Loss

Exploring the Faces of Loss: Caring, Supporting, Empowering

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Excited to facilitate this interactive workshop at the 11th Annual Day in Faculty Development with the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University.

This interactive workshop will engage learners and faculty by exploring the common language of loss through different scenarios while also examining tools and resources to support families, learners and ourselves.

Objectives:

1. Examine the impact of loss in person and family-centred care
2. Encourage the learner to engage in the dialogue of loss
3. Explore self care as an essential element of professional practice

For information, or to register, please visit: https://fhs.mcmaster.ca/facdev/online_registration.html

Do you know a grieving child or youth (aged 6-17) who could benefit from support?

Do you know a grieving child or youth (aged 6-17) who could benefit from support?

Am proud to be the new Clinical Director for Camp Erin Hamilton and want to share information regarding this extraordinary free camp. 

Camp Erin is a FREE weekend bereavement camp (held annually in June) for children and teens ages 6-17 who are grieving the death of someone close to them (parent, caregiver, sibling). Campers participate in fun, traditional camp activities combined with grief education and emotional support, led by expert bereavement professionals and trained volunteers.

The following short videos capture Camp Erin Hamilton and highlights some of the kids and teens sharing the brilliant range of experiences that both normalize their thoughts and feelings and further empower them to cope with grief and loss.

If you know a grieving child or teen (6-17 yo) who would benefit from this experience, camper applications are now being accepted. Camper applications are due March 26th.

For more information, please watch the following video, or visit Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice or https://kemphospice.org/camp-erinfor details and application forms. 

Camp Erin: Where Children and Teens Learn to Grieve and Heal

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Am honoured to volunteer with Camp Erin. It is indeed a remarkable community and one that nurtures capacity in children and youth to grieve the death of a loved one.

"Children and teens ages 6-17 attend a transformational weekend camp that combines traditional, fun camp activities with grief education and emotional support, free of charge for all families. Led by grief professionals and trained volunteers, Camp Erin provides a unique opportunity for youth to increase levels of hope, enhance self-esteem, and especially to learn that they are not alone.

Camp Erin is offered in every Major League Baseball city as well as additional locations across the U.S. and Canada. The Moyer Foundation partners with hospices and bereavement organizations to bring hope and healing to thousands of grieving children and teens each year.

Camp Erin allows youth to:

  • Tell their story in a safe environment
  • Process grief in healthy ways
  • Meet friends facing similar circumstances
  • Learn they are not alone
  • Build a tool-box of coping skills
  • Honor and memorialize loved ones
  • Have fun!"

Source: Camp Erin. The Moyer Foundation 

For information on Camp Erin locations in Ontario, please visit: Camp Erin Hamilton; Camp Erin Toronto; Camp Erin Eastern Ontario; Camp Erin Montreal

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What people talk about before they die

“I visit people who are dying -- in their homes, in hospitals, in nursing homes. And if you were to ask me the same question -- What do people who are sick and dying talk about with the chaplain? -- I, without hesitation or uncertainty, would give you the same answer. Mostly, they talk about their families: about their mothers and fathers, their sons and daughters.

They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave. Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe never felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally.”

What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone #Grief

"It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control."

Starting the Conversation: Death Cafe debuts in Burlington.

Tell someone you’re headed to a Death Café and no doubt their expression morphs into something between bewilderment and abject horror.

Odd words to toss together, and the name conjures up all sorts of somber, gloomy thoughts.

But Death Cafes are not morbid, depressing places, nor are they gathering spots for zombies. ‘Patrons’ don’t dress in black or ghoulishly discuss death while sipping tea.

Death Cafes are, in fact, respectful spaces where people of all ages can congregate to chat informally, often with complete strangers, about death and dying.

And who would choose to do that?

As it turns out, quite a few people; enough so, that there was a waiting list for the first ever Burlington Death Café last week at city hall.

The “very brave souls” and “trailblazers” - as organizers called attendees - ranged in age from their 40s to 80s.

Death Cafes are based on an “international movement” that originated in the UK and they are designed to begin a conversation about an uncomfortable, often taboo, subject – death.

There is no agenda or objectives at Death Cafes,” explained Roxanne Torbiak, of The End Game, which partnered with Carpenter Hospice to present the event. (Originally scheduled for the grounds outside city hall but moved indoors because of sweltering temperatures)

“It is simply a conversation that happens over coffee, tea and cake. Interesting conversation and laughter is guaranteed,” she said.

