This is my first re-post. There are some topics that are considered “taboo”, and death is one of those that many feel uncomfortable talking about…
I love life, and there is so much to learn through lessons on death. This is a thread, that will be discussed, ongoing.
The more we know, the better we do. Let’s get the conversation started. The talks start at the dinner table, with family, with friends. If we are willing to share what we know, we may make the tough conversations part of every day. Grateful that the bridged article, has been published in the book, “Celebrate Canada 150 and Culture Days From Far and Wide. Multicultural Creative Writing Collection 2017. Editor-in-Chief: Sophia Xinyuan Zhang. http://www.wsisc.com/single-post/2017/12/01/Youre-Invited-to-the-Book-Launch-and-Holiday-Celebration
My original post:
Maggie Callanan states that “hospice” has become a philosophy – not of dying but of living. Hospice refers to a safe place for shelter that provides care and comfort for travellers on a journey.
On dying: The more we know, the better we do.
Death: The Taboo Topic
Two books that helped me understand the special awareness, needs, and communications of the dying.
1. Final Gifts, by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelly, hospice nurses with years of experience.
2. Final Journeys, by Maggie Callanan.
When my mom started “gesturing” I would pay attention to this non-verbal communication. When someone is dying and unable to speak, we see how important non-verbal body language can be.
The inspiration for Maggie to write her books came partly from her father who was a career diplomat whose core values included humour, and dignity. One day he said to Maggie, “There are classes in parenting, financial planning, maintaining your house, building a deck. Why aren’t there how-to classes on dying?” He stated he had tried to live his life right and that he wanted to die right. Powerful words.
My mom was a private person, my dad was the opposite. He didn’t want to be alone when he died. He wasn’t, he was surrounded by family. A passage in Final Gifts mentioned that private people may choose to die when no one is around. I intuitively knew my mom’s time was nearing. The “window” was open. I spoke to her and told her we were all leaving her alone. We had all said our good-byes. Five minutes later I asked my husband Michael to go see mom…she had passed. This is the way my mom wanted to go – privately – for her dignity. I truly believe this was her final gift to us.
On humour through adversity: What I didn’t know and I cannot explain is that during the grieving process I found joy, humour, and comfort. Strange words to hear from someone who had lost their mom with whom the bond was immeasurable. I did laugh that gut-wrenching laugh. I saw my mom’s humour to the very end of her life. I will cherish the lace Christmas tree ornaments she made of herself, Mike and me…angels with photos of our faces. I felt the comfort and love of family, and the hospice family continuing to her final breath and beyond.
A journey – this is what I had while I was at at The Laurel Place Hospice. In the short time there I learned more about life than I am able to explain in an article. “If we allow ourselves to embrace humour during times of tragedy as well as times of joy, our lives will be richer and more balanced.” (H) (LL). “What he hadn’t anticipated was that his father would teach him in death as much as he had in life.” (LL) Quotes from Final Gifts/Journeys.
While at the hospice, I found joy. I cherished every second. I lived and loved to the maximum and made bonds that I will keep for a lifetime.
Live, Love, Learn.