake and think, “How could I be so careless?” How many times have we been angry with other drivers on the road? What if instead of beating ourselves up for a mishap, we asked ourselves why what happened, happened? I’d bet we’d discover that there are many reasons for why a mistake was made that have nothing to do with our value as individuals. Maybe we are taking on too many things, have not been getting enough sleep, or we are experiencing high levels of stress and not getting the support we need. All those reasons could contribute to a forgotten birthday or a missed appointment. I think if we were compassionately curious about other drivers on the road, we might discover that the person constantly breaking on the highway has recently been in an accident, or the person with their turn signal on for blocks is lost and confused.

This week, I invite you to practice using compassionate curiousity just once. When you are tempted to be hard on yourself or someone else, acknowledge the judgment, then be curious! Try talking to a loved one about your findings or write them down in a journal.

Have you practiced compassionate curiousity before? How did it feel? We’d love to hear from you!

Words by Cassandra Van Dyck

Fantastic Friday no. 2

local strawberries

Have you lived in North Vancouver for a long time? Share your photographs and memories with North Vancouver Memories & Archives’ new program, Voices and Views! 

Have you visited North Vancouver’s Shipyard Night Market yet? If not, you’re in for a treat! They have lively music, dancing, food trucks, local produce and artisans.

The Shipyards also offers Summer Sessions –  free music every Saturday night from 5-10PM! Featuring local and out of town musicians.

An interesting article on the benefits of playing BINGO!

Some great tips on how to stay healthy while caregiving. 

By Cassandra Van Dyck

What makes you smile?

So many reasons to smile

 Sometimes the little moments of joyfulness can make a huge difference in our mental well-being. We are uplifted and inspired when a friend drops by to take us for coffee, or when we exchange a smile with someone at the grocery store.

When we smile, it moves our mind away, even for a few seconds- from the hardships and challenges of life. A smile or small chuckle brings us into the realm of enjoyment. For caregivers, these little reprieves are essential!

Hands with flower

I invite you to pay attention this week to what makes you smile. Here are some ideas to start with:

 Dare to find joy. Open your mind and heart to receiving neat little gifts in your day.

Be spontaneous when you feel drawn to try something new. It could be trying a new recipe, walking on a different route, or exploring an interesting event.

 Bring a camera with you when you run errands or have lunch with a friend. This will allow you to snap pictures of things that catch your eye J

 Pause and feel gratitude for a joyful moment. Let yourself slow down for a moment so you can take in the good feelings.

Think of something you enjoy when a stressful situation happens. Sit for a moment and imagine your favourite dessert, a landscape you enjoy, or a loved one’s face. It might help your frame of mind shift towards something more relaxing.

I like this piece on how smiling releases endorphins and lowers stress hormones in the body.

Happy reading!

We at Caregiver Support hope that our Blog posts and Grapevine Newsletter help you feel more connected with friendship, support, and community belonging.

You can read our Newsletter at:  Stay tuned for the July/August edition!

Karyn Davies