Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hospice Care Professionals

If you have ever been involved with or heard of HOSPICE, you probably know it is a fantastic concept of caring for individuals by health professionals and volunteers for those near the end of life. Hospice gives medical, psychological and spiritual support. The goal is to help people who are dying have peace, comfort and dignity. They also help in the bereavement process for individuals and families after the loved one dies.

There are many misconceptions about what hospice can do for you, so here are some facts. Hospice care can take place at home, at a hospice center, in a hospital or in a skilled nursing facility. The care is provided to patients who have a limited life expectancy. Volunteers can come to your home and visit with the patient, help with daily chores like shaving and bathing and they can keep the patient company. Therapists, clergy, and counselors can come by to help also. Professional medical care by doctors, nurses and home health aides is given and sophisticated symptom relief provided. The patient and family are both included in the care plan and emotional, spiritual and practical support is given based on the patient’s wishes and family’s needs. The goal of the hospice team is to be sensitive and responsive to the special requirements of each individual and family. They emphasize palliative rather than curative treatment; quality rather than quantity of life, allowing the dying to be comforted.

I do know many who have had experiences with hospice and all of them were pleased with the care received and the caring atmosphere all around them. Keep in mind that the quantity and quality of all services can vary significantly from one hospice to another. To find the best hospice for your personal needs, ask your doctor, clergy, social workers or friends who have received care for a family member.

Hospice coverage is widely available. Check with your employer or health insurance provider. For older individuals Medicare and Medicaid provide hospice care. If you are not covered, some hospices will provide for anyone who cannot pay, using money raised from the community or from memorial or foundation gifts.

Finding a hospice program that meets your needs may take some research, but it will be worth your while to spend the time. You need to consider quality of care, availability of neded services, personnel training and expertise and coverage. Your community may have information and referral services available through the American Cancer Society, United Way, Visiting Nurse Association or your place of worship. Sometimes just looking in the yellow pages or going to google is helpful.

Once the patient has died, many families need help to get through their grief journey and their services provide that also by continuing their contact and support for at least a year following the death of a loved one. Many hospices also sponsor bereavement groups and support for anyone in the community and grief groups are very helpful whether a child or adult.

No amount of knowledge can prepare us for bereavement. Grief is the most intense and enduring emotion we can experience. There are no quick fixes, no short-cuts. An ancient African saying says, “There is no way out of the desert except through it.” Knowledge of the grief process gives us a very generalized map of the terrain we have to cover. Each of us will take a different route. Each will choose his own landmarks. Each will travel at his own unique speed and will navigate using the tools provided by his culture, experience and faith. In the end, he will be forever changed by his journey.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What Sayings May Mean To You

This week I’ve thought about three quotes I believe have lots of meaning dealing with children, their life and their death. After each quote I tell you how I relate that quote to my life and the life and death of my daughter. See if you can do the same. It’s part of letting go and knowing we did what we could as parents and should be proud of that.

A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. Forest E. Witcraft

My child was brought up with a good background, filled with parents who loved her, and given everything she wanted and needed. She grew into a fine human being and was beginning to make a difference in the world because of who she was. For example, she loved helping people with their problems (maybe because her life was problem free) and was always available to her friends and family. Although her life was cut short when she was killed in an automobile accident, I can only wonder what she would have accomplished given the chance to make this world a better place. I was so proud of her, and she, in turn, loved us and knew how to love others. Her upbringing, my advice, always making time to talk to her and her own keen sense of knowing who she was, were key factors in her accomplishments.

