Wife’s passing motivates caregiver to help others

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Former caregiver Robert Coyne reminds caregivers in attendance at the Frank R. Strang Senior Center in Farragut never to ignore the cardinal rule of caregiving – taking care of their emotional and physical needs first!

Why? Because he knows whats its like. Speaking of his wife he says “When she passed away in 2003, I was left with an incredible sense of guilt. How many mistakes did I make? Could I have done a better job? Could I have prolonged her life? There were no answers,”

Like I said in my last blog post, few people prepare to be caregiver,
It’s a challenge very few are prepared for. It’s a labor of love that can quickly turn into a living nightmare for everyone involved.

Few people understand the terrible consequences better than Robert Coyne. His personal experiences now serve as a wake-up call to other individuals finding themselves in the role of caregiver.

Robert took an early retirement when his wife, Kathie was diagnosed with an illness that would eventually claim her life five-and-a-half years later.
“Nothing in my professional background prepared me for this undertaking,” Robert said. “I experienced the entire gambit of emotional, physical and physiological issues resulting in my suffering a heart attack followed by open heart surgery. I was fortunate enough to recover and return to my duties as Kathie’s caregiver.

“When she passed away in 2003, I was left with an incredible sense of guilt. How many mistakes did I make? Could I have done a better job?

Could I have prolonged her life? There were no answers,” he recalled.
Naturally he fell into a deep depression and could not see any way out. The pain was to much too bear. “Finally a physician who I respected greatly told me in no uncertain terms to concentrate on something else, start thinking about other people. I did just that and began researching the availability of resources for caregivers. I needed to educate and help others caring for a loved one.”

Devoting all his labors to the memory of Kathie, wife, mother, grandmother and best friend, reaction to Coyne’s seminar was instantanious with inquiries and future bookings.

“It’s been nearly two years, and I’m still presenting the three- and six-hour sessions on a semi-regular basis. I do my best to keep the attendance down to between 10 and 20 for each session. It’s a private, intimate relationship, caregiving. You will find that those who attend quickly converse with one another in a manner of understanding and kinship. They rarely give their names but exchange personal experiences benefiting everyone.”

Local churches, non-profit organizations, area hospitals, senior groups are just a few of the outlets taking advantage of Robert’s knowledge. “Everyone attending receives a 90-page reference guide and handouts. The seminars are free of charge. I do ask for a small donation for printing expenses, but there is no pressure. My only concern is getting this information out into the hands of people who really need it,” Coyne said.

Coyne, may be contacted at bobcoyne@charter.net

*I just emailed him myself, so I cannot guarantee the results, and if you do not want to take a chance, I will post my results in a couple of days. (lets see if I hear back myself?)

Source: Elizabeth A. Poley/Special to the News Sentine

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