Daniel


copyright May, 1998, Reverend Jennie Malewski


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:



Malewski, Jennie. (May 1998). Daniel 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:


Reverend Jennie Malewski

Staff Chaplain

KU Medical Center

3901 Rainbow Boulevard

Kansas City, KS   66160

USA

(913) 588-5033

Fax: (913) 588-1280

Jmalewsk@kumc.edu


The first time I met Daniel, he was flat on his back on a gurney going into his Pediatric ICU room in a Kansas City critical-care hospital. This handsome, strapping six foot, six inch young lad of 16 was scared and wanted his Dad with him. I had his Dad paged overhead to come to Daniel=s room and be with him to calm him and reassure him. I continued on making my rounds as hospital chaplain.


In the next 7 weeks I and the Pediatric ICU staff would come to know Daniel and his Mom and Dad intimately. We would see Daniel coded 7 times -- each time his cardiomyopathic heart becoming weaker and each causing us to ask why Daniel.


Many of us on staff were so profoundly effected by Daniel=s genuine goodness, honesty and deep faith in the face of his critical illness. Some of us would awake at night at home thinking of Daniel, praying for him, seeing his frightened face, wishing this ordeal was over.


I still remember talking with one of our young pediatric nurses, who cared for Daniel often, about how his condition was impacting us and causing us to think of him when we might awake at night. I related to her that I had finally been able to sleep through the night this past week. When she asked me what had changed, I told her that one night when awaken around 2:00 a.m. I had a sudden realization. It was as though God had turned on a light inside me and brought me to the truth of the situation. None of us had control over when Daniel would die. Only God and Daniel would work his death out between them. After I gave up the idea that any of us could control whether Daniel lived or died, I was able to sleep through the night.


During that week, Daniel was coded for the fourth time. As I had done after each previous code, I went to Daniel=s bedside and had prayer with him. It was this time that he told me Jesus had come to him and told him he was going to be okay, no matter what. This was Daniel=s way, his wording for letting me know he was finally at peace with the idea of dying.


However, Daniel=s parents were not resolved to his death yet. Our staff would agonizingly go through three more codes with Daniel and see the frightened face of his again and again. Upon the occasion of the seventh code, Daniel did not come back. He indeed died and went to be with Jesus.


His parents went home heartbroken over the death of their youngest child and only son. They remembered him with a beautifully adorned tombstone decorated with many of Daniel=s favorite things -- a John Deere tractor symbolizing his collection, a motorcycle similar to the one he rode, a cottonwood tree of western Kansas like the ones he missed so sorely while in the Kansas City hospital so far from home. His older sister, the following year, named her firstborn daughter Daniella after her beloved deceased brother. I would hear from Daniel=s folks every Christmas for years afterwards and was honored to have photos of them and Daniel and his tombstone to keep.



Jeff and His Father


copyright May, 1998, Sandy McBay


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:


McBay, Sandy. (May 1998). Jeff and His 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:


Sandy McBay

West Niagara Palliative Care Services

169 Main Street East

Grimsby, Ontario

L3M 1P3

CANADA

(905) 945-2253 ext. 630


I work in palliative care and coordinate Bereavement Support programs for our local funeral homes. This story I offer from one of my friends who participated in a recent group with his wife.


Jeff=s father died May 5, 1997 at the age of 54; far too young in the eyes of this young father of three, his wife Julie and his mother Sylvia.


Easter weekend 1998, Jeff and his young family returned home to Grandma=s. Having been raised with a strong faith background, this celebration of resurrection from death is important for Jeff. It has, and continues to bring meaning to life and its bigger picture.


Pre-dawn Easter morning, Jeff visited his father=s grave. With his camera, he captured several snapshots of the Easter sun rising over his Dad=s gravestone. Each photo revealed a bit more of the epitaph engraved, culminating in a full reflection of the sun cameoed on the top right corner of the stone and shining on his fathers name.


Prayer, tears, scripture, song and conversation at his father=s grave facilitated some welcome healing for this young man. He came away with a renewed meaning for his life as a son, father and husband and continues to heal.


John Lee


copyright May, 1998, Howard McIlveen


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:



McIlveen, Howard. (May 1998). John Lee  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:


Howard McIlveen

Unit 3

3051 Springfield Drive

Richmond, BC V7E 1Y9

(604) 272-1571



John Lee was a Korean-Canadian businessman. His wife was a medical doctor. She was a devout Christian. He was an argumentative, scientifically oriented unbeliever. He was also someone with a serious lung condition. In the Fall of 1994, he collapsed and was brought to the Richmond hospital, ICU in a state of unconsciousness but also very restless. When he awoke he discovered that he was in restraints and concluded that he had been kidnapped.


This man who didnt believe began to pray. Although he pulled on the restraints, nothing happened. So he said, God, why don’t help me? He heard an audible voice that said, I do.’


At that point he pulled on the restraints and they snapped. Moments later a doctor came into his cubicle and he recognized that he was, in fact, in a hospital. He continued as a patient for a number of weeks. The latter part of his hospitalization was, again, spent in the ICU. His lungs continued to deteriorate and having agreed with his family that he should be taken off the respirator, he died two hours later. He continued to pray during his last weeks of life. His wife was thrilled that finally, at the end of his life, he joined her in her faith.


He had a very strong desire that this story be told to others so that they could benefit from his experience.


Mrs. Chen



McIlveen, Howard. (May 1998). Mrs. Chen  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.



Mrs. Chen was a 60-year old Shanghai-born woman who came into the Richmond Hospital three years ago with terminal cancer. She was unilingual and so was I -- just different languages. The dietician working on the palliative ward was Chinese and introduced me to Mrs. Chen and her two daughters. Sometime later this same dietician told me that Mrs. Chen wanted me to pray with her. Mrs. Chen had become a Christian after moving to Canada. With the dietician=s interpreting help, we all prayed together.


That same day, Mrs. Chen slipped into a coma and emerged about 10 hours later with the question to her daughters, AAm I dead or am I alive?@ She began to describe the experience she had had during her coma. She had been in the most beautiful place. There were people there from every country in the world and they were all dressed in white. The was gold all around. There was a sense of great peace. She said, God wanted me to be there. She told her daughters that she wanted to be there too. She died a few days later as her daughters, family friends and I were at her bedside.


As I stood by the bedside with her older daughter, she said to me, When we came into the hospital, I did not believe in God. I do now. I know my mother -- she was an uneducated woman. She could not have made up the story that she had told us. The daughter also explained that her mother=s getting involved in the church upon immigrating to Canada was the best thing that ever happened to her.



