Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Collector of Hugs | Moments of Life

Sophie Whitlock, Hospice of Bristol Hospital - Hospice Nurse: A collector of hugs, that's what  I am With hope  in my heart, and love in my hands Each hug is different, not one is the same Each has an owner, a story,  a name There's a hug for the time When things seem  so bleak And a hug for the one Whose body  is weak There's a hug for support To get through the day And a hug to bring  peace When you feel you lost your  way There's a hug for the tears That silently fall And a hug to bring comfort Sweet comfort to all There's a hug that  says, "I love you," And, 'Til be right here," And a hug for the  burdens That you must  bear There's a hug for the hope That will never  die And a hug for the  journey When it's time  to say, "Good-bye" A collector of hugs I'll continue to be The future will look brighter Just hug, and you'll see"

A Collector of Hugs | Moments of Life

Death -- Becoming a Sunset

"I think death might be something like staring at a sunset, and then becoming that sunset."

Huston Smith

Monday, December 26, 2016

The widowhood effect: What it’s like to lose a loved one so young - The Globe and Mail

"The widowed are two and a half times more likely to die by suicide in the first year of widowhood than the general population. We are, in fact, more likely to die of many causes: heart attacks, car accidents, cancer, many seemingly random afflictions that are not so random after all. There’s a name for this in the scientific literature: the widowhood effect. It’s dated now but a 1986 paper in the British Medical Journal explored death after bereavement. It opens atypically for a scientific paper: “The broken heart is well established in poetry and prose, but is there any scientific basis for such romantic imagery?” Indeed, there is, according to the author. He found that a strong association exists between spousal bereavement and death."

The widowhood effect: What it’s like to lose a loved one so young - The Globe and Mail

91-year-old man knits hats for the homeless

When you reach the end of your life, what will go through your mind? Which areas of your life will you scrutinize and take inventory? Will you evaluate whether or not you were a good son, sibling, father and friend? Maybe you’ll think about the accomplishments you accumulated or, perhaps, some of the failures and shortcomings. Others may focus exclusively on the end, lean on their faith, and concentrate on what they believe is to come in the afterlife. Morrie Boogaart knows he’s nearing the end of his life. The 91-years old is currently a resident at Cambridge Manor assisted living facility in Grandville, Michigan. He’s barely mobile, spending every day bedridden. Family members visit him regularly, but when they leave, Morrie is left with his life-long memories to stimulate him. A well-worn bible sits innocently on his nightstand, and hanging on one of his walls is an 8x10 photo of his wife Donna Mae, who passed away 16 years ago. “I had a good life,” said Boogaart, while he slowly wraps yarn around his spindle. “I have always accepted what I had in life, and this is now what it is for me.” Right next to Morrie’s nightstand is a pile of brown boxes stacked on top of each other. None of the boxes can be closed because each one is overflowing with more yarn. “I just like to do it,” said Morrie, as he continued knitting. “My eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, but I can still do this.” Boogaart wakes up every morning and starts knitting. He doesn’t stop knitting until he falls asleep at night. This happens all day, every day. “This is my life,” said Morrie. “I have always liked to helped people, and I’m not going to stop now. “We all need a sense of purpose.” Morrie knits hats, and since he started doing it nearly 15 years ago, he claims to have knitted at least 8,000 of them.
“That’s why most people call me the ‘Hat Man,’” he said."

91-year-old man knits hats for the homeless

Saturday, December 24, 2016

"Compassionate Admission" Allows Wife of 73 Years to Share a Bed With Her Dying Husband

The Washington Post reports:

For 73 years — through wars in Europe and Asia and civil rights battles at home, through the assassination of a president and the rise of rock-and-roll — they shared a bed.

He’d be gone sometimes, flying missions during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars, but he always came back to her.

So now, as he lies in a hospital bed unable to say or do much, she lies beside him.

Like many hospitals, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, where retired Army Col. George Morris, 94, is receiving end-of-life care, allows family members to sleep in a patient’s room on a foldout couch. But for George’s wife, Eloise, 91, a cancer survivor who has suffered two broken hips and a broken shoulder, that would be hard.

