Selected Journals on Grieving


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Copyright © 1998 Harry van Bommel

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical copying, recording or otherwise, except with the prior written permission of the author or under license from the Canadian Copyright Agency.



Selected Journals


King's College

16th International Conference

on Death and Bereavement


May 10 - 13, 1998

London, Ontario, Canada.




Harry van Bommel

Editor



PSD Consultants

                Scarborough, Ontario 1998



copyright 1998 PSD Consultants



ISBN 1-895178-39-8




This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this book is:


Author's Name. (May 1998). Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.



For further information contact:


Harry van Bommel

PSD Consultants

11 Miniot Circle

Scarborough, ON     M1K 2K1

CANADA

(416) 264 4665 (telephone & fax)

harryvb@inforamp.net




Acknowledgements



Dr. John D. Morgan made this project possible by inviting PSD Consultants to come to the 16th Annual Conference to produce a conference book of success stories. His vision in promoting the field of death and bereavement has encouraged many of us to go beyond our comfort zones to try new and exciting things.


Several people at King=s College have worked to bring this project to its successful conclusion:


Phyllis Fidler, a faculty secretary and in charge of hospitality for the conference encouraged people to record their stories and helped to ensure that everyone at the conference got a copy of this electronic book.


Michael Gonçalves spent the day with me in the computer lab helping conference participants to record their stories and typing in some of their stories for them.


Todd Morrison and Tom Jory, King=s College AudioVisual experts made the computer lab available and copied hundreds and hundreds computer disks so that conference participants could take this book home with them.


Special thanks to my wife, Janet Klees, for helping to conceptualize what this electronic book would look like and for helping to prepare materials to assist conference participants to record their stories.





Introduction



First an apology. This electronic book was produced in one day at the King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement. Because of the short time-frame there will be errors that were not caught in the editing and proofreading process. I apologize to the writers of this book for any unintentional errors. Please send me any corrections for a >revised edition= which I can make available to people through e-mail or on my web page.


The format of the book has been purposely kept very simple for easy conversion to whatever word-processing package people may use to read the book. The stories are alphabetical, by author's name.


The book could just as easily be divided by subject headings. The stories in this book look at spiritual aspects of care; views by professionals about their work; personal stories by spouses, parents, children and siblings; the importance of animals in people's lives; philosophical musings and so much more.


You are encouraged to read the stories and use them in your work. For example, you might use some of the stories in your newsletters, publications, teachings, or to help colleagues or clients understand a specific point about grief.


You are further encouraged to keep on writing your stories and sharing them with others. Through stories we come alive in our work and in our own grief. Using the Internet and other means, we can share our stories with colleagues, quickly all over the world.




Leo Tolstoy wrote that every time we write we should leave a bit of our blood in the ink pot. The stories in this book do exactly that. The stories are thoughtful, personal and a great testament to the importance of human relationships in all their many forms. I am grateful to have this collection of stories.



Quest for Meaning


copyright May, 1998, Eugen Bannerman, Ph.D.


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Bannerman, Eugen (May 1998). Quest for Meaning’ in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Eugen Bannerman, Ph.D.

Professor

Department of Psychology

Faculty of Arts

Ryerson Polytechnic University

350 Victoria Street

Toronto, Ontario  M5B 2K3

CANADA

(416) 979-5000 ext. 6199

Fax: (416) 979-5273

ebannerm@acs.ryerson.ca



My life has been a perpetual quest for meaning. Three philosophical projects guided my intellectual and academic studies. 


First what is the meaning of human life and mine in particular?


Second is there are God, and if so, how may I experience his presence?


Third, what is death -- a door or a wall? My quest took me through psychology, sociology, and finally thanatology.  Here is part of my story. 


Twenty years ago, in 1978, I designed a course at all Ryerson Polytechnic University to explore the third question: understanding of death and dying.  After teaching it for two years, I turned it over to my colleagues.  I'd made no emotional progress in understanding the last human event but I had become conversant about the theories and applications of the range of thanatological subjects.  In a sense, it was like looking at the sun without proper care of the eyes. 


This year I taught the course again to a group of nursing students.  What a difference in my own emotional and cognitive comprehension of death, dying, and bereavement, including my own death someday in the future. 


Issues fell into place, ideas coalesced, and a natural perspective of death finally emerged. Death, like birth, are unique, rare moments witnessed by a few.  If birth is a miracle, so is death -- the first and final moments of life of a unique individual -- the alpha and omega of existence.  And I could fit my own life into its parameters. 


I finally found the perspective of death as a wall to provide as much comfort, as the view of death as a door -- a transition to another, altered states of consciousness.  Both require the same acts of faith in a life's meaning.





Terror at 20,000 Feet


Bannerman, Eugen (May 1998). Terror at 20,000 Feet’ in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


I was on my way to a holiday in Acapulco. As the Mexican aircraft took off from Pearson International Airport in Toronto, I began to look forward to another week in the glorious Mexican sun. Suddenly the alarm in the airplane went off -- right above our heads. Stewards and stewardesses quickly scurried to find the problem.