When the Sky is Sky Blue Pink



copyright May, 1998, Noreen Minifie


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:



Minifie, Noreen. (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:


Noreen Minifie

Apartment 404

1161 Wellington Street

Ottawa, Ontario

K1Y 2Z1

(613) 728-2159



My father and mother died within thirteen weeks of each other. My mother died of cancer. My father died, suddenly, thirteen weeks later of a sudden massive heart attack.  We had three years to prepare for my mothers death. We had no time to prepare for my fathers death. It surprised me that the intensity of my grief after my mothers death was the same as after my fathers death. I had expected that being able to prepare for death (anticipatory grief) would, somehow, diminish the intensity of my grief. It did not. An invaluable lesson to learn and to pass along to others.


The Minister and the Mensch


copyright May, 1998, Jim Mulcahy


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:



Mulcahy, Jim. (May 1998). The Minister and the Mensch 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:


Jim Mulcahy

Bereavement Coordinator

Visiting Nurse Hospice

2180 Empire Boulevard

Webster, NY 14580

USA

716-787-8315

email: mulcahyj@wycol.com



It was, on the surface, a mismatch: a 50 year old Christian minister and a 93 year old Jewish hospice patient.  The common thread was love of story-telling.  My patient had a treasure trove of life stories.  We traded tale for tale.  These were our gifts to each other.  It was also my patients way of reviewing his life through the eyes of another.  He taught me about being a mensch and all that entailed.  As he told me, he measured himself in the telling and passed muster, realizing that he was indeed a real mensch.  The telling over, the stories passed to me for safe-keeping.  One morning I was called to his bedside as his death approached.  Gently shaking his shoulder, I said: Bob, its Jim.  He smiled a smile that, to this day warms my heart.  I asked: Do you have a story for me today?  He said: Today, I have a beaut!  And then he closed his eyes, lips still smiling, and died.



My Mothers Death


copyright May, 1998, Gerald S. Nash


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:



Nash, Gerald S. (May, 1998). My Mother=s Death 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:


Gerald S. (Jerry) Nash

15514 NE 54th Place

Redmond WA 98052 USA

phone: 425/688-5127

e-mail: jnash@overlakehospital.org


At a very exciting and transitional time in my life, my mother died.  I was 27 years old at the time, and my mother had traveled by train to the Northwest from Texas to attend my wedding.


She arrived two days before the event, was with us for about three hours, suffered a massive heart attack and died. The next day and half are still a blur for me.  We went ahead with the wedding. Everyone had urged us to.  My family in Texas said: After all, thats what Mom traveled out there for.’ 


Following the wedding, instead of honeymooning in Banff, we flew south for the memorial service and burial.  I was kind of numb through it all.  I have no recollection of shedding any tears.  My wife said that I did at first, but I am not aware of it.  I went through the motions. I took my cues from the milieu, which seemed to indicate that after a week or so of visiting and rituals it was back to business as usual.’  This was the middle 60's, and there wasnt much  awareness of a need to do grief work.’  So I went about the business of continuing in graduate school and embarking on a new marriage.  I buried my grief, but I had not buried my mother.  That fact was lost on me for some years.


Nine years later --- more or less --- I was in a clinical training program. I was in the program to get additional training to help me as a professional. It was the genius of the program that the development of professional skills depended on becoming aware of and working with personal issues.  I am indebted to my supervisor, a man possessed of keen insight and sensitivity, who sensed that something very deep and hurtful was troubling me.  With great patience and caring, he helped me first, to become aware of the unattended to grief over the loss of my mother, and then to help me begin to uncover the layers of crust which had formed over the years.  He urged me to engage the help of a therapist who then furthered the process.


This,  in one sense, is probably no different from the grief of a lot of people.  Lots of people lose their parents or other important people in their lives.  What made this complicated for me is due to a couple of reasons.  The first is that I stuffed my grief and left it unattended for such a long period of time.  The second reason was that I was carrying around a great deal of  anger toward  my mother. This complicated my grieving, or so it seemed to me, because I couldnt grieve because of my anger.  And I couldnt be angry with her because of my grief.  My therapist enabled me to separate the two and to work on each of them separately.  I am sure that I haven=t gotten entirely over my grief; in fact, I probably never will.  That started a process, however, that has enabled me to begin to heal, and it still continues. 



Deaths I Remember Most


copyright May, 1998, Dave Pierson


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:



Pierson, Dave. (May, 1998). Deaths I Remember Most 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:


Dave Pierson

50 Tidy Road

Eliot ME 03903-1023

USA

(207) 748 0838



Several dear Aunts died in their 60's when I was quite young - life for me went on. An Uncle died in his 80's - I had a young family and was busy with my work.


My mother was in her 80's when she died quietly at home. It affected me deeply, but we were still busy, busy with a growing family. When my father died in his 90's he had been in poor health with a failing memory and he was anxious to go - so it seemed a natural step.


By this time I had changed my vocation from an engineer in industry to a hands-on type. I used a boat in my work on an offshore Island and my mentor was a Maine fisherman several years my senior who I interacted with on a regular basis. When Normie developed cancer - probably from long exposure to sea and sun - and had but a few months to live it was difficult to accept. He made some repairs, which he had put off doing for years,  around his island cottage and died in late winter. It seems that I felt his passing more than some of the others in my life. I guess, though blood relatives we had already moved apart and said our good byes.’ Time has blurred all these losses.




Shanes Gift


copyright May, 1998, Pauline Pigott


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:


Pigott, Pauline. (May, 1998). Shanes Giftin 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:


Pauline Pigott

19 Greenbelt Drive

Don Mills, ON   M3C 1L9

CANADA

(416) 382-4990


I was a weekend night nurse at a chronic care hospital for children. We had many children with severe disabilities living at this hospital. My baby however was Shane. He was a young boy, about 9 years ago with the physical appearance of a two-year old. He had limited vision and hearing. He could not talk but his smile was clear and contagious.


I worked every second weekend with a male nurse. Every time I was caring for Shane and Ian walked in and heard his voice, Shane would have a broad grin of recognize. We would banter back and forth in front of Shane and he loved our attention and our sincere love for him.


I left this hospital and approximately a year later, at 3:00 in the morning, I woke up. I had such a clear image of Shane in my mind and I said to myself, I miss Shane. I remembered his smile. I remembered his facial expression. I remember just him as a the baby I really loved.


The following weekend, a friend of mine still working at the hospital called to tell me that Shane had died -- during the night when I woke up. I was so surprised by the news that my immediate reaction was,  How did he know where I lived?  I knew it was a silly question but it was my first response.