So the hospital made a special exception when they admitted him this month: They admitted her as a patient, too — a “compassionate admission,” their doctor calls it.

After a 73-year union, ailing couple finds two hospital beds pushed together offer the best comfort

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What people talk about before they die -

"I visit people who are dying -- in their homes, in hospitals, in nursing homes. And if you were to ask me the same question -- What do people who are sick and dying talk about with the chaplain? -- I, without hesitation or uncertainty, would give you the same answer. Mostly, they talk about their families: about their mothers and fathers, their sons and daughters. They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave. Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe never felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally. They talk about how they learned what love is, and what it is not. And sometimes, when they are actively dying, fluid gurgling in their throats, they reach their hands out to things I cannot see and they call out to their parents: Mama, Daddy, Mother.

What I did not understand when I was a student then, and what I would explain to that professor now, is that people talk to the chaplain about their families because that is how we talk about God. That is how we talk about the meaning of our lives. That is how we talk about the big spiritual questions of human existence.

We don't live our lives in our heads, in theology and theories. We live our lives in our families: the families we are born into, the families we create, the families we make through the people we choose as friends.

This is where we create our lives, this is where we find meaning, this is where our purpose becomes clear.

Family is where we first experience love and where we first give it. It's probably the first place we've been hurt by someone we love, and hopefully the place we learn that love can overcome even the most painful rejection. This crucible of love is where we start to ask those big spiritual questions, and ultimately where they end."

What people talk about before they die -

Many patients miss out on palliative care assessment before feeding tube placement, study finds - McKnight's Long Term Care News

"The majority of hospitalized patients who undergo feeding tube placement do so without receiving a palliative care assessment first, a recent study has shown. Researchers with Rutgers New Jersey Medical School analyzed the records of more than 200 patients who received a feeding tube, and found that only 12% had a palliative care assessment prior to the procedure. That number may be even lower across wider samples since Rutgers has a “strong palliative care presence,” lead researcher Ana Berlin, MPH, M.D., told Reuters on Tuesday. Patients at other hospitals who do receive an assessment often have lower rates of gastrostomy tube placement, Berlin said. Many patients are put on a feeding tube in order to be discharged to a long-term care facility, Berlin added. But between patients who are unable to make decisions for themselves, and family members who receive information on the procedure in technical terms that don't address quality of life issues, the tube can hinder patients' post-acute care goals."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Case For Incorporating Spiritual Care In Medicine | The Huffington Post

"I asked them, ‘What are your deepest concerns?’ The husband started sobbing and said, ‘I think she’s going to die, and I don’t know what to do without her.’” The wife, Puchalski said, expressed fear over how her death would come about and whether she would suffer at the end. “They just cried, and I sat with them. We’d gotten to the heart of the visit, and it wasn’t about the medication or the pain. The real issue was the bereavement and the fear of losing each other.” Sometimes, Puchalski noted, the most crucial thing a doctor can offer a patient is their presence and a willingness to listen. With these tools doctors can attend not only to their patient’s physical needs but to their spiritual concerns as well, she said."

The Case For Incorporating Spiritual Care In Medicine | The Huffington Post

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A lesson on life’s end: How one college class is rethinking doctor training

"The class, called Life at the End of Life, places students with medical aspirations — before they even apply to medical school — with patients at the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center (TCC), a nursing home in Harlem. The students enter the doors of the clinic knowing that their patients will not get better, and likely never leave. In an increasingly tech-enabled medical profession, where death is postponed as long as possible, the class challenges pre-med students to confront that ultimate reality, and to learn how to guide patients and their families through it. And along the way it’s challenging their field’s hidebound distinction between medicine and palliative care — between doing everything to keep someone alive, and helping them die with dignity."

