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The Caregiver’s Cairn: Let HOPE Light the Way


Greetings one and all…

This morning I am sitting at my desk, sipping coffee, and reflecting on the holiday season. I am somewhat amazed by how quickly the holidays arrived this year. However, it shouldn’t be surprising. Every day is “lippin’ full”—an expression I learned from my sister-in-law. So, it’s time to slow down the pace. Take a deep breath. And be present to the moment. Care to join me?

The holidays are an interesting time of the year. Some people savor the season while others reluctantly tolerate the festivities. And for many people, the holidays serve as a painful reminder of who or what is missing in our lives. In fact, for the majority of people, the holidays are bittersweet because we have all experienced significant loss at some point in time. A family member. A friend. A beloved pet. A job. A home. A relationship. A sense of purpose. Whatever the loss, the holidays seemingly magnify the resultant void in our hearts and our lives.

Because “the blues” are quite common, I present a program on grief and the holidays every December. This year’s program was particularly poignant for me due to the death of my brother and a dear friend earlier this year. Although I was the “presenter,” I learned so much from those in attendance (as is always the case). We recognized that the holidays are challenging. We shared our stories. We acknowledged that the season and our grief cannot be circumvented. Instead, we must choose to courageously move through the holiday blues if we are to live beyond our sorrow.

Ultimately, we encouraged each other to remain HOPE-full throughout the holidays. Granted, HOPE is hard to find (much less embrace) when brokenhearted. However, as one woman stated, “I may not feel HOPE-full today, but I can HOPE that HOPE is still possible.” A wise woman indeed. She highlighted the fact that we can’t rush through our sorrow. Making a mad dash for HOPE doesn’t allow the time needed to mourn our losses. However, if we can see HOPE on the horizon—if we can believe that healing is possible—each step of our journey is illuminated as we are able and willing to move forward.  For each and every one of us this holiday season, my fervent prayer is that we will let HOPE light the way. Blessings to you and yours from this day forward.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I invite you to share your perspective on the caregiving journey. Make suggestions. Pose questions. Provide resources. Share your story. Coming together and sharing, we will improve the process for one and all. I look forward to continuing the conversation next month. Til then, blessings to you and yours...Jane W. Barton

Do you have a question for Jane? Please email us at and we will be in touch soon!

Jane W. Barton, MTS, MASM, CSA is a passionate speaker, writer, and listener. Jane is the founder of Cardinal, LLC, a consulting firm that provides educational programs to assist people in confronting the daunting challenges posed by aging,  serious illness and disability. Jane is well-versed in the areas of grief and bereavement, caregiving, hospice and palliative care, change and transition, and spirituality and health. She presents innovative, transformational programs to community members, healthcare providers, pastoral caregivers, clergy, funeral service providers, and national audiences to improve the experience of people and families challenged by serious, advanced, or terminal illnesses. Previously, Jane served as Director of Education for a hospice and palliative care educational institution. She has also served as a hospice chaplain and bereavement facilitator in hospice and palliative care. Jane is a certified Spiritual Director as well as a Certified Senior Advisor. In a former life, she worked as a financial services representative and an exploration petroleum geologist and manager.



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