Grief is an artesian aquifer that lies deep within us in a dormant state. It flows up between the cracks of our bedrock memories when a loved one dies. This aquifer of grief is part love and part light. It holds a subtle promise to quench our loss and sustain usRead More
Hospice is about dying well. There is no good death. Any death is bad and painful but dying well surrounded by friends family loved ones changes the dynamic for both the patient and the family. It makes the time to the finite end better and kinder and comfortable but more important is the time after death. That is our long darkness, the time after death of a loved one.Read More
“Now would be a good time to have end-of-life discussions with her,” the Hospice Rabbi and social worker said. “What does she want for her funeral? What are her regrets? Did she find joy in her life?”Read More
Donna died seven years ago on August 7, 2011. My how time flies. Well not always. There is that moment each year when time and memories crawl across my mind like a tortoise. Slowly one step at a time bobbing its head side to side measuring the terrain. This tortoise of time stops and considers the date of Donna’s death and where we were in the months leading up to it.
What surprises me each year is the fact I know August 7th is there. I realize it is coming. What I don’t see are the unconscious machinations that unfold and suddenly, I am there again. That is my dying season.
January 2011 Donna’s physical health was failing. Her cancer was producing a form of osteoarthritis. Walking was difficult and the pain was progressive. In early June a third round of chemo was offered and hoped to reduce tumor burden and beat back the crippling pain. We had planned a trip to Maine a town just outside Portland called Cape Elizabeth. A few years earlier we found a lovely cottage with a garden and short walk to the a cove with a beach. It was peaceful and beautiful. Just what we needed. The first infusion of this new round of chemo was administered. We left for Maine.
The photos below are from that vacation. Within a month Donna would be in hospice. June begins the dying season.