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“The absolute raw truth of the matter is this: I have no idea what I am doing now, much less what I will be doing a year from now. Years of living my life for another person has left me without a clue as to how to live for myself.” from the book,
“I Want to Live – Confessions of a Grieving Caretaker by Susan D. McDaniel.
I got to know Susan as a member of Ricochet, where she posted about her faith and her role as a caretaker. I am on page 68 of her new book. I bought it because we lost my mother-in-law in April. My sister-in-law and she lived together, but she was also her caretaker. Being a home health care nurse gave her insight and skills that other caretakers have to blindly learn, but when she passed, she became any other person who is grieving a loss. I wanted to read this book, then give it to her. What I am finding within the pages of this little book is way beyond what I ever expected.
“My life is a wreck. A nuclear wreck. My life makes Chernobyl look like a wet matchstick. ” This is how she describes the initial loss. Susan was not only a full-time caretaker of both her parents, but she lived most of her life within her family environment. She worked for her dad and never married. Yet she never describes her life as deprived or limited. She is also funny, her humor is endearing, describing herself as gifted with two skills, annoying people and loving to write; who can’t relate?
Susan is someone I would be delighted to have as a friend or neighbor, where I could drop in for a cup of coffee and just talk about anything. For a self-described recluse, she sees the human condition and the answers to life’s pain clear as a bell, even in the midst of it – no blinders or denial. This book is not only a gift, but a blessing. She has the gift of writing, but her desire to write springs from wanting to help others. There is the blessing and it is genuine – no pretense.
My takeaway so far is this is my new go-to book for anyone that has suffered a loss, be it the death of a parent or relative, a spouse, a dear friend, even a pet. This book would also be helpful for someone experiencing divorce or separation, looking to find their footing in the midst of turmoil, or as she says, “finding a new normal”. Grief is grief and Susan has a gift for writing simply from the heart – from which the wellspring of life flows. “I Want to Live” is the cry from anyone who is suffering in any situation, to know you are going to be ok, and how to navigate your next minute, hour, day in your different world. It speaks also to the fact that it doesn’t take a college education or traveling the world to gain the kind of wisdom found here. We’re all vessels waiting to be filled with it from the dispenser of all Wisdom, if we just ask.
Susan says every family member or caregiver is different, every part of grieving is different for each of us, not a “one size fits all job”. There are no rule books or boxes to check or timetables. I see that now. You cannot know the depths of another person’s grief, and as she said, the grief starts well before the situation where the loss actually occurs. The chapter on “Nostalgia” should come with a Kleenex warning. I found myself wiping away tears, not of sadness but of thankfulness. She nails it in this department. How blessed we are because this friend, or pet or family member or co-worker was a part of our lives, even briefly.
If you have suffered any kind of loss, or have been a caretaker, or are a counselor, or mentor, you will draw much from this simple little $10 book. I will give it to my sister in law, then order more copies as a gift to those who have or will experience loss. I loved it. I think you will too.
@susanmcdaniel, thank you for writing it. I hope you will keep writing, write about the pets in your book, and what happened to you that caused you to lose trust after the tender age of five. I hope you will write about fixing up your house, and the car repair place down the road where people gather to vent! This little book is needed in our broken and fragmented world more than ever. I hope that our Ricochet community and beyond discovers what a treasure you and your writing are, and will support you!