From this experience, I was reinforced in my belief that the soul transcends the body. Regardless of how disfigured one may look to us, underneath there is an eternal being. This was a mystical and magical experience. A truly spiritual experience really. It also showed me that our relationship was reciprocal. As I had taken extra time to be with him, he took the time to come and say good-bye to me.


Thank You For Telling Me


copyright May, 1998, Joanne Pryor-Carter


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:



Pryor-Carter, Joanne, Ed.D. (May 1998). Thank You for Telling 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:


Joanne Pryor-Carter, Ed.D.

4212 Harvest Hill Rd.

Carrollton, TX 75010

Daytime Phone: (214) 689-1010      Fax: (214) 631-4100

E-Mail: SCarter 884@aol.com




In my job as a hospice bereavement coordinator I counsel with children prior to the loss of our patient to assist them with anticipatory grief issues.  One case recently involved three grandchildren, Mina, age 6, Desiree, age 8, and Charles, age 9, of our patient, Juanita.  A couple of counseling sessions were conducted with the kids while Juanita was alive.


On a Monday morning, as I checked the board for deaths, I noticed Juanita had died earlier that morning.  A call was made to her daughter, Susan to relay our regards and to confirm a previously scheduled appointment.  She confirmed she would like for me to visit later that afternoon.  I inquired, Were the children home when your Mom died?’ 

Oh yes, they were here.  And then she commented, I wanted it to be a normal day for them.


As I arrived numerous family members were present. Susan related, Weve been waiting for you. Tell the kids to come in the house, Roger.  We havent told them yet. Is that okay?’  While I silently wished the children had been able to share in the death experience earlier that morning, I understood the parents were reluctant to tell them for fear of their sadness and pain.


We sat on the floor and each person introduced himself/herself and told their relationship to the patient.  Each child helped read The Fall of Freddie the Leaf and Lifetimes.  Parents also read and asked the children questions about the books.  After we read the books I asked, Where do you think your Nana is?’ Desiree answered, Oh, shes at the hospital.  Mina was asked and replied, Yes, I think shes at the hospital, too.  I turned to Charles and asked, Where do you think your Nana is?’  Charles just looked at me puzzled and refused to answer.  Perhaps he knew the answer in his heart, but could not bring himself to say. 


I replied, ANo she=s not at the hospital.  I=m sorry to say she died this morning. All three kids looked at each other and burst into tears.  Parents held and rocked them to try to comfort them. As Mina was crying in her mother=s arms she looked up and said, Youre not going to die too, are you?’  We reassured Mina her mom was in good health and was not going to die soon.  I advised Susan a childs greatest fear when he or she experiences a death is that a parent will die also.


We next talked about funerals and described what would happen to help the kids know what to expect.  After this discussion we utilized an activity of drawing a picture for their Nana to possibly put in the casket with her.  Desiree drew her grandmother as an angel with wings along with an uncle who recently died.  Charles drew his Nana as a ray of light shining down on him as he slept in his bed.  The drawings seemed to help the kids by comforting them and provided a release for their grief feelings. 


It was past time for dinner now so the kids were getting hungry.  The parents promised they could go to McDonalds .  As they were preparing to leave each gave me a hug.  As Charles hugged me goodbye he said, Thank you for telling me.  He will never know how much those five words blessed me.  What a rewarding experience!


I have been a Hospice Bereavement Coordinator for 9 years.


Currently I am the Bereavement Coordinator at American Hospice, Dallas , TX , which is a private hospice organization serving the Dallas / Ft. Worth metroplex.  I received a Doctorate in Education in Community Counseling from Mississippi State University and am currently pursuing a license as a Professional Counselor.  I coordinate the Bereavement Program conducting individual, family, and group counseling.  Pre-bereavement counseling for children and families is also provided.


  My First and Second Lives


copyright May, 1998, Sharon Robinson


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:



Robinson, Sharon. (May 1998). My First and Second Lives 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:


Sharon Robinson

188 Burns Circle

Barrie, Ontario

L4N 6A5

home: (705) 726-8632

work: (705) 721-7444


You could probably say I=m in my second life time. I grew up on a farm in central Ontario with two brothers who were very much older than me. My mother took great pride keeping me as her little girl. Subsequently I grew up, the first part of my life, a typical woman who thought she would be someones wife and someones mother.


After that I met my future husband at the age of 15 and he was 16. We spent 18 and a half  beautiful years together. He was also a farm boy originally and was the youngest child. He grew up to be an extremely sensitive individual who taught me a great deal about life.


We travelled a lot during our marriage and my husband was into photography and music and loved his work. My life was based on his success although he did not want it that way. He always encouraged me to achieve my own path and my own successes. That just wasnt part of my mind set at the time.


During the last three years from 1986 - 1989 my husband had a very difficult stressor entered his life. We began a process of a three-year roller coaster ride with his clinical depression which eventually led to his suicide, December 15, 1989. I found him that night. You could say that=s where my first life ended and second one began.


I had an incredible support network of friends, co-workers and amazing brother-in-law and sister-in-law who supported me through this tremendous nightmare. I then lived with my in-laws for one year following my husband=s death where I basically grew up. My brother-in-law, my husbands older brother by 15 years,  supported me in returning to school and over the next five years I achieved two degrees and now I am doing clinical  social work, specialized in palliative care and bereavement. My education helped me to identify the many factors which led to my husbands death. His upbringing consisted of a number of disappointments and painful experiences which left their scars. Before my husband died, his career, which he loved and did well, caused him to be transferred to another location. He had to work with someone who was very threatened by his skills and his genuine sensitivity and who he was as a person. This person began abusing him, threatening him and subsequently, my husband had to quit his job.  He fought his depression so hard because he wanted to live.  With few supports, and a family physician who did not act upon my husbands suicidal statements, he felt that ending his life was his only way out of that agonizing black hole as he called it.


Through this journey my brother-in-law taught me about the strengths that were hidden inside of me that I had no idea existed. He nurtured and supported me throughout my education as well as my own grief process. This was not an easy journey and I had to receive some therapy throughout this but the knowledge and the insights that my husband gave me concerning his illness has equipped me with skills and abilities to be able to work with clients who are suicidal. During this work I have had people trust in me to me allow me to take their hand and to walk with them in that black hole.  It is this work that I do that has given meaning to my husbands death because while I do it I know he is with me. 


