There’s a special kind of joy that happens in groups. We find our greatest times of happiness in moments of collective effervescence. It’s a concept coined by the sociologist Emile Durkheim to describe the sense of energy and harmony people feel when they come together in a group around a shared purpose. Human beings aren’t meant to be alone. Community is critical to our health and well-being.
I found myself in one of those crazy days last week where I kept hearing bad news from friends, a busy workday, coupled with a few crazy freeway drivers mixed in with being tired, and I could feel myself getting swallowed into the black hole. I remembered listening to the birds chirping outside my window as I woke that morning and brought back that sense of joy through a few deep, long breathes. Did it make it all go away? No. But it did get me from a tilting position to feel more balanced? Yes.
Food isn't just something to feed the body, the social aspect of cooking and dining with family and friends stimulates conversation and memory. The scent of fresh bread could trigger a memory of the first time my grandfather experimented with raisin bread, and that memory might lead to my grandmother sharing that he used to bring her gladiolas in metal buckets "just because."
The most powerful connection can be with other caregivers who often are experiencing similar feelings.
Have you heard of ‘sneaker waves’? They are an unanticipated coastal waves that are much greater in force and height than the waves preceding it.
As a former family caregiver, observing the inevitable changes a family goes through as their loved one's health declines can be painful on so many levels.