Healing Through Journaling

Written by Sheri Sundheimer

In loving memory of her husband, Ed, Sheri Sundheimer offers to share an excerpt from her journal…” journaling felt better than I thought it would…I hope it helps others to share.”

Two months and eleven days seems to be forever long, but at times, those days feel only as if I just blinked.  In reality, I have done so much and know in my heart how  proud Ed would be in me — I purchased

our final resting place, moved in a beautiful apartment with my daughter, Tracie and granddaughter, Haylie, paid off our bedroom set and my car.  Taking care of mom and allowing my pets to somehow fill a space of a very lonely heart. Some of these days have been okay,

but tears still flow like a river.  It’s okay to cry – its nature’s way of destressing.  I don’t know how I have made it to today – my faith.  Yes, and to know that God allows Ed to have my back – to give me the strength to keep going, and also all the love and encouragement I have received from my children – especially Tracie.  She lets me cry, laugh and just sit.  And she never tells me that it’s not okay to do so.  I see so much of Ed in her, at time it is scary – goes to show that blood does not make you a Dad, love does.

The Benefits of Journaling – It is common for individuals to struggle with their expression of thoughts and feelings during grief following the loss of a loved one. Bereaved individuals often identify the worry of ‘burdening’ their loved ones with what they’re going through as one of the reasons for this common struggle. This is where journaling can be a healing tool, as it is a safe outlet to express thoughts and feelings at a pace they are comfortable with. A journal is a safe place to unload the many emotions that are often experienced, rather than bearing that weight day in and day out. Journaling also allows us time with those thoughts to reflect, identify problems and solutions to those problems and even showing us how far we may have come in the healing process.

Community Hospice offers individual in-person counseling, support groups and telephone support.  If there are other dates/times for groups that would be beneficial to you, we  welcome feedback and suggestions. If you would like information on our program services, please contact the Bereavement Team at 1-800-947-7284 or email at bereavement@myhospice.org.



Grief Is…

Written by Lucy Domer

Grief is…fear, anger, hatred, sorrow, sadness, depression, scared, loneliness.  The who, what, why, where, when, how, would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. Love, friendship, family, tears, emptiness, sharing, trying to live through it. Not just one or another. Not just all or none.  Not knowing if or when. Not at any particular time, place or day.  Never put it on a calendar that any day picked will be the end.  Grief is felt, seen, heard for as long as you need to heal.  Grief is in every person’s life.  Not one person can avoid it.  It is not something that will not affect you.  Every person deals with it differently. It is a living hell, but getting  through it is a part of God and Heaven’s Angels helping.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.”

Community Hospice offers individual in-person counseling, support groups and telephone support.  If there are other dates/times for groups that would be beneficial to you, we  welcome feedback and suggestions. If you would like information on our program services, please contact the Bereavement Team at 1-800-947-7284 or email at bereavement@myhospice.org.


Leaving Your Mark – Volunteering & Mission Trips

Tuscarawas County Volunteer Carol Radefeld, and her late husband, Bud, were known for traveling the globe with Medical Mission International (MMI), having completed 57 two-week trips during their marriage.

After breaking his hip in 2011, Carol and Bud thought that was the time to let the “kids” take over the trips and step away from their roles as a surgical unit nurse and Medical Director, respectively. In 2015, at the age of 96, Bud passed away, and Carol was sure she would never complete another trip.

Learning to live life without Bud was difficult, and she was blessed to have many friends and family supporting her in her grieving. During that time, she had gotten many calls from former mission participants, directors, and even from the Dominican physician who was in charge of all of the Dominican Republic projects, inviting her to come back on a project. Each time she gave the same answer – “I just can’t do it!” That changed in the fall of 2016 when Carol received a call from Marc, a surgeon that she highly respected, who wanted Carol to join him on a trip in February 2017. Carol and Bud had always hoped that Marc would take over as Medical Director, and Carol told him that she would “consider it.” As she reached out to friends and colleagues for advice, she received the same answer over and over – “We will go if you go!” With the needed team members on board, supplies, clothes, medication, and monetary donations began to pour in. Carol could truly feel Bud’s gentle nudging and support throughout the preparation process. The trip was incredible. The team was able to share important health information, and their faith, with 1,413 patients.