The best thing to spend on our children is our time. Louise Hart

We must make time for our children. We must choose in life what is important to us and what is not. My child was important and teaching her right from wrong, instilling good morals and always being there when she needed me, helped her to develop and grow. I was a very busy person when my daughter was growing up and there were times I could not be there for her. I constantly worried and felt guilty about that time and how it could be detrimental in her upbringing. I was wrong. Putting her in a nursery school setting so I could go back to school to earn my master’s degree turned out to be the best for both of us. She learned to depend on others, she learned communications skills and she learned to adapt to other children. But it made the time we were together very precious and kept us always close. My daughter turned out to be my best friend when she was a teen and older, and I realize that even though I couldn’t spend every second with her, I did bring up a fine human being.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow,
yet we forget that he is someone today. Stacia Tauscher

I tried very hard not to push what I wanted on my child. I remember that I was so excited when she went to my alma mater. She could be in my sorority because she was a legacy. When she called to tell me that she chose not to be in any sorority, it took me a long time to understand it was her choice to make and not mine. She fared very well in college despite my worries she wouldn’t meet anyone if she didn’t join a sorority. Her dad always wanted her to be an accountant like himself, but that was not in her plans. She was a communication’s person and all on her own got a terrific job as a marketing director for the L.A. Music Center. If you are lucky enough to still have children growing up, set them free and let them fly on their own. I am confident they will find their way.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How to Choose Sympathy/Funeral Flowers

Flowers can be comforting for those suffering a loss. They are appreciated by most. But knowing what type of flower or plant to get for funerals and how to care for them is usually left up to a florist's knowledge. Barbara Jackson is a world renowned, highly equalified professional florist in Oldham, Manchester, UK, and has dealt with many who have had needed flowers for both happy and sad occasions. She realizes most need help in chosing what is right to give. She relates in this article that appeared on Ezine Magazine on the internet, what many need to know about one aspect: purchasing funeral flowers. Thanks, Barbara.

A funeral is a very, very sad time for most families and as such care should be taken in purchasing any funeral flowers. Funeral flowers are the perfect way to share your grief with the bereaved.

There are many different types of funeral arrangements, and you must bear in mind that different cultures sometimes may view funeral flowers in a different light to yourself. It would be a good idea to talk to the bereaved or someone close who understands their needs or culture to make sure you get it just right or you could talk to a professional funeral florist who know how to deal with this very sensitive issue.

Sympathy Flowers
There is a wide variety of sympathy flowers you could send, you would send these as a friend or colleague to the family as a token of your shared grief and the flowers are usually kept at the home after the funeral to provide comfort for quite a few days after. These can include such things as; small vases simply designed, hand tied bouquets, cello wrapped bouquets or a rose plant perhaps.

Funeral Flowers
Funeral Flowers are different than Sympathy Flowers as they generally go with the funeral to the church or crematorium and again can be delivered to the house or to the funeral directors to place on the grave. You would need to check this with the family or ask a professional funeral florist whom you would like to commission to create the flowers for you.

These can be sent from family members, friends and colleagues and should be in the form of a sheaf (flowers wrapped in celephane and hand-held) at the budget end through to posies, open spray, casket spray, wreaths, tied sheafs, love hearts, pillows, cushions, wording in flowers, designer pieces such as trucks, bikes, or anything that can take your imagination. The latter tend to the most expensive but are usually quite large and stunning!

For both Sympathy and Funeral flowers, if you know what the deceased favorite flowers were, it might be a very touching gesture to send those types of flowers as it will help to comfort the family to no end and help to share their grief which will be much appreciated.

When to Order
You really need to order the flowers, either Sympathy or Funeral as soon as you know the funeral date. This gives the florist lots of time to create your stunning bouquet, arrangement or wreath etc. The flowers should be delivered at least two hours before the time of the funeral. Most professional florists are extremely good at dealing with funerals and will have answers to all your questions and will be able to advise accordingly.

Don't try to do this yourself as the last thing you want is for things to not be quite right or worse, they arrive at the wrong time at the wrong place. Put your trust in the professionals; they know what they are doing.

AfterCare of the Funeral Flowers
If the flowers are to be kept at home following the funeral here are some tips to help them last... The only flowers really that are taken home or kept at home after the funeral would be the sheaf or potted plant. We will deal with the sheaf first.

AfterCare of The Sheaf
Unpack the flowers from the cello wrapping and cut the stems on an angle about 15mm up from the bottom. This will help the flower to take in water as over time if left, the flower stem will seal itself and prevent the intake of water. Arrange the flowers in a nice vase.

