2012-05-31 / Community

Consider volunteering for the terminallly ill

Have you ever considered doing some volunteering and just don’t know where to start? I am a hospice volunteer and have been ever since the program started in Manistique. It is one of the most fulfilling projects someone can take on as a volunteer.

You are not only there for the person who is terminally ill; you are a huge asset to the family members. You not only touch their lives, you touch your own in a very special way. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, I encourage you to contact North Woods Home Nursing and Hospice 341-6963 or Schoolcraft Memorial Home Care 341-3284. With no doubt, they would love to have you on board.

I would like to share a little information with those who are on the other end, the family member that has just received the sad news of someone special being terminally ill.

We know being with a loved one, family member or friend, who is at the end of life can be doubly hard. You may not always know what to say, or worry about saying the wrong thing. You are not only accompanying someone through their death experience, but you are coping with your own feeling of grief over an impending loss. There is no script or formula for talking with someone who is near death. You won’t always have the “right words.” Here are a few things to keep in mind during this difficult time.

Let the process happen in its own way. Hard to believe but “denial” is a normal coping mechanism. Let them express their fears rather than downplaying them. “Bargaining” for more time allows feelings to come out where they can be dealt with. “Anger” should be confronted, not down-played. Talking about emotions can be a pathway to greater understanding. “Depression” is painful, but it’s not surprising that someone at the end of life feels hopeless. Deal with it by creating awareness and opening communication. Acceptance means coming to terms with your loss, both for the patient and you, and at the same time, living as fully as possible with the time that is left.

Your presence counts. Sometimes you don’t have to say anything, just being there and listening is enough.

Touch, like holding a hand, can speak volumes without using words.

If your loved one wants to talk about their condition, let them, but don’t force the conversation in an effort to find “something to talk about”. If they seem afraid, ask if they want to talk about their fears. Reminiscing can help affirm that their life had meaning.

Build your relationship on the strong areas and give and receive forgiveness in the areas that are not so strong.

And the most important part, it’s ok to let go, both for your loved one and yourself. Assure your loved one you and those they care about will be fine. Hearing from a friend or family member that it’s ok for them to let go might help them face their own death more peacefully.

Death is the most overwhelming question of life. By listening with an open heart and love you can find the words to make the most of this precious time with your loved one. The most important things you can say are “thank you”, “I love you”, “I’ll never forget”, “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.”

Going through this process, accept “Hospice” if it is offered. Just to know there is someone there to offer that “extra hand” or having a “listener” outside the family often fills some of the worry or scare.

In one sense there is no death. The life of a soul on earth lasts beyond his/her departure. You will always feel life touching yours, that voice speaking to you, a spirit looking out of other eyes, talking to you in the familiar things he/ she touched, worked with, loved as familiar friends. She lives on in your life and in the lives of all others who knew him or her.

A great big happy birthday goes out to my eldest daughter, Jennifer. Hard to believe that you were only nine months old when I started working at the Center.

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes! A great big thank you goes out to Ron and Pauline Frans from Rainbow’s End for the generous donation of tomatoes. Steve Ekstrom dropped by with a donation of paper products given by Manistique Papers, Inc.

The Women’s Club, along with an anonymous donor, gave a generous donation towards the mailing of military packages. Keep in mind if you are traveling and staying in motels, we accept shampoo, conditioner, soaps, etc. you don’t use. They can be dropped off at the Center Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Mary Burns and Charlotte Kendall gave military donations. Janice Redeker and Mary Ann Thorell gave a donation to the medical loan closet.

BRIDGE May 21: 1st-Eva Wendling and Audrey Savoie, 2nd-Bibi Duquette, 3rd-Pat Flint, 4th-Heln Barton, CFC-George Lowman. Hostess Ann Willcock served mandarin orange cake and bridge mix.

BRIDGE May 25: 1st-Doris Demars, 2nd-Larry Savoie, 3rd- Eris Webb, 4th-Audrey Savoie, 5th-Joyce Lesica, CFC-Mary Ann Thorell. Hostess Audrey Savoie served rhubarb pie, pecan pie, ice cream, and cheese and crackers.

PINOCHLE May 23: 1st-Peg Beckman, 2nd-Gerry Henkel, 3rd- Nancy Casey.

500 May 25: 1st-Pat Clark, 2nd- Nancy Casey, 3rd-Cathy Wise, Should’a Stayed Home- Marie Sellman.

Birthdays this week: June 1-Eileen Ruth and James Tufnell, June 3-Pam Tallman, June 4-Sharon fish and Lu Weiss, June 5-Carol Leny, June 7-Judy Rodgers, Wayne Scherer and Leonard LaFleur. Happy birthday wishes to all!!

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