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Hospice, Funerals, Cremation and Saying Goodbye

My Godmother, Dad, Uncle George (poet) us kid in Italy 1960

My Godmother, Dad, Uncle George (poet) us kid in Italy 1960

My mother was diagnosed with Dementia in May 2006 while my step-father was dying of lung cancer.  Hospice was our saving grace.  I had no idea how wonderful their support and advise would be during Dad’s last few months of death.  He died on my birthday, October 24, 2006.

My mother lived at Sunrise Assisted Living and enjoyed her life very much.  In fact, I just received a copy of the last letter her friend, Norio, of Japan received from her.  Here is a quote from her note, “I don’t have much to say since I don’t do anything except play cards anymore.  I hope you are enjoying every day of life.  I sure am.”

On December 8th, 2009, Hospice was called in to help my mother since her health had deteriated so bad. I knew the routine and went through mourning on my way home from her place that day.  Between Hospice and Sunrise her last month was very pleasant and I enjoyed every moment with her.  She passed away peacefully on Thursday, January 14th.  I had a traditional funeral with a cremation immediately following the service.  I was told that 50% of families are now choosing cremation.

Since my mom’s name is Rose, I am planting a gorgeous Rose Garden with her ashes this spring right in the middle of our circular brick paver drive. There is a huge stone there already, so I will have it inscribed with her name.

After the service, my loved ones and I had the pleasure of going through the dozens of photo albums, scrapbooks, and letters she and my father exchanged when he first went into the army.  I also came across a stack of poems written by my godmother’s husband, George Richardson, a distinquished poet and one of her best friends since high school.  I would like to share it with you now…I promise you will read it twice and it will bring tears to your eyes…

My dear I lay awake last nightTill you were by my side –
The lights were out, the dog was gone
My God I almost cried
I heard your voice as you came in
The first time late for bed –
I thought at first it may bave been
Just something I had said
Twas then I made my mind up dear
I’d be a better mate –
And rid myself of all the doubt
The years of jealous hate
And as you stood beside my love
The scent, it filled the room –
So like the smell that meant so much
When we first bride and groom
The song you picked to play that night
My eyes I kept them shut –
How wrong I’d been through all these years
Within my stubborn rut
I tried to raise my hand to you
With ring that we had wed-
But that’s when you apologized
For all that you had said
I guess that’s when I first felt good
Our friends were all around –
I knew I couldn’t reach you now
And Where that I was bound
The kiss you placed upon my lips
AS though it dealt by fate –
Within my coffin I did lay
Your kiss was two days late

~George Richardson

About the author:  Katana helps women ages 43-60 create lives of abundance, joy and financial freedom while following their passions.  She is a Certified Financial Planner and Caregiving Expert.  You can contact her at katana@katanaabbott.com

Meeting with Hospice

On Monday this week, Seasons Hospice came to my home to complete the paperwork to have my mom entered into their Hospice program.  Although I used Hospice for my step father in 2006, I received a new insight from this meeting.

These are the most wonderful and kind folks and they offer such an amazing service.  I remember when the doctor recommended Hospice for my step father when he was diagnosed with lung cancer at 86, I actually got mad thinking “I wasn’t going to let him die”.  So I held off contacting them until it was really ‘urgent’ that we get some help.

Had I known how much support, education and services they offer, I would have been grateful to call them for my step father and then received support and guidance for the last full year of his life.

My mom is now in the last stages of her disease (Dementia) and is no longer walking, transferring or able to feed herself.  She is on oxygen and they have just started morphine for pain.  She is becoming very “stiff” it seems and it’s hard for her to move anymore.

Yesterday, my daughters and I spent time together with her going through one of her photo albums that documented her pictures during her school years, plus all her class reunions.  She has created over 40 photo albums and has documented every event during her life.  This is a wonderful gift she is leaving all of us.

I am so glad that we took care of all her planning years ago by creating wills, trusts, power of attorney and long term care insurance for her and dad back when there were lots of options.  This has allowed me to focus on mom and dad’s quality of life and quality of care these last couple of years.

