Updated: Oct 27, 2021
From Point A to Point “Me”
Initially driven professionally to change the conversation and culture around end of life, I made it my mission to educate anyone who would listen about all things death, dying, grief & bereavement. I graduated from mortuary school in 2008 and have worked in service to older adults — specifically in end of life — since.
Then — against the backdrop of a global pandemic — I turned 40, my mother almost died, my primary relationship ended, I moved three times in six months, and I had a hysterectomy. I decided these were all the signs I needed that a midlife renovation was in order.
I had to prioritize myself if I wanted to take care of anyone else.
I resigned my regional position with a home health and hospice company, and decided to organize like-minded thought leaders, broadening our educational efforts to include affecting attitudes on aging.
Who, What, Why?
Amy Wright & Co. is a supergroup of experienced professionals supporting older adults and their advocates through educational products and consulting services. Our mission is to affect attitudes on aging & change the conversation and culture around end of life. Our five core values — vulnerability, connection, passion, rest & fun — guide us we teach others through our professional expertise and personal experiences, so aging doesn’t suck, end of life isn’t so scary, and people feel less alone along the way.
What do my 40th birthday, aging parents, break-up, and hysterectomy have to do with you?
This has everything to do with you.
Hang with me.
Years ago, when I first made it my mission to change the conversation and culture around end of life, I recognized that while people read books, went to classes, and had parties when they were expecting a baby, people put off learning and discussing all things related to death and dying. As a result, individuals and families ended up making snap decisions in a crisis with limited information. Effectually, birth happened in the light; death happened in the dark.
Then, there was this other phenomenon.
In the several years I worked in funeral service, I watched adult children go from spending, on average, $14,000 on a traditional Catholic funeral (two night visitation, prayers at the funeral home, full funeral Mass, graveside service and earth burial) to spending a few thousand dollars on a direct cremation and having a private memorial service that was meaningful to them for reasons beyond the customs of their faith tradition Before my eyes, the perception and assignment of value shifted across a generation.
Our values need to shift again where our own holistic health and wellness is concerned and as advocates for our older parents.
Adult daughters, I'm looking at you. Midlife is a whole new ball game and requires a whole new playbook.
As a culture, we’re all about health classes and formal sex education as our reproductive systems are revving up, but as the system is shutting down, we don't talk as openly about it. We whisper behind closed doors about our anatomical and physiological changes or how they impact our sense of self, but even then, the private conversations are not always inclusive of trans women or women of color. Family dynamics change, and we find ourselves members of the Sandwich Generation - parenting both up and down - and we don't talk about the unique challenges of that, either.
The average caregiver is a woman in her forties providing 20 hours of unpaid care a week to a parent, and it’s costing us more than just money (but it’s costing that, too). It’s costing us our own growth, rest & fun!
If you’re anything like me, you’re already up to your eyeballs in providing care.
Especially in the last two years, you’ve crisis schooled, remote schooled, dealt with two summers of your children mostly at home and are weighing the pros/cons of returning to in-person school amidst a spike in the Delta variant. You’re already dealing with career challenges (and maybe even settling into some hard-earned success). You’re prioritizing your mental and emotional health. You’re being more intentional about your retirement contributions. Maybe you’re taking pride in being a homeowner. Perhaps you’ve come into some new wealth or are dealing with a loss of income from a divorce. Perhaps your relationships are stronger than ever, but maybe you’re in a season of healing and repair or closure and leaving. You may have found it’s harder to take off the weight you gained in quarantine, and you’ve maybe noticed your libido and sex life aren’t quite what they were. And, while you’ve been using an eye cream for a few years now, you’ve talked to a doctor recently about Retinol or Minoxidil or HRT and scheduled a mammogram.
The research shows that 1 in 10 of us were already caring for a family member prior to the pandemic. Since the pandemic, another 1 in 10 have assumed caregiving responsibilities.
Since the start of the pandemic, three million American women have left the workforce, siting an inability to adequately balance caregiving and work responsibilities.
A study published back in 2016 found that nearly one in three working women providing ongoing and intensive caregiving increased their odds of early retirement as a result of their caregiving responsibilities which had a significant impact on their income in retirement.
What we’ve seen is that too often people make decisions in a crisis with limited information, because they just don’t know any differently. And, like death, we’re dealing with our own aging on our own, in the dark… or we’re not dealing with it at all.
It’s time we put the highest value on taking care of ourselves - and create working environments that support and nurture self-care and resilience - so that we are in a position to keep all of our plates spinning.
It's time we lean in to risk, vulnerability and growth - ask questions and accept support - so that we can make well informed decisions based on our own goals.
It’s time to be authentic about our experiences so we can create a genuine community of support - at home, among friends, and at work. It's time to be intentional about finding out what we don't know and unlearning that which is hurtful or harmful to others in order to create more inclusive communities and teams.
Let’s not wait until the plates shatter, and we crack into a million pieces from the stress of it all. We’re too precious for that.
We were were meant for greater than the grind.