by Janet Fanaki, Creator of RESILIENT PEOPLE
100 Resilient Cities aims to get cities around the world to be - well, more resilient. Funded by The Rockefeller Foundation, the goal of 100RC is to help them bounce back from environmental, economic and social challenges.
Toronto is one of three Canadian cities chosen to be a part of this dynamic initiative.
On June 4, 2019 the City of Toronto, through Resilient Toronto unveiled its first Resilience Strategy to a packed auditorium of academics, media, and city stakeholders including residents and program participants.
Climate change and social equity are the two main areas of focus in this report.
Toronto’s Resilience Strategy aims to give city planners and other departments a direction in helping to prepare for extreme changing climates while also assisting a growing group of marginalized residents.
Elliott Cappell, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Toronto, explained the findings and where he hopes it will go.
“Toronto has a mindset that isn’t modern. It needs to catch-up to how big the city is going to get and today we are lighting a spark.”
According to Toronto’s city manager, Chris Murray, “The city is growing by 35,000 people per year, with a projection in the next 20 years of an additional one million residents.”
Mix this type of rapid growth with an aging infrastructure, the report sheds light on ways to prepare the city for the shocks and stresses to follow.
As the report states, “The city is getting hotter, wetter and wilder” and it needs a resilience framework to deal with climate change and how this affects different socioeconomic groups.
Flooding is a major challenge.
Anyone living in the city can confirm that Toronto has seen a record number of rain days in 2019 with flooding posing serious hazards, especially to the Toronto islands.
Elliott Cappell said, “Currently, it is difficult to point to which department within the City of Toronto is responsible for flooding” But, “through the new resilience strategy better partnerships would ensure that the right departments and agencies are working together. These could include water utility, transportation, Toronto Transit Commission and city planning.”
The second area of focus in the strategy is to help the equity-seeking (or better known as marginalized) residents.
These groups are more vulnerable to climate change and other societal stresses and shocks. Outdoor workers are a good example of this, or residents living in one of Toronto’s many low-income and aging high-rise apartments.
Currently over 50,000 Torontonians live in buildings that are 35 yrs old or older.
We see when a shock happens to such a structure, it comes with catastrophic consequences. Take for example 650 Parliament Street.
Earlier in the year, this building experienced an electrical fire to its outdated system which displaced 1,500 occupants for an indefinite amount of time. Their experience would be vastly different to that of a luxury condominium residence and its occupants.
One finding of the research showed that the city has underinvested in physical structures. With 45% of its rental stock in such buildings, the city needs to prepare for future shocks and stresses.
8,000 Torontonians participated in the research. In the beginning only white middle-class residents participated, but a move was made to engage more marginalized groups. They needed to learn how all residents experience resilience in different ways.
Being a part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s network allowed the City of Toronto to collaborate with other global cities and learn best practices.
Amy Buitenhuis, Senior Policy Advisor with the City of Toronto added her pick for a city doing things well. “Rotterdam is a city that faces challenges with water. They have installed public water parks that get filled with collected rain. When it’s not raining the spaces are turned into community space. It’s very inspiring.”
Elliott Cappell sites Boston as an inspiration. The city established an Office of Resilience and Racial Equity.
“Boston recognized that racial equity must be considered when implementing city services. Case in point, when potholes needed to be filled the protocol required a call to 311. The neighbourhoods with the most potholes distrusted government the most and would not call. The city needed to change the way that repair requests were done to address barriers to racial lines.”
The researchers admit that the document will not solve all of Toronto’s problems. But it does hope to light a spark for ideas and to start doing things differently.
by Jane Kristoffy, Right Track Educational Services
What will it be like at your house when final report cards arrive?
Joy, celebration and rewards? Or shock, tears and disappointment?
If it’s the latter, don’t dismay. Some of the best opportunities for a student’s growth come from academic failure and setbacks.
Failures at school present kids with the opportunity to learn from them, set goals, and to move forward. They can perform better next time. They can build resilience.
A couple of years ago, a Grade 10 boy’s mother contacted me in a panic, seeking help for her son who was amid final exams. He was struggling and stress-ridden, clueless as to how he could prepare for his last difficult exam. It was the eleventh hour. She wanted me to swoop in and help him turn things around.
In our discussion, I learned her son’s efforts were barely satisfactory in the course thus far. He hadn’t put enough work into the class and therefore wasn’t set up well for his final exam.
I suggested to the Mom that she step back and let her son figure it out; perhaps the best outcome was for him to do his best under circumstances, and face the consequences afterwards.
It sounds harsh, but sometimes a reality check is the best way to get a student to wake up. After a failure like this, one can build resilience - a crucial life skill.
Resilience is a muscle we can build, and the earlier we start, the better. Students need to get used to it!
Elementary and middle school is the best time, so that responding to setbacks in high school (and beyond) is old hat! Resilience helps students “get up” and try again after failing a test.
What if this happens at your house?
Here’s what students can do to build their vital resilience “muscle” if they don’t achieve their desired grades:
If your child is upset about undesirable grades this June, this is an opportunity to encourage the growth of resilience. See the lemonade (not just the lemons) in this situation!
Developing resilience will serve your child well in school, the workplace, and life.
Wishing you the best news (or “teachable moments”) when you open report card envelopes this month!
If your child needs a boost to turn things around after academic disappointment or failure, Right Track can help. We can work with your child or teen on the steps to make positive changes, and develop effective learning skills - not to mention resilience.
