Animal Rescuer Devastated As Shelter Disregards Her Wishes

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Question from a Reader:  I have been saving sick, feral kittens for over five years.  I expend an enormous amount of time, energy and financiaI resources to heal them before adopting them out.  I used to find them homes by running an ad in our local papers, but on the advice of my vet, began utilizing Animal Humane Shelters so they could be spayed/neutured and vaccinated.  I recently surrendered four beautiful, young cats to one of these facilities.  They were instructed that under no circumstance were they to be euthanized; instead, I was to be contacted and offered the opportunity to reclaim/adopt them.  They disregarded my request and last week, all four kittens were put to sleep.  I am beside myself with grief and guilt.  I do not/cannot understand why I am hurting so bad.  My intention was to find them a home.  Should I have just kept them?  Should I not save anymore of these kittens, as the outcome will be the same?  I cannot cope with this loss.  My younger two children believe they were adopted, so I cannot show any sign of grief in their presence, but when they are absent, I cry; I wail to the point I cannot breathe.  Please, help me to understand, if you can, why this pain is so far- reaching and whatever words of comfort will be much appreciated.

Caregiving and Hospice, November 21 - November 27

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Understanding and Managing Grief, November 21 - November 27

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Coping with Pet Loss, November 21 - November 27

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Engage With Grace, 2010

Things we are grateful for this year
For three years running now, many of us bloggers have participated in what we’ve called a “blog rally” to promote Engage With Grace – a movement aimed at making sure all of us understand, communicate, and have honored our end-of-life wishes. 

The rally is timed to coincide with a weekend when most of us are with the very people with whom we should be having these unbelievably important conversations – our closest friends and family.

At the heart of Engage With Grace are five questions designed to get the conversation about end-of-life started. We’ve included them at the end of this post.  They’re not easy questions, but they are important – and believe it or not, most people find they actually enjoy discussing their answers with loved ones.  The key is having the conversation before it’s too late. 

This past year has done so much to support our mission to get more and more people talking about their end-of-life wishes. We’ve heard stories with happy endings ~ and stories with endings that could’ve (and should’ve) been better. We’ve stared down political opposition.  We’ve supported each other’s efforts.  And we’ve helped make this a topic of national importance.

So in the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, we’d like to highlight some things for which we’re grateful. 

Thank you to Atul Gawande for writing such a fiercely intelligent and compelling piece, Letting Go: What Should Medicine Do When It Can't Save Your Life – it is a work of art, and a must read. 
 
Thank you to whomever perpetuated the myth of “death panels” for putting a fine point on all the things we don’t stand for, and in the process,  shining a light on the right we all have to live our lives with intent – right through to the end. 

Thank you to TEDMED for letting us share our story and our vision.
 
And of course, thank you to everyone who has taken this topic so seriously, and to all who have  done so much to spread the word, including sharing The One Slide.

(To learn more please go to www.engagewithgrace.org. This post was written by Alexandra Drane and the Engage With Grace team. )

Healing Grief through the Gift of Volunteering

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[Note: See the Comments section below for updates to this post.]

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late . . . the love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him, 'What are you going through?' ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Depending upon where you are in your grief journey, at some point you may feel the need to channel your pain, as well as the time and energy once devoted to your relationship with your loved one, into something productive and meaningful ~ through the gift of volunteering. As one who truly understands the grieving process, you may feel ready to reach out to others who are suffering the pain of loss. Now that you’ve found your own way through the many challenges of grief, you have a great deal to share with others who are suffering: you can identify with their struggles, empathize with their sorrows and doubts, and offer valuable information and support.

Giving of yourself as a volunteer enables you to pursue personal interests, polish old skills and learn new ones, and make a positive difference in your community.


You can learn more about volunteering, find your local volunteer center and choose the interest area you want to explore at the Points of Light Foundation's Volunteer Center National Network .

See also the links to local volunteer opportunities on the AARP Community Service: Home Page. To help you balance service and your busy schedule, AARP’s Office of Volunteer and Civic Engagement can help you find creative options for getting involved. Enter your Zip code at createthegood.org/atm to learn about local opportunities. The site also has detailed “how-to” guides you can download, as well as other “do-it-yourself” ideas for doing good.

Other useful information on volunteering can be found on these Web sites:

Project Linus: Providing Security through Blankets

Feeding America: Find a Volunteer Opportunity


Star Legacy Foundation: Dedicated to Stillbirth Research, Education

Healthcare Volunteer: Global Portal for Healthcare Volunteers


Network for Good


Kindness Ideas, from Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

Online Volunteering Service


September 11 National Day of Service


Ten Tips on Volunteering Wisely


Volunteer Match: Where Volunteering Begins


If you’re interested in becoming a hospice volunteer, contact your local hospice organization – or consider some of the agencies that offer in-depth training applicable to all hospice settings:

Hospice Volunteer Association

Volunteer Hospice Network

Hospice Volunteer Training Institute

Hospice Volunteer Training Series

Hospice Volunteer Training Online

Metta Institute

Upaya Institute

You can learn more in Angela Morrow’s informative article, What Is a Hospice Volunteer?  Also highly recommended is Stan Goldberg's inspiring book, Lessons for the Living: Stories of Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Courage at the End of Life, in which the author shares the wisdom he gains from being a hospice volunteer.

