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5 End of Life Lessons

Elder Suicide: What to Look for

When we are forced to think about the end of our lives, we get nervous. We would rather think about anything else. But, you would be surprised at how our thinking will change when we are facing the end of our life. Here are 5 end of life lessons from experts.

5 End of Life Lessons

 

5 End of Life Lessons

 

Healthy people often focus on all the details in their busy lives and lose the ability to put things in perspective. You need to adopt different attitudes and values that people who are dying have. This can make your life better.

1. Adjust Your Priorities

It’s easy to take your friends and family for granted when you are busy. It seems like everything else comes first. Remember to stop and appreciate any meaningful relationships you have.

2. Make Time for Loved Ones

Again, when you are busy, you can forget to make time for those who are close to you. If you make them most important, you will show that you care. It will also make you feel less stressed out.

3. Have Meaningful Conversations

Having emotional talks is hard. It’s the last thing we want to do sometimes.

You may not like to apologize, look for forgiveness, or give feelings of love or thankfulness often. It’s awkward and makes you vulnerable.

Or maybe you think the people you love already know how you feel.

It’s good to have these conversations though. It can make you feel closer to those around you.

4. Don’t Hesitate to Share Deep Feelings

Like with meaningful conversations, we don’t often share any deep feelings that we have either. In fact, many families don’t talk about feelings unless something bad happened.

If someone you love died and you didn’t share how you feel, you would be filled with regret.

But, if you do share your feelings, especially before someone’s passing, it will bring you closer to them.

5. Prepare for the Worst

It’s always good to be prepared. This means having all the proper documentation that’s needed for your passing.

This can mean electing someone to make medical decisions for you if you aren’t able to do it yourself. Or sign “do not resuscitate” paperwork.

It’s hard to do, but ultimately it helps your loved ones. It makes them less stressed and they know what you want. They don’t have to guess.

Read more here.

5 Life Lessons from the Oldest Seniors Around

How to Care for Seniors During Covid-19

People think that the elderly don’t have any lessons to give, but they’re wrong. Author, John Leland interviewed seniors in his book Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old. Here are 5 life lessons from the book that the oldest seniors around gave.

5 Life Lessons from the Oldest Seniors Around

5 Life Lessons From the Oldest Seniors

 

Here are a few simple things you can do to enhance your life as you get older.

1. Don’t Let Age Define You

The seniors in this book defy cliches and expectations. These people ranging from 87 to 92, are full fledge people with their own personalities.

They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, wives, and husbands. Age doesn’t change them. It’s not a problem to be fixed. It’s a stage of life like anything else.

2. Still Set Personal Goals

Just because you get older doesn’t mean that you have to stop being ambitious. Whether it’s personal or for something more professional, setting goals will keep you strong.

It can even be as small as finding something that makes you happy everyday.

3. Focus on What You Can Do

It’s easy to get stuck in a downward spiral of all the things you’ve lost. Leland found that in this age group, people who do things that interest them have the most satisfaction.

They focus on what they can do instead of what they can’t.

4.  Be Adaptable

Don’t let a change of circumstance limit your life. Just because one thing changes, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.

For example, someone who has a hard time moving around, may decide to use a wheelchair. While some may think this is restrictive, it opens up their world. They can go more places and be comfortable.

5. Embrace the Changes in Your Life

Change is hard, and as much as we want to pretend we have control, we don’t. For some people who are older, their roles will change. They might be getting help from their kids, instead of the other way around.

This isn’t a bad thing though. You can still be emotionally supportive of those who are helping you physically.

Read more about these lessons here.

Meet an Artist Who Draws End of Life Visions

Meet an Artist Who Draws End of Life Visions

Lynn Randolph is an artist with a mission. At the Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, she draws the end of life visions of the dying. She creates brief, but intimate, relationships with these dying patients and their caregivers.

Meet an Artist Who Draws End of Life Visions

“Heaven,” a colored pencil sketch of the scene a patient described. Lynn Randolph

The Art

 

Her work is sponsored by a nonprofit organization called Collage: The Art for Cancer Network, which was inspired by a Georgia O’Keeffe quote, “I found I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way, things I had no words for.”

