Tag Archives: death

Living Between Life and Death: A Tribute to Uncle Hal

DSC_0140

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. -Brené Brown

Today I gave a message at the Eugene Mennonite Church and below here is the take away.

I would like each of you to consider if you only had 6 days left on Earth, like Uncle Hal had from the day he admitted on hospice – are you living the life you want to be living? Do those you love and cherish know how you define a good death -for an instance do you want to die at home, amongst family or friends? And, are you in pain? How are you sharing your pain with others? Please do not suffer alone.
I leave you with this…
Grief never ends…but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love.

DSC_0138


Re-entry

Yesterday I started back to work.  By midday I was conflicted because I was so enjoying the training but I was also feeling extreme fatigue from the lack of sleeping the night before.  I was starting to feel a little sick to my stomach and as the afternoon progressed I realized I had some control over what was next.  Decided to cancel my teeth cleaning, that just was not important today.  Visited one of my dearest friends and saw a couple other colleagues, got hugs and empathy.  And headed home for a much needed nap.

Woke up refreshed and ready for my first private practice session since 10/10/15, the day after I found out my Uncle was admitted on hospice.  By evening I felt strong.  I took another hour nap and then was able to write like I’d wanted to write the last couple of days.  Not to say I haven’t been writing but I’m trying to document my last hours with Uncle Hal and from that come up with a message for Sunday, titled Living Between Life and Death.  I’m happy to see my subconscious has been doing a lot of this writing and I got into the flow last night.

Today I am back at Riverbend Hospital and on the floor with my MSW student.  To think, I was a brand new MSW student in October 2010.  We also have a site visit with the field liaison today.  I also have one private practice client after work at the hospital.  This morning I must draw strength from within.  It is going to be okay.  I am going to be okay.

Heron Park in Springfield, Oregon

Heron Park in Springfield, Oregon


Waves of Grief

Just when I start feeling stronger, heart full, mind clear…something hits me again.  Stomach hurts, head hurts…I sit, meditate, or try to catch up on some much needed sleep.  Yesterday I plunked on the piano for the first time in….who knows how long.  Trying to find some music for a tribute I’m working on for next weekend.  Shall I call it the pre-memorial?  I’m not sure but something was telling me I needed to tell my story of my final hours with Uncle Hal.  And there’s probably some other messages weaved in there that I’m only just now unearthing.

One thing I’ve let go this year is my photoblog ritual.  Perhaps I’ll be re-committing to this again.  In any case here are a some photos from before Uncle Hal died. Oh and part of today’s horoscope:  Relax your resistance and trust your intuition to teach you how to navigate the murky waters of your heart.

10/11/15: The Violin owned by Word Girl (Amelia) or Wonder Woman (Alice) my Star Gazer Star Dancers

10/11/15: The Violin owned by Word Girl (Amelia) or Wonder Woman (Alice) my Star Gazer Star Dancers

10/13/15: Entry to Uncle Hal's Office, I say goodbye

10/13/15: Entry to Uncle Hal’s Office, I say goodbye

10/12/15: The Hunt, trying to find His Story to read and print for his boys

10/12/15: The Hunt, trying to find His Story to read and print for his boys

Uncle's Organization: Wishing I had a wall for a chalkboard like this!

Uncle’s Organization: Wishing I had a wall for a chalkboard like this!

One of his beloved bike bags: Where is he going now?

One of his beloved bike bags: Where is he going now?


Hired for Hospice

About a year ago I got interested in hospice after a classmate, a church member, and a client’s baby died.  Follow that my cousin died.  I was curious about the process of working with a family as they are preparing for a loved one’s death, as well as the grief and loss process.  My research began in pediatric hospice, as I felt unprepared to support a young mom who was dealing with her baby’s death (she was just weeks old).  Hospice and palliative care is a philosophy of care that focuses on caring for a patient rather than curing an illness or disease with an overall goal of enabling people to live as fully and comfortably as possible.  I asked University of Southern California to place me in hospice for my concentration year field placement because I wanted to make sure it was a good fit.

In April of 2012 I started working at Signature Services in Eugene Oregon.  We grew from about 30 patients to about 55 currently and I’m told that once I have that diploma and the census is up to 75 I’ll be hired on as a full time social worker.  I’ve been asked, what does a hospice social worker do?  We can help clients get on Medicare/Medicaid, Meals on Wheels, placements from home to nursing homes or assisted living or foster homes, caregiver support, assistance with power of attorney or health care power of attorney, funeral planning, assistance with veteran’s benefits or senior and disabled services, assessing for elder abuse, emotional support for the client and their family, helping take pets to animal shelters, care conferences with multiple staff support people, I’ve checked out audio books at the library, gone on walks, advocated for bucket list items, filled out organ donor forms, and I’ve helped move belongings from one place to another.  I see my goal is to start where the client is, and to assist them when at all possible to help them close this chapter in their life as peacefully and as dignified as possible.

Folks have commented on how hard this work must be, and while it can be sad for me to say goodbye, it really is an honor.  First of all, I love to learn about the story of a person’s life and secondly, when they die, they are no longer suffering.  I have worked with too many clients, who while they may have been better off after receiving services provided by the agency I was working for – it is likely those clients’ lives would continue to be complicated by past traumas and life obstacles.  And I still had to say goodbye.

Last week I was offered a part-time position at Signature!  I’ll be supporting staff as an office assistant for the time being, as I finish up my last semester of graduate school.  I feel so blessed this month and excited about the future. Today, I got my photo id card so I feel “official.”  IMGP3529


Remembering Gong gong

Gong gong (ma’s baba or mom’s dad) was a very hardworking man. Born in China, he came to the United States on a Mother Teresa boat with three young daughters and Poh poh. Hoping for the American Dream, golden opportunities for his daughters, in a new land. I’ve thought about him a lot lately, with the anniversary of his death approaching and the lessons I’m reflecting back on. Today my picture is of the wind ornament that I bought in Sacremento, California the week of his memorial. Thank you Gong gong, for helping pave the way for your girls, and me.