The captain emerged from the cockpit, and went straight to the emergency door. Air was escaping, triggering the alarm. I was in the front row, watching the anxious proceedings. The stewardess turned to a passenger and asked her if she had some gum. Gum? Chewing gum to hold a door in place?


No, no one had gum. What about a pillow? Yes. There were small pillows in the overhead compartment. Quickly, they stuffed pillows into the cracks and filled the air space. But the alarm did not go off. It stayed on, warning us of danger.


Meanwhile, the plane kept climbing 10,000 feet, 5,000 feet. The captain went back into the cockpit, and I braced myself for eternity. Facing the malfunctioning door, I secured my seat belt, and prepared myself for the inevitable explosion of the door into space, sucking all of us passengers with it.


My wife was incredulous. Why isn't the pilot returning to Toronto? And what was I doing facing the door? My reason slowly returned. I knew enough about flying, having flown small aircraft myself, that if the captain didn't think it was serious enough to return immediately, that I might as well trust his judgement. I was sure he did not want to die, and would not put any of us in jeopardy.


If I was going to die, I wanted to remain conscious as long as I could, and so, prepared myself for the 20,000 foot drop from the sky.


The alarm stayed on for the full five-hour flight to Acapulco. The man in the seat beside me drank a full bottle of vodka. Just as we began to land at the Acapulco airport, the alarm stopped. The captain was right. We were never in danger. And I have a story to relate.



Pat, Jim and Ralph the Dog



copyright  May, 1998, Bonnie L. Barry


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Barry, Bonnie L.   (May 1998). Pat, Jim and Ralph the Dog in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Bonnie L. Barry

205 - 4 Goldfinch Court

Willowdale, Ontario

M2R 2C3

(416) 586-4800 ext. 6293

Fax: (416) 586-4804


Pat and Jim had been married for 30 years with two grown children living away from home. They owned their own home and Jim had just retired. This was to be their time but cancer came a knocking. Jim was diagnosed with lung cancer. Pat was still working part-time and to keep Jim company they bought a dog -- a golden retriever, ARalph@ (a year-old, rescued from the Humane Society).


Ralph and Jim were inseparable. He even started going to the clinic visits.


Jim died at home surrounded by his family. His dog, Ralph, even went to the funeral.


Pat and Ralph now live together and mourn and grieve together. Pat says that Ralph gives her a reason to get up in the morning. She sleeps in one of Jim=s t-shirts and Ralph sleeps with one of Jim=s slippers.


Pat sought out support counselling and for a couple of sessions even Ralph was part of the process. Pat and Ralph now volunteer to visit the elderly in a nearby nursing home. They both miss Jim. They are coping together. They have recently adopted a cat called Jimmy.


Healing through the Arts Workshop



copyright May, 1998, Sister Marilyn Carpenter, OSB


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Carpenter, Marilyn, OSB.   (May 1998). Healing through the Arts Workshop in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:



Sister Marilyn Carpenter, OSB

2555 N. Chelton Rd

Colorado Springs, CO 80909

719-633-0655

smarilync@KKTV.com




On a cool Colorado October day, parents whose babies had died, some of their family members and their other children gathered with many of their caregivers for a day of listening, creating, ritualizing and story telling about each of their particular death/resurrection events of a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or newborn death. The parents knew the leaders through their SHARE: Infant Death Support Groups. They trusted me enough to try different approaches to healing. They took some risks as we took risks as caregivers C we all benefitted.


The day began with a panel of persons experienced in music, art & crafts, dreamwork, dance and literature-mostly children=s.  The entire morning was spent interacting with each and all of the panel members.  We sang, we danced, we felt all of the emotions brought forth by these excellent panelists who themselves had had similar losses.  What a cathartic morning!  During lunch time each parent and sibling was invited to create an ornament to be taken home with them.


During the afternoon, small groups formed, each led by one of the panelists, for a time of story telling about their particular loss.  A memorial service ended the day--using prayer, music, dance, proclaiming each baby=s name while lighting a candle and placing the ornament on the table of worship.Although this experience occurred a few years ago and I have had many others since that time, this particular experience of shared grieving and healing between parents and health care providers touched me as much as any and I felt wonderfully blessed that I, a chaplain, brought about this day of healing for the eighty people who chose to attend.




Virginia



Carpenter, Marilyn, OSB.   (May 1998). Virginia in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Virginia was an employee of the hospital where I was chaplain.  She had lived with a form of cancer for about five years, and in the past few months had frequently been in the hospital for treatment.  At this time it was accepted by her that death was probably coming soon.  Virginia had three beautiful young adult daughters who were most attentive to her and to her needs.  Her husband was an alcoholic, had been abusive-at least emotionally- to Virginia for a number of years and the girls wanted nothing to do with him, nor did they want him anywhere near their mother. 


