Archive for Holidays

My Hospice Holiday Wishes

In the final days of this month, and during this season of so many holidays for many religions and cultures, I wanted to use my “magic wand” to give an ideal gift to others.

Oh, how I wish I could wield a wand so powerful . . .

Below are the honest words and hopeful actions that I would offer for those involved with hospice.

And we are all part of hospice. About 2,600,000 people annually die in the United States. Using statistics only on those served by Medicare in 2015, there were over 1,300,000 people enrolled in hospice care. While those simplistic and rounded-off “facts” represent different sources, I’m confident that about half of the annual deaths in the United States involve hospice. The odds are extraordinarily high that everyone, at some point in their life, will either be helped by hospice or have a friend or family member in hospice care.

Some of my wishes are simple. Some are overly optimistic. Some are more practical and obvious than wearing warm clothes on a cold day.

I limited myself to 3 wishes for each “person.”

Please, tell me what your wish might be! (I’d love to hear from you.)

Even more important, when thinking about your “wishes” for life and death, for living and dying, for you and your loved ones, for today and whatever tomorrow might bring . . . tell your wishes to the people most important to you. Read More →

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Speaking the Name, Among Friends and Strangers

Last week, at my hospice’s annual Lights of Love ceremony, music was played, candles became flamed reminders of deceased loved ones, a “holiday tree” was lighted in the midst of a busy outdoor mall, and nearly four hundred beloved names were read aloud.

Lights of Love is one of the simplest things we do for the year-end holidays.

Lights of Love is one of the best things we do, especially for grievers facing a holiday season that can seem . . . endless.

I was one of the readers, probably speaking close to a hundred names, one after the other, on a portable stage, surrounded by a crowd of “strangers.” And yet not strangers. With candles held aloft (real, drippy, cheap, wonderful, burn-to-a-nub wax candles), with kids crying and playing and wriggling, with shoppers scurrying from store to store, with a Santa’s Workshop plying its trade not far behind the stage, I read names written in large permanent ink on 3×5 cards.

In the California town where I live, there’s an abundance of ethnic groups. We have first and tenth generation folks here from lands afar. We have parents that dubbed their children with wondrous names that could be pronounced in a multitude of ways. The hospice volunteers filling out the 3×5 cards often ran out of paper real estate and squeezed vowels and consonants together.

In the dark, with barely enough light, reading was an adventure! Read More →

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The Guy in the Sweater Who Loved Me

During this delightful season of holy days and holidays, how can we best remember those we loved the most?

Or would we, while stumbling through this exhausting, frazzled season of empty chairs and hollow celebrations, prefer to find a way to forget—ignore, erase, mute, move past—those we loved (hated) the most . . . and miss (don’t miss) the most?

Fill in the blank for you: holidays are the most __________ time of the year.

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That’s me in the photo above. On the left. (Oh, you guessed that?)

My hair is gray now. Read More →

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