Saturday, November 15, 2014

When death comes, write the time. And just be there.

This is your time. Linger, share, laugh, cry, touch, soothe, or wash the hand you know.
Do this as when you leave the bedside, there will be much to do, decisions to be made, questions to be answered. Sorrow of others to be attended to. Now this is your time. Linger, share, laugh, cry, touch, soothe, or gently with a loving goodbye wash the hand you know.

Make only calls to those who would want to come for the last goodbyes. Ask them to come soon and bring food, flowers, music, and instrument. Perhaps with an object, photos for a sacred spot in the room. Or just invite them to come.

Take all the time you all need. Be bold. Protect this private time. And when your are ready call the agency, the doctor, hospice, those who will need to know. But not before you are ready.

Once you  leave the bedside, the room, there will be much to do, decisions to be made, questions to be answered. Sorrow and shock of others to be attended to. Explanations asked of you.

Out of your control, the waiting world may press hard and you leave this time of the heart. And never quite be there again in this way.


When death comes, write down the time. And then just be there.

This is your time. You who are the dearest in this life. Linger together, share, even laugh, cry, touch, telling more stores of lives together.
Do this as when you leave to tell outsiders, the nurse, call the hospice worker, the doctor, the mortuary there will much that takes you from your heart with much to do, decisions to make, questions to be answered. Sorrow of others to be attended to. Now this is your time.

Make only calls to those who would want to come to be together. Ask them to come soon and something to eat together, flowers, music, an  instrument. Perhaps bring an object, photos for a sacred spot in the room. Or just invite them to come.

Take all the time you  need. Be bold. Protect this private time.

For when you inform those who will need to know, things will be out of your control, the waiting world may press hard and you will leave this time of the heart. And coming back may never quite be there again.



Saturday, October 25, 2014



How To Be There
In Last Hours of Life

Be inspired and encouraged to:

·        Come to the door, go to the bed, bend near, and speak simply as though every word is heard.

·        Know what can be said to comfort and be a reassuring presence.

·        Begin to heal that which would keep you from being there for another

·        Honor life while making safe the letting go.

·        When the last breath comes
Before, plan that you will have time when the last breath comes to have your time. Write down the time of the last breath. Then whether it is an hour, all night or longer have a plan that before the nurse is called, mortuaries or doctors it is essential to have time for you, loved ones and others dear, to turn lights low, stay near, touch and share stories of life lived in gratitude with singing, weeping, laughing, and longing and when you are ready then call who you must call. Once you let the hospital, the agency, or other authorities know you may not have this very special time again. 


In The Last Hours


I know exactly how to walk into the room when it is closed
when nurses say, “Nothing more to do, she is dying.
You might as well go home.”

I know how to come without knowing a thing
            Humble
            Simply, with so much love
Come into the room, into the sacred time.

Walk with soft feet, to the bedside, lean gently
to the form, barely raises the sheet 
            Your breath near.

Say, “I am here
so grateful to come to you,” as each word
is heard by one hungry for you to be close
but perhaps too ill to respond.

Words you share of who you are,
how long to be there, and to pull a chair
very close, intimate, in the utterances of
your heart.  

And smile because this simple time and
complex, sorrowful, dear time  profound
but just time waiting, wondering, and perhaps
            more waiting
            never really knowing.

But one need not be alone
but talked through it.

“I am here. May I touch your hand?
Put it under yours to let you know I care?”

“Your life made such a difference.”
Say the things you love, value, appreciate.
Sing or hum a gentle song.
            Read a loved poem.

As you are there to let the one
know he or she is safe.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

No door shut to life.

When we are critically ill we may feel lost and afraid. Even panicked. 
When one is dying they too may feel alone... abandoned. 
"No one cares. "
How can we be there at the bedside in those last hours?
To relieve suffering. Is there a way we may talk another through it?

A soldier once told me, "On the battlefield of  'Nam no one was left to die
alone.We lifted him into another's lap, their head upon the breast, clustered 
together in those last breaths we were there, before we moved on."

Whether Viet Nam, hospital or one's own home we can be there for
another.

No door shut, no curtains closed to the life of the one whose body is
to ill to go on.

No one need die alone unless one seems to need that in order to "let go."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mother Theresa

Mother Theresa went to be there for people dying on the streets of Calcutta. She picked them up and took them to her home with other nuns so they could die with dignity.
We can do that in our own special way. Let us visit together and learn how we can comfort in the face of insurmountable odds. To bring comfort when there is hopelessness and isolation.
A cab driver in NYC asked what I did for a living and when I told him, he was amazed, "In my country when people are ill we stay with them until they are well, and if they are dying we do the same thing, we would never leave anyone who is ill or dying. And if they die we stay with the body until it is buried. He was from a country in Africa. I was told similar things from people of Mexico. What are your thoughts?

What to do?

Knock gently on the door, come easy to  edge of the bed, lean near, address by first name, share yours and  why you are there. If you are not known tell how you happen to come. 
I often say, "I am a little afraid to be here, but I wanted to be here no matter what". 
Be there with great respect of the person you know to be there inside.  Look around the room, are there flowers to be freshened, comfortable lighting vs a glaring over head light?. Is there a chair you can easily move to be adjacent to the bedside? If not perhaps request one from the staff. It is important you be comfortable to have a comfortable "conversation".  
Sometimes I sit on the arm rest to be just about the right height to be in a relatively normal position for interchange
  • Look for subtle clues of body language to judge how the person is responding to your touch or words, such as change in breathing rate, a sigh, slight wincing of a small muscle, adjustment of fingers, fluttering of eye lashes, squeezing lids of eyes. They may give clue on how you are doing. 
  • Get comfortable in chair, if you wish to just be near.  Be ready to move chair if nurse comes in and needs access to bed.
  • Share approximately how long you will be there. 
  • You may want to hum or sing. Be close and with great dearness and sensitivity.
  • Play an instrument
Even though this person before you does not look like themselves, know that your parent, child, friend is there inside but perhaps too ill to respond but they will be feel cared about, relieved, feel loved and reassured. Or they feel a need for silence and just a loving silent presence. Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross, MD, the wonderful doctor of the heart on the frontier of changing how we are with the dying, said the greatest gift you can give, is just to be there with the gift of yourself. 
If you want to tidy the room or change things, such as moving a chair, changing the water in the vase of flowers or leaving the room, tell the person, "Your beautiful yellow roses are looking a little droopy, I will add  some fresh water."
.