Are you aware of the California man, Chris Salvatore, an actor and singer, who cared for his elderly neighbor, Norma Cook. He announced today that she died. It is such a heartwarming story, I had to write about it. They were inseparable for the last four years and in Cook’s final days. When doctors told her she needed 24-hour at-home care this year as she battled leukemia, Salvatore stepped up to be her primary caretaker. He was determined to make her feel loved every day. “She’s made me a kinder more compassionate person. I feel honored to spend her last moments with her,” he said.
“To love another is not about living struggle free or never experiencing hurt or loss, but to fully and deeply open our hearts to one another without fear,” he added. “Each of us is lovable even with all of our differences. Love has no boundaries. May you rest in peace my sweet sweet lady, Norma.”
88.3 percent of doctors would forgo resuscitation and aggressive treatment if facing a terminal illness or end of life, according to a recent study from the Stanford University School of Medicine. Even with the Self-Determination Act in 1990, a law designed to give patients more control over determining end-of-life-care decisions, physicians attitudes didn’t change…the majority of docs have always wanted to die at home.
One doctor in the study talked about how she felt anguish (with tears sometimes coming down her face as she said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!), when she had to perform CPR on the elderly because she felt like she was beating them up—in real life ribs break and few survive anyway. Doctors are trained to prolong life after all…and give hope to families. So many don’t know how to have that difficult conversation about impending death and planning for it.
Did you know: despite 80 percent of you (in America) saying you want to avoid hospitalizations and aggressive treatment at the end of life, often it’s the local health-care system that determines the type of care you receive.
What about you? Have you thought about, or envisioned, what the end of your life would look like?
I know I have—a death that is swift and peaceful—a gentle death without extraordinary measures—not in the hospital.
Would you ever forgo treatment (like chemo) and choose to have comfort care so you can enjoy the rest of the time you have left?
Or, having an advanced disease, would you choose limited medical care or the “do everything possible” approach (including CPR even if you end up needing resuscitation and having a ventilator because you can’t breathe on your own, unable to eat or talk).
Your end-of-life is something worth thinking through now…and talking to your family about.
Jimmy Carter, 90, the 39th president of the USA, announced today that he has been diagnosed with widely-spread cancer. One of the statements from the deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society was, “Given the president’s age, any treatments, their potential and their impacts, will undoubtedly be discussed carefully with him and his family.”
RIP Brittany Maynard.
This is so important…I had to share:
“… my niece. I know I needn’t state the obvious, but I will. She is absolutely gorgeous. As with all things true beauty lies within; and she is truly beautiful. She is compassionate, kind, creative and a true friend. I know this not because I am her biased aunt. I know this because this is what I have been reading about her. These are the words of her friends and family, these are their words of tribute and reflection, their words of goodbye. As you read that word “goodbye”, what did you think? Did you think “how awful, what a loss, what a shame, what happened?” I know I would have. Human nature is to then try and come to some manner of obvious conclusion. “Not another child lost to… drinking and driving, drugs, texting and driving, suicide, cancer…” Those are the obvious choices. They are all plagues on our society, all thieves of youth. Did any of you think, “not another victim of domestic violence?” Was that anyone’s first thought? When the call came it was mine.
“… She is every girl…
“It’s so odd how you can find yourself forgetting how to breathe.
“As with all things the story unfolds. Moved away from home, dropped out of school, alienated from family and friends, made to feel worthless by her boyfriend? Partner? What do I call this vile stain on the fabric of society? How can someone I have never known change my life so much? Recently she went home. She left with the clothes on her back and with the tenacity that was A—-. She walked 17 kilometres, to her daddy who could barely recognize her. “She wasn’t eating.” She was disappearing in more ways than one. She showered, put on the new clothes that he had run out to buy her, played with the new puppy he had gotten for her when she was away, for when she would come home. Slept in her bed in the room that had been untouched for months; waiting for her. A room that had been a constant reminder that she was not there, was now once again sanctuary. She felt like “such a loser”, “couldn’t even graduate high school”. No amount of reassurance seemed to change this. No matter, she was home. She was where she was safe and loved. After a time her resolve waivered. She went back.
“The story I have thus far is that [she was shot in the head]. She languished for a few hours and while her parents were trying to make the very difficult decision as to whether or not to gift the organs of their daughter to those in need her heart stopped and there was no more decision to be made.
