Thursday, 12 April 2012

Learning To Let Go

Friends, in general I try to not make this blog one of those tedious two-a-penny writers’ blogs that boil down to some desperate individual bribing you with gifts and begging “PLEASE b u y  m y   b o o o o o o o o o k!!!”

But hey, one can always make an exception! :0D

Back in 2010 I wrote a book called Learning to Let Go.  I will spare you the details of why this is not getting into the right hands, though the reasons are all too evident to me.  Suffice it to say, it is not.

Normally, I don’t mind when that happens – and for myself I don’t mind about this book either.  But it troubles me a little that there are people out in the Wide Wild World who would be really helped if they stumbled across this book, and so far it isn’t happening.  The thing is, there is no other book quite like it, as far as I’m aware, and it addresses a situation where people urgently need guidance and help in their decision-making.

Learning To Let Go is about making the transition into residential care. 

Who’s it written for?

Well, it’s for people who work in care homes, chaplains of residential care homes, people who can see that the time that they can manage in their own home is running out because of life-limiting illness or profound disability or a degenerative condition.  And it’s for relatives of people in that situation.

When someone has to leave their own home – not for a spell in hospital because of an illness with a good expectation of recovery, but for the last time – this is an experience of profound bereavement, and usually regarded with fear and dread.

Learning To Let Go is written to help make the best of these circumstances.

The chapters are as follows:
  • ØStarting to think about a care home, which examines helpful criteria and questions to ask in choosing the right home.
  • Ø Families and friends, which looks at some real-life stories and then goes into the human and relational issues to be considered.
  • Ø Affirming people as unique individuals, which explores the why and how of protecting individuality as a vital aspect of spiritual care.
  • Ø The people and the place, which differentiates between what to look for in the staff of a care home, and what to look for in the regime and building, to get the best fit for the person who will be living there.
  • Ø Learning to let go begins now, which makes some suggestions of realistic life choices we can all put in place to prepare ourselves for the vulnerability of growing old or the possibility of life-limiting illness.

Pam Rhodes, a UK TV personality, says in her foreword to the book:
How I wish I’d had this book a couple of years ago! That’s when the physical and mental health of my own much-loved mum deteriorated to the degree that it became clear that living in our home as part of our family was no longer safe for her – or possible for us . . .
. . . Pen Wilcock comes to the situation from so many angles because she’s been a chaplain in a hospice, a care assistant for the terminally and chronically sick, and a pastor in churches where the congregation was mostly in the older age group.  She has listened, watched, observed, and finally managed to draw up some sensitive, empathetic and constructive thoughts on the complex set of emotions and circumstances which bring individuals and families to the reality that either they, or perhaps one of their parents, need to consider moving into sheltered or residential care.  She recognizes the impact on the family, the fear on all sides, the need for trust and boundaries, respect and dignity.  She touches on grief, loss, relief, love, opportunity, loneliness, friendship, the future – and so much more.  She looks at the role of care staff and the importance of their kindness, patience and ability to see the precious individual within an ageing body.  And she affirms the intricate, wondrous mix of mind, body and soul that is the miracle of each and every human being.You can read this book on so many levels – as a textbook packed full of good and practical ideas; as a comfort to reassure you that you’re not alone in this challenging emotional situation; and last, quite simply, as a really good ‘read’ that will keep you glued from page to page.  This is one book you won’t want to let go.

So, there you have it, chums.  At home I have four spare copies to give away, so if you can think of someone who would be helped by this book, send me their address in a comment and I’ll mail a copy on.  Once all four have gone I’ll post a comment to say so, giving the names but not addresses of those who will receive a copy.

Frustratingly, in neither Amazon UK nor US Amazon can you search inside, and there is no Kindle edition available.  But it is in print in paperback and should be available for you to order on Amazon here in the UK and here in the US.

365 366 Day 103 – Thursday April 12th
  (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

Another hat that I didn’t think really worked on me.  I mean, I’m not big on looking cool as anyone who knows me can tell at a glance.  But even I have limits.  


Pilgrim said...

I got a copy of this book, because my father had surgery a few months ago, and went into a rehab center for a month to recover. It was traumatic to see him put in such a dependent environment so quickly. I saw this could be a longer-term possibility, at some point.

