Friday, January 29, 2021

The Power of Forgiveness at End of Life

Care Dimensions chaplain Rev. Donna Spencer Collins, M.Div. shares her experience witnessing the importance of forgiveness and peace at the end of life -- both for the person doing the forgiving and the person who is being forgiven.  

On the wall in my living room hangs a banner with this quote:

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”- Mother Teresa

Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, my niece and nephew came to live with us. And not long after, their father was diagnosed with cancer. I had known Steve for 20 years and believed he had done many unforgivable things. Nevertheless, he was homeless with terminal cancer. Although he fell short, he loved his kids. Inviting him to stay with us was the right thing to do.

A few nights before he came, I sat in my living room after everyone had gone to bed and wondered if I was making a big mistake. While I wrestled with the decision, Mother Teresa’s words challenged me. The kids – 11 and 15 years old – and their dad belonged to each other, and we needed to figure out how to bring peace.
Anger, then trust
Steve moved in and hated that he had to do this. He was very angry that he was sick. He was angry that he had to come live with us when he did not like us. But the biggest issue he was angry about was that his secret was out in the open, having come to the U.S. illegally in 1973. Because of this, he did not qualify for many medical services. Nevertheless, Hospice of the North Shore (now Care Dimensions) treated this man with compassion and respect. It took him time to trust his hospice team, but the caring and resources he received began to change his demeanor.

A few months after living with us, Steve came into the kitchen and told me that we needed to talk. He said, “You know that banner in the living room facing my bed? I read it every night. And lately I have been wondering about my friend ‘Mario’ (not his real name). We had a big fight a few years ago and have not spoken since. He is like my brother and I realize not forgiving him has kept me away from him. I have no peace because I forgot he belongs to me.”

As Steve spoke, he wept openly and shared the story of their separation. A few days later he decided to go see Mario, who owned a small grocery store. He returned with two big bags of groceries. Smiling from ear to ear, he shouted, “We belong to each other again!”
Forgiveness leads to peace

Steve lived with us for 10 months before he passed peacefully surrounded by love. A love that was free to behold because he remembered – then we remembered – that we belonged to each other.

Forgiveness is the pathway to peace and belonging. Steve found his way to peace and belonging by unknowingly meditating on a few simple words.

Forgiveness is not given because someone deserves it. It is given because the offended person is ready to forgive.

Forgiveness is my letting go of my need to punish someone else and my desire to stop carrying around the hurt and anger someone caused me.

I am convinced that forgiveness at end of life can bring healing to the person who is doing the forgiving and to the person who is being forgiven. It can also impact the family and relationships beyond the family circle. Forgiveness demonstrates a precious model to those who are watching how we die.

About the author
Rev. Donna Spencer Collins, M.Div., is Pastor of the Phoenix Rising United Church of Christ in Groveland, MA, and a chaplain with Care Dimensions.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Heart ‘n Home Volunteers Help Fulfill Janice’s Wish

Even during a public health emergency, hospice and palliative care professionals rise to the challenge of providing compassionate, person-centered care in the community. Heart ‘n Home Hospice shares how dedicated volunteers fulfilled a special wish for a patient. 

“Janice Schroeder started doing needlework when she was young. She worked with her grandma, making samplers when she was 12 years old. As time went on, she learned to knit, crochet, and do needlepoint. She believes a person’s hands should be busy. Even now as an 89-year-old, who has trouble seeing and is unable to remember how to “cast on” for knitting, she still fidgets with something in her hands, sometimes just her blanket, but always something,” Janice’s daughter Sue Richard shares.

Sue continues, “She began the Jungle Needlepoint project about 10 years ago. Janice has never done anything halfheartedly, so she purchased the expensive kit, had a needlework table made, and began her project. There was no way Janice could foresee her husband’s need for her constant attention was coming. Her husband, LeRoy, had a degenerative eye disease, as well as other health issues. He passed away, at 97 years old, after 40 years of marriage to Janice, in July 2019. Although she had a few years of working on the project, she just hasn’t been able to find the energy to start on it again.

This needlepoint project has made many moves and has been in Janice’s mind, but still, her body just was not able to continue it. Now, the wonderful Volunteers at Heart ‘n Home have taken on this massive project and have already put countless hours into it. Janice would love to see the project finished before her time is up, but she understands what a big challenge it is to find the time to work on something so time-consuming.”

In September, Janice was able to see the progress being made on the project.

Since then, the faithful Heart ‘n Home Volunteers, have completed her project. Volunteer Jan put in 50 hours of work then passed the project on.

Volunteer LaDonna took over the project and completed it, putting in 150 hours. These two ladies made over 71,000 stitches and put in 200 hours that fulfilled Janice’s wish to have this needlepoint completed so that it could be enjoyed by others.

Once it was completed, Janice’s daughter, Sue, was able to deliver the needlepoint to her mother. Janice was thrilled to see the piece finished. She reminisced about how she bought the kit from a “beautiful shop” in Newport, Oregon. She chose the piece because she liked the birds on it. Sue is going to hang the needlepoint in her mother’s room to enjoy.

Janice’s family is very, very grateful to the volunteers for taking on the needlepoint project, and they appreciate every single person who has put their hearts and souls into it. This is going to be a wonderful heirloom for Janice’s family. Thank you LaDonna and Jan!

You can watch Sue deliver the finished piece to her mother. 

If you would like to share the creative ways your hospice and palliative care team is caring for patients amid the COVID-19 crisis, please send us your photos and stories so you can be featured in the #hapcFacesOfCaring campaign.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Still Time to Order a 2021 NHPCO Webinar Package

Have your educational calendar set for the year!

NHPCO’s 2021 webinars bring you and your staff professional development and education from nationally recognized speakers presenting on the most relevant topics for the field. Invest in your staff and purchase a package today and have your education calendar set for the whole year.  NHPCO webinars are a cost-effective way to maximize learning within your organization.

2021 Topic Tracks

  • Community-Based Palliative Care
  • Clinical
  • Interdisciplinary Team
  • Quality
  • Regulatory and Compliance
  • Supportive Care.

Two webinars are offered each month and the topics are developed with input from providers and our subject matter experts. Titles are currently available for the first half of the year and remaining will be determined based on needs from the field at that time. Being responsive to provider needs and the realities of the current environment is always the goal of our webinars. CE/CME credit is available and may vary depending on webinar topic.

The calendar of 2021 webinars is available online.

All webinars are live from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., ET or enjoy the recording when it works best for your schedule.

Build Your Library

Add to your organization’s or your individual professional library, a recording of each webinar is included with your webinar purchase giving you or your staff the opportunity to listen to the valuable presentations after the original webinar (please note, CE/CME is only available for participation in the live webinar broadcast and not for those who listen to the recording).

Webinar Pricing and Packages

Included with each webinar purchase is two logins for each webinar and the MP4 recording.

  • 24-Webinar Package:  $999 for members; non-member price is $4,499.
  • Single Track Package (4 webinars):  $175 for members; non-member price is $750.
  • Single Webinars:  $49 for members; non-member price is $199.

Order a 2021 Package Today

For webinar details or to register, visit the webinar section of the NHPCO website.