Our relationship had become quite intimate over the past several months so that we could speak easily about fun things and about serious issues.  As Virginia and I talked about her life, her death, and important issues of meaning for her in this final journey, I asked: Virginia, is there anything I can help you with today?  Pausing a bit, she looked at me and said, I need to forgive me husband.  A knot tightened in my stomach as I recalled all of my training in healing prayer ministry, asked the nurse not to disturb us for a time and we began.  She told the story, I cried and prayed silently as she shared the love, the hurt, the pain of abandonment.  I anointed her for healing and blessed her courage.  Then we began specific prayer that her husband would feel released of his burden as the energy of this prayer of forgiveness reached him.  And with that, I kid you not, at that very moment the door opened and in walked Ralph, her husband, who fell to his knees beside her bed, laid his head on her lap and began to sob. (I had started to leave, but she grabbed my hand and said, Please dont leave me.) Finally, Ralph was able to speak and he begged her forgiveness.  He said how sorry he was for all those years that they had missed, etc.


All the while, I am praying silently that these two people will continue to experience the love and the peace of this time of reconciliation for them and for their relationship.


After a while I squeezed her hand and left the room.  I remained outside for some time to make certain no one disturbed them...all the time praying continued love and peace for them. 


Virginia died three days later.  Her three daughters were with her.  Ralph was not there.  The girls would not accept his being there. I never saw Ralph again. I know that Virginia died savoring this graced event. 



Mary


copyright May, 1998, Don C. Combs


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:


Combs, Don C.   (May 1998). Mary in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Don C. Combs, Ed.D. Associate Professor of Counselor Education

Dept. Of Educational Psychology and Special Services

College of Education

University of Texas at El Paso

El Paso, TX 79968


(915) 747-7585 (voice mail)

dcombs@utep.edu


My work with Mary approximately 15 years ago was one of the most frustrating yet rewarding experiences of my professional counseling career. Mary came to me for counseling as a result of the suicide of her 15 year old son. Mary was the one who found his body hanging from the clothes rod in his closet with a belt around his neck. I spent every Saturday morning for 1 2 years in an intensive counseling relationship with Mary. She never seemed to get better. She told her story over and over and over without ever seeming capable of moving beyond it.. Her grief never abated. Twice she attempted suicide, but I did not know this until 2 years after the termination of our professional relationship. No interventions I attempted ever seemed to be very effective. Medication did not help. Her deep, deep grief and sadness defined her and began to define me as well. I searched and searched for her answer, her cure, her healing. It was never there. In essence, I just held her hand, often literally. At termination, I believed I had been totally ineffective and wished I had referred Mary to someone more competent, more experienced. Possibly, I should have. All I can say, in retrospect, is that Mary went on to become a successful teacher and wrote me a beautiful letter telling me I had helped her regain her sanity and perspective on life. This was quite a surprise for me!!


In conclusion, all I can say is that this experience, in and of itself, defined the process of counseling for me. I realized that the counselor does relatively little, in all honesty. God, not the counselor, is responsible for any healing that occurs.


Haskell


copyright May, 1998, Gerry R. Cox


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Cox, Gerry R.   (May 1998). ‘Haskell’ in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Gerry R. Cox

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Sociology/Archaeology

437 North Hall

1725 State Street

La Crosse, WI 54601


(608)788-8417

e-mail

cox_gr@mail.uwlax.edu


In the nearly thirty years that I have been involved in the study of dying and death, many stories and many people have been a major part of my experience. Most of my learning has come from other people. Each bereavement group that I facilitated helped me with the grief that I was experiencing at the time and for others from my past. My teachers included Earl Grollman, Robert Fulton, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Jack Morgan, Whitney Gordon, Robert Stevenson, and many, many others. From them, I built my academic base for my own study.


From other teachers, I learned different lessons.  My teachers have also included many dying and bereaved people who have touched me. From my cousin Haskell, I learned humor in the face of death. In visiting him with the intention of cheering him as he was dying, he was able to cheer me up. I learned that it was okay to laugh in the face of death. That it was okay to forgive the physician who made a mistake in the diagnosis. Haskell knew that the physician did not do this on purpose. He also took the time to teach my children to fish as he was dying. He knew that even though he was dying that he had gifts that he could still give to the living. He also taught me that one could choose live or be a dying person. He was dying, but he was a living rather than a dying person. He also taught me to live every day fully. Even if we are dying, we are not yet dead. Our life must be a balance. We must do what we are meant to do. I must have a quest to find my place in life. If I complete that quest and my purpose for being, I will die. While I miss Haskell, I know that he lived his life and changed my life and that of those whom he touched.  I learned that it is true that the good die young. Haskell could have lived to be 150 years old and that would have still been too soon. It is hard not to smile when I think of him. He lived life with joy and grace. My grief for him is also joy. I can laugh and cry. It is okay to live until I, too, die.



Green Peppers


copyright May, 1998, Lynn Crowder


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Crowder, Lynn. (May 1998). Green Peppers in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Lynn Crowder

2052 Hopgood Sd.Rd.

Essex, Ontario

N8M 2X7

e-mail   crowderl@mnsi.net

Work: Kid=s Griefworks

Windsor-Essex County Branch

Canadian Mental Health Association

1400 Windsor Avenue, Windsor, Ontario N8X 3L9

255-7440 ext. 203      Fax.  255-7817


I was fourteen when my mother died suddenly from a heart attack.  I was devastated.  She had been the matriarch of my family.  Shortly after she died, a man whose children I baby sat, told me that one day this loss would make sense to me.  I was outraged to think that this could possibly make sense.


