SHARE YOUR STORIES

These are your stories. We invite you to share:

  • how you've used the one slide…
  • how you've told friends and family about your end of life wishes…
  • what happened that enabled you to be at peace with how things are…

or any story that relates to the topics above.

jay furman’s Story

Enduring my 6th Decade on this planet, my thoughts on the end of life are many. The Hospice movement is a catalyst for deeper understanding of Palliative care for the ones you love or for yourself the writer, as the case may be. A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Husband of a dear friend who was in the transitioning period of his end days. Walking from the elevator into a crowded Nurses pathway took my mind off of the purpose of my visit. Caring for people in all levels of distress, these are not RN's, they and their team are Angels. After locating the room of my Friend I entered so gingerly. I announced myself and immediately connected with a peaceful ambiance that filled the room with a certain calm. Josh was alert and ever the wit, in good if not guarded spirit. We spoke lightly of common interests, ideas and subjects two guitar players might string together. After a period of time I left the Hospital feeling light of heart and calm in a way that is hard if not difficult to explain. Over time we go on with our lives all the while accompanied by the presence of a different outlook on living and dying. Bucket lists are spot on for the mobile ones, repairing broken bridges for others is reasonable too. Making peace within is a difficult task, understanding and resolve will smooth the path ahead.

-jay furman, 4/17/2011


Pam Kowal’s Story

Right after the 2001 attack on the Twin Towers in NYC, my husband and I drew up our Will and Power of Attorney and completed both a Health Care Proxy and a living will. In addition, we organized our financial paperwork in one place to make it easier for the remaining spouse to settle the estate, and sat down and discussed what we wanted if either of us became terminally ill. Since both of my parents had already pre-donated their bodies to the university medical school post-death, I made the same bequest so the school would have a genetic lineage to examine. I also have written my own memorial service, and have collected the poems, readings and music (CD's and sheet music for the vocalist) I want at my service, compiled the photos of myself I want displayed, written letters to be given to my daughters upon my death and have told several of my family members which restaurant I'd like to have serve my memorial brunch . Preparing my own memorial service was wonderful–it offered me the opportunity to contemplate the whole of my life and the gifts and lessons in all my relationships and to determine what I would want to be remembered for by those who knew me well. The written material and music I have selected for my service reflect best how I feel about the great gift of life I have been given and the gratitude and awe I feel over the preciousness of existence and the all-encompassing presence of God that I feel. These preparations, coupled with a near-death experience I had in the early '90's have given me a great sense of ease around the subject of my body's future death.

-Pam Kowal, 4/7/2011


Carolina’s Story

I am a hospice social worker. This very topic has been very near my heart for so long. I am thankful for the work being done through this movement. I would suggest those who are interested in further engaging a loved one in such a conversation, look into the Go Wish Cards. They are a great tool that allows one to express their wishes in case they face a serious illness. They are simple and user-friendly. They are also available in Spanish.

-Carolina, 4/7/2011


Anonymous’s Story

http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/99074314.html My parents story. I admire them a great deal and am speaking out! Mary Gute Witte

-Anonymous, 3/17/2011


Robert G Preston’s Story

I have said goodbye to all my grandparents and my parents as well, however the passing of my sister in the year of my college graduation was the passing which triggered in me the reality that I was not one of the immortals. I began discussions with my mom about how her faith allowed her to look with unflinching assurance at her arrangements for the end of her life. She inspired me to accept that exiting life was something we should discuss, plan for, and deal with. Her spirituality and joy, as well as her practical Yankee mentality finally overcame my stubbornness and selfishness. We owe it to those we love to discuss and plan for the end of life. The one slide and Engage with Grace fall in step with my beliefs and I am pleased to share this story with others who are thinking about these issues.

