Grief: The Terrible Emptiness
Some Thoughts on Life, Death and Loss

friend passed away, suddenly, this past week and I feel so very bad.

I’m over 70 years of age and death is nothing new to me.

Over the years I have lost most of my relatives including my parents, my brother, as well as many of my friends. And with each one, the feeling of loss is profound. But very few of those deaths has touched me more than the loss of my dear friend Carrie on Wednesday.

Over the last four-plus years here at the A.L.F., Carrie (and her late husband Bob) and I had become friends. And, with Bob’s passing a couple of years ago, Carrie and I became even closer.

Although Carrie had many female acquaintances with whom she shared many of her closest feelings, I was in a special position of being her only male friend here and she, my closest female friend.

I have always found that, while men friends are fun to be with, will always have your back and understand things that only men can understand, women have a different and often enlightening ability to “cut through the crap” and provide you with a fresh and often refreshing point of view that only comes from having a built-in perception that only women have. It was just that point of view that I often turned to Carrie for. And now I won’t be able to do that anymore.

Just now, when I need her the most, she is gone and I will never see or speak to her again and that leaves me feeling empty and hollow.

I feel a void inside that can’t, at least for now, be filled by the sympathetic words of others, as well-meaning as they may be.

I know this feeling will diminish over time, but for now, there is only a cloud of melancholy and the gloom of despair to keep me company, both unsympathetic companions at best.

Why is this?

What is it about death that affects us more than any other human function?
I suppose much of it has to do with its finality.

Unlike a movie on Netflix, there is no “pause” button.

We can’t stop it, wait, and go on when it’s convenient for us.

And, unlike a movie, we can’t rewind and play again.

We have to see it through to the end (including the credits), and when it’s over, it’s over.

Of course, that leaves us thinking about the afterlife. And, whether you are religious or not, I think all of us want there to be something else.

It is hard for us to grasp the concept of eternal nothingness.

It can’t be that we spent 60, 70, 80 or more years on this earth eating, breathing, loving, and working etc. for it all to end, probably, much quieter than it began.

But death is not about the dead. The dead feel nothing.

Death is about us, the living who have to survive the loss which often becomes so all-consuming that the possibility of ever having a normal life again seems very remote.

Friends, especially close friends, friends that you depend on for solace and guidance, actually become part of you. As much a part of you as an appendage like and arm or a leg.

And when that “appendage” is suddenly cut off, the loss is often painful and incomprehensible.

I suppose that is what I am feeling now, this emptiness, this void, if you will, that gnaws at me like a naughty puppy chewing on a slipper.

One of the less well-known things about living at an assisted living facility is that we are, in the truest sense of the word, a family. Especially for those of us who have been together here for more than a couple of years.

During that time, we become closer to each other than members of our own actual families.

We see each other every day.

We dine together (usually three times a day), and we commiserate with each other as if we were brothers and sisters.

We look out for each other, pray with each other and even fight with each other.
And, as I have experienced these last few days, we grieve with one another as well.

I know, as the days after Carrie’s passing become many, and time takes its inevitable trip into the future, the bereft and vacant feeling I have, like a stain, will lighten. I also know that, like that stain, a trace of her will be left behind. A piece of her that time can ever remove.


Grief Resources

Understanding Grief
The death of a loved one, friend or family member often puts us in touch with our own thoughts and feelings about mortality.  All of a sudden we realize how quickly life can end.  It is normal to feel out-of-control, and overwhelmed.  

Realize that you are grieving.

The first step toward regaining a sense of control is to understand grief.  Grief is a physical, social, emotional, psychological and spiritual reaction to loss.  It is natural, normal and necessary.  It may cause a variety of reactions, including:

      1. Feeling tired and irritable
        .  You may experience insomnia or feel tired all the time.
      2. Appetite changes.  You may or may not feel hungry.
      3. Feelings of anxiousness.  You may feel worried and excited at the same time; like your heart is racing and you cannot “catch your breath.”
      4. Feelings of emptiness.  You may feel hollow inside.  It may be hard to concentrate or remember things.
        Feeling out-of-control.  You may feel helpless, angry or frightened.

All of these feelings are normal.  Your whole world has changed.  
You cannot bring the person back or change the situation.  It is natural to feel vulnerable.  Through information, we gain a sense of understanding.  Through understanding, we gain a sense of control.  Seek out information about grief.

For more information on how to deal with grief go to >> http://chapeyfamily.com/7/Grief-Support.html


Lowest stroke rates in older baby boomers;
younger people rising
Stroke rates continue to decline in people 55 and older, while more than doubling in those between 35 and 39, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

“People, especially those under 50, need to realize that stroke does not just occur in the old, and the outcome can be much more debilitating than a heart attack – leaving you living for another 30 to 50 years with a physical disability.”