AfterCare of The Potted Plant
These are relatively easy to look after. All you really have to remember is to keep away from any heat and check the water regularly. The best way to see if a plant needs water is to push your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle joint and if this feels moist the plant doesn't need watering. You can overwater plants and some drink more than others, so check regularly.
Again ,if you are not sure about aftercare, consult with your professional florist.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ideas To Help You Through Mother's Day

Today is my 16th Mother’s Day without my daughter. On the one hand, it’s hard to believe that so much time has passed since her death. On the other hand, it seems like just yesterday. I stare at her pictures around the house and wonder what she would look like now. This year she would have been 44-years-old. It’s so hard to believe all that has happened since that day.

Over the years I have had Mother’s Day with family members and sometimes with kind friends who understand how I feel on this worst of all days in the year. Most years I just try to ignore the day and hope it will pass fast. This year my daughter’s best friend, who I am very close to, invited us to brunch with her children, my godchildren. That will be very nice, I’m sure, but the fact that I won’t get a mother’s day card from my daughter, who never forgot, will still haunt me. I hope all of you were not like me and got rid of most of those cards after the event. I do have a few, thank goodness, and I treasure them. They were always very cute, not serious sentimental ones, which was just fine with me and seemed to suit her personality as well as mine.

I just read an article by Paula Funk of Petoskey MI who talks about what it was like for her those first few years after her daughter died. She then offers some suggestions from those who have been there to help others through this time. Thanks, Paula.

**Realize this day is full of potential for a multitude of feelings to sneak up on you and catch you by surprise.

**Do whatever works for you. Trying to please everyone else can cause undo stress.

**If you have surviving children who want to honor you, communicate your feelings to them. Let them know that while you are grieving the death of their brother or sister, you still love them.

**Try to keep things simple.

**Visit the cemetery.

**You may choose to pretend the day just does not exist and do something completely unrelated to Mother’s Day: clean, get out of town, go shoping.

**Have a good cry.

Know that the days before the holiday may be worse than the actual day. As with all holidays, be reassured that what you do this year does not have to be what you have done before or will do again. As with all things, the intensity of our feelings will soften over time. In the meantime, be gentle with yourself on this special day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mother's Day and Beyond

A couple of upcoming Mother's Day celebrations next Sunday if you live in the areas mentioned...

The first annual Now Childless Mother’s Day Lunch at Front Royal, VA, will be held on May 9, 2010 from 12 p.m. at the Virginia Hills Church, 37 Rockland Road in Front Roal. Spouses are also welcome. RSVP to 540-635 -6480 or email You are welcome to attend church services prior at 11 a.m. For directions, call or email.

The fifth annual Now Childless Mother’s Day Brunch is on Sunday, May 9, 2010 at the home of Ann and Jim Cook in Northport on Long Island, NY. Spouses are also welcome. Last year they had 36 parents join them.

“It’s good that parents feel comfortable enough to join us but it is sad that there have to be so many of us that are now childless,” said Ann. “Being together gives us comfort and camaraderie. Unfortunately, we really do know what it feels like not to have any surviving children.”

If interested in attending, email Ann and Jim at and put Childless Mother’s Day Brunch in the subject box or call them at 631-754-9141.


Cherishing Our Child’s Memory

by Sandy Fox

I hope we all cherish the memory of our child no longer with us.
I hope there is no guilt, no “what if’s”, no anger left.
There will always be pain; there will always be sorrow.
There will always be good days and bad days.
I hope you are strong enough to move on.
To see that there is hope,
That there are good memories
To help us survive this devastation

I remember so much. My life was so full.
My dreams were coming true right before my eyes.
My child was beautiful, brilliant and would go far in this world.
This world needed someone like her to mend the fences,
To lend a helping hand to friends,
And to give all the love within her to those who needed it most.

Yes, she would have done all that and more,
She would have reached for the sky and beyond, daring to cross the bridge,
challenging others to follow,
And when all was said and done, simply smile and nod her head.

She cared to make this world a better place and now I care in her place.
I have to do what she can no longer do.
I find it very difficult, but I work at it.
I strive every day to honor my child by doing the best I can for others.
And in the process, I find it helps me also
To continue living each day with meaning and with hope.