In the medical clinic, 404 adults and 168 children received medical care, 95 lab procedures were completed, 456 parasite treatments, and 2,771 prescriptions were filled. The dental clinic served 160 patients, performing 130 extractions, 103 cleanings, 159 restorations, and 56 fluoride treatments. The eye team completed 227 eye exams, giving out 90 pairs of glasses to those in need. In the local hospital, the surgery team performed 218 minor procedures and 95 major surgeries.

Carol’s decision to go on her 58th Mission Trip was further validated when she was introduced to a 19-year-old woman, whom Carol had helped deliver via C-section on a previous mission trip to the same hospital. This was the first C-section ever performed by a team from MMI, as it was the only opportunity to save both mother and baby. There was no chance in this meeting, as Carol feels Bud certainly had a hand in it. If given the opportunity, Carol hopes to travel on another MMI trip in the future and wants to share that you do not have to be medically trained to be a part of this experience! Learn more at http://www.mmicanada.ca.


Written by Pamela Burkall

As I continue my journey each day, sometimes the day seems to be shades of dark gray, but again…it has silvery light surrounding it.  I continue my walk.  Some days you force
a smile, but it turns into laughter for no particular reason.  God walks with me as each day passes.  He brings nature to me.  It may be a single bird to look and watch me at my window, or deer waiting patiently for me to feed them.  I feel blessed.  A stray leaf blown
off from a nearby tree, flutters down and brushes my hair or lands at my feet.  Funny, as I look up at the trees, and wonder where it came from, for it seems that there were no leaves left about the trees. You take notice, a sign that you are not alone.  In the stillness of the day or night it brings about light of better understanding.  A soft voice whispers…Be still and know that I am God.  You feel comfort throughout your soul.  You feel blessed.  You wish that you could truly express to others how you really feel, but they have no idea what flows throughout your heart and mind.  A little secret I share of my own…still I feel very blessed never the less…God walk with me.

Community Hospice offers individual in-person counseling, support groups and telephone support.  If there are other dates/times for groups that would be beneficial to you, we  welcome feedback and suggestions. If you would like information on our program services, please contact the Bereavement Team at 1-800-947-7284 or email at bereavement@myhospice.org.


The Gift of Laughter

Anne and her niece BJ shared a true love for life. After moving back to Ohio, BJ and Anne grew very close and shared many great adventures including memorable trips to West Virginia enjoying the casino and the beautiful scenery. Anne had a love for dancing, especially the Jitter bug, watching birds and thunderstorms, flowers,  playing cards and slot machines.

At first Anne and BJ were nervous about contacting Community Hospice for services, but it didn’t take long for them to find comfort in the support provided to them. They regained hope that even though Anne’s health was declining, that she could still enjoy life to its fullest. BJ shared that Anne was also a caregiver to her husband and the assistance we were able to provided allowed her to continue to meet the needs of both the people she loved.

The Hospice Team wanted to do something special for Anne and BJ, so they enjoyed a euchre party provided by the Betty’s Gift Fund.  BJ stated that her aunt was so excited and truly enjoyed Geri Newell,  Volunteer, Jill Albaugh, RN and Heidi Nelson, Aide spending time with her. They enjoyed a delicious lunch and conversation with many laughs, but then it got serious, as the two teams paired up and started playing euchre.

Jill and her partner Geri turned out to be tough to beat, but Anne and BJ didn’t give up.  There was much joking and laughter during the games. At the end of the party,  Anne said we were all welcome back as long as we would play euchre. After Anne’s passing,  BJ stated that  “hospice is for the living and not the dead and you guys gave her an extra year of her life.  My whole family thanks you all.”