Giving back to the courageous folks who serve your community is yet another alternative. Consider how Scott Mastley (whose brother died in an auto crash) honors the men in his local fire department every year, as a way of thanking the individual fireman who comforted his brother as he lay dying. He writes,
"I gathered the courage to call the man who sat in the car with my brother while they waited for the ambulance to arrive. The man was a fireman, and he was off duty, painting a house to earn extra money, when he saw the accident." Read on here: Turkey Talks: Thanking the Man Who Comforted My Brother.

In Giving to Others Helped Mom Make It through Loss of Daughter, bereaved mother Jenny Hander describes how she brought hope and healing back into her life following the death of her newborn. Because her baby was a twin, she realized she had a double supply of stuffed animals, toys and books for her surviving daughter – far more than she needed. Beginning at home and branching out into her community, she began collecting and distributing new and gently loved stuffed animals to children in her city, on behalf of the national organization SAFE (Stuffed Animals For Emergencies).  “Donating stuffed animals to children in need allowed me to share the love I had for my daughter who had passed,” Jenny writes. “In two years, I distributed over 2,000 stuffed animals to local children’s shelters and hospitals.” According to their Web site, SAFE chapter members “collect new and gently used stuffed animals, toys, books and blankets to be redistributed to emergency organizations, children’s services, hospitals, homeless shelters and many other places that help children during times of crisis. These emergency organizations use the stuffed animals to ease the children’s nerves and calm their fears. Your donations let the children know you care and help them feel a little more SAFE when they need it most.” For further information, see How to Donate.

For her part, Personal Property Services expert Julie E. Hall encourages readers to Use Your Stuff to Bless Others . Find more compassionate advice “for dealing with a lifetime accumulation of stuff” on Julie’s helpful and informative blog, The Estate Lady Speaks.

Especially at this time of year, when so much of the focus is on gift-giving, you might consider asking yourself these questions: Is there something you've always wanted to learn how to do? What causes or issues are important to you? What skills do you have that you could offer to others? Are you ready to offer the gift of volunteering?

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here


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© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC

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Caregiving and Hospice, November 7 - November 13

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To Honor Our Troops and Veterans on Veterans Day

Freedom Isn't Free
"To those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and to those who risk their lives today so that we may continue to live in freedom . . ."




Hospice Foundation of America suggests ways to better support veterans in their journey through serious illness and death in Honoring Our Veterans.
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and Hospice Action Network President and CEO Don Schumacher writes about NHPCO and the Department of Veteran Affairs’ joint efforts to honor veterans: It’s Never too Late to Say ‘Thank You’ to Our Nation’s Veterans: Even at the End of Life
For information on helping returning soldiers — especially the National Guard and Reservists — reintegrate within their family, the workplace, and the community, see Honoring Soldiers When They Come Home.

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here


© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC

Hospice Care Provides Calm Sense of Dignity

The following message comes to us from Susan Levine, Executive Director of Hospice of the Valley in Phoenix, AZ:
 
"Whispering down the lane" is what Norm called it.

Rather than pursue aggressive treatment for incurable cancer, he called Hospice of the Valley to see him through life's final passage. An erudite man, Norm wanted time to prepare himself and his family for the transition, time to read books like "History of Western Civilization" and time to sit outside on his patio and listen to the birds sing.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, he'd get home visits from a doctor, nurse, nurse's aide, social worker and a chaplain - all members of his hospice team. What he told one would be relayed to the next team member, who would relay it to the next, and so on.

Norm got a kick out of knowing that all these people were talking about him in absentia, following up on what he'd told the previous visitor. Sometimes, the topic was the fall of the Roman Empire. Sometimes, it was constipation.

That's what hospice is about: a caring team of professionals that walks by the side of patients and families during life's final chapter. Conversations about the meaning of life are every bit as important as conversations about pain medication.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. It's a time to take stock of our own lives, to think about how we're making every day count. Are we devoting our energies to worthwhile endeavors? Are we tending to our relationships? Are we enjoying ourselves?

Hospice and palliative care allow people to continue living their lives to the fullest until the very last moment. When patients are first admitted, we ask: Is there anything you would like to do? Any people you would like to see?

One patient wanted to resume his career as an Elvis impersonator and sing to people at senior centers and nursing homes; one time he serenaded a fellow hospice patient all the way to Graceland. Another patient wanted to fly an airplane again, and we made the arrangements. A husband and wife wanted a romantic dinner at home to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary; the nurse and social worker catered a candlelight meal. A state prisoner wanted to say goodbye to his estranged mother - she came to his bedside, and they made their peace.

We tell our patients: Hospice care is about quality of life.

Carpe diem.

Susan Levine is executive director of Hospice of the Valley, a not-for-profit hospice serving the community since 1977. For more information, go to hov.org.

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