Attending the Dying: A Handbook of Practical Guidelines

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Cedar Valley Hospice Suite Alzheimers Association Suite Madonna Friedman OSF. Anthony Messenger "Caregivers--What's in a Name? John Petrikovic OFM. How Can We Help You? Cual es el Ambiente de Fe en tu familia? Resources for Care-Givers. Upper Room Books. Morehouse Publishing. Jane Gross. Caregiving--Keys to Survival and Revival. Monica and Bill Dodds. Liguori Press. Bob Fischer. Elizabeth Scalia. Our Sunday Visitor. Monica Dodds. Loyola Press. David L. Pope Francis. Barry Jacobs. If the dying person agrees, hold the hand and gently massage or offer to massage the feet with scented oil.

This type of touch brings relaxation, can relieve pain, and can open trust and confidence.

Resources for Care-Givers

The mind and soul are more free to go through the natural dying process. It is a gift to be allowed to walk with another person through the dying process. Certainly it is helpful to have experience around the dying. Sometimes it is easier for a non-family member to guide the vigiling experience.

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Family can be so emotionally involved it is difficult to stay focused on the dying person. It is helpful for everyone to go through hospice volunteer training to garner experience and confidence in being with the dying. Further experience can be garnered through therapeutic touch and vigil training. It would be helpful for every Monthly Meeting to have access to a person skilled and called to support vigiling.

Download this article in pamphlet form. I could not imagine the family wanting a sign on the door that overtly stated that someone was dying. This would rob them of some of the privacy that I was hoping to create. I could not come up with anything decent and reasonable on my own so I turned to the experts. If ever there was a font of wisdom, these people are it!

So, I presented the idea to them and of course they had the solution and here it is:. Love it! Oktodie anne T2 One Doc told me he thought it meant there was chocolates on the ward …. So the point is that indeed a sign is often a necessary, simple and powerful tool in defining a sacred space for the dying, particularly in a medical facility. You have to understand the sign to obey it!


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Thank you, Megory, for teaching us how to better attend the dying and to groom the environment practically and with dignity, even within the chaos of the ER. Megory Anderson was called to a vigil at the bedside of a friend who was dying one night. That experience was so powerful that she began working with others who needed help attending to those who were dying.

She may be reached at: Megory sacreddying. I was at the end of a long shift. And here came my last patient. I peeked into her room before I showed my own face. She was 78 years old with long gray curls piled way atop her head. Her chest seemingly rose and fell too rapidly for comfort. Tough because at first glance I could already tell that I would need to have an end-of-life planning conversation with this little lady. This was a first…and I liked it!

As we talked it became clear that she had entered her end-of-life pathway. The last six months she had multiple hospitalizations for pneumonia. She now only routinely walked to the restroom or to the dinner table. So I took a deep, tired, ragged breath and started my usual condensed ED-goals of care conversation:. As I sat motionless, fake-smiling at the gentleman, I hoped that none of my true sentiments had shone through in my facial expressions or demeanor.

This had never happened before. You see, I only want to die once. She apparently took this as her cue.

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And who came up with that plan anyway, doctor?!? Lesson 1- Things are not always as they first appear. Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised. I grew up in just-post-segregation Alabama. We had a lot in common. I would chase him around on the playground and he would eat my crayons. I still feel the same way today.

Education and Advocacy for Choice

But I have something very important to share with you…. Hospice is the one social institution in which contains the seeds of healing for race relations. Also, as we travel the end-of-life pathway, we have opportunities to allow old prejudices to fall away in insignificance. Relationship healing and deepening can occur at accelerated rates. My parents have long since grown out of their prejudices. No one needs to remain trapped by socio-cultural biases.

We can choose a better way. This could not have been a better time to demonstrate the significance of the past and its presence in our lives. The stories must be remembered and told, regardless of the pain. They matter. They make a difference in the way we live. They have the power to deeply influence our future.

A Good Dying Shaping Health Care for the Last Months of Life

They belong to our very survival. They teach us that no one is condemned to be a failure, and human dignity resides in each of us. They show us hope in the midst of despair and the importance of never giving up. They tell us that we can refuse to be defeated. They point the way to compassion and a shared moral life. That is what the past can do for the now and future Self. The past is transformative. It just takes an act of courage to face the fear of memory. Much gratitude to Rabbi Lord Jonathan H. Sacks, PhD, for the persistent eloquence and hopefulness of his writings.

I have dipped into that rich pool often and joyfully, even here. His wisdom informs us all. Rea Ginsberg is a retired director of social work services, hospice coordinator, and adjunct professor of clinical social work. She can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter rginsberg2. Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. Do thoughts of the past make you unhappy? Are you grieving? You live now and into the future.

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Many say the remedy for such unhappiness is simply to forget about it, live for today and — maybe — tomorrow. This remains conventional wisdom, the consensus opinion, the general agreement for an acceptable resolution. The people shall judge. Are the people of The Public right? Forget the past. Such a curiously vehement, urgent order. Imagine living only in the present and into the future. Gone is childhood. Gone are youthful love and hate, joy and sorrow, laughter and tears. Gone is the spice that makes life rich, exciting, and meaningful. The sage voices of yesterday are silenced, suppressed.

The advice to forget is intended as a loving kindness to us when we grieve. Forget about grief and the past. Move on, get over it. The past is past, dead and gone. Forget it. In this view, death terror must be hidden and insight has no positive value. In fact, insight is seen as harmful, something to avoid and deny.

Forget about it! Pursue happiness instead! According to this advisor, happiness excludes insight, the power of grasping the true nature of life and Self. This attitude lacks mature sympathy. We cannot live as though the past had not happened. To forget is also to deny this love.

Forgetting would then become offensive. Why would that be desirable? Those who grieve are momentarily hypersensitized by loss and usually understand this. With such understanding, the mourner recognizes a profound absence of empathy on the part of supposed supporters. He feels misunderstood, reduced to silence, and abandoned. The supporter is exposed as emotionally bankrupt and asks the same from the mourner. It is more like a conscious, deliberate withholding caused by self-defense and by mistrust or surrender to the supporter.

It is ephemeral and provides no healthy returns for the mourner. Now we see the past from another side.

Our unique individual identity as biopsychosocial beings is a product of our whole lives: past, present, and hopes and plans for the future. The past is an undeniable part of this equation. The past makes us who we become. Who we are now can be explained, at least in large part, by who we were then — by our past. It is our foundation, the basis on which our identity stands. It creates the framework for the present and the future. The history of our lives is precious. We build on it. We treasure it for who was there and what it teaches us, how it informed our growing up.

It begins our singular, signature life story. Remembering can change the way we see others and the world, change it for the better. Remembering changes our Selves. Grief changes us. Active grief also holds close the memory of the loved one lost. That is the nature — and often the beauty — of grief. The past is present in memory. Ultimately, remembering becomes positive energy in the present and for the future. That is strength and growth. Forget about it? Get over it? Move on? Better counsel may take a different path. We are beings who experience; memories from our experiences of living are all we get to keep.

The past is an elegant archive of the mind, a place of intimate historical interest because of its large and ever-expanding collection of stored memories.