Grieving caregivers

Published 11:34 pm Friday, September 17, 2010

Book: Sandi Ramos’s book, “He Carries Me,” is a personal narrative of her experiences being a caregiver for her husband, Roy, during his battle with terminal cancer. She covers issues such as the grieving process, hospice care and professional grief counseling.

Woman pens book on caring for loved ones

When doctors diagnosed Sandi Ramos’ husband with terminal cancer in late 2006, she was launched onto the heart-wrenching journey of caring for him while he died.

During the next 10 months, Ramos experienced the full range of emotions normally associated with grief. Roy, her husband of 24 years, died in September 2007.

“You’re in a grieving process, from the very beginning, once you realize it’s terminal,” Ramos said. “It’s a very traumatic, emotional, illogical, devastating challenge you’re put into.”

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Throughout the process, Ramos was unable to find many resources to help her learn to be a caregiver. She began keeping a journal and soon realized her insights could help others.

“I had a desire to help others in the same situation,” she said. “I felt really compelled by the Lord [to write a book].”

After her husband’s death, Ramos drew on her journals, personal experiences and encounters with experts to put together her book, “He Carries Me: A Message of Hope and Understanding for the Caregivers of Terminally Ill Loved Ones.” Written from a first-person perspective, the book recounts the long journey from diagnosis to his death, her healing process and the emotions she experienced.

Ramos will hold a book signing today from 1 to 3 p.m. at Borders, 1744 Laskin Road in Virginia Beach.

The book also seeks to assure readers the feelings they encounter are normal.

“You can’t be guilty about it because the guilt will eat you up,” she said. “You have to understand it’s normal.”

Ramos discusses the various programs available through hospitals and hospices, as well as the benefits of a professional grief counselor and support from her church.

“Having a strong faith helps,” Ramos said, adding her pain was somewhat alleviated by family, friends and church members. “Without them, it would have been much more devastating and heartbreaking.”

Since the book was published by Tate Publishing this year, Ramos has learned of many people who got it for their friends and relatives who are experiencing being a caregiver for the first time.

“This is material that will help those going through this situation totally cold,” Ramos said. “It will give you insight into things that might be challenging you, and things that you face that you don’t realize are going to come up.”