Let’s face it. We have all been tempted to do it and, probably, most of us have. And that is to cut off the moldy parts of food and eat the rest. It has nothing to do with being cheap, it has to do with our parents telling us not to waste food. And why should we. After all, the moldy is only one little spot on all that nice bread or cheese or meat. The rest is okay. Right?
Well, maybe and maybe not…

How To Tell Which Foods Are Safe To Eat When They’re Moldy

It’s actually OK to cut the mold off certain foods, and still eat them.
By Julie R. Thomson

Mold is usually a pretty clear indicator that food is past its prime ― most instincts will encourage people to steer clear. And it’s a good instinct, because some molds produce mycotoxins, which are poisonous substances that can make you very sick. (Aflatoxin is one type of mycotoxin that has been found to cause cancer.)

But just because some molds will make you sick doesn’t mean all will. Take a look at blue cheese that’s covered in the stuff, and celebrated on cheese plates everywhere. That’s a mold we actually enjoy eating.

And then there are the molds that grow on foods we wish they didn’t. It’s a bummer, but we have good news: mold doesn’t always mean food is doomed for the trash. These are the moldy foods we’re going to talk about today.

In an effort to fight food waste, here’s a list of foods ― put together by the USDA ― that are still safe to eat, even after they start growing mold. Just cut the moldy part off, or scrape it away, and enjoy.

1. Hard salami. Scrape off the mold and continue enjoying your cured meat. It’s actually normal for a self-stable product such as this to develop mold over time.
2. Hard cheese. In those rare instances when cheese actually lasts long enough in the fridge to develop mold, you can rejoice in the fact that it’s still entirely edible. Just cut off the moldy part, and roughly an inch around it, and chow down. Just be sure you don’t cross-contaminate the moldy and good parts of the cheese when cutting.
3. Firm Fruits. Firm fruits like bell peppers (yes, it’s technically a fruit) that have a low moisture content can still be eaten if mold appears. Just cut around the small mold spots and it should be good to go. Softer fruits, such as peaches, should be tossed because the high moisture content means it can be contaminated below the surface. 
4. Firm Vegetables. Firm vegetables with low moisture contents ― such as cabbage and carrots ― can be eaten even after light mold appears. Just cut away the spot and an inch around it.
Some foods ― usually soft foods with high moisture contents ― should be tossed once mold appears. This includes lunch meats, cooked pasta, cooked grains, soft cheese, yogurt, sour cream, jams, breads as well as soft fruits and vegetables. 
If you’re not sure what’s safe, don’t take the risk. Toss it ― or compost it. Just know that next time your favorite hunk of cheddar has a small spot of mold, you can just cut it off and still enjoy your cheese.

Follow the Faceless Foodie everyday at >>  thefacelessfoodie.yolasite.com

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This blog is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend, Carrie Hecht
who worked tirelessly to gain better service, respect and dignity for her fellow residents.

Previous blogs can be found in the Archives section at the top of this page


For your information...

As part of this blog’s effort to inform as well as entertain, I would like to direct you to a PDF document which explains in detail what exactly an Assisted Living Facility is, what it does, the kinds of different facilities are available, who funds such facilities and the regulations governing such facilities.
While this document pertains mainly to the current regulations in N.Y. State, most areas of the country have similar definitions and regulations governing Assisted Living Facilities.
I urge anyone who is contemplating a move to an ALF for themselves or a loved one to look over this document as a way of better understanding what choices may be available to you.

After this week we will save this in the Residents Bill of Rights section accessible at the top of this page.

Publications Available for Westchester County Seniors

These publications have been prepared by the Department of Senior Programs and Services to acquaint you with the wealth of services and benefits available to you as a senior citizen in Westchester. Senior citizens can learn how to save money, find housing, get help with minor home repairs, get answers about elder law and more. Other publications and studies are provided to assist the caregiver, senior citizen, or any member of the household with taking care of the elderly.

Many of our publications are available in Spanish.

Living Well

Brochure describes the Living Well program, where workshops help seniors learn how to better deal with chronic conditions such as arthritis, pain, high blood pressure and diabetes to enhance their quality of life.

Directory of Services, Rights and Benefits

This booklet has been prepared to acquaint you with the wealth of services and benefits available to you as a senior citizen in Westchester. All the services are listed alphabetically to make it easy to browse topics.

Financial Benefits and Savings Guide For Senior Citizens

Your guide to saving money on utility/heating, prescriptions, medicare costs, rent, property taxes, and minor home repairs. Includes a useful directory of phone numbers.