In the second year of my graduate training my brother-in-law died quite suddenly of heart disease. This brought back again, the pain of my husband=s death and, naturally, a second traumatic loss for me. Rather than losing everything that I had worked for, I then furthered my own personal therapy and worked with my losses which has placed me on a higher plateau of personal development. I also went back to my own childhood to help me make sense of who I was as a child and who I became, with the help of my brother-in-laws insights. I guess you could basically say I internalized my brother-in-law as a self-object much as a child would do with a parent. And to this day, when I am feeling negative or second guessing myself I constantly hear in my head the supportive, positive statements that my brother-in-law would have said to me if he were alive. I know this has given me tremendous strength to carry on my life and to do the work that I so enjoy. I work a great deal with traumatized and bereaved women. The feedback I receive tells me that I am able to walk, for a while, with them in their shoes. My personal experiences have been truly the basis of the knowledge that I have and the degrees that I hold are simply the tickets that allow me to do that work.  There truly is a fine line between the agony and the ecstasy, and when I graduated with my master=s degree, I had to imagine that my husband and my brother-in-law where there walking down that isle. 


Spiritually, my own death is not scary because I know that the loved ones I have lost will be there on the other side waiting for me, but until then I have a great deal of work to do.


Her Next Mission


copyright May, 1998, Jennifer Rockburne


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:


Rockburne, Jennifer. (May 1998). Her Next Mission 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:


Jennifer Rockburne

965 Inverhouse Drive, #303

Mississauga, ON

CANADA

(416) 782-5905

Fax = (416) 782-2908

hazelburns@sympatico.ca


Nearly 30 years ago, a dear aunt was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I drove 500 miles to visit her while she was home for a weekend. She was returning to hospital on the Monday. She greeted me warmly. She thanked me for coming. We caught up on news about one another, her children and others of our family members. We cooked together, ate together, reminisced, told stories, laughed into the wee hours.


She had nursed me through a three-month childhood illness, she had taught me to sew and to sauna, Finn style. She had always bee busy -- she had raised four daughters, helped her husband in their business and was busy even then preparing for her next major activity.


She had put her house in order and was leaving it for the last time. Not because she was too unwell to stay at home. She was leaving because she had a new home to go to -- a new family -- a new mission. She sent me on my way at the end of the weekend. We embraced and parted smiling. She was off on her next mission -- to spend the next two months of her life; the last two months of her life -- with the other patients in the cancer ward. She felt this was the most important work in her life and she embraced it with tremendous zeal -- to visit, talk, listen to the woes of her fellow patients as they dealt with their grief of their impending deaths. She died happy that she had used the opportunity presented to her to the best advantage, not being caught up in "her story; her tragedy," but being an inspiration to her new family as she always had been, and continues to be, to her original family.



The Breaking of a Heart


copyright May, 1998, Susan Schilder


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:



Schilder, Susan, Ed.D. (May 1998). The Breaking of a Heart 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:


Susan Schilder

Bereavement Coordinator

Comfort Care And Hospice Services

333 Pine Ridge Blvd.

Wausau, WI 5440l

715-847-2703

Dutchcooki@aol.com



When my husband called to tell me that my mother had died, a primal scream arose from my chest,  and out,  to echo in the empty house.  It was the sound of the breaking of my heart.


I screamed Mommy over and over without making the decision to do so, or asking myself if this is what I wanted to do. 


I threw clothes into the back of my car and started the 200 mile trip to my parent=s home.  On the way, I used the car phone to call my dad, my two sons, my employer, my husband, and my dad again.  Through the tears I managed to arrange the next few hours of my life, though I knew that my life had changed and nothing seemed very certain.


I had asked my dad not to release the body until I arrived.  It was a hot day, the funeral home was not happy.  I didnt much care about their happiness, Im afraid.


Upon my arrival at their  home, I said my final goodbye to my mother=s physical presence.  I decided to take her spirit with me, or at least the part that was connected to me.


My Dad described my mother=s final moments: He had heard her wake up and went in to check on her.  Mom=s breathing had changed, and he sensed that death was near.  As he held her hand, he sang her two favorite hymns, What a Friend We Have In Jesus, and Abide With Me, in the deep second base voice that she loved. She squeezed his hand, as speech was no longer possible.  She closed her eyes in what seemed like pain and he asked if she wanted a pain pill.  It took him less than thirty seconds to fill a glass with water in the next room.  When he returned, his sweetheart had died, with a smile and her face turned up to heaven.


The funeral was beautiful, with the red and pink roses and white stargazer lilies that my mother loved.  My brother read the tribute that I had written, but could not read aloud.   I had prayed that there would be enough people so my dad would feel supported.  Gods answer was that He could do better than that.  The room overflowed with people who also loved my mother, including a friend who had driven the 200 miles to be with me.


The minister had flown back from vacation in the Ozarks to commend my mother=s spirit to God and to help us begin healing.


At the cemetery, I handed out the roses to my mother=s sisters and others who were there.  I kept the stargazer lilies.


My dad, my husband, my brothers and my two sons were all there to hold me and comfort me and me them.  We have a strong and loving family, and my mother was the heart.


As I left the grave site, I was amazed at how peaceful I felt, and yes, joyful.  My mother was with God.  She had lived a good life, and was a wonderful woman and friend and teacher and mother. Her work was done, her illness was over, and she was at peace.


And - very importantly, she had given me everything I needed to live without her presence.  My mother and dad had taken me to church as a child, and lived what they believed.  My mother taught me how to be a woman, a wife and a mother and to give love unconditionally.

She had also given me the wings to be independent and to live without her presence.


All of these things and things of which I am not even aware that have come to me through my mother have helped me to go on, to cry when I feel like it, to laugh, to remember.


My heart had to break so the healing could begin.



Aunt Dulcie


copyright May, 1998, Elaine Seeley


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:



Seeley, Elaine. (May 1998). Aunt Dulcie 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:


Elaine Seeley

488 Mill Park Drive

Kitchener, Ontario

N2P 1Y9

CANADA

(519) 748-2924



People described Aunt Dulcie (Dylis in her Welsh heritage) as an angel on earth, a saint or living up to the meaning of her name which is sure, certain, genuine and she did it with love and humor.


When she died at nearly 93, the ritual of her funeral was one of laughter and tears but truly a joyous celebration of life -- her life.


Aunt Dulcie worked as church visitation secretary until she was 90 years old. She still lived by herself and drove her own car until a stroke sidelined her for the last years of her life. Aunt Dulcie knew and treated the entire congregation as family, as she did with the people in her neighborhood, her friends and their friends. She made people feel special.


