Posted by Raquel Morales
Shared at the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Jewish Healing Evening of Dedication
About a year and a half ago my dad was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He was told it would be an arduous road with intense chemotherapy and many blood transfusions. He was given less than two years to live.
From that moment on my life changed. I am no longer just a daughter, I am now a caregiver.
I have been by my mom’s side through this new journey but it takes the entire family to provide the care, companionship, and advocacy that a loved one needs during this time. My day-to-day routine and my social activities changed. My sole focus has become my father. My priority has now shifted to his care.
It was hard for me to make that adjustment. I had not been in that role before. I didn’t know how to balance everything. I didn’t know how to take care of all of his needs and at the same time pay any attention to mine.
A couple of months after his diagnosis, I received an email from Marjorie U. Sokoll, Director of the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Jewish Healing, inviting staff to a Healing Circle. I wasn’t exactly sure what happened in a Healing Circle but it piqued my interest. I also wasn’t sure if it was a fit considering I am Catholic and I wasn’t sure if I would feel comfortable. But since I started working at JF&CS in March of 2015, I have learned so much from Marjie about Jewish culture, religion, and traditions, I figured, at the very least, I would go and learn something.
So I went and learned that this would be a time that would be just about me. I could leave all of my titles and labels at the door. I didn’t have to think about what time my dad had to be at chemo or what to do if he falls out of bed again or if he took his 14 medications this morning. It became a time I could clear my head, think about my breathing, and let the stress flow away - a moment for self-care. I was able to walk out of the circle and be a stronger daughter, a better caregiver, and a steadfast warrior for my dad.
Marjie began leading the monthly Staff Healing Circle shortly after the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Jewish Healing (formerly Jewish Healing Connections) was created. In thinking about bringing healing to clients of the agency, it became clear that as human beings, JF&CS staff also need healing. There was a profound recognition that the Healing Circle could be an opportunity for self-care that could strengthen us as we care for others.
This support is so unique. What other employer offers this type of support to their staff? Some companies promote exercise and eating healthy but nothing to do with the mental, spiritual, and emotional care one needs when going through a challenging time.
I have learned that no matter your faith one can find solace in Jewish healing.
Thank you, Marjie, for helping heal my mind, my spirit, and my soul.
Raquel Morales is the JF&CS Special Events Manager.