2019 - February - Gazette - Thankful Thoughtful Thursdays

By: Jackie Hook
Thursday, February 28, 2019

Thankful Thoughtful Thursdays

I have the incredible honor of companioning people before and after a loved one dies. One thing I’ve learned in this process is that fulfilling the dying person’s wishes brings such comfort to those left behind. Doing this before the death helps to buoy family members along during what can be challenging days, weeks, and sometimes months. And looking back on it after the death helps the living in their search for meaning. I’ll always remember a sweet widow who had recently said goodbye to her lifelong partner. She told me she helped give her husband the death he wanted and that warmed her heart while it was also breaking. This widow and her husband had conversations about death and consequently had found some peace throughout the dying experience.

A group of us sat in a circle at a senior resource center and had some of these same kinds of conversations. Over several weeks, we talked about why it’s important to face death so we can more fully face our lives. We also discussed: appropriate legal documents; hospice and what happens as we die; Having the Talk of a Lifetime; instructions to the funeral director; and companioning yourself and others through grief. Some of the words participants used to describe what and how they felt from these sessions were gratitude, fulfillment, cleansing, calming, helpful and inspired.

Our group was the result of a joint coordination effort between Sandy Schuckers with the Centre County Office of Aging, Holly Reigh with Grane Hospice, and me.  As Sandy said, “It’s a great partnership we’ve developed and each year we’re offering classes to assist people on this journey.” Starting on March 21, we’re beginning a new series of classes entitled Thankful, Thoughtful Thursdays at the Bellefonte Senior Resource Center. Being thoughtful about end-of-life issues can make us more thankful now.

For example, knowing what happens as we die and the benefits of hospice can help alleviate a lot of fear, but many people have misconceptions. “I’m in the medical field and I educate the community and medical field about hospice. I continue to be amazed at the number of people, including healthcare employees, who don’t understand everything that hospice can provide, like the fact that usually insurance will cover hospice services at 100 percent,” said Holly. This is some of the information that will be shared in Thankful, Thoughtful Thursdays.

In addition, H. Amos Goodall, an elder law attorney with Steinbacher, Goodall and Yurchak, will provide helpful material on appropriate legal documents.  As Amos said, “It is important to think about your wishes on treatment at the end of life. There are a variety of tools available to implement your decisions, but the most important thing is to make a decision while you have time to think about your options and to make arrangements.”

And when it comes to honoring lives, many people have questions about what is involved and what choices there are in the funeral process of moving individuals from their places of death to their final resting places. To address these concerns, F. Glenn Fleming, supervisor and funeral director with Koch Funeral Home, will join the group one week. According to Glenn, “It's important to inform your loved ones what your wishes are for care after your death. Actually, I think it's unfair to make them guess whether you wished to have a traditional funeral with burial or a cremation followed by a memorial service. Your funeral director can assist in making these decisions so that your family can begin their journey knowing that they have honored those wishes.”  

Thankful, Thoughtful Thursdays will be held from 10 a.m. to noon, including lunch on the following days:

  • March 21        Introduction
  • March 28        Appropriate Legal Documents
  • April 4             What Happens as We Die and Hospice
  • April 11           Have the Talk of a Lifetime
  • April 18           No session
  • April 25           Instructions to the Funeral Director
  • May 2              Companioning Yourself and Others through Grief

Your’re encouraged but not required to attend all sessions. We hope you can join us for these free gatherings. RSVP to Vickey at 814-355-6720 by the Friday the week before the class. Space is limited.

We also hope you can join us for our grief education and support gathering, Monday’s Moments Complimentary Luncheon, on March 11 from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, 1730 University Drive, State College. Our theme will be “Death. Makes Life Real.” Losing someone we love changes so many things. One of the needs of mourners is to search for meaning. At this gathering we'll discuss what this search can look like and ways to support ourselves and others in the process. To RSVP, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-404-0546 or sign up on the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page by Wednesday, March 6. Space is limited.

Jackie Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula.  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.

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