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A Lesson in Loss
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10/28/2019 at 5:43:10 PM GMT
Posts: 23
A Lesson in Loss

Life can be humbling. My family and I experienced a loss last week; actually, we’ve been absorbing the loss over an extended period, perhaps as long as 5 years or so. My stepfather, partner to my mother for more than 50 years, died last week after a long battle with dementia and the ravages of a continuous string of infections that medical professionals could no longer battle. 

Upon learning of his death, I did what most good daughters do and dropped everything to rush to my mother’s side, in rural Arkansas. There, I’ve spent the last nine days, helping her to clean drawers and closets, dispose of unneeded medical supplies, sort through papers, attend to all the administrative requirements in an assortment of municipal offices, and generally sticking around to offer love, support, an abundance of funny stories, memories both good and bad, and generous servings of wine and fried food. 

As I did these things, I was haunted by the nagging realization that somewhere in this experience was a valuable lesson, aside from the obvious knowledge that love, and time are precious. I contemplated for more than a week, unable to connect the dots, but unable to let go the feeling that there was some gem of knowledge in this experience, for me to find and share with you.

As I remained close to support my mother, our discussions almost always landed on the same subject… how does an 81-year-old woman who has never lived as an adult without children or a spouse to care for, redefine herself as a single, independent person with a life of her own to live? How does she find purpose and hope in the ashes of a life lost? Perhaps trite, I counseled her to make friends, join new clubs, entertain, travel, volunteer, fill her time with every opportunity she can find, until her life is filled with new joys, new interests, and new adventures that are hers alone. I used every argument I could think of to coax from her resilience and a will to move forward. She, I’m sure, will do her best to do exactly that – we are, after all strong women!

The lesson in this that was calling out to me was RESILIANCE. I’m speaking about our commitment to IAIP, to our careers, to all the many changes, the losses, the pinnacles and ravines we will face in our lives and careers over time. No doubt there will be times when we find walls crumbling around us, our futures uncertain. There will be times when we perceive loss that may not be physical. Change may take from us what we find secure and comforting. Yet, we must find our new norms. We must figure out what works for us going forward and seek out new opportunities and power to rebuild our futures. 

This is what we are doing with IAIP at this moment. We are rooting out our vulnerabilities and replacing them with reinforced structure. We are expanding into new areas of strength and opportunity. We are redefining and building our organizations to create a sustaining future. And, like family, we are doing it together, sharing in the losses of the past but creating excitement for the future. 

As I see the pictures on social media of the new leaders being elected to the various Councils around the country, as I see the work the IAIP Task Forces are doing in executing new strategies that will revitalize IAIP, as I see the excitement building around the regional conferences that are being planned for Spring 2020, I am encouraged, I am strengthened, I am hopeful, and I am proud! Thanks to you all for your efforts on behalf of IAIP, for your resilience, and for your support after my recent loss. I’m proud to be an IAIP member with all of you and I look forward to the future we are, together building!

Cindy J. Prud'homme, AINS, CPIA, CIIP, CLP
International President 2019-2020
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Cell: 810-282-7089

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