Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Farley-Kluger Amendment


The Farley-Kluger Amendment (www.farleykluger.com)
Just go to www.farleykluger.com to sign the petition

There is no loss greater than the loss of a child. Words cannot express the depth of sorrow you feel. Some companies allow 3 days bereavement, some companies are more generous in this situation, but most, unfortunately, are not. Expecting parents to come back to work within a week and "be normal" not only shows a lack of compassion, but a lack of empathy.
–Brenda S. from Alexandria, VA

As a bereaved parent I cannot believe this isn't already in place. Losing a child, toddler, teen or adult makes no difference to the trauma the parents go through. There is no loss like it. We are kinder to animals than to our fellow man.
–Michele H. from Alden, NY

These are just a few of the many comments that have been made by parents who have suffered the tragic loss of a child and then not been given adequate time off of work to mourn their loss.

Currently the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits workers, in companies with 50 or more employees, to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to help care for a sick immediate family member. Surprisingly, the FMLA does not cover the death of a child. As a result, some bereaved moms and dads have had to make the difficult decision as to whether to spend time away from their companies and risk losing their jobs or return to work long before they are ready.

Two grieving fathers, Barry Kluger and Kelly Farley, have started a petition to get the law changed and in just one year, went from 1,000 to 34,000 petitions to Congress and in Fall 2011, Sen. Jon Tester, inspired by The Farley-Kluger Amendment (www.farleykluger.com), introduced the Parental Bereavement Act of 2011 which is currently in a U.S. Senate Committee. The week of March 19, Messrs. Kluger and Farley travel to DC for over 20 Hill meetings with various Senators and Congresspersons, in their effort to get a companion House Bill introduced. We are asking you to join with us in supporting a proposed amendment to FMLA that would allow unpaid leave time of up to 12 weeks for families who have lost a child.
You can help! It’s simple and will only take a few minutes of your time. Just go to www.farleykluger.com to sign the petition. It would also help if you make a comment about this amendment being particularly as parents and health care professionals. After you sign the petition, you will be given the option to send an email to your representatives in Congress to support the Farley-Kluger Amendment and this change to FMLA.

Perhaps these words from Kathleen, a Gold Star military mother from Mashpee, MA say it best:
My son’s re-deployment to Heaven on Sept. 24th 2010 was and still is the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my life. The pain never goes away but through time we as parents figure out what our new normal is going to be. Life as we knew it will forever be changed. I support this bill 100%....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When Caregivers Are Left With Nothing More To Give

Writer Sandra Tsing Loh spoke last week on the NPR national call-in show Talk of the Nation about a provocative piece she had written for The Atlantic Magazine. It was about the heavy financial and emotional cost of caring for her elderly father and stepmother. It was already a pretty sobering conversation, which is what you might expect since her piece was subtitled "Why Caring for My Aging Father Has Me Wishing He Would Die."

Then Yvonne called in and said:

"In 2000, my mother's heart suddenly stopped. And I took care of her for 10 years, and that was total care. That means bathing, making all of her meals, changing her diapers. I also work in long-term care. I'm a registered nurse. And on top of that, my youngest daughter gave birth to a child that she really couldn't take care of herself. So I was doing, wow, all of that. And I got to tell you: There were times I thought I was going to lose it. I could not — I felt so angry, and I'm ashamed of that."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Trauma and Adversity in Childhood: History Need Not Be Destiny from Huffington Post

Once again, the American Academy of Pediatrics is demonstrating its clinical leadership. Two recent, groundbreaking reports -- "The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress" and "Early Childhood Adversity, Toxic Stress, and the Role of the Pediatrician: Translating Developmental Science Into Lifelong Health" -- by the Academy boldly declare what has been known but too hidden from sight: Namely, that brain and emotional development is profoundly disrupted by childhood adversity and trauma.

The pediatric academy quotes Frederick Douglass who said "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."

Pet Loss: Mangia and Me from Huffington Post

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Mary K. Moore
Mary K. Moore

Author, 'The Unexpected When You're Expecting'

Pet Loss: Mangia and Me
Posted: 02/21/2012 1:40 pm
Cats , Grey's Anatomy , Marley & Me , Cathy , Euthanasia , Grieving For a Pet , Losing a Pet , Old-Yeller , Pet Death , Pets , Healthy Living News

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"Why do you have two frozen corn dogs on your eyes?" asks my husband.

It's a fair question. I was trying to relieve the swelling from crying the night before. My 16-year-old cat, Mangia, had died unexpectedly which in many ways is like saying Christmas came without warning or you were ambushed by gravity. Still, as my breaded meat compresses attested, I was completely unprepared for her passing.

Grieving for a cat is a tricky proposition. Especially if you're a woman. By just owning one, you're a potential punchline and crying over one is viewed as more Cathy than cathartic. With dogs, you have society's blessing when it comes to sadness. It's the stuff of best sellers and tear jerkers, from "Old Yeller" to "Marley and Me." I remember being handed "Where the Red Fern Grows" in sixth grade as a silent, in-class reading assignment. It was the story of two hunting dogs bound together by love until their ultimate heroic deaths. You could always tell when one of us got to the touching graveside scene, sniffles erupting, classmates weeping quietly in order of their reading speed.