Her 24-year-old great-nephew, Craig, who was more like a grandson to her, wrote and spoke a eulogy at her funeral. He related that Aunt Dulcie was without hesitation, the most selfless and giving person I have ever known....She never preached her morals, but taught them quietly through unwavering example. She always had a ready smile. Her generosity towards other people was only surpassed by her capacity to love them. Aunt Dulcie was a wonderful woman with an unparalleled capacity for love, a role model for living, a great inspiration in my life, and I will miss her greatly. Humanity has lost one of its greatest.Craig had driven six hours to spend some of her last few hours with her. It was the first time he had had a chance to say good-bye to a loved one before they actually died. Aunt Dulcie had stopped eating and drinking and was in a coma. Craig took down the side of her bed, sat with her for hours, holding her hand and telling her how she had influenced his life, how much she was loved, that part of her would always live in him and assuring her that if this was her time to leave that she left with our blessings and love.


Then Craig learned that his brother was also making the six-hour drive and he apologized to Aunt Dulcie and asked her if she could hold on until Brian arrived. Then Craig began his sorrowful journey back home. His brother arrived hours later at midnight. He went in to talk with Aunt Dulcie who was still in a coma. He talked with her, letting her know he was there and loved her. Within minutes, her breathing became shallow and she died 20 minutes after his arrival. Aunt Dulcie had again thought of others and held on until her loved one could come and say his good-bye. Even near death, her love of others surpassed her thought of self. As Craig had eulogized, her unparalleled capacity for love had proven her humble greatest.


---------------------------------------------


Sharing the story of a deceased loved ones death is always met with trepidation, fear, resistance and tears during our support grief groups. Sometimes, participants are absent on that night, or they pass; but usually through tears, participants recount the painful moments of how their loved one died.


Recently, a group member stated that she had contemplated remaining at home but she had forced herself to attend and through moments of silence, then slowly crying during her story, she arduously recalled how her loved one had died.


After the session, during check-out, this member who had been nearly unable to function since the death, spoke with a smile on her face and pride in her voice as she said, I feel tall!




Receiving Much More than I Strive to Give



copyright May, 1998, Cecelia Upton


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:



Upton, Cecelia. (May 1998). Receiving Much More than I Strive to Give 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:


Cecelia Upton

Continuing Care and Bereavement Counsellor

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board

341 Bloor Street West

Suite 1121

Toronto, Ontario

M5S 1W8

CANADA

(416) 344-2367

Fax: (416) 344-2380



On that particular morning, I was sitting at my desk feeling a little depressed because of the number of deaths I had recently had to deal with on my caseload. I work with people who are terminally ill and also with people whose spouses have died in accidents while at work. Dying and bereavement are part and parcel of my life. Most of the time, 98% or so, I love my job.


From time to time, especially when deaths occur in clusters, I am affected. This was one of those times. I felt like I had not had, and did not have, the time to do what I needed to do to reconcile myself to the multiple losses. I sat at my desk facing a mountain of paperwork (the disliked percentage of my job!)


The phone rang. Edith was calling to say that Isaac had again been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. She feared that he would die this time. I must explain that Isaac=s being alive for the past year, at least, had, in my opinion, everything to do with the bond of love between the couple and Edith=s determined care. Isaac=s medical history was most formidable.


I decided that the paperwork could wait. Too tired to drive, I hailed a taxi and took off for the hospital.


Edith met me at the elevators. She took me to Isaac who was well connected to the hospitals gadgetry in the Intensive Care Unit. Isaac pulled his oxygen mask aside and said, Cecelia, give me some of your strength. Leaning over, I rested my forehead against his and held his face between my hands and I responded with, Take as much as you like.


We had just come out of the season of Lent. I tend to follow the Liturgical seasons closely. Hence, I was acutely aware of the privilege of being allowed to see our suffering Christ in the sick and the dying. Isaac is a warm, loving and as good a man as I imagine Christ to have been as he walked our earth; so it was easy for me to identify one with the other.


Straightening up, I thought that I observed less pain in Isaacs eyes. His warmth and love were apparent in his expression of gratitude for the simple gesture of reassurance.


That night, I received what I considered so very much more strength from Isaac than the little that I had hoped to impart to him. I had a most wonderful dream. I dreamt that the Risen Christ had rested his forehead against mine, held my face in his hands and I was infused with energy.


The next morning I awoke thoroughly refreshed and the misery that I had been experiencing because of the cluster of recent deaths had disappeared. I was recharged.


I know that I receive much more than I can give.



Let's Go for a Walk


copyright May, 1998, Harry van Bommel


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:



van Bommel, Harry. (May 1998). Lets Go for a Walk 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:


Harry van Bommel

PSD Consultants

11 Miniot Circle

Scarborough, ON  M1K 2K1

Canada

(416) 264-4665

harryvb@inforamp.net



"Let's go for a walk" has started many of my conversations with family members and friends who want to talk about their feelings of grief. I have found that a walk is one of the safest ways to talk about some of our most difficult feelings.


It is safe because we can talk without looking directly at each other. It is safe because we can walk for minutes without having to say a word. It is safe because when we want to cry, we can put on arm around each other's shoulders, stop and hug if we like, or just keep walking -- whichever is most supportive of each other.


I remember walking with a friend whose father had died. We were in a park with a riding stable at one end of the park. Walking toward the stable, some kilometres away, we talked about some general feelings, thoughts and observations on the weather, the park, etc. She talked about how much she missed her father and his last days in the intensive care unit of the university hospital. She is a nurse and had a lot to say about his care and what should have been better. There was some bitterness along with her sadness that he died.


When we got to the stable, she began talking about how her father used to take her riding on the family farm and helped her learn to become confident on a horse. She started to talk about her father's life, his accomplishments, his love for his family, his participation in the Olympics decades before, and some wonderful memories of their lives together as father-daughter and friend to friend.


When we walked back to our cars, we walked a lot in silence. She had said most of what she needed to say. We enjoyed each other's quiet company along the beautiful pathway through the park. At the parking lot, we hugged, cried a bit at the sadness of her loss and smiled at the loving memories she had shared with me. Both of us left smiling, feeling like we had spent a very special two hours together.




To Give Over Their Destiny


copyright May, 1998, Ruth van den Heuvel


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:



van den Heuvel, Ruth. (May 1998). To Give Over Their Destiny 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 van den Heuvel

30 Station Road

King City, Ontario

Canada

(905) 833-5053



I have a story from the early days of my work as a hospice care volunteer for Hospice King. It is about a gentleman whom I was to visit in the hospital. I went down at the designated hour. The nurse went into the patient=s room and introduced me. He then said he did NOT want any visits from anyone, especially a woman, and especially a woman with a Dutch accent! So...I went and sat down on the chair just by the door. He didnt say anything; I didnt say anything.


After a while he barked as long as youre here anyway, why dont you come closer so I can see you. Then he began asking questions -- where I came from, what my husband did. He started telling me about his life and his worries. He poured out his troubles for close to four hours. He poured out his troubles; I was there for hours, just sitting and listening. Thats what he needed -- he just hoped Id be a man, preferably a lawyer!


A few days later I went to visit him again. I had arranged for him to have a lawyer visit him. When I saw him again, he kept repeating Oh, God. He took his lame hand and placed it on my hand. He kept saying, AOh, God.@ Surprised by his repeated use of the word God, I asked him if he wanted me to pray with him. By habit, I said the >Our Father= in Spanish. I caught myself and began again in English. He recognized it and tried to pray along with me. After the prayer we did some other prayers. He was in a lot of pain, thrashing around with sweat pouring out of him, but he still tried to follow my words. A nurse came in to help his symptoms and went to ask for more medication from the physician. When she came back, she said that You have done what we couldnt do, because he was now much more calm, mumbling words and attentive to my voice. I used to be a nursery school teacher, and so I began to tell stories that he tried to follow.


I had been told before my visit not to bring up religion or religious topics at all.


When I left, he was dosing off and calm. I saw him again a few days later. I had been scheduled to see someone else but I visited him as well.  I was half-way into the room, he looked at me and said Thanks.’  He died a few days later.


I have seen that it is hard for people to give over their destiny to something intangible. It is almost like going to swim and not wanting to float. When the time comes, it is easier than they think and they are grateful for someone to share those moments with.


I could go on and on, telling stories of sadness, of laughter, of listening, of telling, of sharing. I find Hospice such an intimated experience. Ive been a volunteer for 15 years and I=m definitely a richer person for the experience. It has deepened my understanding of life.



My Son


copyright May, 1998, Chaplain Lamar Vincent


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:



Vincent, Lamar. (May 1998). My Son 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:


Chaplain Lamar Vincent

3913 45th Ave N.E.

Tacoma, WA 98422-2450

E-mail AJVexpress@AOL.com


As a caregiver I became the one to receive care for myself.  My 21 year old son was dying from Hogkins.  My wife and I had take leave from our job responsibilities to care for him in our home.


His bed was in the living room.  A portable mattress on the floor became our place of rest.  We turned him every two hours to alleviate bed sores that might add to his already incredible open wounds from the lymph nodes that had burst through his skin.  Such was our plight. 


During this ordeal, many people came.  Friends of our son.  Friends and loved ones.  Both our parents came and stayed with us.  Our hospice nurse seemed like an angel to us in adjustments to medications to make him and us more comfortable.  One who came was my immediate supervisor, Fred, a fellow chaplain.  After being there awhile, he asked if I would like to take a walk.


We lived on the edge of a small man-made lake that had a trail around it.  We walked together.  He asked brief questions but nothing too probing.  We mostly walked and I shared how and what I was doing in the process.  I remember little of the conversation.  I do remember the relief and sense of tremendous care that came from this simple but so dramatically helpful gesture and show of compassion and concern.  The load was lighter when I returned.  I felt loved and helped.




Quotes from My Son


The day that our son was diagnosed with Hogkins at age 16, his first words to his Mom and me were, Mom and Dad, don=t worry about me.  I know where I am going’


Later,  he said, Dont worry, I win either way.  I win if the Lord heals me and win if he takes me home--only thats a 110% better.


You know I get to get out of here, and you guys are stuck with Bill Clinton’


As a motor cycle, sport bike enthusiast he said, After I am gone and you look up in the sky and see a vapor trail, that will be me on my heavenly super bike.’


On one occasion, my wife was dressing my son=s wounds.  He reached to touch her face and said, Thank you, Mom.


 

Orphaned Parents


copyright May, 1998, Dr. Mechtild Voss-Eiser


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:



Voss-Eiser, Mechtild. (May 1998). Orphaned Parents 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:


Dr. Mechtild Voss-Eiser

Theologin/Psychologin

President

Verwaiste Eltern

(Orphaned Parents)

The Compassionate Friends

Esplanade 15

20354 Hamburg

Germany

040 35 50 56 33


I began to start this program in the early 80s. In 1984 we had a central information centre for bereaved parents and grieving siblings. In the 1970s I had been very active in hospice care with bereavement support. There was a lot of prevention and intervention services but not postvention for bereaved services after a death. This was especially demanded after the tragic and highly traumatic death of a child. There was not even an appropriate word in the German language for the aftermath experiences of bereaved families.


In the mid-1980s we extended our services to support of siblings who had experienced the death of a brother or sister. We worked with children from 5 to mid 30s.


By the 1990s, the movement has expanded substantially. I did a four-month research project in the Canada and the US looking at Compassionate Friends branches (40 different branches) and institutes and bereavement centers to learn more about how we could enhance our programs in Germany.


I attended conferences and brought back a lot of information to Germany.


There are now 300 chapters in Germany. These groups are interdenominational. We expanded dramatically after re-unification with Eastern Germany where people were dealing with tremendous feelings of loss. 


In 1997, nearly all of these 300 groups joined together to found a national organizations for bereaved parents and siblings, Verwaiste Eltern. (Orphaned Parents). It is based on the Compassionate Friends model begun in 1969 in England.  Our name came from a translation of an American book, Harriet Schiffs The Bereaved Parent which appeared in 1978 as Verwaiste Eltern. The German title of this book became the name orphaned parents of our organization.


At present I continue my 27-year career work at the Evangelische Akademie in Hamburg where I teach programs in bereavement for parents, siblings as well as training programs for grief counsellors. We have also started at special institute for grief work. It has become a centre for research in death and bereavement and also in children and death in general. We work with many professionals (e.g. police, clergy, ambulance attendants, fire fighters, physicians, chaplains, midwives, funeral directors) who are the first to respond to a death.


The more support groups that began the more need for education and professional seminars to help caregivers and counsellors learn the knowledge and skills to provide exceptional care. So with a number of colleagues we have developed a two-year certificate program for grief counsellors with highly qualified, multi disciplinary team of international teachers.


In 1991 we started a national bereavement journal (250-300 pages),,: Leben mit dem Tod eines kindes (Orphaned parents: Living with the death of a child). Each year we have a specific theme (e.g. suicide of a child, sibling bereavement, from help to self-help, disability and bereavement, the loss of the only child and multiple losses). This journal has collected hundreds of stories of mothers, fathers and children dealing with death and bereavement.



