"All three of us work to maintain balance — knowing when we need to flex and when we need to release, when to put pain first and when to let it fade into the moment."
"When you are facing a serious illness, you need relief from symptoms. You need to better understand your condition and choices for care. You need to improve your ability to tolerate medical treatments. And, you and your family need to be able to carry on with everyday life. This is what palliative care can do." #SeriousIllness #PalliativeCare
For more information visit Get Palliative Care
"...Today, I can say that, of course, my life was permanently changed by losing Eric, but I know it is possible to make a new life that is rich and satisfying — though often tinged with sadness.
Now I find myself going and doing and functioning, and taking joy in life and its challenges. I never believed that would be possible, but I assure you it is. There are still times, especially good times, when the pain of missing Eric stops me in my tracks. But there are good times.
I believe I have grown in my ability to be compassionate and to understand the pain that others may be experiencing. Once you know the pain of excruciating, incomprehensible loss, you can’t un-know it. But when you endure struggle, you can also learn empathy.
I am sharing this because until I was diagnosed and treated with complicated grief — which I had never even heard of before and which 7 percent of bereaved people struggle with — I felt isolated and like my life had no meaning. I hope my story will reach anyone who’s feeling like that and show them there is hope. I even appeared on CBS to spread the word about complicated grief and help others who may be struggling. The Center for Complicated Grief has a website and can be found here."
"After someone dies, you may find that your grief surfaces again and again. Often this seems to happen ‘out of the blue’ and it may feel like an unwelcome intrusion. You may have been enjoying yourself one moment and then be in tears the next. You may also notice that certain days, holidays or public events are more likely or return..."
"My husband and I were always transparent with the kids. They saw me cry; they saw me get scared. We used words like died rather than passed away. Now I see the kids as these amazing, compassionate, clear-eyed people who know how to comfort others and who have made space in their life for death. That is so unusual in our culture. I want my kids to have a relationship with the fluidity of life—with the fact that sometimes people get sick and sometimes bad things happen, and to know that within that there is also grace, there’s also beauty, there’s also comfort. Because if you go down into the depths, there is treasure there. Cancer still sucks, but there’s also profound connection. It’s the privilege of allowing yourself to participate in the full experience of humanity, which includes grief and sickness and death. If you don’t look at [those things], you’re not living...
There’s this assumption that because you got better, you did it courageously. But that’s not my story. I didn’t “warrior” my way into getting better. It was not my achievement; it was science’s. Whenever I hear someone say “I beat cancer,” it just feels so disrespectful to others, such as my friend Debbie. It divides us into winners and losers. I know it’s not deliberate. We want to make meaning. We want to make sense of it. But you see how random [survival] is. I have known people who were healthier than me and younger than me who tried, I think, harder than I did to fight their cancer but who didn’t live…
The story is about losing something—yourself, people you loved, what you thought you knew about the world—yet still being whole. Butterflies are all about transformation. I try to see the beauty in all the damage. I try to see the beauty in all the ruin. And I definitely see the love."
"There is no way to escape losing a sense of who you once were. And after a year (or two), you wake up from this transformation and realize that you were not actually dying; you just felt like you were. And then you must make a choice. One option: You can give into the horror of it all and retire to bed. No one would blame you; it is a tempting alternative that lurks at the back of my brain from time to time even now. The other option is that you take the pain and harness it to do things you could not imagine ever possessing the strength to accomplish. Being around children like my daughter will teach you the very meaning of life."
“The Taylors hated the stealth that encased the disease, how it was treated like an unmentionable cousin. They wanted no part of that. Ms. Taylor decided that she would not show herself as some spackled-over person. “It was my decision to let the disease be alive in my life,” she said. “You don’t have to just throw in the towel.”
She didn’t know the order of whom she would tell, nor how to phrase something so shackled with frightful connotations. Your life becomes a script. Alzheimer’s, she knew, leaves its heavy imprint on everyone…
Just recently, Ms. Taylor had discovered the website To Whom I May Concern, the creation of Maureen Matthews, a psychiatric nurse. It arranges for people in the early stage of dementia to act out plays telling what it is like for them. Ms. Taylor clicked on some videos, at once felt the common spirit. The person saying, ‘People take that diagnosis and assume that you are now officially irrelevant.’ And: ‘It’s not that we want people to treat us as if we have Alzheimer’s. But at the same time we want people to recognize that we have it. Confusing, right? Welcome to our world.’ And: ‘The end stage is our future. But not today’.”
“There is no schedule for when you should feel certain emotions, or be over others. Choose to stand up for you and the rest of your life, and choose to move on. You don’t have to figure out how you’re going to get through the rest of your life. Just focus on staying in the game and moving forward now. It is normal to cry and be depressed, but you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
“This early interaction with death is overwhelming, but a pivotal point for learning. This grief acts as a blueprint for not just how these young people process death, but their approach to the many challenges they will face in life.
