2018 - May - Gazette - Nurturing. Where do you begin?
Nurturing, Where Do You Begin?
The patriarch of a family I know recently died. He had been in declining health for a couple of years and near the end, his family courageously chose to bring him home from the hospital and care for him at home with the help of hospice. As he was wheeled out into an ambulance to be transported home, a cold sleet and snowy rain fell. His son tried to cover him with blankets, but he asked to be able to enjoy the sensation of this freezing rain hitting his body – what a gift.
And the gifts continued. All of his grown children had returned home to help care for him in his final days. He appreciated having them near, they valued their time with him, and they became closer as they worked together and supported one another. Once he was settled in at home, extended family and friends stopped by to express their love, confirm they were each his “favorite” (a longstanding game) and say their goodbyes. This patriarch took it all in. His energy level increased for these four days of visits, and then once the last group left, his attention turned inward. He lived until the following morning.
These children gave their father the gift of dying at home surrounded by them as he wished. He gave his family the gift of love, authenticity, the model of living fully until the very end and a lesson in the importance of family and community.
After his death, his family had a wake, funeral service and burial. They personalized each of these with a tribute video, pictures, quotes, motorcycle police, color guard and taps. The number of participants and outpouring of support was overwhelming.
The family and friends continue to grieve this patriarch’s loss, but they do so knowing he was well-loved and supported. They know they are too. This knowing helps to carry them as they mourn.
All of the gifts of this experience were ways of nurturing - nurturing selves and others. Before and after a loved one’s death, nurturing yourself is critically important.
Nurturing can come in a variety of forms, so where do you begin? As is evident in the story of the patriarch, community is one way. Communities can support you, companion you and provide you with a safe place to share your stories and heal. According to writer and psychotherapist Francis Weller, “Without the protection of the community, grief cannot be fully released or processed.” Unfortunately in our culture, neighborhood communities are not as prevalent anymore. You have to be purposeful about finding your own. We are offering a few such opportunities:
- Monday’s Moments Complimentary Luncheon – “Nurturing, Where Do You Begin?” Monday, May 7 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, 1730 University Drive, State College – Just as it is important to nurture yourself when your body is healing from an illness or injury, the same is true when your heart is healing from a loss. Your body, mind and spirit are all in need of gentle care. At this gathering, we'll discuss some of the many ways to nurture ourselves and even partake in a few. RSVP by Thursday, May 4.
- Stories of Loss: A Grief Education and Support Group, Thursdays, May 10 through June 14 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at The Village at Penn State, 260 Lion’s Hill Road, State College - When you lose a loved one, having support helps you on your healing journey. It is powerful to realize you are not alone and to learn how others make it through. In this Grief Education and Support Group, we’ll discuss grief and mourning, have opportunities to share our own stories, if desired, and be among others who have experienced a loss. Adults of all ages are welcome – intergenerational support is a powerful healer too. RSVP by Tuesday, May 8.
- Monday’s Moments Complimentary Luncheon – “The Artistry of Grief,” Monday, June 4 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, 1730 University Drive, State College - When you're grieving, you may not feel like an artist. But if you allow grief to move within and through you, you'll make your own one-of-a-kind expressions of its many emotions. What do these expressions look like? At this gathering, we'll discuss various ways to both creatively express your grief and allow it to transform you. RSVP by Wednesday, May 30.
Because space is limited, RSVP for the above events by emailing Jackie@JackieHook.com, calling 814-404-0546 or visiting the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page. For additional information, please visit the Koch Funeral Home website’s Gatherings and Events page.
In addition to safe communities, there are countless other ways to nurture yourself and others. We hope you too find many gifts along the way.
Jackie Hook, MA, is a spiritual director and celebrant. She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College. For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.