When Grief Feels Angry

Submitted Anonymously

Dealing with anger towards a deceased loved one is a difficult task, but a very natural part of healing.  We often encourage bereaved clients to “accept and express all your feelings, including the anger” as they’re able.  Here is what one person anonymously submitted in hopes of healing.  Remember, you are not your feelings;  Your feelings come and go, if you let them go.

“My grandson believes that perhaps my husband was a romantic and explains that through bad times, a romantic embraces a vision of love and buries bad feelings.  That’s what I am.

I never felt love in my early family.  I married my husband for love and I’m not sure if I ever got it.  I don’t know if he loved me.  He wasn’t himself when he came back from the war but I took care of him like I did my family at home and picked up with him where I left off with them.

He eventually joined a profession and that helped him and kept his mind going.  He was very busy.   I thought I had to help him with his job so I was there for him because I’ve always felt he and my parents (and others!) couldn’t do it without me.

I helped him until the end and hated it because I wanted to be loved.  It’s important, before I die, for me to understand what happened to me.  I don’t want to hate him.  I want to get over this.  I’m not out to degrade my husband.  I’m hoping this could help me (and maybe another person) get rid of anger.”

This kind of submission does not happen easily, but through the processing of many thoughts and feelings.  If you struggle with anger, you are not alone.  If you would benefit from in-person counseling to discuss and help process your emotions with a supportive professional, please know that the bereavement care team at Community Hospice can provide you with that compassionate care.


Community Hospice offers individual in-person counseling, support groups and telephone support.  If there are other dates/times for groups that would be beneficial to you, we  welcome feedback and suggestions. If you would like information on our program services, please contact the Bereavement Team at 1-800-947-7284 or email at bereavement@myhospice.org.


The Starfish Philosophy from a Volunteer’s Perspective

Written by Gayle Mack, Community Hospice Volunteer

As volunteers, many of us have had lives full of responsibilities, whether it be with jobs or families.  At times we may have taken on too much and felt overloaded.  Somehow we learned to juggle and manage.  Always busy, there were so many expectations and people to keep happy!

Now, we enter the realm of volunteerism at Community Hospice where we see the whirlwind begin and end for many people.  Caregivers and families are very involved in crisis mode.  Employees run and work and strive to provide comfort and peace.

But as a volunteer, my experience has been one of wait and see.  What can I do?  There is a shift from being in the center of the frenzied business at hand, to stepping aside, yet still making oneself available.  Patience, and unhurried thoughtfulness are new priorities and new qualities to consider.  The frustration that comes from not knowing if you are doing enough, reminded me of the Starfish story: An older man walking at the beach was observing a young boy along the shore, stooping over and throwing something into the sea.  It seemed that hundreds of starfish had been washed up out of the ocean.  The older man knew they would not survive long and he felt saddened by the desperate state of affairs. When he reached the boy, he asks him what he is doing and the boy tells him that all these starfish have been washed ashore and he knows they will die so he is throwing them back. The older man sees the monumental task and knows they can’t all be saved.  He asks the boy, “How can you make a difference with a problem as big as this?”  As the young boy determinedly tossed one of the starfish back into the water, he replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one.”

Obviously, we can’t help everyone, but if we made positive contact with even one person, we can make a difference.  It’s not the quantity when it comes to kindness shown but the quality, and the heart intent.

Remember the Starfish Philosophy – one fish, one day at a time!


Color My World

Written by Gayle Mack, Community Hospice Volunteer

I recently watched a news clip about a 10-year-old boy in Iowa who was colorblind.  The boy was given a special pair of glasses, an optical assistive device, that opened the world of color up to him for the first time.  As he put on the glasses, true joy showed on his face.  He would have lived the rest of his life in a world of vague, dull tones without these special glasses.

