First printed in The Daily Star, Oneonta, New York.
Death and dying
By Cheryl Petersen
With the advancement of medicine is coming an advancement in how we participate in death and dying. Five local professionals, served as a panelist at the Fly Creek Methodist Church, and brought discussion on the topic of accepting death and dying peacefully.
Dr. James Dalton, Director of Medical Education at Bassett, said “People actually restrict their lives when they don’t look at dying. Looking at death helps us realize what matters most to us.”
Dalton pointed out that death and dying aren’t medical question, but involve human talks.
The Reverend Betsy Jay, Chaplain, mentioned the benefits of talking about death in advance. “Before a crisis,” she said.
Dr. Chris Mulik, Hospice, said, “It’s a mental shift.”
Dr. Carol Beechy, Palliative Care and Hospice Specialist, highlighted the availability of Guides for people to follow. The Guides offer useful questions to ask about death.
Five Wishes, is a document designed to serve as a living will. It’s a way to open the door to conversations in regard to learning from others their personal, emotional and spiritual desires in the end, or expressing your own wishes.
Peter Deysenroth, Funeral Director, said, “People typically try to hide from death.” But, in his thirty-year career, Deysenroth has noticed an uptick in people specifying beforehand how they want to die, even following through on pre-paid funeral expenses. “It makes for easier days for everyone,” he added.
The necessity to unlearn the tendency to keep a person existing medically was discussed.
“I was trained to fix the body,” said Dr. Tom Huntsman, Chief of Plastic Surgery at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown. “After many years of service, I realized I can’t fix everything. At that point, I started learning how to transition from being a physician to being a human being.”
The feeling of failure oftentimes prevents honing the skill to transition. “I was able to make the transition when I realized that although I can’t help a person surgically, I can help humanly,” said Huntsman.
A book, “Being Mortal,” authored by Atul Gawande, American surgeon, initiated Pastor Sharon Rankins-Burd to host the discussion, April 11.
“I heard him speak and have read his book,” said Dalton. “He writes, not as a doctor, but as a person. We need to start the conversation about death and dying. We need to let others know how we want our last years to go.”
“I’ve discovered it’s a team effort,” said the Reverend Carol Jubenville, Director of Independent Living. “When the patient, family members, physicians, and care-takers all work together, death can be beautiful.”
Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. A branch of this Christian ministry has been active in our community for 23 years. Last week, there was a ribbon cutting for a home that now belongs to a married couple and their young children.
“It took a lot of patience and faith,” said a local board member of Habitat for Humanity. “Faith made the impossible, possible.”
The project began nearly three years ago. An old cabin was donated to the Habitat organization. The inside was renovated and squared up. An architect drew up plans to add an extra bedroom to the cabin. Through many volunteer hours, the project was completed.
Philanthropy is a mean to nurture spirituality. We don’t want to do other people’s work for them, but as the board member said, “It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up.”
The film: What We Did on Our Holiday, is not bad. I’d even recommend it to watch.
It’s about a soon-to-be divorced couple, with 3 children, who travel to Scotland to attend the 75th birthday party of terminally ill “grandfather.” The couple decides it is better not to tell the grandfather that they are headed to divorce. They tell the kids to pretend the family is happy and cohesive.
Of course it’s difficult to pretend and lie. The truth eventually comes out. Film writers and directors, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin spotlighted the truth that most families are dysfunctional and muddling through life the best way they know how, hopefully realizing that doing so with love is better than doing so with anger.
I couldn’t help but think back to my parent’s generation when parents stayed married more often than not.
It was my generation that bumped up the divorce rate to 50%. We thought we shouldn’t have to live like our parents who endured horrible marriages, so we made divorce fashionable.
But now, the idea of staying married, not for the sake of staying married or for the children so much, but for the sake of exercising love and forgiveness rather than hate and resentment, is returning. I guess my parent’s generation wasn’t so old-fashioned after all. I remember Mom and Dad getting over their strong opinions and coming to agreements.
Excerpt from new book, “from science & religion to God”
Humans must improve their ideals in order to improve their models. Sick thoughts evolve sick bodies. Selfishness evolves not only carnal pains, but also the carnal pleasures that bring disappointment.
When we look to the flesh for life, we find death. When we look to matter for comfort, we find discomfort. When we look to the physical earth for truth, we find impermanence and confusion. Now, turn away from flesh and earth and look toward Truth and Love, the origin of all happiness, harmony, and immortality.
Think about it: we can detach from the body to a degree, unconsciously, when we become so absorbed in a movie or activity that we forget our body. So, detach instead from the body—as a form of human belief—and learn the meaning of God and creation.
Spiritual consciousness requires a mental effort. We start with thought and work patiently to conquer all that is unlike God. We have to begin at the highest standpoint possible. Start with mind instead of brain. Start with humanity instead of egotism. Start with spiritual history rather than mortal history. Start with God instead of many creators.
There is only one creator, one Being. Whatever seems to be a new creation is but the discovery of some previously unknown idea of Truth, or a break-off from an old mortal thought.
The fleeting concepts of the human mind have their day before the permanent facts of Spirit appears. Immature mortal thoughts will grow out of themselves and finally give place to the glorious ideas of divine Mind.
Look where you walk and act as though you possess the power given to you by God.
Every stumble, every loss, every disappointment, every tinge of pain can be used to break through the barriers of the problem and discover what belongs to wisdom and Love. Each time we gain more correct views of God, the invisible becomes visible. Life expands into self-completeness and we find all in God.