John


copyright May, 1998, Dr. Anthony Webber


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:



Webber, Anthony. (May 1998). John 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:


Dr Anthony Webber

55 Argyle St

Picton NSW

Australia   2571

61-2-46611205

awebber@enternet.com.au


Death is a much undervalued method of learning about life. I have worked in  private practice  as a family  physician  for  the  last  20 years.  Previously, I had worked in a large teaching hospital where, death was very common, and very impersonal. During my hospital experience relatives and friends were seen as those people in the room, surplus to requirements, who were in the way when a patient needed to be examined. They were also the people who filled me with dread when it was delegated to me to inform them of the death of their loved one.


Moving to country family practice I carried all this baggage with me.


I met John W after only a few months in my new practice.  He had been diagnosed as having developed secondary cancer from a malignant melanoma. Initially I saw him sporadically for repeat scripts, blood tests results and the like. During this time I began to develop my relationship with him. We began to talk about his family and his work in addition to his current symptoms. At this time he was still working, however that changed over the next few months, his pain from spinal cancer inhibiting his mobility significantly.


This marked a change in our relationship. I was now doing regular home visits, and as his condition worsened these visits become more regular. As I got to know his family, I gained a fuller understanding of what this terrible disease was doing to John. I was also over-coming my own fears being the only professional person responsible for John=s care. In those days there were no palliative care teams etc.  John=s kids were initially very confused and also angry watching the slow decline in their father=s capacity. However as we talked through what was happening and what would happen, the kids, and John=s wife felt as through they had been given permission to become closer as a family. The family used me as a resource through this process.  I was, however slow to realize that John and his family were teaching me as much about life and death as I was helping them. My visits became longer as I relaxed into my role. Although I could not change, the outcome for John, I now knew I could positively affect the process. John became weaker and would lapse into a semi-delirium some of the time. Instead of using this as an excuse to leave I was now able to be peaceful sitting by the bedside waiting for him to drift back to consciousness.


When John died I felt I had lost a friend. I chided myself at the time for reacting in an unprofessional way.  It was only with the passage of time that I realized what a debt I owe to John and his family. He taught me that death is a part of life, and dying a process. That process can be cold, frightening and overwhelming for the patient and also the family and friends. He taught me that once I had overcome my own fear I could become an effective source of practical help and succor to my patients. I am very grateful for having had the privilege to be part of John=s life and death very earlier in my family practice career as the lessons learned have helped in indefinable ways in caring for the many dying patients who have come after John over the last 20 years. I have learnt something from them all.



The Story of Fiona


copyright May, 1998, Erica Webber


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:



Webber, Erica. (May 1998). The Story of Fiona 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:


Erica Webber

Bereavement Counselor

Southern Highlands Bereavement Core Service

c/- Bowral Hospital

Bowral 2576

Australia

02-48621701 (phone/fax)



During this conference focused on complicated grief, we have been given an opportunity to share a story, so I have chosen the story of a woman who has been a client during this past year--her story not only reflects aspects of complicated grief, but some complexities and mysteries we encounter in the field of bereavement.


Fiona was referred to me for bereavement counseling in April 1997.  A 42-year old woman in a small rural community in Australia, Fiona was returning home from a nearby regional rehabilitation center.  The social worker caring for her was concerned for her emotional well being since Fionas mother had died suddenly the previous November and Fiona had suffered a moderately severe stroke in the December.


As I saw Fiona, she was able to share her sorrow over the death of her mother.  She acutely missed the care of her mother at this vulnerable time in her own life when she was so unwell.  Her mother had always looked after her and she shared many poignant recollections, particularly from childhood.


Fionas grief, which was openly expressed and flowed from the loss of a loving and supportive relationship, was not well understood by her husband Paul.  Paul was struggling with enormous repercussions of Fionas stroke upon their relationship.  You see, Paul had experienced ill health throughout his life due to kidney disease, and although he had undergone successful transplant surgery years before, it became clear that during their relationship of twenty years, that they had become accustomed to Paul being sick and Fiona being the capable, supportive, emotionally stronger one.


Understanding the huge adjustments being required in their relationship, I worked with them as a couple for several months.


Fiona made slow recovery from her stroke and attended a stroke support group at the local hospital.  She also used bereavement counseling well, to explore and grieve for the wholeness of her mother, and to be supported with her ongoing struggle to be understood and cared for within her marriage relationship.


Around the time of the anniversary of her mother=s death in November, Fiona cancelled her appointment because Paul had become unwell and was due to be admitted to a city teaching hospital for tests. 


In January, I heard of Paul=s death from the occupational therapist who cared for the stroke group.


Fiona returned to our community the week following Paul=s funeral which had taken place in the city two hours away, where Paul had been in hospital and where Fionas family lived.


I visited with her at home a day or two after her return and she shared with me the details of Paul=s hospitalization and death.  It seems she was able to say and do the things she needed to in the process of saying goodbye to Paul and I was touched by her strength, and the simplicity of her own promise and conviction to be with him again soon.


Fiona died at home, the day after I saw her.  Unfortunately I didnt hear till several days after her funeral which had been arranged by her father and sisters in the city.  I wrote to her father, sharing with him how touched I had been by Fionas life over the last year, and spoke with him when he telephoned in response to my letter. (It amazed me the connection between us, he knowing me through Fiona, I having known him through Fiona.)


In the time I knew her, Fiona, a gentle and loving woman, grieved meaningfully for her mother.  She acknowledged other griefs: the lack of children, the hurts of mother / child relationships, the shortfalls of her own marriage, and her current physical limitations.  She not only used counselling in a productive way, but also was able to share with her husband in ways that were beautiful to her, when she came to understand that he was dying.


I am glad to have this opportunity to acknowledge her and her story.  It provides for me a sense of completion to my involvement in her life over the last year.


Mothers Day 1998


copyright May, 1998, Elizabeth White


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:



White, Elizabeth. (May 1998). Mothers Day 1998" 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:


Elizabeth White

25 Keewatin Avenue

Toronto, Ontario M4P 1Z9

(416) 481-3738

ianc@planeteer.com




It was five years ago now, December 17 it was. The test results were in. David was dying of cancer, which filled up his lungs and sent its spur to his spine. A week later this 6 foot 3 eldest son of 37 came down like a giant white pine, and never walked again. Eight weeks later he died, propped up, his sons head on his chest, the family quietly there like a Delacroix painting that hangs clearly in  my grateful heart.


Soon, I bought a bolt of shot silk,  blue for the lake and sky, green for the white pine,  to be his banner. That summer we grieved on our island, his ashes in a pine box on the silk on the edge of the stone mantel.  We buried him on a cold Thanksgiving Sunday in the lengthening shadows of late afternoon.