Through the years that followed my mother=s death I harbored the notion that I was some how marked - >less than= other people.  I knew secretly that it was because I was mother-less.


Time passed.  I went to school, I married, and had children of my own.  My mother=s younger sister,  died and her daughter was about to be married.  My mother=s older sister and her daughter, the bride-to-be and I met for lunch to help celebrate the coming wedding. 


We ordered after we made small talk.  As our food arrived I sat dumbfounded as I watched my adult cousin complain to her mother that her chicken salad sandwich had green peppers in it.  A grown woman pouting about her sandwich.  My jaw dropped to the table as I watched my aunt pick the green peppers out of that sandwich.  I felt as if a light suddenly illuminated some of the dark recesses of my mind as the thought dawned ‘That could have been me....That could have been me.  My mother wrote the handbook on control... she made this aunt look like an amateur.  I knew as surely as I knew my own name that I was who I was because my mother died.  I knew that I understood aspects of life, had reached an independence and maturity I never would have known if my mother had lived.  It made sense!


At the same time that it made sense I knew that this was also true.... a part of me would have given it all away just to have been able to have my mother pick the green peppers out of my sandwich.



Remembering What You Can Do



copyright May, 1998 Rev. Bruce Dickson


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Dickson,  Bruce. (May 1998). Remembering What You Can Do in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Rev. Bruce Dickson

270 Walton Street

Arthur, Ontario

N0G 1A0

(519) 848-2546


So often when grief comes, we become trapped in the feelings of helpless and feel overwhelmed because we are not able to do what we normally do/ Everything seems like climbing the CN Tower one stair at a time. Wee struggle by doing less, yet Alice showed me less can still be meaningful.


I met Alice as she was facing her own death with cancer. Alice had every right to be miserable. She was bedridden with a tube down her nose and living with pain. She could never return to her beloved garden or cook another meal for her family. Yet when I visited with Alice, she chose to focus on what she could offer. She would laugh with you. Tell you a family tale. Tease her children. Included you in her family banter. Even when her illness worsened, she still would offer a smile, squeeze your hand and thank you for coming to see her. Alice was dying, yet she found a way to keep on living.


There are times when grief comes to us, and we feel trapped in the helplessness of the moment. Alice showed a young clergyman that living can be with us even in small things, no matter if death is calling. The secret is remembering what we can do, and then doing what we can. Less can still lead to life.



Mike


copyright May, 1998 Linda L. Diehl


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Diehl, Linda L. (May 1998). Mike in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Linda L. Diehl

35124 Eden Park Drive

Sterling Heights, Michigan 48312

(810) 795-3453

diehll@karmanos.org



As part of the Karmanos Cancer Institute Hospice, bereavement services are offered to all of the families and friends of our patients.  One component of the Bereavement Program is a children=s bereavement support group called Kidspeak.’  In one of the Kidspeak sessions there were about six children participating.  All of the children had experienced the death of a significant member of their family. 


Mike, eight years old at the time, had his mother die of cancer one month prior to the beginning of the ‘Kidspeak session.  Mikes parents had divorced several years earlier under less than amicable terms.  Although Mike had contact with his father he was living with his mother.  When his mother died Mike was moved immediately to live with his father and a stepmother.


When Mikes father had called to arrange for him to attend the childrens bereavement group he said he did not need bereavement help for himself because he really wasn=t upset by the death of his former wife.  He did feel strongly that his son needed support to be able to discuss the death.


On the first night of the group each child was given the opportunity to explain who the person was who died and how they died.  When it was Mike=s turn to talk he choose the provided option to pass.  As the other children spoke about their losses and their pain, Mike began to cry and it was a real deep cry.  Mike remained quiet during the remainder of the session.


As the professional staff gathered after the session to discuss the session, we all had questions about how we had or had not effectively touched Mike.  The next morning Mikes father called to tell me enthusiastically how great the session had been for Mike.  I was amazed.  Apparently, Mike had left the session and entered his fathers car yelling a resounding ‘YES’ with his fist raised in the air like a football player who has just successfully scored the winning touchdown.  He said to his dad, AI did it!  I finally cried!!!!


A Young Girl and Simon the Poodle



copyright May, 1998, Sandra Elder, Ph.D.


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Elder, Sandra. (May 1998). A Young Girl and Simon the Poodle in  Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Sandra Elder, Ph.D.

Box 84, 7115 West Saanich Road

Brentwood Bay, BC

V8M 1R3

CANADA

(250) 652-4142

Fax: (250) 652-6121

selder@mail.islandnet.com


I believe that we are students and teachers to each other. The stories that children have shared with me have taught me about how grieving children think, feel and react to the losses in their lives.


Several years ago, I met a young girl who was fighting for her life. She had a brain tumour which was inoperable. Some of her treatments were very scary for her so she asked me to bring my standard poodle dog Simon to the hospital when she was having a difficult treatment/procedure. Simon was her friend. He give her the kind of support that no one else could.


