Talk Less, Connect More: Seven Tips for Being More Aware and Supportive

I tend to be a chatty person. And I’ve been known to ramble on now and again (and again and again). When my life-parter Kate had cancer and I was her primary caregiver, I became extra aware of these tendencies. I didn’t want to deplete her energy by talking too much or being too animated.

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Photo credit: istockphoto.com/g-stockstudio

So I started talking much less when Kate and I spent time alone together. I also talked in a more relaxed tone, even when I was overwhelmed or in a hurry. She never asked me to be more aware in these ways. But I knew it was supportive. And I could tell she was grateful.

At the same time, I watched Kate be as engaged as ever with friends. She was someone who made you feel like you were the only one who mattered, that she was genuinely interested in you and your life. And she was! Even as her body’s symptoms worsened with her cancer, she would inquire about others’ lives and encourage them to share.

But after her visits, she would often say it had been a bit too much for her. She wanted the deep connection, but her energy would also feel drained. Kate preferred, of course, to interact in the same ways she did when her body was totally healthy. I imagine it helped her feel “normal” and not focused on her physical decline.

Ironically, Kate was the one encouraging friends to talk. Yet she didn’t enjoy feeling wiped out later. What are some ways to shift this predicament?

Creating Prayer Flags for a Memorial Celebration

Looking for a creative way to honor a loved one at a memorial service? Making “prayer flags” is a simple and powerful way to engage family and friends when you gather together. It’s an opportunity to send your love on the wind and celebrate the cycle of life.

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Photo credit: Jennifer Mathews © 2014

When I visited the east coast last fall, the prayer flags created to celebrate my life-partner Kate were still blowing in the breeze on her family’s land. They blended beautifully with the colors of the natural world – with the white birch bark, the orange and yellow autumn foliage, and the slow-turning green leaves of summer. (See the fall photo at the end of the article).

One of the highlights for me of the memorial celebrations in both California and Vermont was these homemade “prayer flags” with personal messages from those who had been touched by Kate’s life. Because I’ve enjoyed these flags so much, I wanted to share with you what’s needed to create your own prayer flags in memory of someone you love.

I hope the following suggestions and photos offer you or your friends and family an easy step-by-step guide to create prayer flags of your own.

Tips for Talking about Loved Ones over the Holidays

This holiday season, I invite you to get more comfortable. No, I don’t mean wear your favorite flannel pajamas to Thanksgiving dinner (though I do encourage that). I mean get comfortable having conversations about loved ones who have moved on from the physical world.

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Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/aydinynr

Holidays gatherings are often a time of annual traditions and expectations. Many people seem to enjoy the predictability of who they will see and what will happen throughout the day.

Maybe every year, you expect to play cards before dinner or wish the TV wasn’t so loud. Maybe you count on eating canned beets or having the green bean casserole in the same glass Pyrex dish next to the yams.

But then one year, there’s no green bean casserole. Because there’s no Aunt Sally to bring it.

And suddenly, you find yourself needing to adapt. And having to do so in the company of others. Will mentioning the person who is no longer sitting at the table be a holiday downer? Or can talking freely about her or him connect you all in deeper ways?