Discussion Questions for Mark Lukach: True Believers
1. Kate’s conversation with Mark Lukach focuses on the presence of caregivers. The people whose hearts are broken when our lives fall apart. The people who show up to help us pack boxes after our husband leaves you, or pitch in with childcare. Who has served as a caregiver in your life? How did they help care for you? Who have you been a caregiver for? What was that experience like?
2. Mark shares about his struggle to understand and care for his wife Giulia during her unfolding diagnosis with mental illness. In what ways have you struggled to be present to a friend or loved one navigating a particularly hard time? What made being present with them in those circumstances particularly difficult?
3. Mark confesses that when Giulia got sick, he thought that the doctors would simply give her a pill and send her home to get better. Instead, she was admitted to a psyche ward and their life was turned upside down. Who in your life has been touched by sudden and serious illness or change in life circumstance? What was most difficult or disorienting about that experience? What moments have upended your life?
4. Mark admits that one of the most disorienting parts of caring for someone going through crises is feeling a loss of self sufficiency and control, a sense that you are in the driver’s seat of your life, and you know what the future holds. When have you struggled with feeling a loss of control? How did you deal with that feeling? Where and how did you find support?
5. Mark and Kate talk about how caring for someone in difficult circumstances has a ripple effect, leading to ever expanding circles of care. When someone suffers, everyone around them suffers. Often, we are oblivious to this web of people—both in their need to for support and in their capacity to help. What do you think about this idea? How do we tend to the wider networks of those who care? What prevents us from asking others for help?
6. Kate talks about how cancer is a “casserole problem,” an illness that people know how to rally around. And yet, there are other situations like mental illness that carry a stigma and are more difficult to find support. What do you think about this idea? Who in your life has been touched by mental illness? What made that diagnosis particularly difficult? When have you, or someone you love, had difficulty getting the help they really needed? What was that experience like?
7. Mark and Kate discuss the need for caregivers to find the extra support that they need to process their feelings and emotions. Seeking help from a therapist helped Mark to honor and process his feelings of grief, fear, anger, and resentment in healthy ways. What are some of the ways that you care for yourself in caring for others?
8. Mark talks about the need for honest, open communication in the process of loving and caring for another who is sick— both for the patient and for the person walking alongside them. How do you listen and hold space for another person’s struggle? What things get in the way of truly hearing one another?
9. Kate and Mark connect around the idea that having a small child while caring for themselves and someone they love adds an extra layer of difficulty while also filling their lives with joy and delight. What small things have sustained you in difficult times? Where have you been able to cultivate joy in the midst of hard things?
10. At the end of the episode, Mark sings one of his family’s go-to songs, “True-Believers” by The Bouncing Souls. It is a song about finding your people and the courage to show up with and for one another even under the most difficult of circumstances. If you could choose a theme song for your family or your life, what would it be? Who are the “true believers” in your life? How do you find the courage to keep showing up?
Bonus: After listening to this week’s podcast, what part of Mark and Kate’s conversation resonated with you most? What insight will you carry with you?
Discussion Questions written by Rev. Sarah Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For more discussion questions and helpful resources, visit KateBowler.com.
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