One day I had to visit another child in the hospital so I left Simon with her. During the procedure the doctor used a very large needle that caused her to scream out loud. Simon was so concerned  about her that he opened his mouth to bite the doctor=s rear end. The nurses assisting the doctor grabbed Simon=s leash to stop him from biting the doctor. My young friend/client (age 11 years) saw what Simon did and laughed so hard that she was no longer scared about the large needle and the procedure.


Before she died (age 12) a peaceful death a few months later she said her last good-bye to Simon and me. At her funeral she asked her family to play a song for us. The song was ‘Dont Worry, Be Happy.


She was a >wise old soul= in a young body who taught me about dying and living. She told me and others that since love is forever, death is not scary. I will always remember my young friend and what she taught me.


People Who Have Touched Me


copyright May, 1998, George E. Franke


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Franke, George E. (May 1998). People Who Have Touched Me in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


The Rev. George E. Franke

12437 W. Graves Avenue

Beach Park, IL 60087 USA

847-360-4014


Nancy


Nancy, a nurse in her mid-30's, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  In my pastoral visits with her she indicated that she needed to talk more about her father, now deceased, who had abused her in her teens.   I made an appointment with her and when the time arrived, I asked the staff to see that we were not disturbed for any reason.  There was an empty chair at the end of her bed.  I asked Nancy to talk to the chair and say whatever she needed to say to her father.  She began quietly, but very soon she was shouting and swearing at him.  Then she started throwing the objects which had been on the over-bed table - magazine, a box of chocolates - a half-full water pitcher.   When she finally finished, she was sobbing and exhausted.  Later in the day the nurses reported that she seemed more peaceful.  Nancy died two days later.


A.


A. was a student in the first Clinical Pastoral Education unit I supervised.  She was a second career person studying for ministry.  She had given up her painting when she started her studies and began her internship in a church.  She explained the abandonment of her artwork as not having enough time.  In the process of the CPE program she worked on her compulsiveness and workaholism which originated in her family of origin.  I encouraged her to do some things for self-care and to begin painting again.  At the end of the unit she presented me with the first painting she had done in ten years - an abstract work showing the figure of a woman emerging from an oval shape  half in darkness on the lower left of the picture.  The woman is reaching toward a beam of light streaming from the top left of the picture.


Confession


A man in his mid-50's was dying of cancer but was clearly not at ease.  He was taking longer to die than expected and was restless.   He was transferred to a nursing home to die.  In discussions with the me, one of his daughters hinted that the man had been sexually abusive with both of his daughters.  I called the man=s pastor and suggested that it would be important to visit the man with the intention of hearing his confession.   The pastor did so and within one day of his confession, the man died at peace.


A Psalm for N.


Franke, George E. (May 1998). A Psalm for N. in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


[A psalm is a free-form poem in praise of God.]


N. was my secretary.  She had transferred from another department to the Pastoral Care Dept. six months before she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  This psalm was written after a visit to her home two months before she died.


Weak and thin and frail, she looked as if the bed was swallowing her.

She greeted me and took my hand.  The warmth of her hands accentuated the coldness of mine.

She dozed.   The morphine was having its merciful way.

I spoke.  She tried to respond, but he words stopped mid-sentence and didn=t start again.

Her daughter talked, trying to make some sense of it all.

In the quiet I saw the starkness of thinning hair, darkened scabs, and whitening skin.


I held her hand and prayed - prayed for release, for peace, for her going home with parents who long ago preceded her on this journey, but who had come to her of late.

When I left, I said Goodbye, thinking it would be the last, but she took my cold hand in her warm hands and said Ill be seeing you.’  I suppose she will, but from a much different vantage point.


Do we cling to life or does life cling to us?


I praise God that we are made with stuff that fights for life, that there is within us a force which wants to see another day, take another breath, greet another friend, take another step.


I praise God for the drugs and the love and the touch which counteracts the pain.


I thank God for this friend, with whom I worked, whose warmth was more than just in her hands, who fought back each time she got knocked down, even when the biggest disappointments came from the objects of her greatest loyalty.


At her core she seemed to always hope that things would work out.


I praise God for that hope and for the promise that in one world or another, things work out.


Ill be seeing you, my friend.




My Father



copyright May, 1998, Ruth Gallant


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Gallant, Ruth. (May 1998). My Father in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Ruth Gallant

6014 Townsend Line

Forest, Ontario

CANADA

mgallant@excelco.on.ca



My father died in the spring -- a beautiful, hopeful time of year. This was befitting a man who enjoyed the great outdoors. During his life he spent many hours walking, hiking or skiing through various parks and conservation areas. He loved trees and birds and nature.


As he lay dying in a hospital bed, too weak to get up, he couldn=t see out the window. I had just come in for a visit when he asked me if the buds were out on the trees yet.


My father just shook his head when I said, I dont know and I actually had to get up and look out the window at the trees to see if there were buds. I hadnt taken the time to notice when I was outside.


Now there will never be a spring go by that I won=t notice the astounding beauty of the buds as they bloom turning the world a glorious green.


When I am out walking or driving, I notice the wind blowing, the leaves in the trees moving, and I feel my fathers spirit close to me.

