Tag Archives: death and dying

The BRAVE Interview #10 May 2017: Andrea

Please enjoy this month’s BRAVE Interview with Andrea!

WHO are you? My name is Andrea Maffeo and I am Karen’s sister-in-law.  LOL! I am a medical secretary and have worked for MGH Medical Group for 18 years now. I have been married for over 25 years to the most patient man a wife could ever ask for.  Honestly don’t know what I would do without him.

WHAT is your One Brave Thing? My one brave thing is not something you would expect…….but to me it was my one brave thing.  It’s not something I did for myself like overcome a fear, it’s something I did for someone else.

WHEN did you do it? I did it in July 2016.

WHERE did it occur? Melrose Wakefield Hospital

HOW did you make it happen? Well, that’s a tough one.  I just had to say the dreaded words………’It’s time to let her go.’

WHY did you do it? My mom has never been a well woman, at least not for the past few years.  She was in a rehab/nursing home when she became ill.  She was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with a small bowel obstruction.  While having a CT scan she vomited and aspirated.  She ended up in the ICU and all her organs started to fail.  She went into septic shock due to the aspiration.  The only thing that was keeping her alive was the ventilator.  So the decision had to be made.  And since I was her healthcare proxy, my poor dad couldn’t make the decision at the time, I had to make the decision to let her go.  It was the hardest decision I ever had to make in my life, but I knew it was the right one.  I didn’t want her suffering anymore and I knew neither did she.  This is my One Brave Thing.

Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story, Andrea!

Read the other BRAVE interviews here: https://kwrites.com/?s=The+BRAVE+Interview

If you would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your life, email me at kmcwrites@gmail.com, or message me on my Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/k.m.creamer.author/!

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The BRAVE Interview #9 April 2017: Charlotte

Please enjoy this month’s BRAVE interview with Charlotte!

Who are you? I am a Registered Nurse, a Mom to 3 adult children (where has time gone?!), and a 5 month Golden Retriever named Charlie. I was born and raised in Maine, and have lived here ever since. I live in the small town of Limerick, Maine, a quiet country town.

What is your ‘one brave thing’? My One Brave Thing?  Let’s see. I have done a few brave things up to this point in my life, but the one I’d have to say that tops all was taking care of my terminally ill brother. He was 51 yrs old when diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, mets to the brain. His wish was to get home to Maine to die. I had no choice but to be brave, and honor is wishes. It was a very difficult, emotional time.

When did you do it?  In June 2007, my brother called me from the hospital in Florida, telling me he was very sick and needed me to fly down to help him.

Where did it occur? Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

How I made it happen: flew down, packed up his apartment.  I rented an RV, and found portable oxygen, filled his meds and things for the trip. Right out of the hospital, we were on our way home to my house. It was a rough ride in the back of an RV. I stayed back there with him, while my fiancé and my brother’s friend took turns driving. I wasn’t sure my brother would make it all the way, but he said he was okay each time I asked. I had spoken with hospice while traveling, and I got things set up for when he arrived. My bother lived only 5 days here, but made it to where he wanted to be, and that was home!

It is an honor to print your story, Charlotte, and I thank you so much for sharing it with us all!

Read the other BRAVE interviews here: https://kwrites.com/?s=The+BRAVE+Interview

If you would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your life, email me at kmcwrites@gmail.com!

Book Review: Celebrating Death

When I discovered that one of my colleagues wrote a book, I celebrating deathcouldn’t wait to read it.  The book is Celebrating Death: A Guidebook for Dying Well by Esther Shapiro, R.N., Msc.D.

The author comes by her expertise regarding death both personally and professionally, and she generously shares her hard-won insights regarding her experiences from both.

Right from the start, I connected with the stories in this book. When the author describes her NDE (Near Death Experience), I was reminded of my own that occurred when I was four years old, when I almost drowned in the lake. The kids I was playing with kept pushing my head under the water, over and over, until I couldn’t figure out which way was up to get out of the water. And then I stopped trying. I saw a very bright light and felt filled with peace. I was not at all fearful. I was just floating and being…until my dad ran in, fully clothed and still wearing his shoes, and pulled me from the water (full disclosure: I don’t actually remember that part).

The author also shares her experience as a hospice nurse. My own two years as a hospice nurse were bookended by the deaths of first my mother and then my father from cancer, and I share Esther’s dissatisfaction with the allopathic medical model and how cancer patients are treated within it. “But to see the Doctors instilling false hope into both the patient and the family is more than I can handle. And, I am trained and expected to go along with it. It makes me sick inside.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

She also introduces the idea of one’s death experience being on a spectrum from good to bad…to very bad. My own parents’ deaths illustrated this. My mother had the worst death of any that I have ever witnessed, bar none. My father had one of the best.  They both had cancer and died at home with hospice within about two years of their diagnosis, but their outcomes were very different.

The idea of an individual choosing their moment of death is also explored in this book. I believe, as the author does, that we choose our time to go, and it doesn’t matter if there is a 24/7 vigil by the bedside. If the person wants to be alone when they pass, then they will. I further agree with her that children shouldn’t be shielded from death and dying. I practice what I preach; my son went to his first wake when he was about 3 weeks old.
One of the more powerful parts of Celebrating Death is when the author tells a story first from the point of view of the cancer patient, and then from the point of view of the patient’s significant other who, as is so often the case, was also his primary caregiver. I was moved to tears of heartbreak as well as outrage by what happened to them.

So, this sort of became ‘all about me’ here, but this is one of the gifts of this book: it will remind you of, and help you to work through, your own feelings and personal encounters with death. In this way, Celebrating Death can be transformational and healing for you, dear reader.

This belongs on your bookshelf next to your Elisabeth Kubler-Ross volumes. It was an honor and a privilege to read this book.

NOTE: Esther Shapiro’s book Celebrating Death is also available on Kindle.

After you read Esther’s book, read my book, One Brave Thing! On Amazon.com, at your local bookseller, and also on Kindle!