When an individual is faced with illness or depression, the world can feel like that.  It is nondescript gray, one day after another.  You know there are still colors out there, but your world is colorblind.

Then one day, someone offers an opportunity to change your view.  They are not promising that you will see as you did before, but they are offering you a glimpse of a brighter day in some way. As with the special optical glasses, the young boy’s colorblindness was not cured, but while he wore them, the world was richer and fuller and more beautiful.

Hospice volunteers can contrast that one dimensional grayness by: honoring a veteran with the red, white and blue; delivering a bright yellow flower to a dark room; serving a plate of red rigatoni; offering colored pens to write a remembrance on a stone; pulling a blue comforter up to a chin.  Whether it is opening a shade to view a sunset, a visit, a prayer, a salute, a smile, giving smooth cold ice cream: all are given as a gesture of adding color and texture to someone else’s life.

In the segment about the young boy, there was an emotional moment when the 10-year-old falls onto his father’s shoulder crying.  Perhaps one might wonder that he could surely get along without the optical glasses, that he should be glad he could see at all.  But the addition of color mattered greatly to that one boy and it mattered to his family. After seeing his first sunrise, he now looks forward to rainbows.

That is what we as volunteers endeavor to do.  We want to express that it matters that you live in color and that your soul is nurtured.  As long as you have breath, you are alive.  We want to take the time to share a glimpse of color.  It matters to that one patient and it matters to their family.


Hope Flows Through Us

By: Norm Mast, President/CEO of Community Hospice

HOPE.  It’s a word that often has a negative meaning when associated with Hospice.  Most people you talk with will say that when you sign up with Hospice you are “giving up hope”.  I would like to propose that just the opposite is true.  Hospice is not about “giving up hope”, but restoring it and helping people revise what they may hope for. Community Hospice focuses on maximizing the quality of life based on the individual’s choices, so that the person may live life as fully as possible for as long as possible.

Hospice helps patients reclaim the spirit of life. It helps them understand that even though death can lead to sadness, anger, and pain, it can also lead to opportunities for reminiscence, laughter, reunion, and hope.  Community Hospice helps those we serve to continue to hope and plan each day for optimal quality of life.  Hope can be found from helping our patients and families achieve the highest possible level of physical comfort and peace of mind.

Ultimately, hope means different things to different people, and the compassionate staff of Community Hospice will be there for you on your journey … to live out whatever hope means to you.  Hospice patients never give up, nor do our staff and families give up. Care focuses on hope: hope to be pain free, hope to sit on the porch, hope to see your grandchild’s wedding or hope to celebrate your anniversary. We always hope for a cure, however if that is not possible, our goal at Community Hospice is that we are the vessel through which hope flows!


An Anniversary To Remember

Special anniversaries are very important milestones for our patients and their families. This held true for Kathryn and her husband Ted, who celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary in August. Betty’s Gift Fund provided resources for Community Hospice staff to serve the couple a delicious lasagna dinner from Uncle  Primo’s at New Dawn Health Care. They also received a card, a chocolate cake (Kathryn’s favorite) and some lovely roses. The couple enjoyed their meal and shared some stories and photos of their life together.  They started dating when Ted was 17 and Kathryn was 15. After 4 years of dating, the couple married. Ted asked Kathryn why she married him and her reasons were “You had good teeth, good hair, good eyes, and you were taller than me.”

This beautiful couple had some wisdom to share as well.

  1. 1)  Always have goals together
  2. 2)  Don’t get too excited about things
  3. 3)  Don’t go to bed angry at each other

They also have a secret code to say  sorry to each other which Kathryn    created. Ted shared some of their trials and the scripture they have believed in.  Deuteronomy 31:6  ” Be strong and courageous! …. He will   never leave you nor forsake you.”

They have displayed this strength and courage through the years together and know that their God nor each other will never leave them through this journey. This special experience was made possible by the Betty’s Gift fund.