Kitty


copyright May, 1998, George B. Gilbertson


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:


Gilbertson, George B. (May 1998). Kitty in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


George B. Gilbertson

Senior Pastor

St. Andrew=s Lutheran

Itasca County Hospice Chaplain

7420 Wabana Road

Grand Rapids, MN

55744

USA

(218) 326-8508


Kitty was full of life. Her sparkling eyes, warm smile and humorous stories were her trademarks. As a hospice patient, dying of lung cancer, she remained upbeat and positive. Coming to terms with the reality of leaving behind dear friends and family was so very painful. She loved life. She loved people. It was all a very precious gift to her, given up reluctantly.


However, as a woman of deep faith, Kitty died as she lived, as positively as she could. Her final conversations and contacts with family and friends were warm and significant, in spite of her increasing discomfort.


I will long remember one of the final experiences she shared. Her much loved granddaughter arrived very late one night from out of town. She was so excited to tell Grandma that she was engaged. She wanted her to be one of the first to know. She brought her fiance, roses and a bottle of champagne to celebrate with Grandma. She knew that her spontaneous, fun-loving Grandma wouldnt mind being awaken. So she woke Grandma Kitty out of a deep sleep and together they partied. They laughed. They cried. They wallowed in the joyous uniqueness of the moment!


Im sure that night was etched in the memory of Kitty’s granddaughter and finance forever. Oh, how much was shared that night about how to live and how to die!


Mrs. C. M.


copyright May, 1998, Linda Gilpin


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:


Gilpin, Linda. (May 1998). Mrs. C. M. in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Linda Gilpin

Palliative Care Co-ordinator

North York General Hospital

4001 Leslie Street

North York, ON

M2K 1E1

(416) 756-6220


When I first met Mrs. C. M., she was a 53-year old, married woman recently diagnosed with a brain tumour. She was no stranger to cancer as this was her third primary cancer. Although she had good support from family and friends, she was having great difficulty adapting to her situation, to the extent that she would telephone her local distress centre to find a listening ear.


When one of the nurses suggested she talk to me, her response was that I could not help her because I was for people who were dying and she was not going to die. When someone is initially more challenging to connect with, this often results in a more memorable nurse/patient relationship.


Over a period of several months, by caring, being available and listening to her talk about the many losses this illness brought, she was able to progress from insisting he would not die to expressing that although she did not want to die, she had come to terms with dying as well as anyone can, and was O.K. with it. I have particular empathy for people with brain tumours after having the privilege of working with this special woman.


Aubrey


copyright May, 1998, Kim Goldstein


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Goldstein, Kim. (May 1998). Aubrey in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Kim Goldstein, M.Ed

2500 Summit Avenue

Greensboro, NC   27405

USA

(336) 621-2500 ext. 233


Aubrey=s partner died of AIDS in May 1995. Soon after the death, Aubrey came to me for counselling. Aubrey had lived in New York during the 80s and was a playwright. He had already lost many of his friends to AIDS. He moved back to North Carolina to get away from all the loss. He had only been back for a few months when he met the love of his life. They were best friends, lovers and soul mates.


His partner was diagnosed with AIDS and they fought it very aggressively. Aubrey took excellent care of his partner and he felt his love and care should have been enough to keep his partner alive. They didn=t discuss death and dying very much so when his partner died it was a surprise for Aubrey.


During the time he was grieving he read many universal spiritual books. He was very courageous in facing his grief. He was a free-lance writer so was not locked into a 9-5 job. At times he would just stay in bed for days at a time. He always made his counselling appointments, however. He was also always able to meet his writing deadlines.


During his journey, at the beginning, he always asked me What is the message? My inside answer was screw the message, where is your anger. This showed me that I had something to work on myself, which I did.


I always had faith that Aubrey would process through his grief but his friends did not. Of course, they got tired of hearing about his grief and loss. I encouraged him to stand his ground and to be in touch with his pain.


During this time, Aubrey did a lot of public speaking at AIDS-oriented memorial services and functions. He got to tell his stories many times outside of his counselling appointments.


It is nearly the third anniversary of his partners death. Aubrey now has a 9-5 writing job for the last year and a half. He still has grief reactions coming up to the anniversary but he is doing that reinvesting in the world without his partner.


Above all else, he has taught me about courage. He is always willing to confront the dark, the hard feelings. He almost lost the home that he and his partner shared for legal reasons. He had to deal with some rejection from friends who wanted him to ’heal faster since he was a leading figure in his circle of friends -- if Aubrey was okay then everyone else would be okay.


He always knew that he was different from the other people in his small community growing up. He has worked through that beautifully.  This has been a life-long process but he is comfortable with who he is.


He has taught me to have faith in the grief process and that if clients   work with the pain they will come out on the other side.


I work in a hospice and do a lot of educational work on grief and bereavement. I also do counselling with people from the community. I always knew that I would be friends with Aubrey after our professional relationship ended about one-and-a-half years after he first came to me. He is a dear friend. I wanted to tell this story because I want to honor him and his journey and all the folks who deal with AIDS.