Among participants at the local Death Café were those whose professions routinely deal with death, but there were others from all walks of life and faiths who simply wanted to share and listen, people who felt the initiative an important conduit in opening up a very important discussion in the city.

“It’s really an introduction to the community. We want to create awareness and offer safe spaces for people to come together and talk about dying and death,” said C. Elizabeth Dougherty, a hospice palliative care social worker and educator.

“We want to reach out to everyone, all ages, and normalize it for people, whether they’ve been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness or whether they’re living healthy, fruitful lives.

“We want to create safe spaces for people to come together, to talk about their fears, their questions, their concerns, share their experience and really normalize this conversation.”

In their respective jobs as minister and palliative care consultant, Joel Bootsma and Villy Simonetta are all too familiar with death.

“Some people are very grounded in faith and meet it with courage, even joy; some with fear or worry,” said Bootsma, a Christian Reform Church minister, who was “interested in finding out what the community is wrestling with over this issue.”

As witness to extremes in how people deal with dying and death, Simonetta loves the idea of taking that fear out of death.

“It is part of life. It’s a beautiful experience when we’re born and as we go through the journey of life, it’s something we’re facing so let’s face it the best way we can, spiritually, (and) with love (and) compassion,” said Simonetta.

“I’ve seen some incredibly beautiful experiences where families are prepared; they’re very spiritual and it’s an intimate bonding time. Whereas some families struggle so much, they don’t want to let go and I struggle with that too because I see their struggle. You’re trying to support them in that whole process.”

In Buddhism, it’s about making death peaceful and quiet so one can let go of this world easily, commented Deborah Klassen, centre director of a Tibetan Buddhist Centre.

Participant Ann Dion was “privileged” to have been present for her husband’s, mother’s and mother-in-law’s death and

she feels strongly that the topic needs to be open and shared.

“We can’t be frightened because it’s there, it’s not going away,” said Dion. “(It’s like) If you don’t talk about it, it’s not going to happen.”

The Death Café was a natural supplement to Carpenter Hospice’s new Compassionate City Charter, said Bonnie Tompkins, Carpenter’s community health coordinator,

The hospice has based its charter on a UK model, and worked closely with the city to create “a framework of 12 social changes” to put Burlington on the path towards being a more compassionate city, said Tompkins.

“It’s all about building capacity in the community to support people because the reality is, the population is aging and the medical system can only do so much,” said Tompkins.

Many people don’t realize that healthcare professionals aren’t given training and education on dying and death and how to care beyond the medical model, or how to have those intimate, essential conversations about the psychosocial impacts of dying and death, said Dougherty.

“It’s about encouraging and empowering people to have these conversations with their families, friends and healthcare providers about advanced care planning, and their values and wishes for end of life care, said Dougherty, who co-founded The End Game, with Torbiak to provide professionally facilitated education and training sessions to normalize living and dying.

There is the demystifying piece to the movement, but the charter is also about embedding with community organizations to build bridges and links, said Tompkins.

“These conversations are so timely too because we know that only 16-30 per cent of Canadians actually have access to hospice palliative care services, so certainly funding and access is a concern,” said Dougherty.

Thankfully, she added, the quality of living and dying is on the national landscape, so it’s an especially important time to have these conversations, to raise awareness, and build a groundswell of public support.

Both Tompkins, who was sole caregiver for her terminally ill partner, and Dougherty, who has been immersed in palliative care for 17 years, said their experiences have taught them that open communication with loved ones is critical.

“Families are incredibly conflicted and very much wanting to be open and honest with each other, but the fear of not knowing what to say, or how to say it, or just the worry about the sadness. …denial is an incredible coping strategy for many people,” said Dougherty.

“The families I see that manage best certainly are those that have those open conversations, admittedly difficult conversations. It’s ok to be sad, it’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to be frustrated but it’s important to share what’s on your mind,” said Dougherty.

Last week marked the first Death Café in Burlington, but it’s certainly not the last, said Dougherty.

At the launch of the Compassionate City Charter this fall, organizers hope to have two simultaneous Death Cafes on Oct. 8, which happens to be World Hospice Palliative Care Day.

“We’re just getting started; we’re starting a revolution,” smiled Dougherty.

If You’re Grieving, You’re Not Alone. Here Are 15 Stories That May Help.

“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.” 

The Quiet Blessing of Grief That Never Ends

“If you’re feeling sorry for me, please, don’t. During the hours I was tossed by this unanticipated wave of sorrow, I knew I could tolerate my sadness. Time has taught me that these waves come — and then go.

