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

‘Nobody wants to talk about death:’ Patients’ stories inspire play about palliative care – Entertainment – CBC News — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

Thank you as always Sue Rosenbloom.  🙂

Death is not easy and a diagnosis of, “You are dying” is not easy, but it is reality for some.

What would you do with the time you have left? Would you say goodbye to special people in your life? Would you visit special places you always wanted to see? Do you have things you want to finish before you die?

A play about death is awesome! It makes one think. It makes one realize that life is not permanent.


Source: ‘Nobody wants to talk about death:’ Patients’ stories inspire play about palliative care – Entertainment – CBC News

via ‘Nobody wants to talk about death:’ Patients’ stories inspire play about palliative care – Entertainment – CBC News — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

Grief/Grieving/Bereavement, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Self Talk That Keeps Mourners from Healing — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

Very important to share… read, absorb, and share with others; particularly those grieving currently.


Originally posted on griefministerdotcom: These are common beliefs shared with me by grief counseling clients and grief group members that prevent mourners from healing and steal their hopes of progressing in healthy ways through grief: Expressing my grief emotions shows weakness. Giving into grief and expressing it just makes me sadder and doesn’t make anything better.…

via Self Talk That Keeps Mourners from Healing — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

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

Creating a Network List for the areas of Death, Dying & End of Life……

It is evident that discussions and training programs on the topics of death, dying, and end of life are few and far between. This needs to change as the older population is aging and soon will be bigger than the youth population. My goal as a social worker/case manager is to change this. This is my area of interest and is not an area most want to delve into. There are many of us out there trying to get the ball rolling”’……

Contact me if you are one of these individuals. I  would like to create a page on my website listing professionals who work with or are somehow involved in the areas of death, dying, end of life, Death Doula’s, and/or provide training on this topic to professionals.


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

The Words that are used in/about End-of-Life

In speaking with a colleague today about death, dying and end-of-life issues, we ended up discussing the words used; particularly in western society. ‘Passing, has passed, with the angels, with their deceased loved ones’ are words or phrases typically used. The words/terms ‘died, has died’ are not used in general circles. She made a keen observation. Look at obituaries here in the western world and you will see how one’s death is described.

I received the most recent newsletter from Dying with Dignity, Voice for Choice, December 2013. A palliative care physician calls for a dialogue. Dr. James Downar, DWD member and Advisory Council for Physicians says, “…Palliative Care cannot address all forms of suffering and that medically assisted dying can be legalized without threatening the vulnerable. The medical community is divided on it and many of the most respected palliative care physicians in Canada have publicly opposed it. We need to address the concerns of our colleagues and the public and find an inoffensive way to advocate for its legalization.”

Bill 52 in Quebec may pave the wave for legislation in other provinces re: Assisted Suicide.

Dying with Dignity is an organization that I came across purely by chance when researching death and dying for an article I was writing in August of 2013. I liked what I read and the organization’s mission aligns with my personal beliefs. One who is diagnosed with a chronic health condition where deterioration either mentally or physically is already beginning, is a given, or when an individual is diagnosed with a life threatening illness-if there is legislation in place and ”safety measures” in place, than it should be up to the individual and not a healthcare professional, or judge to make a decision.

Think about it. What would you want if it was you, a friend, colleague or family member? Would you want to suffer? Would you want them to suffer? Would you want to witness their deterioration physically or mentally for a prolonged length of time without quality of life? If you are unsure, that is ok-this has you thinking. If your answer is you do not believe in assisted suicide or other similar legislation, I do not think you would be interested in this topic/field or reading this blog post.

I decided to become a member of Dying with Dignity and a Volunteer. I want to be involved in educating others of the choices available to them. I want to speak on this topic, be part of or facilitate a panel discussion that includes those for and those against. To me it is about awareness, education and discussion. Everyone is entitled to a respective opinion. I like the fact that the board of directors includes physicians. Advance Care Planning Kits are available for each province electronically (free for download) and in hard copy form (for a small fee).

As a social worker who has a Master of Social Work degree and works with seniors/older adults-compassion, empathy, advocacy and being with the client where they are at is important. Death is inevitable; as my colleague stated: “A physiological state.” And the words we use to describe death are important.

What are you thoughts?

By Victoria Brewster, MSW

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

Book Review and Interview: Julie Saeger Nierenberg and her self-published book: ‘Daddy, this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad’

I always marvel at the connections one can make thru social media. I have had the benefit of making many positive connections on LinkedIn and because of my involvement there, connected with Julie Nierenberg. We both have similar interests re: death, dying and end-of-life issues and we both write. While I have not written a book yet and my focus is blogging and articles, eventually a book may come. Julie has already taken that leap and on such a personal topic.