When the Sky is Sky Blue Pink


copyright May, 1998, Toni Griffith


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Griffith, Toni. (May 1998). ‘When the Sky is Sky Blue Pink in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Toni Griffith, MSA, MSW, LCSW

24 Shannon Ct.

Medford, New Jersey 08055

609-654-1118

E-Mail: Con Sup Sv@AOL.com



While a social worker with a large hospice in Southern New Jersey, I met a young 32 year old--mother of two sons, age six and eight.  She was dying of breast cancer and she told her sons----When the sky is sky blue pink that is me coming to be with you for a little while. Look for me when the sky is sky blue pink.  I never forgot her words to her sons, and the hope and the connection they gave.


A few years later as I began my work as grief counselor, I wrote a puppet presentation for elementary school students, GOOD GRIEF, ITS SKY BLUE PINK! I give the show along with an interactive workshop to students in grades one through five.  With help from a grant from SOROS I have been able to work with some 5000 students, parents, and school personnel process their loss and enable each other to grieve---in a classroom setting.


As the puppet character Horse@ tells the other characters, Wolf@ and Chicken,’

‘I was scared when my Mom was dying---who would take care of me?  But Mom said, when the sky is sky blue pink that is me coming to be with you.  I think of my patient, her words and her spirit and know that she is still with us giving us a message of connection and hope.


Zuzu's Life


copyright May, 1998, Karolyn Grimes


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Grimes, Karolyn. (May 1998). Zuzu's Life in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Karolyn Grimes

Box 225

Stilwell, Kansas

66085

USA

(913) 897-9796

therelzuzu@kcnet.com


Daddy, teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings. This is one of the most famous Christmas sentences in movie history and was said by my character, Zuzu, the youngest daughter of George Bailey in Its a wonderful life. I was six years old when I made this film, my fifth.


The power of this film continues to touch me in my everyday life. I was on an airplane going from Boston to Kansas City with a stop over in Detroit. A young man in this 30s got on the plane to do some cleaning. He looked at me and said, Youre Zuzu arent you?


It is wonderful to be recognized for this film=s message and this man felt compelled to tell me how the movie had changed his life.  He had been unemployed, disabled and despondent. He saw the film on television and said, It turned my life around. I had hope. His job would not be our first choice for a career but he thrived in being useful, needed and part of a fascinating group of passengers and staff.


My life has been affected very personally by the film as well. I was 10 years when my mother had the early onset of Alzheimer=s. She died at home four years later. My father died a year later in a car accident. I was fifteen years old living in Hollywood. The court decided I would go to live with my uncle in a small town in Missouri where I was cut off from my life in Hollywood. I started a completely new life as if I had never lived in California.I became a medical technologist and married a man who died three years later in a deer hunting accident. We had been divorced at the time with two daughters but I was not allowed to grieve since we were divorced. We had both remarried but were friends. His death was very difficult to grieve without the support of others.


The man I married had three children plus my two. We had two children together so we had seven children together. Our 18-year old son committed suicide and it devastated our family. It was only three years later, after 25 years of marriage that my husband died of cancer. I had taken care of him for a year at home.


From all of those experiences with death, sudden accidental death, death by suicide and death after illnesses, I have a wealth of information about survival. These are some of my thoughts:


People have to go through the steps of grief to survive it. They have to feel the pain. There are no shortcuts. They have to experience the pain in order to heal.


The main secret I have learned for myself is that I have to give of myself to others to help them and to heal for myself. To give of myself gives me power to go on. Whether it is through volunteer work, talks with friends, or through my professional work, I listen to others and let them benefit from an empathic listener. I answer many letters either because people know about my experiences or through my movie work.




Teds Gift



copyright May, 1998, Greta P. Hicks


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Hicks, Greta P. (May 1998). Teds Gift in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Greta P. Hicks

P.O. Box 707

Crockett, Texas

75835

USA

(409) 544-4402

Fax: (409) 544-3238

greta@lcc.net


The last year of my son=s living with AIDs was filled with his acting out, his frustration, his anger, rage, hostility and resentment. I, his mother, was the focus of most of this acting out.


After periods of illness and stability, one Saturday afternoon, his temperature went up and blood pressure down. Carlos, his caretaker/roommate, rushed him to the hospital. I arrived Sunday about noon and he said, I think this is the one that is going to get me. I wanted to be in denial.


From Sunday noon until Monday noon he remained in intensive care with me, Carlos and his sister, Tina, visiting when we allowed. Late Monday, after sleeping all afternoon, he awoke and said, I told you not to revive me....You were suppose to let me go....I was in a place with lots of nice, friendly people and where there is so much love....Why did you revive me?


We tried to assure him that he had been asleep and awake but he felt as if he had transcended to the next world and we called him back. He was upset for being back in the Earth world.


It wasn=t long after that that his blood oxygen began to decrease and the doctors wanted, and did put him on a breathing machine. After discussions with the doctor, Carlos and I insisted that the breathing machine be removed. You see, Ted and Carlos had had two years to discuss and plan for this time and we knew what decisions he wanted us to make.


During the period between 6:00 p.m and 10:00 p.m., while in a semi-conscious state, he whispered or mouthed the words Thank you over and over until he lost consciousness and died about 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning.


