Education, End-of-Life, Grief/Grieving/Bereavement, Humanity, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Dunkirk…How Much do you Know About It?

I just saw the movie Dunkirk with my fiancé. No matter how many WWII movies I watch or how many books I read, I realize there are so many more stories to be told and I will NEVER learn all about the war. It is not possible.

There is much to gain from this movie. Many individuals to focus on and each individual did something small which lead to something great!

The takeaways from the movie are the sense of community that for the most part existed then, but seems to be missing in today’s world.

Imagine being a soldier who fights for your country and is shipped overseas to help other countries fight a war, then you are left behind in …let’s say a place named Dunkirk. You are left behind enemy lines, waiting to be rescued. Will you do as one of the characters from the movie did; you are a French soldier and you find a dead Englishman. Will you bury him and then steal his uniform to be able to leave the war zone?

Would you go back and save fellow soldiers from drowning after the boat that came to save you is torpedoed? How do you think you would both function and survive in a war?

Personally, I have no clue. I cannot imagine such circumstances today. I cannot imagine being stranded with no way to leave a country, but assuming and hoping that the country I am from is going to save me. I cannot imagine an era, although I grew up without the modern technology of today, no cell phones, no laptops, no tablets or Apple watches. No social media, and relying on intelligence and an army that in some ways are beat hoping that someone is going to rescue me and my fellow soldiers.

The death and destruction that was witnessed. The coldness that may have occurred, the uncaring, the ‘do what I need to, to survive mentality’. The symptoms that will show later; shell shock, PTSD, trauma, flashbacks, and I am going to assume after watching this movie, a hate for boats that sink, not liking water, motor oil or planes…

The positive I see is determination, the will to live/survive, hope, not giving up, focus, and a sense of community. Think all able bodied small motor boats in Britain, more than 800 of them were to be utilized or were ‘called up’ to assist the stranded soldiers.

The advancing German Army trapped the British and French armies on the beaches around Dunkirk. 330,000 men were trapped and they were a sitting target for the Germans. The beach at Dunkirk was on a shallow slope so no large boat could get near to the actual beaches where the men were.

The evacuation is often referred to as “the miracle of Dunkirk” because only 30,000 to 45,000 were to be rescued, but in fact, between May 26, 1940, and June 3, 1940, more than 300,000 troops were able to get off the beach. Nearly 80 years later, the “Dunkirk Spirit” remains a touchstone in British culture, and a reminder to face obstacles with the same tenacity and cooperation that got the Second World War troops through that dramatic evacuation.

The lesson(s) I gained from the movie was: determination, hope, stay positive, luck, give back, community, and honour…What about you?

End-of-Life, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health, Grief/Grieving/Bereavement, Humanity

When a Pet Dies, Helping Children Through the ‘Worst Day of Their Lives’ – The New York Times — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

When I was growing up, my parents always had at least 3-4 dogs at a time and eventually a cat or two also.  Pets were part of my life from birth until age 22. When I moved out on my own I did not get a pet (fish do not count) as I went off to university for six years and I worked and went to school so little time for pets. Plus, as I was home so little, I felt it was unfair to have a pet.

When I married, my then husband and I, got a puppy a few years after we married. Zoe was a beautiful part black lab….

After I left my husband, I got a kitten for my kids; She was 5 1/2 months old and here we are 31 months later with a cat and the two newest additions are mini-bunnies (got them a few weeks ago and they are currently 7 weeks old). My kids got a dog with their dad this past winter and so they are fortunate to have pets at both parents homes.

Zoe died over two years ago and actually she was put down because she was so sick. My kids told me how difficult it was and they had known Zoe since they were born. They still talk about her and miss her.

Pets bring joy, responsibility, and unconditional love. They teach kids to be responsible as they rely on their humans to feed them, give them water, play with them, take them out, take them to the vets and to just be there.

Pets are often the first time a child experiences death. For my kids, they had many other experiences of death though, their paternal great-grandmother, a school friend (age 6), My great-uncle, their uncles’ parent’s, some of my clients whom they had met over the years…

My kids take it in stride, but I know death is not easy. For my youngest, she still talks about her friend that was in a tragic accident at age 6, 3.5 years ago.

Death is a part of life and it needs to be recognized and discussed. To not do so will cause problems later on and we as parents do our kids no favors by ‘protecting’ them from death. Everything dies and I tell my kids this all the time. The grass will die, the trees will die, flowers die, pets will die and we as humans will eventually die…

 

via When a Pet Dies, Helping Children Through the ‘Worst Day of Their Lives’ – The New York Times — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

End-of-Life, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health, Grief/Grieving/Bereavement, Humanity

Terminally Ill and Pregnant Mom of 5 on Life Support | POPSUGAR Moms — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

Wow! This article certainly puts things into perspective!!

If this was you, as a mom, what would you choose? I cannot even imagine making that decision….. and I do not see my fiancé being ok with the choice of me saying, “I want the baby to live.” But in essence do I really know what I would choose or what he would choose without being in this situation?

 

Source: Terminally Ill and Pregnant Mom of 5 on Life Support | POPSUGAR Moms

via Terminally Ill and Pregnant Mom of 5 on Life Support | POPSUGAR Moms — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

Education, End-of-Life, Grief/Grieving/Bereavement, Humanity, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Hmmm…Convos on Death?