Feel free to download the free Caregiver’s Manual that I created to help you prepare for caring for your loved ones.  I have used this process for years working with hundreds of clients and thank goodness I followed this process with my folks to.  It’s been a blessing.  I am off to help mom with her dinner.  Take care.P7140066  If you have questions about caregiving, financial planning or estate planning, please feel free to contact me at katana@katanaabbott.com

Caregiving: Words of Wisdom

Meredith BromfieldI am joining Katana and the Designated Daughter team of caregiving and legacy experts.  Each week, I will be posting my Words of Wisdom column and hope you enjoy it.  Each post will focus on a quote, my words of inspiration and an action you may take.  Our theme the month of November is “Forgiveness”.  You are invited to sign up to receive these WOWs in your email box by signing up for our RSS feed.  Thank you!

QUOTE:

“Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are cause by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”

-Eckhart Tolle 

INSPIRATION: 

When you live in the future you are strapped with the fear of the unknown and don’t live today. When you hang on to stuff from your past and don’t let go, you again are not living today. For each day that you choose to live in the future or in the past you lose the most precious gift of today.  Life is too short and too precious to not enjoy it and live it. You get only one shot at life – it has been said this is not a dress rehearsal and you don’t get a “do over” – all you have is today. Don’t lose it because you are stuck in the past or are living in tomorrow. Today is a gift, treasure it, savor it, enjoy it, and share it because quite frankly this is all you get!

ACTION:

Purpose to live today. When you get up in the morning focus only on what is needed for today. Take captive every thought that either drags you into the past or pushes you into the future. When these thoughts come ask yourself… Is this something I can do today?  The answer will either be yes or no.  If your answer is yes, then ask yourself what you can do and then do it. If your answer is no then write it down on a piece of paper and stick it into a file that says “God’s pile” – it is no longer mine to deal with.  If it is something that brings you into the future the same rules apply. By the way, I don’t mess with “God’s pile” — it’s not mine anymore. I get to live today and enjoy it free from the mess of the past or the fear of tomorrow. 

To learn more about my programs on creating a legacy, visit www.crossingyourbridge.com  

Caregiving Dilemma: dehydration, over medication or what?

As a caregiver to my mom, I am forced with a huge dilemma right now.  A week ago, I went to visit my mom at Sunrises Assisted Living.  She was still in bed at 10 am.  Recently, she has been wanting to sleep.  She was excited to see me when I woke her up, so I helped her with her shower, and then helped her get dressed.  I was shocked to see how much she deteriorated in her abilities to manage on her own and it puzzled me.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

 

How could my mom be experiencing such huge changes in her physcial and mental abilities so quickly and what could I do about it.  I decided to spend a few hours with her to see how she was managing her daily activities.

I took her to the dinning room and asked the chef to prepare scrambled eggs, toast, OJ and coffee.  When it came out, not only was it delicious, but I was thrilled too see my mom devour every last bite.  She had no problem managing her breakfast independently and we had a great time together.

Next, I invited her to play rummy and she was thrilled.  We started playing in the bistro, and soon we had a full table of other players.  Mom played quite well.  The only issue was that I had to remind here when it was her turn.

One week later, last Saturday evening, I stopped over to say goodnight and to my horror, my mother was in here wheel chair, looking off into space with a dazed look.  She did not recognize me, and could not speak or move her legs.  What was going on?  I pulled out one of her photo albums, and began to show her pictures asking her who these people were.  When I showed her a picture of herself, she replied, “Mum-ma”, like a talking doll.  When I asked her to identify her recently deceased husband — my stepfather –she  replied, “Pa-pa”.

I called the attendants in to help my mom to bed…and left in tears.  What was going on?  One thing I noticed is that my mother seemed very dehydrated, so I called the nurse and requested that they monitor her food andn water intake and make sure she is given water regularly with a straw as if she was in a hospital.

I noticed that she even had a problem swallowing the water and pills that night…and I was told that she has lost interest in eating.

What does a daughter do at this point?  What do you do when a loved one is unable or unwilling to feed themselves and begins to refuses food?

Please share your stories and experiences with me for my upcoming book with co-author and Legacy Expert, Meredith Bromfield called, The Designated Daughter:  Caregiving and Legacy Planning.   Thank you.

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