An ambulance side-effect

My husband was taken by ambulance the other night. At 1:36 AM I found myself on the driveway, alone, looking at the tail lights while a feeling of emptiness and abandonment came over me. My love was being taken from me, from my watching eyes, my care, by strangers who didn’t know anything about him. They were doing a great job, focused, comforting him, asking him questions, taking his vitals and making him the center of their attention. Before they

Celebrations of Life

My family of origin is pretty big. I have five siblings. We are all “coupled up” and between all of us we have thirteen kids, some of which are in long term relationships and having children of their own. At the time of my mother’s death in 2012, our clan involved twenty-six people. For many years, my mother celebrated her birthday by renting a big place on the coast or in the country for a weekend, and we would all

The importance of an Advance Healthcare Directive (or Living Will)

Thinking of how we can increase quality of life before death, possibly the most important element is the Advance Healthcare Directive. This document, preferably created in a non-critical situation, directs how you wish to be cared for should you need medical care and not be able to speak for yourself. This could happen through declining illness, but may just as well happen with unexpected injury or heart failure. It is never too early to think and talk about this, and

Getting to The Final Chapter

Let’s imagine you’re reading this really great book. It’s a thick one. The story line and the plots are full of twists and turns, relationships, and events, good and bad. It is building up and building up, giving you more information on every page, getting you deeper into it, and you just can’t put the book down. Would you stop reading when you got to the final chapter? Of course not! The closing chapter is where everything comes together. Where

End-of-Life photographs

Really, the only regret I have about the last months spent with my mother at the end of her life, was that we didn’t take pictures with her. I can see in my mind how I would have loved one of them to look: a black and white image with many shades of gray, of my mother, my sister and myself, with our heads close together. We wouldn’t necessarily be “cheese”-ing, but our faces would be calm, our eyes soft

The essence of the presence at the end-of-life

What do you believe is the opposite of death? Most people will answer life and for some people it is. I believe the opposite of death is birth. I believe that life is an infinite energy force, sometimes called spirit or soul, and I believe that life comes into human form at birth and leaves our human form at the time of death, only to go back to where it originally came from. I have always been intrigued by birth

Will power at the time of death

Today is the 27th anniversary of my father’s death. He died at age 60, 6 months into retirement. I remember him as a hard worker, a willful man, determined and independent. Dad had stage 4 cancer and had known for a while he would not physically heal. The interesting thing of it is, that he didn’t die of his cancer. He died because his heart stopped beating, just like that, about 3 months away from his doctor’s estimated prediction. In

Grieving at Christmas time

I lost both my parents to cancer, my father when I was 28 and my mother 25 years later. When my mother died I was her primary caregiver in the last months of her life. It was a time of incredible learning. When I went to live with her, I brought a small wind chime. I hung it in her breezy porch, where we spent many long hours enjoying the early spring and into the summer. My intention for the

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