Within the first 2 pages my eyes were tearing up…Julie writes from the soul. It is obvious she had a close relationship with her father. I also have a close relationship with my father; perhaps that is why this book resonated with me. Julie writes to her father, describes their friendship/father-daughter relationship while at the same time she shares his diagnosis of cancer, and the 3-year process and journey with his deterioration in his health until his death.

It is hard to be a long-distance caregiver, but thankfully for modern technology the phone, email and even Skype can bring that distance closer, not that it can ever replace face-to-face contact.

The stories that are shared are very personal. The manner in how the family was told that hospice was the next step by a physician who was not aware that the patient and family had not been told by the oncologist that further treatment was not an option; basically there was no hope….. that the cancer had metastasized and spread to internal organs. This should not have happened. Because of so many physicians being a part of the picture, communication between them was lacking. No patient or family should have to hear that a loved one is dying in such a manner. My heart goes out to Julie and her family.

I was pleased to read that the explanation of hospice and end-of-life options were shared in a very professional manner and any questions were answered along with educational pamphlets given.

Julie’s description of the end-of-life process will touch your heart and make you want to learn more.


What made you write this book? Firstly, my dad and I discussed writing “our story” in the few days before he passed. He had written his own book of memoirs, a collection of his life experiences ranging from young childhood, his time as a conscientious objector during WWII, being a Civil Rights activist, his social work career, etc. He never backed down from the hard topics, and sharing his struggles and feelings was what made those stories resonate with readers. He thought his own End-of-Life journey would make a good story. I agreed with him and told him I’d pick up the pen where he left off. Secondly, and what really spurred me to write, was my own grief process. When my despair and sadness peaked, I turned to the exercise of journaling as a way of coming to terms with his physical absence. This book was the result of my grieving, inspired and channeled into a way of touching others’ hearts.

Do you feel the end-of-life care for your father was good? His needs were met? Indeed, they were. Family members and friends offered their care and supportive presence at every possible turn. Knowing they could be there when I was not was an immense comfort. Hospice and skilled nursing personnel were attentive, responsive and often proactive in preparing us and reassuring us. Dad was almost sightless, and this presented an extra challenge to all, especially to him. He was in loving hands in a caring environment.

You discuss difficulty in answering your father’s questions in the book, “Are you and I finished? Are you ready to release me?” I imagine this was a tough question to answer in the moment. What advice can you share with others? I recommend considering how important such a conversation would be to the dying person, if he or she chooses to speak of “completion.” In our case, we had no “old baggage” to clear up, resentments or unresolved issues. It was easy to affirm that we were at peace. Nonetheless, it was hard to be ready to say, “I release you. When you are ready to go, I am ready to say goodbye.” Difficult things are often very important things to say. It was important to my dad, and so it was important to me. So, be strong, be vulnerable, show up, and be present in every way that you can. Listen to what the dying one needs to say; say what you need to say to the dying. Death can be “an event full of life” for all concerned.

You make a comment re: being in ‘awe’ that your father was able to say goodbye to each family member in a personalized and individual way with such love and kindness considering he was also in pain. Yes, I am still in awe of his presence of mind and heart. He was the ultimate example of courageous possibility, good humour, and loving affirmation. He directed the process by reaching out to each of us and accepting what we could (or could not) give in return.

Describe the Celebration of Life that was held after your father’s passing per his request. Setting the tone was a poem that my brother composed as a farewell to my dad. A choral group from the retirement centre sang songs that my dad had selected. My stepmother had previously written a humourous song about my dad, and her family members sang it. My brother shared remarks about my father’s life, highlighting the impact that his socially conscious leadings had on our lives. In keeping with my dad’s Quaker faith and practice, those in
attendance were then invited to share. One after the other, family members, friends, former clients and colleagues offered their personal reflections and words of gratitude. The event was perfectly orchestrated by his lasting effect on all of us, a true legacy of love expressed in a few minutes of gathered sharing.

Do you think your father’s social work background provided him with the skills and knowledge to be ready when he entered hospice to be accepting of the fact that he was dying? Yes, I do think it helped him. He had a full range of human feelings about his End-of-Life and he owned them all: anger, denial, sadness, fear, and then acceptance. In the end, his physical struggle inspired him to embrace the transition. He prepared himself and all of us most lovingly and with his own sense of humour sprinkled in. He was ready when the time came.

Julie Saeger Nierenberg is a writer, editor, author coach, and artist. Her website is: http://www.createwriteenterprises.com

Daddy, this is It. Being-with My Dying Dad is available in paperback or as a Kindle book from Amazon.


A special thank you to Julie for agreeing to be interviewed and allowing me to review her book!

By Victoria Brewster, MSW