If you are struggling to help a teenager with their grief, know that your concern is evidence of your care. There is nothing that can make this not awful, so don't make your aim to stop the tears, but rather to support them in what they need. Respecting their needs shows them that you believe in their ability to know what's best for themselves. You're doing good.”
“Camp Erin Hamilton is an annual three-day camp experience offered at no charge and facilitated by professional staff and trained volunteers of the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice and Bereaved Families of Ontario - Hamilton/ Burlington. The camp is for children ages 6 to 17 who have experienced the death of someone close to them. Camp Erin Hamilton combines a traditional, high-energy, fun camp with grief support and education.”
"I think the question reflects a human desire to revisit events that occurred over a lifetime, and speculate whether a change in course could have avoided an untoward outcome.
In truth, though, except in very rare cases, it is almost impossible to say that a specific environmental exposure triggered a given person’s cancer. The majority of cancers arise randomly, as if thumbing their nose at our collective need to find a cause.
But that doesn’t stop me from trying, during the part of the clinic visit when it’s my turn to ask the questions. And sometimes, I even convince myself that I have uncovered that nugget of truth that explains disease".
"MyGrief.ca Because losing someone is hard. MyGrief.ca helps you to understand and work through your grief.
- Access in the privacy of your own home
- Developed by families and grief experts
- Stories from people who have "been there"
- A resource for professionals"
“Choice is a signature of our species. We choose to live, sometimes we choose our own death, but most of the time we make choices just to prove choice is possible. Above all else, we value the right to choose one’s destiny. The very young and some lucky few may find their days opening one onto another like a set of ornate doors, but most people make an unconscious vow each morning to get through the day’s stresses and labors intact, without becoming overwhelmed or wishing to escape into death. Everybody has thought about suicide, or knows somebody who committed suicide, and then felt “pushed another inch, and it could have been me.” As Emile Zola once said, some mornings you first have to swallow your toad of disgust before you can get on with the day. We choose to live. But suicidal people have tunnel vision—no other choice seems possible. A counselor’s job is to put windows and doors in that tunnel”.
"Through all my self-doubt, and the grief I still experience, I am comforted knowing my mom knew my heart. She understood (more than I could have at the time) how typical, though ill-timed, my behavior was. Nothing changes a mother’s love."
"The genre has blossomed as doctors have become more comfortable acknowledging their humanity and vulnerability through prose, said Dr. Paul Gross, the founder and editor in chief of the online journal Pulse, which carries the tagline 'voices from the heart of medicine.'
Doctors deal with so many difficult situations each day, Gross said. “How do you process it? And how do you remain whole as a person?” Writing helps them work through those issues by forcing reflection..."
"We believe that we are meant to come alive. This doesn’t mean we’ll be without pain. This means that we’ll face the pain, looking it in the eye, feeling it, acknowledging it, never faking it, but embracing life for what it is, a coexistence of the deepest sorrows and the deepest joys. We want to be alive to feel both, because we know that if we hide from the pain, we often also hide from true, deep joy, from freedom, from love and life.
We believe that we come alive as we mend, but we also come alive when we reach up and reach out.
We want to dig down deep and muster the grit within us, reach out our hands, and pull one another to the light, because we don’t believe that we’re meant to always live in the darkness."
"Though everyone eventually dies, few know how to talk about the end of life. ‘‘People don’t know what to say,’’ Wanda says. ‘‘They’re afraid.’’ Be prepared for strange and stilted reactions. Some want to believe in a fix and will give you unsolicited health tips. (‘‘Don’t eat sugar.’’ ‘‘Avoid gluten.’’) You can ignore their suggestions but acknowledge the heart underlying them. People may offer to pray for you. ‘‘Prayers are good, but maybe what I need is someone to listen,’’ Wanda says. For that type of engaged listening, you may need to seek out a professional, like a trained social worker or a psychiatrist. Sometimes people who know about your condition — those you tell will tell others — will pretend your situation does not exist. Or weirder still, they will temporarily forget".
"It can be hard to feel like anyone understands what you’re going through, and can be discouraging when message boards and support groups don’t give you the emotional reinforcement you need. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and alone with your thoughts if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your situation with those around you. Not everyone wants to post about their experiences on Facebook, or live-tweet each scan. If you tend towards the private side, there are still some resources I’ve found that can help with feeling less alone with your struggle...
One of the great loves of my life, Fred Rogers (also known as Mister Rogers), once said, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” There’s no easy way to start the process of emotional healing, but sharing your experience with others can be a strong foothold for that journey."
"If you ever want to be inspired and also have a giggle, ask a group of kids what they think “mindfulness” is. “Relaxing out of our daily troubles and stress,” “A way to stay yourself when you’re going through something troubling” and “It’s like getting off of one railroad track and getting onto another one” were some of my favorite answers from the recent class meeting. Kids can really be fountains of spiritual wisdom!
When I told them the dictionary’s definition (“a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique"), the kids weren’t entirely sure what I was talking about. And so we did some exercises to test it out. Feel free to try these at home!"