Perhaps more surprising, even as I lay curled in a soggy heap, I felt grateful for this wallop of forever-after grief. It provided reassurance that my sister hasn’t faded to a beloved, but distant, memory. Instead, for those hours, Pooz was once again a vivid presence in my mind and heart. There was pain, yes, but there was also the solace of knowing that she is still very much with me.

I count that as a blessing. Amen.”

How To Support A Young Person Through Grief

“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. Fun #Camp for #Children and #Youth with #Grief #Support and #Education @moyerfoundation

“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.”

Wonderful #Books that #Help #Children #Grieve and Make Sense of #Death @brainpickings #hpm

“From Japanese pop-up magic to Scandinavian storytelling to Maurice Sendak, a gentle primer on the messiness of mourning and the many faces and phases of grief.”

#Grieving When You’re an #Introvert

"The process of mourning and grieving is hard for everyone, but there are elements of the losing a loved one than can feel especially difficult when you’re an introvert.

As an introvert myself, when I was mourning the death of my parents, so many of the traditional parts of the mourning process felt very invasive to me. For instance, people coming over to my house after the funeral. I had just been taking care of ailing parents and planning a funeral and now I have to have people over? I know that everyone meant well, but having people in my home, some of them I barely knew, felt very unsettling. And then came the inevitable questions, are you going to sell the house, are going to move and what are going to do now?"

MyGrief.ca helps you to understand and work through your #Grief. @VirtualHospice

"MyGrief.ca Because losing someone is hard. MyGrief.ca helps you to understand and work through your grief.

  • Confidential
  • 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"

Important Conversations with Experts in the Field about #Dying and #Death. #hpm

Important conversation about supporting quality of life and the need for universal access to Palliative Care - the comprehensive care supporting individuals and families facing a life-limiting illness from time of diagnosis to end-of-life and into bereavement.

#Canadian Virtual #Hospice. Information and #Support on #Palliative and #End-of-Life #Care, #Loss and #Grief. @VirtualHospice

"The Canadian Virtual Hospice provides support and personalized information about palliative and end-of-life care to patients, family members, health care providers, researchers and educators."

#Dying is Inevitable. #Living is Not. "#Love is Stonger Than #Death" Rest in Awesome Esther.

"Wayne Earl reveals the power of living and loving life by sharing the wisdom of his daughter, Esther Earl, who lost her battle with cancer just before her 16th birthday. Esther's courage, positive spirit and hope for the future transformed all who knew her. She showed the world what it meant to live life before death (via her well known vlogs and blogs) and that love is the engine of life. Esther Earl shared her spark of possibility with great generosity and was the inspiration for author John Green's #1 New York Times bestseller, The Fault In our Stars.

Wayne Earl recently authored the compelling life story of his daughter, Esther Grace, who succumbed to cancer shortly before her 16th birthday. Before she died, a deepening friendship with her favorite author, John Green, greatly encouraged her. The friendship also inspired Mr. Green, most notably in his writing of the world- renowned novel, The Fault in Our Stars, which he dedicated to Esther. The Earl Family founded the non-profit organization, This Star Won't Go Out, to help ease the financial burdens of families caring for children with cancer."

The Unexpected #Grief Of The Unknowing

"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."

How We #Grieve: the Messiness of #Mourning and Learning to Live with #Loss. @meghanor

“It’s not a question of getting over it or healing. No; it’s a question of learning to live with this transformation. For the loss is transformative, in good ways and bad, a tangle of change that cannot be threaded into the usual narrative spools. It is too central for that. It’s not an emergence from the cocoon, but a tree growing around an obstruction.”

A #Daughter Pays Homage to Her #Parents With an Intimate Look at #Love and #Loss. @nancyborowick #hpm

"One can only truly understand and appreciate life when faced with one’s own mortality. Nobody wants to talk about death, but it is one of the only things that is certain in life, so an awareness of this finitude allowed my family to take advantage of the time we had left together. “Cancer Family, Ongoing” is the story of family, looking at the experiences of two parents who were in parallel treatment for stage four cancer, side by side. The project looks at love and life in the face of death. It honors my parents’ memory by focusing on their strength and love, both individually and together, and shares the story of their final chapters, which came to a close just 364 days apart from one another."

Surrounded by #pain, #doctors turn to poetry, writing to #cope with #loss

"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..."