A lesson on life’s end: How one college class is rethinking doctor training:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

With green caskets, a more earth-friendly end - The Boston Globe

"[Eco-casket maker Ruth] Faas says we bury more than enough metal in the United States every year to rebuild the Golden Gate Bridge. The Green Burial Council writes on its website that “each year, the US buries over 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete – roughly 1-2 tons per vault, plus imported steel from China and exotic woods from rainforests in South America, creating a significant total of carbon emissions.”"

With green caskets, a more earth-friendly end - The Boston Globe:

Friday, December 9, 2016

Claire Wineland at Zappos All Hands Meeting

19 year old Claire Wineland has cystic fibrosis, a chronic and progressive disease. She is using social media to tell the world that you can not only have a great life despite pain and suffering but because of it. "The people who have been through the most are the people with the most to give."

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dealing with Grief in the Holidays

The holiday season can be a minefield for those who are grieving, even if the loss is not recent.  The holidays bring back sweet but painful memories of happier times that sharply remind us of what we no longer have.  And there is a deep disconnect with a world that seems to be uncomplicated and joyful.  Rhonda O’Neill writes about the "fog of grief" during the holidays
[W]hy am I still surprised a decade later, when my mostly healed heart, breaks back open during the holidays like clockwork? Just what is it about the holidays that brings the pain of our loss back to the forefront of our hearts? And how can we be more prepared to deal with the unexpected pain?

Our society puts a lot of money, emotion, and time, into the winter holidays. Holidays are advertised as joyous occasions where we gather together and celebrate with family and friends. Everywhere you look there are reminders that the holidays are the ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ But, after loss, holidays don’t feel so wonderful anymore. In fact, they can be downright debilitating.

Some of her suggestions: "Be kind and patient with yourself." Acknowledge that it is difficult. Reach out to help others. Make an effort to do things that give you happiness. Don't let yourself get isolated. But say no when you need to. Cherish your memories. And "Sometimes volunteering or helping someone else in need can bring joy to our broken hearts. If you find joy in giving, find a way to balance giving to others in need, without draining yourself physically or emotionally."

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Patton Oswalt's Year Of Magical Parenting | GQ

Patton Oswalt on being a single father after the death of his wife: "I'm going to keep going forward, looking stupid and clumsy and inexperienced at first, then eventually getting it, until the next jolt comes, and the next floor drops out from under me, until there are no more floors."

Patton Oswalt's Year Of Magical Parenting | GQ

The Most Creative People Are Also the Least Afraid of Death -- Science of Us

"For people who prized creativity, having more creative accomplishments under their belts meant they were relatively chill about that whole death thing, even after they’d been forced to imagine themselves passing away.  To put it more simply: If you feel your purpose in life is to make something that will outlive you, it doesn’t matter as much that your body’s only temporary; indirectly, some part of you will still be sticking around. “The current findings support the notion that creative achievement may be an avenue for symbolic immortality, particularly among individuals who value creativity,” the researchers wrote. We’re all going to die one day, a fact that’s easier to swallow if you plan on leaving something behind."

The Most Creative People Are Also the Least Afraid of Death -- Science of Us:

Friday, December 2, 2016

Memorywell: Helping Memory Loss Patients By Telling Their Stories

Memorywell has journalists speak to memory care patients and their families to help caregivers understand and help them.
Moving my dad into long-term Alzheimer’s care was one of the hardest days of my life. And in the months and years that followed I was desperate to find better ways to ensure his nursing staff understood him like I did. None of his homes offered me any tools to provide a better experience for him when I was away.

MemoryWell grew out of that experience. As a journalist, I wrote his story down. His caregivers loved it because now they could understand my father so much better, and soothe him in tense moments by recalling for him family names or poignant details about his life. His near-daily rages subsided, and he got along better with his nurses. Capturing his story made all of that possible.

There are so many stories out there that we are losing every day. Our web-based platform makes your loved one's stories and favorite digital photos, music, and videos easily available to you and to their caregivers no matter where you are - a menu of stimulating engagement tools.

We're eager to chronicle your loved one's life and hear their unique story. Alzheimer's and dementia care communities can be isolating places for residents, for caregivers and for family. We aim to change that one story at a time.