“Much of it is sadly not surprising. A predictable pattern of events occurs with an obvious conclusion; except. Except she’s 17.
“I have attended many a take back the night march; December 6th memorials for the women of the Montreal massacre; memorials for women who were victims of domestic violence, for women I did not know and never will. It happens to other people. It happens to women who at the very least have a 2 as the first digit in their age. It is what you read in the paper or see on the news but it does not happen to my family. This does not happen to us.
“And yet here we are.
“My friends are asking me what can I do? How can I help? What do I say? How do I say it? What do you need?
“Funny, those are the things I have been asking myself for months while we waited. Waited with arms not long enough to reach her; waited with words spoken but unheard, waited for texts and messages to be returned, waited with dread for the call to come. The call that finally did.
“This is not really a conversation that we are having all that often. We are seeing it on occasion. I know it’s been Oprahed and Dr. Philed. But it is not real.
“… shot … in the head. It is real
“So here is my answer. Please share this with your Facebook friends. Please have this conversation with your children. Listen to what they have to say while your arms are long enough to hold them and you are close enough to hear. I know this isn’t the sort of thing we want to think about or pass on but it is what will help. If ever I helped you please help my family now. If you receive this from a friend of a friend of a friend please pass it along you don’t know who is listening for a voice that says you are not alone and if you ask for help it will be given.
“It is not love when he is jealous it is a belief that he owns you. He should want you to have friends and spend time with your family; if he does not he is trying to isolate you, to take you away from the loving influences in your life that will do their best to shield you from him. If he makes you feel stupid or ugly or useless that is not what people who love you do. People who love you make you feel wonderful and supported always; their love is not a lure. If he swears at you, calls you names, yells at you or demeans you he does not love you. If he cannot live without you then it is likely you won’t.
“I know many will want justice for A—-. There will be no justice. This cannot be fixed and no matter what happens to him it will not reassemble the chards of my broken heart.
“And while this will sound very cliché to some if this message saves ONE young woman, girl, child (what do I call her), then at the very least her loss will have meaning. If my niece died so that others may live that will be something. She would have wanted that, to help someone else, even if she could not help herself.
“Goodbye sweet girl.
— with Tcc Tcc.”
Deep peace I breathe into you
Oh weariness here, O ache, here!
Deep peace, a soft white dove to you;
Deep peace, a quiet rain to you;
Deep peace, an ebbing wave to you!
Deep peace, red wind of the east from you;
Deep peace, gray wind of the west to you;
Deep peace, dark wind of the north from you;
Deep peace, blue wind of the south to you!
Deep peace, pure red of the flame to you;
Deep peace, pure white of the moon to you;
Deep peace, pure green of the grass to you;
Deep peace, pure brown of the living earth to you;
Deep peace, pure gray of the dew to you;
Deep peace, pure blue of the sky to you!
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet Earth to you,
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you,
Deep peace of the yellow shepherd to you,
Deep peace of the wandering shepherdess to you,
Deep peace of the Flock of Stars to You.
Deep peace, Deep Peace.
Thank you to a dear friend for passing on this meditation.
May you find peace.
For some people, Mother’s Day can be painful…a reminder of loss…a time of grieving for being motherless…a holiday some choose to ignore because it is wrapped with sadness.
For others it has grown into a time of reflection and of honoring or celebrating a life that was lived…by baking a special recipe (as I did, using my mother’s banana bread recipe) or playing (or singing) a mother’s favorite tune…or doing any number of things that are a special reminder of Mom.
It takes time to adjust to life without a mother.
It takes time to go from grieving to honoring.
Perhaps for some, this year won’t be as painful as last year’s Mother’s Day.
How will you choose to spend the day?
What has been missed in the reporting?
~Ken MacQueen, Maclean’s magazine (Question to Melanie Hack)
Oh so much! I can’t possibly share it all here.
Before the inquest, the newspaper reports contained some errors and I realized that what we were hearing in the media on any given day was not always accurate.
During the inquest I would sit in the courtroom listening to evidence and then read inaccurate representations in the next day’s newspaper reports; knowing even the slightest alteration in wording has misrepresented what was actually said and given a different connotation. And by that point I would feel the media was sensationalizing Cindy’s story by reporting lurid details that had little to do with her death.
