I was sitting next to my mother’s bed, keeping watch during the last hours before she died. I’d been a hospital chaplain for a few years, long enough to know what I said to other people, now having to tell them to myself. I don’t have any way to prove what I’m about to suggest. … Continue reading What I assume (but don’t know for sure) about that time while someone is dying.
Finding words of support in hard times isn’t about formulas. It’s mostly about listening, avoiding uninvited advice, and offering support for the current moment. Here’s a recent example, with some commentary on why I said what I said. +++ A friend texted the other day: “The police just brought my dad home. He got lost. … Continue reading A short conversation in a scary moment.
“Would you like your hands blessed, too?” my boss asked us. My co-worker said, “Yes.” I turned back to my monitor. I had expressed my dislike of going from nurse to nurse during Nurses Week, making the sign of the cross with oil, offering a blessing. My boss assumed that was the reason for my … Continue reading The blessing of the hands, 2022.
I’m not great at celebrating with parties. Mostly because I’m enough of an introvert that my favorite parties are conversations over coffee in the corner. I am, however, in favor of acknowledging completions. For groups and organizations, there is value for a time of reflection at the end of seasons or school years, even if … Continue reading A time of reflection at the end of two years.
Two years ago, I published Giving a Life Meaning: How to Lead Funerals, Memorial Services, and Celebrations of Life to help people lead funerals, memorial services, and celebrations of life. Two weeks later, those gatherings were disrupted. It felt like really bad timing. I wondered whether I needed to rewrite it for online services or whether … Continue reading A book for when you need to lead a funeral or memorial service
I get texts from friends. I get Facebook messages. I get direct messages on Twitter. I get emails. And sometimes I simply do not know how to respond. These are not mean messages. They are often kind. “When’s a good time to get together?” “I hope you are doing well!” “Congratulations. I bet you are … Continue reading What to say when you can’t respond yet
How do you know what to do next if you’ve never been through this before? When a person dies, many hospitals and hospices and care facilities have packets of information about next steps. Finding a funeral home. Figuring out what the funeral director might need. Obtaining a death certificate. Finding words that will help you … Continue reading An online grief packet.
Eulogy means “good words”. And this is the place in a service for people to talk about the life and meaning of the person who has died. Sometimes one family member represents everyone, reading the stories that other family members have given them. In one case, the person had four children and several grandchildren. One … Continue reading How to write a eulogy.
I recently was asked to talk to a healthcare team about self-care. Instead, I suggested 10 ways to help each other. I started with the word “survive”. I realized that “endure” sounds more encouraging, or hopeful, or long-term. But I’m still thinking about survive.) 1. Remember that we each survive differently, because 2. “Survive” means … Continue reading 10 ways to help each other survive (or maybe endure)
I’m sorry. Nothing: (Sixty seconds of silence) May I take care of that? (and take the tissue out of their hands and give them a fresh one and throw it away and wash your hands) This is hard. Yes, I remember that time. I don’t know. . whether pets are in heaven . . . … Continue reading 10 simple phrases when visiting in the first hours after a death.