Monday, February 27, 2012

As Children Grieve from Nurse Together

Talking to children about death is never easy.

Often this is because we are caught up in our own grief over a particular loss. So often children are pushed aside during these times and their feelings are left unaddressed and thus, we send the message that their feelings are unimportant. This can start a life cycle in which they learn to repress their emotions. They can bury them under deep and dark covers because during their childhood encouragement was not offered for the free expression of their thoughts and feelings. When all that was needed and wanted was understanding and patience, comfort and acceptance, children are often ignored because it is easier. This is especially true when the adults are experiencing their own grief and loss.

The following message came to me in my sleep, as most of my writings do, and so when I awakened, it was fresh on my heart. I send it to you with love and respect.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Should grief be treated like depression? from CNN

Editor's note: Dr. Charles Raison, CNNhealth's mental health expert, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

(CNN) -- I am starting to think that there are no answers to the issues most worth writing about, at least in psychiatry.

Consider the following scenario: A woman who has been mostly happy in her marriage for 30 years comes home to find her husband dead on the floor, the victim of a heart attack.

At first, she is numb with shock. Slowly, as the days pass, she becomes more and more upset. She cries at any mention of her husband. She can't sleep. She can't eat. Nothing seems worth doing, and even if it was, she wouldn't be able to concentrate enough to get it done.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Benefits of Tears from Huffington Post

Something extraordinary happened at Candlestick Park in San Francisco two Saturdays ago, Jan. 14. Sure, it was an amazing ending to an NFL playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints (which the Niners won in dramatic fashion, making all of us fans here in the Bay Area very happy); but the monumental win wasn't what made it so remarkable to me.

As Vernon Davis, the tight end for the Niners who caught the game-winning touchdown, came running off the field, tears were streaming down his face. He came to the sidelines and was embraced by his head coach, Jim Harbaugh, in a huge bear hug. Coach Harbaugh hugged him for quite a while and spoke into his ear in what I can only imagine was an expression of authentic appreciation and celebration. It was a beautiful and moving moment that transcended football and even sports -- it was about courageous triumph, raw human emotion and vulnerable self expression.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Health Care Articles Blog

Please visit our new "health care articles" BLOG


We are accepting articles for review and consideration for publication on our Blog.
Email inquiries to: info@aihcp.org

Friday, January 27, 2012

Don't Confuse Grief With Depression from Huffington Post

A front page story by Ben Carey in January 24th's New York Times carries the poetic title: 'When does a broken heart become a diagnosis?' It describes a puzzling proposal by D.S.M. 5 to transform what is now considered normal grief into Major Depressive Disorder.

D.S.M. IV already recognizes that some people respond to loss with severe problems that warrant immediate attention. It therefore encourages the diagnosis of major depression whenever bereavement is persistent or is associated with severe, impairing, delusional, or suicidal symptoms. D.S.M. IV thus makes a crucial distinction between the transient pain of expectable grief and the severe and/or persistent symptoms of major depression. D.S.M. 5 proposes to eliminate this distinction. It would allow the diagnosis of major depressive disorder after only two weeks of fairly mild symptoms.

Friday, January 20, 2012

10 Things Not to Say to a Cancer Patient from Huffington post

When I was diagnosed with leukemia last May, I couldn't imagine what lay ahead for me. The last eight months may have well been eight years. It's been a blur of blood tests and bone marrow biopsies, fevers and infections. Any cancer patient can tell you that the disease turns you into an ersatz medical student, whether you like it or not. But navigating the social dynamics of living with cancer -- communicating with family and friends about my diagnosis, symptoms, fears and hopes -- was a challenge I did not expect.

The oncology world is overdue for an etiquette guide. As a commenter noted on my blog, unless you're Seth Rogen in 50/50, there's no script for what to say to someone with a life-threatening illness. But if you can avoid saying these 10 things, you're off to a good start:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Hear You: Responding to Cries for Emotional Help from Huffington Post

Cries for emotional help come in all forms. We witness these cries in ways direct and indirect: from outright requests to help me stay alive to the less direct but no less obvious self-starvation of anorexia or leaving empty pill bottles or illegal drugs in plain sight.

We recently witnessed a modern-age cry for help when Sinead O'Connor declared on Twitter: "does any1 know a psychiatrist in dublin or wicklow who could urgently see me today please? im really un-well... and in danger." Why a celebrity needs Twitter to find a psychiatrist is beyond me. Sure, we can all quip about how hard it is to get an appointment with a doctor, but I suspect that is not what this was about.