Randolph talks to people from all walks of life. There was a man in his 60s who grew up near beaches. She asked him her standard question of if he had an image in his mind that had meaning for him. He told her a raindrop he saw before he was admitted, he talked about how far it traveled and it endured a storm to be there at that moment.

So she pondered the image, she writes:

I thought about the image. The drop would dissolve and be absorbed into the earth, like all of us. I drew what he was describing: a window looking out on subtle shapes of trees and bushes, a narrow path obscured by slanting lines of rain, and in the center of the pane, a raindrop. He took the drawing and held it closely. There was his raindrop, a small oval shape on a piece of white paper. He looked at me as if we had discovered the universe.

She asks the patients what they love, what has meaning to them. Because of this she has drawn everything from a beach to Mickey Mouse with angel wings.

Why She Does This

 

Randolph’s husband was a patient at MD Anderson and died in 2000. She was heartbroken. It took time and many paintings to process her grief. Which gave her the idea that art could help others. While at first doctors were skeptical, they now embrace what Randolph can do. They even refer her to patients.

See Randolph’s beautiful artwork here.

Single People are Concerned About End of Life Arrangements

Dogs in Funeral Homes

Older single people are concerned about end of life arrangements. End of life arrangements can be difficult to think about, let alone execute. Then there is the matter of taking care of their affects after the fact. Many don’t want to place the burden on their loved ones and are worried what’s going to happen. Here are some tips to ease single people’s mind.

Single People are Concerned About End of Life Arrangements

Single People are Concerned About End of Life Arrangements

 

Try to pre-plan your own funeral arrangements. Many people say they want to but few actually do. A research study by the Funeral and Memorial Information Council said “69 percent of adults over the age of 40 indicated they would prefer to pre-arrange their own service; however, only 17 percent had made arrangements.”

Married or not married this is helpful because you will know that it’s taken care of and there will be less stress for everyone involved. Check out cemeteries and funeral homes to check out pricing and planning options. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of experts.

Talk about last wishes with people you trust, whether friends or siblings. Have a discussion about how you would like to be remembered. You can even bring someone you trust with you as you tour cemeteries and funeral homes. Try to be okay with death and that one day you will die. It will hard but hopefully preplanning things will bring you peace of mind.

Check out the whole article here.

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, helps take care of people the last few months of their lives. She started to notice a pattern with the regrets her patients had, so she decided to start recording them. Here are the top 5 regrets of the dying, that she has seen. Maybe we can all learn something from them.

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

 

The first is not living the life they wanted, instead living the life that was expected of them. It’s easy to look back at your life and see all the things that you didn’t do. It’s hard to realize that there isn’t time to go and do those things.

The second regret is that people wished they hadn’t worked so much. This particular regret came from every male patient that Ware had, while some women mentioned it, they were not the breadwinner of the family. Many of the men missed their partner’s presence and their kids growing up.

Third, is that wish they could have expressed their emotions more. Whether they were afraid of getting hurt, or trying to keep the peace they shoved their feelings down.

The fourth regret is that they wished they saw their friends more.

The fifth, and final, regret is that they wish they had let themselves be happier.

Check out the whole article here.

What can Dreams of the Dying Teach Us

What can Dreams of the Dying Teach Us

When loved ones are close to death, they often talk about seeing people from their past; parents, sibling, friends. They talk about traveling somewhere. They have vivid dreams. But what can dreams of the dying teach us?

What can Dreams of the Dying Teach Us

What can Dreams of the Dying Teach Us

 

Christopher Kerr, chief medical officer at Hospice Buffalo, was fascinated with what dreams could mean in predicting death. It has often been documented that the dying have vivid dreams but there was never any science to follow up on it.

Kerr decided to look into it and created a study with 59 terminally ill patients who had no cognitive impairments in New York. The study conducted over 450 interviews with the participants. The goal was to understand the frequency of these dreams and if they could predict when death would occur. The result was incredible.