What he gave us during those last brief days was a sense of peace and completion. In his life he strove to prepare us for his leaving. He provided us in advance the decisions he wanted us to make regarding his last hours. During those last three days he paved the way for us to say good bye. With the repetitive thank yous,’ I felt he was not only thanking us for our caretaking but also someone for the reception he knew he was going to receive in the next world.


The actions of his last days provides me with a memory of the love he felt, the preparedness he felt, and the peace he was feeling. All this made the memory of his transition much more pleasant for me.



Look What Weve Done So Far


copyright May, 1998, Pamela Holland


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Holland, Pamela. (May 1998). Look What Weve Done So Far in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Pamela Holland

Hospice Volunteers of Kennebec Valley

150 Dresden Avenue

Gardiner, Maine 04345

USA

(207) 626-1780

hvokv@mint.net



This is a story about potential success  the light at the end of the tunnel, as one young mother and widow saw it. The family came for support for siblings four and six years of age, the youngest, at age two, was too young for our program. They came after the childrens father had murdered and then completed suicide. He had stopped by their house between the deeds to say goodbye to the children, though he hadn=t explicitly told them. 


The oldest child began as a gentle participant but quickly erupted into an explosive and disruptive group member who often had to be given individual attention outside of the group in order to maintain group safety. The younger child began silently and also demonstrated a gentle nature. He smiled a bit more than his brother, but he did not speak much. 


In the months which followed, the family was engaged in various support endeavors the mother had a therapist, who prescribed the addition of a family therapist to help teach parenting skills and promote consistency within the home setting. The children had a therapist who eventually recommended that they be counseled separately. Then there was the group support of our program. The family was being well-therapized! The mother reported that she had little time left for the baby once everyone=s therapies were attended.


Despite everyone=s good efforts, the problems seemed overwhelming and new ones were presented. The children confided that the father had sexually abused them, the youngest child began to show signs of despondency and had to be placed in foster care, and the oldest child was referred for testing and diagnosed with ADHD and heavily medicated.


One particular evening when the family arrived for support group, I explained that the oldest child would be worked with individually rather than risk further disruption of the safety of his small group.  I asked him during our time together, how are you?   He explained quickly, between flights off the table to the large foam pillows below, that he was hyper.  I could see that his body seemed practically to vibrate and his eyes constantly darted about frantically.  I put my hand over his heart and asked to feel what he meant by hyper. In the weeks that followed, I established the practice of putting my hand gently and calmly over his heart and asking him how he was feeling. 


The family environment continued to be challenged.  Soon the older child was sent for further evaluation and placed in a psychiatric hospital too far away for visits more than once a week. The mother and younger sibling continued to come for support. The younger child had now suffered the compounded loss of two siblings from the home, but he had begun to talk about it in group.


Recently, the older child returned to program after several weeks and we spent the session together. When he arrived he came promptly and smiling, said to me, feel my heart; it=s more calm now. The younger sibling had continued to work and better yet to announce when he didnt want to work.  That evening, their mother shared that the youngest child had been returned from the foster home and that finally, though she knew the road ahead would be long, it had been a long two years. She said,  I know we have a lot of work ahead, but look what weve done so far.


Tom


copyright May, 1998, Jean Kell


This material was gathered at King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Everyone who has participated in the project has ensured that their stories are free of error and respect the confidentiality of the people involved as necessary. They retain copyright for their own stories and accept responsibility for what is recorded. Conference participants, and other interested parties, are free to copy whatever material they feel would be helpful in promoting excellence in care. They cannot sell the book for a profit. If they wish to edit or revise any story, they must contact the story teller directly for permission. If they include this material in other published formats (e.g. as part of a book), they must acknowledge its source. Anyone who uses this material is asked to inform the original author and the publisher, PSD Consultants, in writing and to send a sample of how the material was used to each. The correct citation for reproducing any part of this story is:



Kell, Jean. (May 1998). Tom in Selected Journals from King's College 16th International Conference on Death and Bereavement, May 10 - 13, 1998 in London, Ontario, Canada. Scarborough, Ontario: PSD Consultants.


Author's Address, Telephone Number and e-mail:


Jean Kell

14580 Keele Street

King City, Ontario

Canada

(905) 833 6432



This a true story about a man who died and became an inspiration for several of his fellow cancer-sufferers.


Tom, we will call him, was in the last-stages of bone cancer and as a desperate last attempt went with his wife to a clinic to try an alternative therapy. This is where he met other fellow sufferers. They shared many spiritual insights and vowed they would meet on the other side.’


Tom died in due time with his wife at his side.  Months later, Tom=s wife had a call from one of his fellow cancer-sufferers to say that her husband had died but as he was dying he had smiled and said Tom was waiting at the gate will outstretched hands to welcome him and said all is well.’


This was such a beautiful experience for the young wife to witness as she watched her husband slip away peacefully. And it gave great comfort to Toms wife to know her husband was in the right place and his life continued on a different plane.


A few months later one of his other fellow sufferers died and much the same story was told by his wife. She also shared this story with Tom=s wife and again love and comfort was shared.