Nor can I know since I am not personally familiar with this celebrity, her medical community or resources, or for that matter her state of mind when she turned to such a ubiquitous form of social media for help. But as a psychiatrist I understand how people reach out in ways that we need to listen to: The ultimate fear is that they will find no one there, which is the saddest situation of all. Suicide, as has been said, is not just the product of hopelessness; it is the result of believing that you are all alone, with no one to turn to and no means of exiting from the psychic pain that is crushing your soul.

For more please press the link.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Healing With Hurt Feelings from Huffington Post

Hurt Feelings. They're like noses. We all have them. They come in all shapes and sizes. They can come suddenly like a cloud and bring the rain or build up slowly and then consume us like a tornado. They can be so powerful that they can make us lose complete perspective of our reality. You overhear your colleagues are having a get together at the end of the day, but you haven't been invited. You feel excluded. Hurt feelings show up. You find out that someone you thought was a good friend has been talking about you behind your back. You feel betrayed. Hurt feelings show up. You're having dinner with your girlfriend, and she says she wants more space and wants to date other men. Clunk. Couldn't she at least have waited 'til after dessert? You leave dinner feeling hurt and abandoned.

Wouldn't life be so much easier without hurt feelings? Well, maybe. But I believe that hurt feelings can also provide a powerful opportunity for self-awareness and healing. If outer reality is a reflection of inner reality, then when hurt feelings show up, we can take the opportunity to ask ourselves what has been suppressed and unexpressed. If in my outer world there is something that produces hurt and pain, then there must be something inside me that is still unresolved. The question then becomes what to do with hurt feelings when they show up, and what can we learn from them. The theme of this blog series and of my new book is how to use everything that life puts on our path as a way to unbind our hearts. Hurt feelings can then serve as a tunnel, through which we can come to the other side to the freedom of our heart.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How Grief Can Break Your Heart from Time

Grief is a powerful emotion, and the latest research shows just how damaging it can be, especially for the heart.

The sobering results, appearing in the journal Circulation, are the first to compare how grief affects an individual’s heart-disease risk within a period of time. Previous studies have documented that people losing loved ones tend to have more heart problems than those who aren’t bereaved. In the current analysis, lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky and her colleagues took a unique approach by calculating an individual’s “average loss” of loved ones over a year, by asking how many people study participants had lost in the past year and comparing that figure to the number of loved ones that same person lost during the study period in question, which included the most recent day and week preceding a heart attack. Because all the participants were heart-attack patients, that allowed her to calculate the effect that losing a loved one had on each individual’s heart-attack risk.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Dog's Gentle Death from Huffington Post

Our family will always remember this holiday season as the time Sugar died. Sugar was a mixed breed, mostly lab/border-collie type. She exhibited the best character traits of every gene she carried and seemed to bear none of any breed's drawbacks. She was a real credit to her species.

A member of my daughter's household, Sugar was one of my "grand dogs," for whom it was my privilege to dog-sit if her parents went somewhere she was not welcome. Those unwelcome places were few and far between because Sugar met love and enthusiasm everywhere she went. Friends would vie for the chance to keep her when her parents left town. But, I'm proud to say, my daughter believed I was her favorite sitter, so I always got first dibs on her company.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Depression and Complementary Health Practices from NCCAM

Depression is a medical condition that affects nearly 21 million American adults each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Mood, thoughts, physical health, and behavior all may be affected. Among the common symptoms of depression are persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings; feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and/or worthlessness; restlessness or irritability; fatigue; difficulty concentrating; insomnia; overeating, or loss of appetite; and/or thoughts of suicide.

Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Depression can be treated effectively with conventional medicine, including antidepressants and certain types of psychotherapy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year, a New Yesterday from Nurse Together

Yesterday was what it was. Or was it?

If your memory is like mine, I can’t remember where I parked my car an hour ago. How can I possibly think that my memories from a year ago - or a decade ago - are accurate?

Next question: How much weight do memories of past events color your present relationships and viewpoints?

I don’t know about you, but as I thought about that for myself, something inside me went... flooop.

The Will and Ways of Hope from Huffington Post

Talent, skill, ability -- whatever you want to call it -- will not get you there. Sure, it helps. But a wealth of psychological research over the past few decades show loud and clear that it's the psychological vehicles that really get you there. You can have the best engine in the world, but if you can't be bothered to drive it, you won't get anywhere.

Psychologists have proposed lots of different vehicles over the years: grit, conscientiousness, self-efficacy, optimism, passion, inspiration, etc. They are all important. One vehicle, however, is -- I believe -- particularly undervalued and under-appreciated in psychology and society. That's hope.

Got The Post-Holiday Blues? Here's How To Beat 'Em from Huffington Post

Wait ... hear that? That's our collective sigh marking the fact that the great holiday season of 2011 has finally come to a close.

And while for many of us, that is indeed a relief -- there's no more cooking, no more cleaning, no more forced New Year's revelry -- the post-holiday period can represent a real time of sadness and readjustment, too.

Each of us has our own personal blend of apres-holidays feelings, but there are many issues and emotions that crop up again, and again and again. So we went to a team of experts to ask for some advice on what you can do -- right now -- to help beat those post-holiday blues.