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This article is republished with the permission of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Copyrighted (2005) St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Book offers guidance for the ill and their caregivers: NEIGHBORS GREG PACINI
By Esther Talbot Fenning

In the chapter titled "Who's Really Driving: View from the Caretaker's Window," Pacini speaks to the needs of primary caretakers, whose responsibilities become intensified and who often feel anger, isolation and helplessness.

"If the caregiver doesn't take care of him or herself, tremendous resentment will build," Pacini wrote. "A recent study on age and aging found that those caring for an ill loved one showed measurable signs of depression. Their health is their responsibility, and they must honor it."

He emphasized that repressed emotion is one of the greatest dangers for those who are ill and for their caretakers and that allowing oneself to feel sad, hurt and angry makes strength more accessible.

He noted that at one point in his career, several people he knew died at the same time, causing him to rethink continuing with his work. "I felt as though I'd been kicked in the gut. Then something shifted in me. I came up against my humanness and realized that I was powerless. When you reach that point you can truly let go and be with people," he said.

Pacini, 51, lives at Innsbrook, near Wright City. He has a home office and one in Creve Coeur. He grew up in St. Louis, one of five children of a salesman and homemaker. He graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School and received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Southwest Missouri State University. He entered a Benedictine monastery for a short period.

He said that the book is about giving oneself permission to face the truth of a situation, thereby defusing emotions.

"People sometimes get stuck in hope and cut themselves off from the truth of their experience," he said. "If you don't move through the darker emotions that come with the experience, the light of hope is hollow."