Archive for Death

On the Wings of a Dove

Where do you want to be buried?

Please, bury me in a wild place. Scatter my ashes so that a wandering human or animal won’t notice any differences in the place where my remains have mixed with the earth.

I recall thinking those wild musings while searching for graves at a local cemetery. This cemetery saunter was a few years ago, when I was serving as a church’s pastor.

Why was I exploring a “stone garden?” Back in the 1930s, a certain Jane Q. Smith (not her real name) had given three cemetery plots to her church. Since the transfer of ownership occurred in the Great Depression, was it a valiant effort by the dearly departed Ms. Smith to boost church finances? Or was she dumping all of her rotten husband’s assets during a humiliating divorce? Who knew? Read More →

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Hospice: Apt or Likely to Change

“However,” the hospice nurse continued while describing a patient, “right now she is very labile.”

Huh?

As the nurse shared additional information about the patient to the rest of the hospice team, my feeble mind wandered. I like to think I’m pretty knowledgeable about words. I keep my dictionary near my desk. I pay attention to new words in the books I read. Searching for word meanings and histories on the web may give me as much pleasure as when a pitcher throws a strikeout or an attorney finds the key witness for a case. But I had no idea what labile meant.

Later (of course!), I looked it up. It’s pronounced Lay-Bile. According to an online dictionary, it means . . .

  1. Apt or likely to change.
  2. Chemistry. (of a compound) capable of changing state or becoming inactive when subjected to heat or radiation.

Now I understood that the nurse’s patient was rapidly changing. Maybe the patient had been able to walk not long before but had become bed bound. Maybe yesterday or last week, she’d been preparing her own meals, but now required assistance. Maybe pain had dramatically increased and additional medications would need to be considered.

In hospice, change happens frequently and quickly. In other words, patients are labile, and rarely by choice. Read More →

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Sauntering Along the Hospice Path

It was the pause.

The silence.

I won’t reveal details, but when I called a woman grieving her husband’s death, we talked about several things. Some were trivial. Some involved how her adult children were doing. Some concerned upcoming decisions that she faced.

Then I asked her a question.

And that pause came.

One of my responsibilities at the hospice where I work is to phone grievers after a loved one’s death. Many don’t want to talk for long, though they seem to appreciate the contact. Occasionally, the ones I call drive me batty! They answer and immediately say they can’t talk. Why? They’re at work or shopping or there’s a thousand good reasons . . . so why’d they even answer!?

However.

Could it be they simply (and understandably) don’t want to talk to the guy from hospice? They don’t want more tears falling or throat constricting. They’d rather avoid the memories that might rush in, unbidden and with the force of a typhoon. Read More →

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