“‘It was striking — it was a dramatic increase in frequency of dreams and visions and particularly in seeing the deceased (as death neared),’ he said. Sometimes, the patients went back to childhood in the dreams. Veterans “returned” to war.”

The study also found that:

  • 88 percent of the patients had at least one dream or vision, they reported

 

  • 99 percent believed that their visions or dreams were real

 

  • Traveling, or preparing to go, somewhere was a common theme

 

  • 60 percent of the dreams or visions were comforting; 19 were distressing and 21 percent were neither

 

  • The most common dreams and visions were of living or dead loved ones

 

  • As death neared, comforting dreams of deceased loved ones (including pets) became more common

 

  • There were distinct differences between the dreams/visions and delirium

 

One dying woman talked and acted like she was holding an infant named Danny. No one in her family knew what she was talking about until her sister said that the woman’s first child was a stillborn and she had named him Danny. None of her children knew of this about her.

Another woman told researchers that she had a dream of people coming to touch her arm or hand. On the left side were complete strangers and on the right were loved ones that had passed away. She described the dream as comforting.

There are many more examples of these dreams. You can check them all out here.

DIY Coffin Builders

Death can be scary to think about and expensive. A group of elderly DIY-ers in New Zealand decided to tackle both problems by building their own coffins. The Coffin Club created by Katie Williams, 76, is a nonprofit that teaches members how to design and construct coffins. Basically Williams teaches them how to be DIY coffin builders.

DIY Coffin Builders

DIY Coffin Builders

 

The coffins are not run of the mill though. Take Davo’s coffin, he wanted to be a go-kart racer but that dream was never realized. So when he was diagnosed with brain cancer, he became the first member of The Coffin Club and created a go-kart coffin: it was painted in camouflage, had four wheels with black tires and silver hubcaps, an intricately carved grill, a steering wheel, a vanity license plate with his name in all caps, and the number 43 emblazoned on either side.

Not all the coffins are as quirky as Davo’s. William’s  is simple, covered with burgundy wallpaper and has six handles, connected to a broomstick on each side. There is an Elvis coffin, a former dancer’s extravagant coffin that mimics her life, one shaped like a piano, one with a boat motor and delicate lace, one is for a farmer and he put pictures of his favorite animals in it, and one gentleman put a pocket in his so that he could take his wallet with him, to prove a point.

Since it’s beginning in 2010, The Coffin Club has helped hundreds create their own coffins and has spread out from the one renovated warehouse to all over New Zealand and Australia. Williams actually created the club after talking to other students at the University of the Third Age, a global organization that offers study programs for seniors. She told them she wanted to build her own coffin. People seemed interested so she thought this might be a good idea. Williams said,

“The idea of a do-it-yourself coffin-making club may have been a logical next step for her after a career as a midwife and, more recently, a palliative care nurse. ‘It’s certainly made me more empathetic to the beginning of life and the end of life.'”

Williams brings her empathy for the beginning and the end of life in the baby coffins she creates and donates to local hospitals. Each has a teddy inside. The Coffin Club helps families through the procedures of a funeral. They provide booklets on how to manage everything without going to a funeral parlor, which can be expensive. One member paid about $1,700 NZ, or $1,200 US, for the coffin supplied by the funeral parlor. Her own Coffin Club version, built from inexpensive fibreboard, will cost about $250 NZ, or $180 US.

“We can do a funeral for $1,000 NZ ($710 US), compared with $12,000 to $14,000 NZ ($8,500 to $10,000 US),” Williams observes. “We did that for my brother and it showed him for what he was, rather than what he wasn’t, which is a mahogany-and-gold bloke; he was a farmer.”

Volunteers come to show how to properly create coffins and people who have finished theirs stay around. The Coffin Club has become a way to be social. A lot of the members are living alone and feel isolated. Here they can be with like minded people. Some read, some do crossword puzzles, other help others who are starting their own creation. They bring homemade goodies to eat while sitting around and chatting. The motto of the Coffin Club is “None of Us is Afraid” and they certainly are fearless.

Check out the whole article here.