On June 6, 1989, the Vancouver Sun newspaper stated, “Richmond R.C.M.P. S. Sgt. Ron DeRoon said there has been no trace of the woman since she went missing. He added there is nothing to suggest foul play.” Given Cindy’s history of harassment I did not understand how the police could say that.
Did they think the blood on her car door was normal?
Coming soon… “What should I know?”
~Ken MacQueen, Maclean’s magazine
It is with such deep sadness that I write this post.
Today a local teen has passed away from a car accident and his two friends, also in the accident, are in critical condition.
And for them, grad was only a few months away.
I am a mother of two teens…and this tragedy has struck close to home. My son is only one year younger than those boys…and he knew them.
I’m seeing a lot of grieving teens in the community. Please know you are supported.
And here are a few thoughts for parents at this time:
I’m reminding everyone to listen closely when your teen is talking.
And watch his/her behavior. (You want to be alert for any potential self-destructive and reckless behavior as a result of grief.)
By listening and watching, you will find opportunities to help your grieving teen.
Don’t force a teen to talk about feelings…if the teen feels comfortable with you and realizes you are willing to really listen, s/he will talk when ready.
So please make the time to listen to a teen who wants to talk…and give him/her your undivided attention. By doing this, you are sending the message that the teen is important and that grieving is important.
It isn’t surprising to hear that the high school students who are several years younger than the injured teens, and therefore didn’t know them, are also overcome with grief and crying in the school hallways. Their emotions and thoughts are surfacing as a result of the tragedy and they are still learning how to process the accident and death. For adolescents who have little experience with trauma, death, pain, or stress, this will be the first time they experience the overwhelming emotions related with grief. This can be frightening and many don’t have the self-awareness to know what types of coping strategies will help.
While sadness and crying may be an expression of grief for one teen, another may respond with humor and laughter.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to deal with death. It is a different experience for everybody.
Validate their feelings…don’t minimize them.
Be prepared for mood swings.
And help brainstorm coping strategies based on their personalities.
I’m so proud of my son. He has consoled other students using hugs. And he’s made himself available to listen…or be a shoulder to cry on…or like right now, just “hang out” with those who need it.
I was brought to tears with this tragedy. Such young lives involved.
Ed Sheeran, the red-headed twenty-three-year old English singer-songwriter, reportedly helped make a dying girl’s dream come true, just moments before she passed away on Tuesday…only three days ago.
Spurred by a Twitter campaign called #SongForTri, the musician called Triona Priestley, a 15-year-old teen in Dublin, Ireland who suffered from cystic fibrosis, and sang “Little Bird” to her before she drifted off into a deep sleep.
A friend of the teen, named Lucy Hanlon, posted to Facebook that Sheeran’s manager got in touch with her to arrange the call, and the teen’s brother, Colm, confirmed Triona passed away shortly after she was serenaded.
What a beautifully touching and heart-warming story…I just had to post it!
What would you like to tell me?
~Ken MacQuees, Maclean’s magazine (question to Melanie Hack)
When I flew to the lower mainland after Cindy’s body had been found on June 8th, some of my siblings and I piled into Cindy’s car and headed to the place where her body was found in the residential area of #3 Road and Blundell Avenue. I needed to see where she was found. I think even then I was subconsciously starting to put some of the pieces together of her life and death puzzle so I could understand what happened and why. I needed her death to make sense. And I needed to make it real. I needed something concrete. We were oblivious to the existence of an RCMP report stating, “The body was decomposing and is believed to have been at that location since 89-05-25 when she went missing.” Without having any evidence at that point, the RMCP had already assumed that this vacant and trashed-out site was where Cindy had died, rather than having been brought here, which would mean someone else had killed her. Already, they had decided her death was a suicide. Searching through the abandoned brown and white house near where her body was found, we were dumbfounded to see the destruction around us: broken windows and doors, destroyed furniture, trash and plaster everywhere, holes in the walls and floors, discarded syringes, and what appear to be satanic graffiti on the walls alongside swastikas and obscenities. Someone had spray painted “Devil,” “666,” a pentagram and a naked woman on the walls. What a shock to realize Cindy was found near here. Later I wondered why police hadn’t grabbed the syringes as evidence. Maybe one was used to kill Cindy.
Coming soon… “What has been missed in the reporting?”
~Ken MacQueen, Maclean’s magazine