Archive for Books & Resources

Hospice and the Next Breath

One of our hospice patients was SOB. No, I didn’t say that patient was a son-of-a . . .!

Like scuba (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus), Nabisco (National Biscuit Company) or a laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation), the hospice/medical use of SOB is an acronym.

Which is to say the patient was short of breath. When a patient’s medical history is recorded, acronyms play a key role in sharing and keeping information brief. Until I started working at hospice, I hadn’t seen MOM used for milk of magnesia . . . but there it was, betwixt lasix (a medication dealing with water retention in the body) and MSIR (morphine sulfate instant release).

Under any circumstances, being short of breath is scary.

Once, in a middle school football game, I had breath knocked out of me. Yes, I remember that far back, and that experience! For several precious seconds, I struggled to breathe. As kids, we may feel indestructible—but in that long, literally breathless moment, a hint of mortality created fear. In my late twenties, in prime physical health, I hiked to the top of Mt. Whitney. At 14,505 feet it’s the highest peak in California’s Sierra Nevada (and outside of Alaska, taller than any other mountain in the United States). Nearing 13,000 feet, I wondered why my breath felt labored and my stride had slowed. It was like trudging through molasses. Less oxygen! Read More →

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Words Help, Except When They Don’t

Books all around. (I like books!)

Books all around. (I like books!)

Books about dying, death, and grief surround me in my office. There are additional like-minded books in digital form on my tablet.

Do any of them truly help me understand the grief I’ve experienced in my life, or help those I try to support as they grieve a loved one’s death?

And what about the workshops, seminars, and webinars I’ve attended? Helpful? Not helpful?

The resources I’ve casually thumbed through or read and re-read, and the experts who have shared their wisdom in person or online, have added to my knowledge. And, given my love of books, and that I like to keep growing as a professional, I’ll probably buy the next well-reviewed memoir about grief or register for a webinar touting unique research about hospice care. Read More →

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Home, Please

Home, please . . .

Home, please . . .Where do you want to die?

Where do you want to die?

This is not a popular question. In a conversation that matters with people who matter in your life, it’s tough to ask, maybe tougher to answer.

There are an assortment of questions that are easily answered or cleverly avoided: do you have a crush on that girl/boy, what’s your major, did you serve in the military, what’s your favorite team, are you two getting married, what do you do for a living, what will you name your child, what’s for dinner, and should we buy a house or keep renting? Questions are age-related or relationship-based or inspired by situations. We all ask them, since they help us get to know another person. When we ask them, we may also be wondering about our own responses. At the least, these queries—and so many others—help keep an encounter lively and ongoing and . . .

However, the “Where do you want to die?” question is likely a conversation killer. Who wants to make the time for that question? It’s morbid. It’s personal. It’s upsetting.

Is it easier to answer the question’s flip side? Where don’t you want to die? Read More →

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