-Robert G Preston, 3/14/2011


Maureen Fitzpatrick’s Story

I have said goodbye to all my grandparents and my parents as well, however the passing of my sister in the year of my college graduation was the passing which triggered in me the reality that I was not one of the immortals. I began discussions with my mom about how her faith allowed her to look with unflinching assurance at her arrangements for the end of her life. She inspired me to accept that exiting life was something we should discuss, plan for, and deal with. Her spirituality and joy, as well as her practical Yankee mentality finally overcame my stubbornness and selfishness. We owe it to those we love to discuss and plan for the end of life. The one slide and Engage with Grace fall in step with my beliefs and I am pleased to share this story with others who are thinking about these issues.

-Maureen Fitzpatrick, 2/14/2011


Kathy Anderson’s Story

My father died of COPD in 1998, a disease he had acquired not through smoking but as a result of the TB he’d contracted during World War II. Surgeons had permanently deflated his left lung in 1944, and it was rather a miracle that he thrived and lived to be 84. He had the privilege of dying at one of the teaching hospitals at the University of Pittsburgh. He’d been in the hospital for about 10 days, and had been resuscitated once. I’ll never forget the matter-of-fact, likeable young female resident, who came into his room on that tenth night and said, straightforwardly, “Mr. Anderson, it’s time for us to discuss how you want the next week to go.” She outlined his options, asked him several specific questions (Do you want CPR? Electric shock to the heart? Antibiotics? A feeding tube?), and simply took his answers. He had a few questions about the electric shock thing and decided against it. In fact, the only thing he said he’d want was antibiotics. The next morning, when I returned, he asked me to find the young doctor and tell her that he didn’t even want the antibiotics. “I’m going to go see Jack,” he told me, referring to his older brother who had died just 6 weeks earlier. He had previously made out an advance directive, but this conversation helped us come to terms with his impending death. He died peacefully two days later in the hospital, just before we were scheduled to move him to a hospice facility. We were very lucky – my dad still had “all his buttons” (his words!), and we knew we could rely on his judgment. What my brother, my husband, and I learned was how important it is, for the patient and the family alike, to have the comfort of a straight-forward, honest conversation. We’re grateful for him being at a great teaching hospital that supported this kind of discussion. And, my husband, my brother, and I, in addition to writing Living Wills, have all had the conversations with each other. Who knows if we would be as lucky as my Dad was, to be able to make things clear in those final days?

-Kathy Anderson, 1/24/2011


Anne’s Story

End of Life, is not the end of life. This is the only peace I had at the hospice bed of my father and brother. Had I not known that both knew God's grace, love and gift of eternal life through Christ I would have despaired their passing. Both my father and brother expressed their desire to die at home, not a hospital. Both refused extraordinary medical intervention. Both of their dying events unfolded organically, no real planning, except towards the end.

-Anne, 11/23/2010


Vincent’s Story

My wife died two days before 9/11, in a foreign country so you can only imagine how difficult that was to deal with. I must say that the State Department was very gracious in helping me get things in order. I find it interesting that the word Grace is used hear but there is no mention of God's Grace. Those that have chosen the road of faith take great comfort in that word because of the spiritual meaning. God's Grace is sufficient for those that choose to receive it. With Christmas around the corner, maybe people should take the time to reflect the true meaning of Christmas. Death is a part of life and faith helps you embrace it without fear. Two people die every second, 150,000/day. Life is short, Eternity is forever.

-Vincent, 11/23/2010


Anonymous’s Story

In the past ten years, cancer has claimed the lives of three beautiful, young women in my life; most recently, my high school friend, mother of an adorable two year old. Gayle died peacefully in her home last year and I was blessed to be a part of her final moments. Although she could not speak, she was alert and knew her loved ones and beautiful daughter were by her side. She too suffered through many treatments and surgeries in her final year. Her story reminded me of Rosaria. I did not have the pleasure of meeting "Za", but I did have the honor of meeting her husband and daughter. It’s been many years since I saw Alessia’s charming smile and heard her darling voice. I knew John and Alessia’s family would keep her Mommy’s memory alive and that she would come to know the special woman Rosaria was. Her story and Gayle’s got me thinking the end of a Mom or Dad’s life is the beginning of another life for their child. I believe the gift Rosaria and Gayle gave to their daughters in their final moments, was one in which they both would cherish.

-Anonymous, 8/23/2010


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