To The Last Breath

Welcome to our meandering thoughts in "To the Last Breath."
This blog is an exploration of living life fully until we die, regardless of the circumstances surrounding us.

Various authors associated with HSCD will contribute to our postings, and we invite you to share your comments in return.
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Remembering My Beloved

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Irish Wake
March 19, 2018
This week's blog is a gift from Hospice Volunteer Coordinator, Joy LeBlanc:

The other day my husband and I were talking about our funerals.

We both believe that funerals really are a ritual that allow people to grieve, laugh and remember the person who has died. Funerals help the living come to terms with living a life that has a deep hurt in it.

So, the discussion was not about what I want at my funeral but what would he like to do to help him grieve when I do die (if I die first). His first response was to have a spiritual send-off for me that would include the many different aspects of our spiritual journey together.

He would want food so he can "break bread" with his friends. Since he has trouble hearing he would want to have a special chair to sit in a quiet corner so he could hear when people came to visit with him and tell him why they loved me too. He would want to hear my name said over and over again.

He would want a special table with all of our valentine cards that we have written to each other over the years on display so that he could share our love for each other in this concrete way (I wasn't too sure about this but then I had to remember this was his time and that we had agreed that whatever would help him grieve was okay).

This was our beginning discussion. He might die first so now it is my turn to decide how I will grieve for him but that is another story. I'm looking forward to the discussion as both of us felt peaceful preparing for another ritual in our life together.

Missing Really Well

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Richard Wagamese, "Embers"
March 12, 2018
This week's Hospice Blog is a gift from Hospice board member, Treva Olson.

Treva writes:
My mother died 4 years ago; she was 96. I was feeling quite bereft one day, longing to have a conversation with her, when I opened a wee book by an Ojibway wisdom holder.  In his writing he often has conversations with "old woman" and "old man," meaning elders.

The moment I read this I felt deep gratitude and grace. We live our lives in moments; precious moments. Each moment lived fully is  one that is filled with wonder and joy. My mom now lives in my full presence.

Wagamese's book was given to me by a family just three days before my dad's memorial a year ago. Out of it came the eulogy I spoke for him; Richard's words are very heartfull.

Living Well

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March 1, 2018
Our inaugural blog is written by Hospice Program Coordinator, Bill Harder.

Bill writes:
A palliative diagnosis means that our warranty is getting thin - that whatever ails us may very well be the cause of our demise. Our final breath could be imminent, or it might be months or years down the road, depending upon the nature of the illness. It sounds a bit grim. Until you consider that humanity has a 100% mortality rate.  In that sense, being alive could be considered palliative, for life will eventually wind down for all of us, and we'll give this mortal rental back.

In the meantime, poor warranty or not, most of us want to experience life richly, at every stage, every age, and in the face of every challenge. We seek meaningful connection to family and friends; we look for ways to share our gifts; we want to Love and be Loved.

Hospice endeavors to increase the quality of life for  those whose days are counting down due to an incurable illness. Whether someone has seven days or seven hundred - living well and fully is not out of reach; they just need a little support to make it happen.

We invite your thoughts on how you, or a loved-one, have lived well in the face of challenging physical limits.

I leave the last word to author, Simone Elkeles:
“If there's one thing I learned,
it's that nobody is here forever.
You have to live for the moment,
each and every day,
the here, the now.”
(Simone Elkeles, Perfect Chemistry)