An article I came across on LinkedIn today by a colleague whom I know through LinkedIn is titled:

What we can learn from death rites of the past will help us treat the dead and grieving better today

 

“This taboo around death is a fairly modern, Western phenomenon. Past and present, societies have dealt with death and dying in diverse ways. It is clear from, for example, the outpouring of grief at Princess Diana’s death, and the conversations opening up around the 20th anniversary of the event, that these outlets are needed in our society too. High-profile celebrity deaths serve as sporadic catalysts for conversations that should be happening every day, in everyday lives.”

There is a group of individuals around the world trying to change this taboo and make death part of life again, meaning discussions and planning need to occur! I am one of these individuals; there are many more of us.

Why the fear? What changed over the past 100 years? Death happened at home in the past. The funeral and wake took place in the home and the whole community attended and assisted with the burial.

Then WWII happened and all changed. Too much death maybe? Too much destruction? More wars followed after….and still death is taboo today. Slowly this is changing….more of us are being vocal about the need for change, for discussions, but we are also the younger generation meaning baby boomers and younger.

Funerals are expensive! Burials are expensive! The average person needs 10-20k to die if using traditional funeral homes and doing a traditional burial. That is a lot of money and many do not have it. I do not have it. I opt for a more green burial and less expensive one as I am sure many others do or will as well.

“It was not so long ago in the UK that public outpouring of grief and practices that kept the dead close were acceptable. For example, in Victorian England, mourning clothes and jewelry were commonplace – Queen Victoria wore black for decades in mourning for Prince Albert.”

Today, death has been outsourced to professionals and, for many, dying happens in hospitals. But many doctors and nurses themselves feel uncomfortable with broaching the subject with relatives. Why is this? Are they not receiving training while in school? Why no training or discussions in the work place?

To work in a hospital, hospice or palliative care unit, to work with older adults…one must realize that patients and clients will die. Heck, we are all going to die one day! Accept this fact, stop trying to look younger and live longer with unnecessary tests, medications, and treatments if there is no hope, no proof it will help.

Instead, spend time with loved ones, enjoy life, and make the most of the time we have left…

Education, End-of-Life, Humanity, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

When the greatest of tragedies strikes, how do you keep going?

That is a very difficult question; Do you know the answer? I do not…because the answer will be different for each person.

What is a tragedy? Job loss, homelessness, fire, car accident, tropical storm, ice storm, a pet dying, a family member dying, abuse-whether physical, mental, emotional, sexual or financial…the list goes on and on.

For this particular article, it is about death, and unexpected death of a spouse.

Imagine all of a sudden you are a widower with 2 children. Are you prepared financially? Mentally? Emotionally? Is all the paperwork in order?

Do you have any family to help you? Do you have friends to help you?

Think of all of this as food for thought and the type of questions that need to occur BEFORE death happens; not after…

 

Source: How to recover from tragedy

via How to recover from tragedy — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

Education, Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Humanity, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Compassion and the Importance of It

I came across this article on LinkedIn: Compassion at Work: What is It?

We all could have a different definition of compassion, but this is the scenario I came up with to describe its meaning;

“Compassion then, is empathy with action.” Imagine being in a meeting with a colleague and all of a sudden they tear up or make a comment that someone they were very close to just died. Compassion is acknowledging this statement and offering to have lunch together to discuss further. Over lunch, you find out it was their best friend from high school that died. You listen patiently, you suggest that this colleague maybe put their thoughts down on paper…you become a person that cares…

I am a social worker who works as a case manager with older adults. I work in a social services department with 30 other staff who perform various roles from Intake to case management to group facilitators, mental health case manager, transportation, supervisors, etc…We are a team and not just a department. Our ages range from young 20’s to late 60’s, mostly women.

Compassion, empathy, caring are in us already or we would not be in this field. “When leaders model and reinforce values that encourage employees to build closer relationships, workplace empathy will increase. Leaders who demonstrated compassion were more likely to foster employee engagement, motivation, and productivity.”

Now, this makes sense to me. We cannot just go to work and focus on work. We support one another as staff, we learn about each other’s personal lives to the extent we choose to share and we become friends as well as colleagues. To me, this fosters compassion and makes the work environment happier, peaceful, caring. Staff wants to go to work and be at work and when relationships between colleagues are good, the work performance is better. Compassion further flows into relationships with clients and their families.

To me it is win-win!

Thoughts? Examples to share regarding compassion?

northernmsw@gmail.com

Aging/Gerontology, Education, End-of-Life, Humanity, News, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Who Wants to Talk About Death? Not me, Says Most…

Death, dying, end of life, palliative, hospice-most do not want to delve into these topics. Why? What is one afraid of? The inevitable? We will all die one day. I am realisitic…to be born, we will die.

I tell my kids all the time that everything will die at some time; the trees, grass, flowers, pets, humans….no choice and even if it was a choice; I would not want to live forever. BUT, in the meantime, while I am alive, I want to make the most of it! I want to enjoy life, spend quality time with my kids and fiancé, continue to do the things I enjoy like cycling and writing.

I recently attended a staff training/development at my work and we were asked to write down 3 things that are MOST important to us. I wrote my kids, my fiancé, and writing. I can live without things and objects as long as I have the above 3! Quality time with the ones we love is important. Doing what you enjoy is important. Giving back is important and I very much believe in ‘pay it forward.’ Someone helps me, I help someone else no questions asked (within reason).

Ok, now I will segway into an article I came across on LinkedIn today that I think is important. Death is not as frightening as we think. Take a look at it as it describes and compares individuals who are dying in hospice and palliative, and prisoners on death row.

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/08/dying-may-not-be-as-frightening-as-we-imagine-it-will-be.html

I would love to have feedback and hear your thoughts!