And then the embroidery began. The first year the two pine trees on the left, David and his son, 10 years old then. Some time later I added the barge, with David and his two brothers sitting in Muskoka chairs, fishing.  The next year I added the corner of the cottage kitchen with its flower box filled with colour, and David=s feet sticking out  from under the cottage, where he always turned off the water in October.  I found perfect buttons for him and each of his nieces and nephews, and silk ribbon to join them to him -- David the uncle. The right hand upper corner.


But what of the middle?  Silence. The banner lived under the bed. A year passed. Two. I read about grief and felt different from the ‘stages,’  alien and reduced by the tasks.’  Our grief felt more like the ongoing weaving of a wise old weaver  seamless, rich veins of joy and pain, informing my life and my work as a therapist. Defencelessness. Openness. Beloved..


And then, last month the center of the banner  was gently there. It would not be about David. It would be about death wrenching him from my belly. It would be red. I chose wool for a sweater for my grandchild, and then reached for skein after skein of red  crimson, ruby, blood red  wonderful, powerful pulsing colours. I knitted and waited. I finished the sweater yesterday. Today, cleaning under the bed, his father handed me the embroidery hoop  a hoop as big as a belly  big enough to know and to contain and to celebrate a mothers anguish and joy.



Ive told God that I am ready!



copyright May, 1998, Loretta Wilkins, RN


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:



Wilkins, Loretta. (May 1998). Ive told God that I am ready! 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:


Loretta Wilkins RN

17 McNab Drive

Grimsby, Ontario

L3M 2Y7

945-3000


She was a woman in her early 60's clinging to life and the world to the very last hour of her living.  In the quietness of the night we would have wonderful talks about her life and we would share stories as only two women can.  Often though the same questions would be asked - How long?;’Will it be today?; Ive told God that I am ready!.  I would put some of her favorite hymns on for her to listen to and with hugs and reassurance she would drift off to sleep.  How grateful I was for those nights that I was blessed with the time I needed to comfort her.  At the moment of her death the most profound look of peace appeared on her face and I envied her a little as she started this most miraculous journey.  To know that I shared in preparing her for this was very humbling.


Wounded Healer


copyright May, 1998, Nicholas J. Wilson


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:


Wilson, Nicholas. (May 1998). Wounded Healer 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.


Nicholas J.Wilson

#904-4620 West 10th Ave

VANCOUVER BC  V6R 2J5

(604) 224 0921

njwilson@unixg.ubc.ca


To those who receive abundance of grace...... (St. Paul)


In the three short years since graduating in Divinity, I have survived and thrived in C.P.E. to become a Specialist, and chaplain of a Womens hospital.


I am fifty; I am male; I am a wounded healer.


At age 21 I fell head-over-heels in love.  A late starter? Yet nothing came of it.  Nothing?  For 25 years I buried myself in business, church work and denial.  At age 42, chronically sick, I sold out and emigrated, commencing graduate studies as a mature student.  My inner torment began to express itself - I wept at night and it showed by day.  A kindly professor listened and encouraged me to name and mourn a stack of losses, and celebrate a few profits.  I began to unfreeze emotionally and actually allowed a few female students to hug me.  I was playing serious catch-up: catch-up mourning, catch-up teens, twenties and thirties.  I mourned a lost relationship and some unhealthy ones, and had a ball learning how to build friendships.  I also learned that God is relational and felt welcomed in a new way.  When I went to the movies, I laughed and cried, and when Shadowlands came along I could identify with the gradual thawing of a British Male. 


Now I work with weeping people.  Women whose longed for babies miscarried. Would-be fathers whose hopes and dreams are dashed. Sad little siblings saying, Good-bye.  I aim to be a catalyst in the creative process of expressing deeper grief than I have known and mourning losses that I have never experienced.  As I work , my prayer for my clients is that they too will receive abundance of grace, only sooner in life than it came to me.


Reconciliation



copyright May, 1998, Nicholas Wilson


Wilson, Nicholas. (May 1998). Reconciliation 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.


Dr. Alan Wolfelt encourages us to think in terms of reconciliation with, rather than resolution of, grief. I was part of an interdisciplinary team in a large hospital where this was illustrated at personal, professional and institutional levels.


I was called in the early hours to attend a family whose child was dying because of a medical mishap. They were angry. How could this happen? How could they trust be so betrayed? In the event, I was to have nearly two weeks to explore these and other questions and to be a companion to them in grief. They were people of Christian faith, authentic about their emotions, open to prayer by me and by their own Minister.


Each day I visited the family, the car was at a different place on the roller coaster. Staff and patients got involved and were stretched between triumph and disaster. I was the goffer -- visiting family and  staff, attending critical stress-debriefing sessions and offering prayer with the medical person who faced a career in ruins.


Little by little reconciliation happened. The family requested an interview with, and embraced, the medic whose mistake eventually killed their child. The CEO of the hospital held a press conference and made a clean breast of the affair.


When I was called to offer a final prayer with the bereaved family, I became profoundly aware of the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation surfacing above the plethora of emotions present. To my knowledge, no law suit has been filed and the family=s request for privacy has been largely respected. My own personal reconciliation continues, but had a distinct boost when I visited the grave in an ancient, rural graveyard.


Was there resolution of grief? Hardly -- we on the team still talk about it. The family still live it. The institution continues to live it down. Yet reconciliation is still happening because relationships to the tragedy and all the people involved continues to shape and touch us all.



Part of Me Died Too


copyright May, 1998, Alice Zulli


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:



Zulli, Alice. (May 1998). Part of Me Died Too 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:


Alice Zulli

4567 Jessica Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90065

USA

(213) 256-4567



As a child, I was nurtured with bunnies, chicks, a kitten, playmates, family picnics and frequent family gatherings. I was warm, well fed and surrounded with books and stories and security.


When I was 12, the blast of my fathers gun changed all that. One individual, act of violence (suicide) brought my life, as I knew it, to a halt. What followed were years of feeling different and missing my father. No hiking, no baseball games, no popcorn and wrestling on TV together -- just emptiness.


My mother could not fill the void.  Other relationships could not fill the void. No one told me I must fill the void!


Many years have passed. Ive learned to know and love me as I believe my father would have. I have forgiven him for leaving me, for disappointing me, for causing me pain. I have a family, good and loving friends, and work I dearly love. I work with people who are dying and bereaved. This work has shown me how to prepare a trail which others can follow if they wish. My father did not have a trail. It took me a long, long time to find my way.


The best thing about this work is sharing time with people. Because of who theyve lost, they are becoming who they will be. Praise God.


Selected Journals on Grieving


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Copyright © 1998 Harry van Bommel

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