Archive for Books & Resources – Page 2

Deceptive Grief

Not long ago, the hospice where I work sponsored a Saturday conference on grief.

There were workshops, from hands-on experiences like creating memory scrapbooks to offering current research-based insights into the whys and whats of grief. A labyrinth was available for walking, inviting symbolic journeys for individual reflection. I co-lead a section on writing to explore personal grief through words.

I think most participants had a meaningful time.

However, I’m confident many knew about the conference but were “no shows.” Maybe they wanted to take part, but didn’t possess the energy to leave the house. Maybe they wanted to take part, but hesitated about going alone. Maybe they wanted to take part, but couldn’t stand the thought of being around others. There might be strangers present, which could be overwhelming. There might be friends present, which could be overwhelming. They didn’t want to cry. They didn’t want to be around others who cried. They were afraid there wouldn’t be anything worth learning. They were afraid they might learn something and be confronted with change.

Excuses, like springtime weeds, are prolific. Read More →

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The Little Blue Book

The "Little Blue Book"

The “Little Blue Book”

It’s often referred to as the “little blue book.” Or more simply, hospice’s “blue book.” For hospice professionals, the “blue book” may be the most familiar and commonly used resource given to patients and families.

Everybody should have a copy and read it.

But no one wants to. And no one should want to, until it’s time.

Barbara Karnes, a hospice nurse, published what amounted to a fancy pamphlet in 1985 entitled “Gone From My Sight.” Millions and millions of copies later, the blue-covered book with the picture of a ship on the front remains in print. The official title—“Gone From My Sight”—was inspired by a poem that described death as sailing away from one shore and toward a distant, unseen shore. The poem has easy-to-understand imagery and doesn’t emphasize one religious experience over another. Neither does it, because it uses metaphoric language, ignore the spirituality of dying and death, of fearing and preparing for the last moments with a loved one. Or for the first moments without that loved one. Read More →

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We Are All Fractured

X-ray of a patient's pathological fracture . . .

X-ray of a patient’s pathological fracture . . .

Along with the primary diagnosis of cancer, a hospice nurse rapidly and efficiently listed her patient’s other health issues at our team meeting. One of the patient’s concerns was . . . “pathological fracture.”

To which I thought, “Huh? What?”

I first thought of pathological liar, a phrase I’ve read in novels and seen in films. Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar from 1997 humorously came to mind. There he played a lawyer who frequently and thoughtlessly lied. Lying for Carrey’s character was no different than breathing. But did the familiar “pathological liar” have anything to do with “pathological fracture?”

In the realm of words, there’s a common ground because of “pathology,” or the study of diseases. Lying about everything, though funny in a movie, will hurt, and can be diagnosed as an illness. Lying cripples a person and profoundly impacts every relationship. A pathological fracture literally cripples a patient. When cancer and other diseases weaken the body, a costly side effect may include fractured bones. I’ve broken a finger, nose and leg and know how painful a break can be. But some kind of foolishness or unavoidable accident caused my problems. My bad bone history involved bike rides, basketball games and a tumble down a mountain slope. From minor to major inconvenience, they were all part of an “Oops!” However, “Oops” doesn’t seem an appropriate response for a bone fractured because cancer has ravaged an arm or leg. Read More →

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