Benefits Checkup 

Click the headline above for a Benefits CheckUp brochure to learn about benefits for people aged 55 and over and younger people with Medicare. Then go to the Web site and complete a questionnaire.

A Guide for Caregivers: What You Need to Know 

A booklet filled with practical how-to advice for the caregiver.

A Guide for Caregivers: Respite Services and Support Groups 

A guide to respite services and caregiver support groups in Westchester County to assist the caregiver of an older adult.

At the Crossroads

Westchester County Directory of Residential and Health Care Facility options. Includes adult homes, assisted living, enriched housing and retirement residences.

Elder Law Q & A

Have questions about estate and financial planning, health care planning or elder abuse? If so, the 2014 edition of the Elder Law Q&A: An Introduction to Aging Issues and Planning for the Future offers answers. This guide is also available in Spanish.

Growing Older…Who Do You Trust?

Learn how to plan for a safe and secure future. Basic money management for older adults.

Guide to Westchester Senior Housing Sites

Things to know such as key parts of the Real Property Law of the State of New York as well as the federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program and how to apply. It also includes some general tips and important questions to ask before you sign a lease.

More on the website...http://seniorcitizens.westchestergov.com/senior-programs-and-services/publications


New Employee Directory

with phone ext. & email

As of May 2015

Resident's Bill of Rughts

The New York State Department of Health supervises adult care homes (residential care facilities for adults) throughout the state. Here are the Patient Bill of Rights for your review.

1. You have the right to receive courteous, fair and respectful care and treatment, and not be physically, verbally, or emotionally abused or neglected in any manner.
2. You have the right to exercise your civil and religious liberties, including the right to make personal decisions, and to rely on The Center's staff in exercising these liberties.
3. You have the right to private written and verbal communications or visits with anyone of your choice, or to deny or end such communications or visits.
4. You have the right to receive and send mail or any correspondence unopened and without interception or interference by the staff or Operator of The Center.
5. You have the right to manage your own financial affairs. However, you may authorize the staff of the home to administer your money or personal property. Such authorization must be in writing and agreed to by you and your designee. All transactions involving your money or personal property must be accounted for in your financial record maintained by The Center. You are entitled to a quarterly accounting of any financial transactions you authorize the staff or operator of The Center the home to perform on your behalf.
6. You have the right to have your personal, social, financial and medical records kept in confidence.
7. You have the right, if you are a resident of a Private Proprietary Home for Adults, to receive a written statement of the customary services that the home will provide you and any additional services which will be provided if you need them. Your Admission Agreement must include a written statement of all your monthly fees and expenses. No fees in excess of those stated in your Admission Agreement can be charged you without your approval unless you are advised 30 days in advance or if the additional fee charged is to cover emergency services.
8. You have the right to end your admission agreement, subject to the conditions for notice established in your Admission Agreement.
9. You have the right to a written statement from The Bristal 30 days prior to transfer or termination of your Admission Agreement.
10. You have the right to present grievances or recommendations on behalf of yourself or others. These may be presented, without fear or reprisal or punishment to The Center's staff or operator, to government officials or to any other person.
11. You have the right to join within or outside of The Center to work for improvements in care.
12. You have the right to have privacy in treatment and care for personal needs.
13. You have the right to keep possessions as space allows and to be assured of security for any personal possessions stored by The Bristal.
14. You have the right to receive compensation for services you perform for The Center or the staff.
15. You have the right to not be coerced or required to perform the work of staff members or contractual work.
16. You have the right to receive a copy of the final report of the most recent inspection performed by New York State Department of Health.
17. You have the right, if you are a recipient of Supplemental Security (SSI) or Home Relief, to receive a monthly personal allowance to buy items which are not ordinarily provided by the home.
18. You have the right to a statement of the rules of The Center and an explanation of your responsibility to obey all reasonable rules.
19. You have the right to have your version of the events leading to an accident or incident recorded on The Bristal’s accident or incident report.
20. You have the right to object if The Center terminates your Admission Agreement against your will.
21. You have the right to at least 30 days advance notice of any change in the facility’s rate or charges for supplemental services.
22. You have the right to organize and maintain a Resident Council.
23. You have the right to privacy in your room, subject to access by facility staff.
24. You have the right not to be physically restrained nor locked in your room at any time.
25. You have the right to leave and return to the facility grounds at reasonable hours.
26. You are not required to give any gratuity (i.e., tip or gift) in any form for services provided or arranged for in accordance with law or regulations. In addition, staff of The Center may not accept any gratuity (tips or gifts).

Here are some other links you may  like...


The N.Y. State Dept. of Health has a list of important phone numbers as to where to get help and information in regards to assisted living facilities.

Here is the link ....






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