JourneyCare is proud to host Kimberly Paul, author of “Bridging the Gap” and podcast host of “Death by Design,” as she shares touching and humorous personal stories and life lessons she discovered while working at the bedside of hospice patients for nearly 20 years. Kimberly is traveling across the U.S. in an RV to educate communities, help people feel more comfortable talking about end of life, and empower individuals to reclaim death as a human experience and not a medical event. Get tickets at journeycare.org/livewell.
As I travel the country on my Live Well, Die Well tour, a road trip of 49 states in an RV, in an effort to reclaim death from the medical community as well as Washington D.C., I’ve encountered something interesting: People do not think individuals suffering from a serious illness are able to embrace living. Throughout our lives we forget that death is one single moment. And yes, even those facing a serious illness—that most likely will take their life—are living fully and have managed to be some of my greatest teachers of life. People are mostly not afraid of death; they are afraid of suffering prior to death.
Taveon Woodward, a very special boy in JourneyCare’s All About Kids pediatric program, just turned 9 and is living with rhabdoid pleuropulmonary blastoma – his third relapse since he was first diagnosed at 3 years old. At the start of this year, the doctors gave him the “all clear,” but by April they told him it was “back with a vengeance." This time, though, his only treatment option is palliative chemotherapy to treat his symptoms.
When Social Worker Jennifer Leahy Junas and I admitted Taveon, we knew his birthday was close and could be his last. We asked how he would like to celebrate this year, and he shared that he'd love to go roller skating. Oh boy! With that response my mind went a’whirling to my own childhood …
JourneyCare pet therapy volunteers bring a variety of trained, furry companions to visit patients in their homes, assisted-living and care facilities, and our Hospice CareCenters. They may also comfort campers at Camp Courage, JourneyCare’s bereavement camp for children ages 6-13, who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Twelve years ago, I was a patient at the Rehab Institute of Chicago (RIC). The day that I was transferred there was a low point for me as I’d hoped instead to be going home. As I settled into my new surroundings, I noticed a dog and its owner standing in the hallway outside of my room. Before I knew it, the dog was at my bedside, resting its head on the side of my bed and looking up at me with eyes of love. The dog was one of several therapy dogs assigned to work at RIC. To this day, that visit stands out as a turning point in my long recovery from major surgery and multiple strokes. As a life-long dog lover, I told myself that someday, when I had the time, I would train a therapy dog so we could bring the same peace and joy that I’d experienced to others.
Camp Courage is JourneyCare’s bereavement camp for kids who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Twenty-five years ago, my dad's cancer returned. I was 9 years old at the time and didn't fully understand the magnitude of the situation. He declined quickly, and only four months after his diagnosis, he died. This trauma still lives with me today, but I have been able to live with it thanks to the support I received in the aftermath.
The most significant boost I received at that time was from JourneyCare. My mom immediately enrolled our family in their monthly grief support groups, and it was there that I learned that I wasn't alone in this world. While my experiences were unique — like anyone else's — I took comfort in knowing that there were other children that would be going on a similar life journey to my own.
I’ve been employed as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for the past 26 years. I never thought I would work as a CNA for this long, but when you have passion for what you do, it’s easy to find comfort in your work. It gives me great pleasure to serve the people within my community. If I can put a smile on someone’s face each day, that makes my life worth living.
But at times, there are occasions when being a caregiver can be stressful. To reduce stress when caring for others at JourneyCare, I first take the time to take care of my own well-being.
As a music therapist for JourneyCare, I was making a music therapy visit when a nurse from our hospice team saw me and asked me to play for another patient who was very near end of life.
Susan was still fairly young, a 66 year old woman who had suffered from multiple sclerosis. When I entered the room, she was lying in bed, had slightly labored breathing, and did not respond when I greeted her or said her name. She had family surrounding her, two sisters and a brother-in-law, who all very kindly greeted me.
This year, the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants celebrateed its 42nd National Nursing Assistants Week in June – and JourneyCare honored the invaluable contributions made every day by our outstanding team of Certified Nursing Assistants!
Our spectacular team of CNAs create a community of caring for our patients, their families and fellow JourneyCare team members every single day!
Drawing on their musical and clinical palliative care training, music-thanatologists use harp and voice to address physical, emotional and spiritual suffering at the end of life. Using music prescriptively, they vary the tempo and tone of music to respond to changes occurring in a patient's body, like a slowing of pulse and breathing, in the final hours of life. During their visits — music vigils — they alternate sound and silence to help patients and loved ones relax and rest.
Music connects us universally. Some will say that it is music that makes us human.
Anthropologist John Blacking in his 1973 book, “How Musical is Man?” bemoans that Western culture music has become the domain of the so-called “experts.” However, when examining the cultures he had studied, music was simply a part of a person’s everyday life.
Music is part of everyone.
All living humans have the tempo of their heart rate and the depth of their respiration rate. But as we die, these mostly lyrical and robust waves change; with a shorter ambitus, a gurgling texture overlaying the breath, and a barely perceptible pulse. How can the living relate to this change, especially we when we in our technology-driven culture, don’t see ourselves as experts in either death or music?
At Sharing Our Journey, we are thrilled about JourneyCare’s upcoming Allstars of Project Runway fashion show on Saturday, June 29! This fashion-forward event will feature five designers from TV’s “Project Runway” unveiling their 2019 collections at Theater on the Lake in Chicago. Proceeds will benefit JourneyCare programs for patients living with serious illness.
To share more about this brand-new event, we chatted with former “Project Runway” contestant Peach Carr, who will feature her couture in this unique event and serves on its planning committee. Here’s her inside look at “Allstars of Project Runway”:
Losing a loved one is difficult for anyone. For children, grief is experienced differently and every child grieves in his or her own way. As an adult, you serve as a role model to the children and teenagers in your life. By encouraging them to express their feelings, you can help them build healthy coping skills through the grieving process and for the future.
Learn how you can help the children in your life through the grieving process with these helpful tips in mind: