A Way to Cope With Grief You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings: My Marla Kay

Written by Vern McDonald

What can you say about a woman who loved her family, loved people, loved animals, and loved me for 58 years?  Those 58 years were not always easy.  We married at 17 and had our first daughter, Lori, at 18.  We were so proud of her.  Little did we know at the time that this baby would grow up to bless us with our only granddaughter, Marsha, and three great-grandchildren that we love dearly – Billy, Brooke, and Brandi.

We started out with nothing but love and a prayer.  We could have given up many times but we chose to turn to each other instead of against each other.  I got a job at a steel mill and we were getting along pretty well when we found out that we were going to have our second child.  Unfortunately, our little boy, Vernon, came early and only lived a few days.  That was enough time for us to fall in love with him.  He was loved and never forgotten.  Even in Marla’s last days she would still say I wonder what he would have grown up to be?

In the following years we had another son, John, our third child.  John had a quiet
disposition and a kind heart.  He was talented in sports and a hard worker.  Devastatingly, he was killed in an auto accident when he was 35 years old.  I can’t even put into words how this affected us or the heartache we felt.  It could have torn us apart but instead it only made us grow closer, and love and respect each other even more.  It is not anything you ever get over.  Although Marla was amazingly strong, she carried this heartache until the day she passed.

Our fourth child, our daughter Holly, surprised us a couple years after John.  We were not expecting her but love her very much.  She later blessed us with our only grandson, Christopher, or Rambo as Marla always called him.

We had our ups and downs like all marriages but I can honestly say that I loved her the day I married her and everything we went through made that love grow every day.  We had our rough times as most people do.  However, we also had some wonderful times.  For two kids who start out with nothing we did pretty well for ourselves.  We raised three great kids, I ended up being Vice President of the steel mill, and we got to do and see a lot of wonderful things.  I am so happy that when I retired, we took off for about a month and just traveled together.  We didn’t have much of a plan but we had a wonderful time and made memories that I will never forget.

Marla cared more about others than she did herself.  She always made sure that no one did without and she had a way of making you feel special.  As much as I miss her, and I do miss her so much, I am glad that she is at peace with our Heavenly Father and her suffering on earth is over.  She is now an Angel in heaven, as she was always an
angel on earth.

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.

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Ice Cream and Community Hospice

Executive Corner by: Norm Mast, President/CEO

I am often asked “Aren’t all hospices the same? What makes your hospice better than the others?” My response has always been “No, hospices are not all the same.” That’s like saying all hamburgers are the same! Or even all ice cream is the same! (More about that later.) And the follow-up question is always “Well what makes Community Hospice better than the others?” And that question always makes me pause. I know we are different and better, but what is the right answer to this question? So, back to the ice cream thing – it’s quite easy for me to describe what makes certain ice cream better than others. I prefer real ice cream to custard. It has to be creamy and smooth without nuts and preferably with some sort of caramel or coffee flavor infused. Even better if it has both!

Enough about ice cream for now, let’s get back to what makes Community Hospice different/better than the other hospices.

Here are a few reasons why we are better:

– 30 years of service – Community Hospice has been around for more than 30 years. Now, older doesn’t necessarily mean better. As an organization we have been around the block a few times which has allowed us to gain experience and try to provide a higher quality of care. We are always looking at ways to improve and serve our patients and families. Health Care is constantly changing and in order to survive in this world we need to be nimble and adapt.

– Non-profit community based – Being a non-profit community based hospice allows us to be nimble and make changes and improve our services. We are not a part of any other organization, which allows us to make changes quickly without having limitations put on us by a parent organization. Since we are a non-profit, all money that is donated and any profits that are made are put right back into the organization to continue to change and improve what we do.

– Same day admissions – We pride ourselves on doing same day admissions or even within an hour of getting a call if needed. Most patients and families don’t plan out a hospice admission. The admission is usually driven by some type of event or decline in a patient’s condition. So when that crisis is occurring you don’t need to wait days for us to come see you. We can start care immediately and if needed can bring you to The Truman Hospice House for more intensive care.

– The Truman House – We pride ourselves in providing care wherever the patient needs us. There are times when patients need more care than can be provided at home due to symptoms that are not being controlled. The Truman House is a 12-bed inpatient facility designed for just those occasions. Staff provide 24-hour care in a home like setting so that caregivers can once again be the mother, father, son or daughter instead of worrying about how to care for a loved one. Since the facility is designed for short term stays, our specialized clinical staff work with families to provide a home going plan or for placement in a long-term care facility.

– Specialized medical expertise – Our team of nurses, physicians, social workers, hospice aides, chaplains and volunteers have extensive training in end-of-life care. It’s what we do and we believe that end-of-life care is just as important as the beginning of life. We want to be the best at what we do and provide peace, hope, compassion and dignity at end-of life no matter who you are.

– Providing care for all – We provide care to all patients regardless of ability to pay. Most patients have some sort of insurance, however there are times and circumstances that may occur when there is no billable insurance. As a result of the tremendous support of our community through donations and fundraisers, we can offer that care to qualifying patients without having to pay.

Now, back to the ice cream analogy. For all the same reasons that our organization is the right choice for patients and families, you could say that those reasons apply to ice cream as well. I want good old fashioned, local ice cream provided by someone who has perfected their recipe. I want good service provided by knowledgeable staff who are specially trained to provide that ice cream. I would love to say that I can get that ice cream 24-hours a day at no cost – but alas that is where the similarities end.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Blessed

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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!

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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.

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