I find the book valuable as a starting point, for staff or family member who need a vocabulary and categories to get discussion started. It doesn't have all the answers to the wide variety of situations and circumstances that are out there. However, it gives some examples from which many lessons may be learned and adapted to individual cases.

I would feel more comfortable with a nursing home, if I knew the staff had read and digested the major points of the book.

I think there are some good tips for making life more tolerable--and creating bright spots in the schedule and environment.

(The material is not specific to a Christian patient or nursing home.)

Ganeida said...

I'm sure the books will find appreciative homes. Do you have a way of advertising through your local libray. THey are good at that sort of thing out here.

maria said...

My dear friend,

I guess for me it is not about my parents, since I have three other siblings that would step up and help with their care...but it is about my daughter and what my aging will bring to her life.

She is now 13yrs old, and you might think this is still young, but I think about the future, and yes it concerns me. What would happen to her when I can no longer pick her up and change her diaper? Would residential care be the next step?

A great deal of decisions to consider, and fears to handle. Your book, when I first looked at it, was intriguing and it brought home all those concerns, that are hard for me to handle. Maybe it is not for me, but I wish that there were books like yours that would help mothers like me.

Peace be with you my friend...


Julie B. said...

I guess there is *one* book you've written that I haven't read. I will buy this one...thank you for the reminder, Ember.

Pen Wilcock said...

Thanks for your comments friends - Pilgrim, that's a most helpful review. If you are inclined and have the time, might you post it on Amazon? I'd be most grateful.

Ganeida, that's a good idea. I *think* Alice took a copy in, but will check.

Maria, yes in deed I think your situation is sufficiently different that a book exploring it would be helpful.

Julie B - thank you so much :0)

Jillian Child said...

Reading this book helped me with a friend in her 78th year, she has a willing mind but the body not quite so!!! She has no relatives, so no one to care fot her, so her plight was left to her dear loyal friends. I had read this book some time ago and it came to mind this book should lead us all to some answers, and IT DID. Our friend had a simple operation that went very wrong.She lived some way from us, so we took it in turn to drive to her daily, until she became well again. It was now very evident our friend could not live alone any longer, and we her friends could not keep the pace of daily visits. I used many of the thoughts this book offered, and through this we and our friend has decided that a sheltered home will be a great place for her, and not so far for her friends to travel each day. Our friend has managed to see the benefit, of her own home within a safe environment, with 24 hour care if needed. We were able to explain with tact that we loved to help but we all had our limits.The accomodation she has chosen will be fine for her for the very long forseeable future, whereby she can live a very happy and safe life with so man addad benefits, that in no way encroaches on her friends, or her friends time. This has been a learning curve for us all. Easy to read, practical, and written with tact and kindness. I feel this book should be given to care homes and such like, it gives so many answers to the questions most of us feel unable to ask. Love and Peace x

Pen Wilcock said...

Thank you, Jillian - that is so encouraging :0) xxx

Pilgrim said...

Yes, I will try to get review on Amazon. I thought maybe I should read the book again more carefully, and be able to remember more details for that one. I seem to always be in a hurry, reading-unless it's one of my "escape" books,where I try to stay.
Speaking of escape, my mother has collected most of Dora Saint's Miss Read books. I saw she just passed away.....She gave many people a place of respite.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Thank you! x

Zillah said...

Dear Pen Wilcock, I wonder if you still have any of these books available? I am a member of a tiny Quaker Meeting in Scotland with several members shortly to be in this position. My mother-in-law, who is our Elder, is concerned about how she will manage this situation and I feel this book may well be of great help her. The book might then live in the library of the Edinburgh Meeting House, where many would be able to benefit from it.

I recently bought your spiritual simplicity book and am enjoying it so much, I hope to get the Road of Blessing in a while as well.

In Friendship, Zillah

Pen Wilcock said...

Dear Zillah - thank you so very much for getting in touch. I'm glad you are enjoying the simplicity book :0)
Unfortunately I no longer have any copies of Learning to Let Go to give away, but it is still available to buy on Amazon. I've had a quick look and I see that on Amazon UK they do have some used copies for a penny, so you should be able to get one for in effect the postage only.
God bless you x

Zillah said...

I thought they might not have hung around - your striving for simplicity in your everyday surroundings is an inspiration to me. I will order your books through our local bookshop - they need encouraging!

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Bless you!