For more information, check out our website to read about our 'Study Skills Bootcamps', to subscribe to our newsletter, or follow on social media.
Visit www.righttrackeducation.ca for more information.
* What happened with the grade 10 student I described in this article? Not surprisingly, he bombed his last exam. It was a wake-up call for him! The following September, we worked with him on setting goals for Grade 11, and on implementing effective learning & study strategies. Grade 11 is not too late to turn study habits and attitudes around, and build resilience. It’s never too late!
When my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer and our family was in crisis mode, I really leaned on my circle of support.
Having the right positive people around me was everything to keep me sane. First and foremost, it was the negativity that I needed to avoid.
Following her treatment for breast cancer, a clinical psychologist named Dr. Susan Silk coined the term "The Ring Theory" to help others identify their own support network.
She recalls a colleague coming to visit her in the hospital even though she had said that she did not want to see anyone.
The visitor said, “This isn’t about you” to which Dr. Silk replied, “My breast cancer isn’t about me, it’s about you?”
This is a classic situation where the wrong thing was said to the wrong person. Dr. Silk created a solution to solve this problem. Here it is in her words:
“Draw a circle - this is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. Repeat as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order.”
The idea is meant to protect the person in the centre ring – the one who is most vulnerable and in crisis.
They are allowed to complain, cry and scream about their frustration to anyone in the other circles, but no one in the outer circles can 'dump' back in.
People in crisis don’t need someone’s complaints or to hear things like, “Be grateful...” or “You should hear what happened to me.”
The person in the centre needs to be heard and believe that someone is really there for them. By having their closest and most trusted ally in the ring beside them ensures that they will get the right support.
Complaining and frustration is still allowed from those in the outer rings, but only to those in bigger rings.
Bring comfort in and dump negativity out.
For more information on The Ring Theory
by Janet Fanaki
BetterHelp provides online connections to licensed behaviour therapists and counsellors via text or phone conversations.
I came across this site while doing some research and it immediately intrigued me. Having been a fan of in-person therapy for a number of years now, I wanted to give online counselling a go.
The registration is simple with straightforward questions. All are meant to gauge the client's needs, history of counselling services and risk level.
Some of the questions relate to the type of counselling that's requested (ie individual or family), issues that you'd like to work on, whether you have had counselling before, sexual orientation and marital status, thoughts of suicide, as well as alcohol consumption.
Within an hour I was contacted by a counsellor. Here is his first message to me...
"My name is Dr. xxx xxxx and I am a licensed therapist (license number LPC xxx).
Welcome to the online counseling room, which will be our private and secure place to communicate. This room is open 24/7, and you can enter it at any time, from any Internet-connected device wherever you are.
To help us get started, can you please tell me what brought you here? Just write a few short sentences about the challenges you're experiencing or what you would like to talk about and we will go from there.
Looking forward to working with you,"
Personal and approachable is how I would characterize it.
For some people, the idea of anonymously sharing their personal feelings through a website is very appealing especially in the age of social media. After all, we live in a time where people post their most intimate sad moments to thousands of strangers in the hope of getting back encouragement and a sense of belonging.
BetterHelp goes beyond that in actually connecting users with a professional who recommends solid action plans and advice for a relatively low fee.
For $49 US/week (approximately $65 CDN) clients can video or audio message with a therapist. This is a lower option to in-person therapy with the average price being $250/session for a licensed psychotherapist, with many recommending weekly visits.
When he did not receive a reply from me from his initial note, my therapist even followed up to check-in and make sure I was alright. That was comforting.
I would recommend BetterHelp to someone who was curious about therapy or is looking for a different method of receiving it. It certainly turns traditional therapy on it's head but I would argue that getting any kind of help from a licensed practitioner is better than getting none at all.
I'd love to know what you think of it.
A group of World ORT alumni gathered at the Toronto home of Pablo Reich for the first time.
From Argentina to Israel, Uruguay to Canada, they came together to reunite as graduates of ORT schools.
Established in 1880 in St. Petersburg, Russia, ORT is the largest Jewish vocational and training organization. Currently ORT operates in 37 countries with approximately 300,000 students.
Pablo Reich, himself a graduate of an ORT school in Argentina, hosted the event at his home in north Toronto.
He says, “Going to university wasn’t an option for many Jewish children so the ORT environment provided a technical education. Now ORT Argentina is a popular school offering STEM training to both Jewish and non-Jewish students.”
Elly Gotz is a prominent Toronto businessman, ORT alumnus from Kovno, Lithuania and a Holocaust survivor.
As Elly explains, there were no schools to attend in the ghetto. The Jewish management asked permission from the Nazis to start a trade school.
He learned metalwork while others were trained in locksmithing, welding, cutting and drilling.
“I loved it,” he says. “I didn’t have to think about how I was going to die, I was busy and at 15 years old I was made a teacher and training other students.”
After the war, Elly attended an ORT school to learn electronics, which eventually led him to become an electrical engineer.
He says that some of his fellow ORT students and classmates have gone on to illustrious careers including a professor, dental technician and acclaimed businessman. All credit ORT for their success.
According to Lindy Meshwork, Executive Director of ORT Toronto, next steps for ORT in Canada are fundraising as well as raising awareness for their programs.
On October 19 a Battle of the Air Bands will be held at the MOD Club in downtown Toronto, while in the spring of 2019 a large gala will be held to raise funds for ORT as well as Jewish day schools.
For more information on ORT, please visit www.ort-toronto.org
My name is Nigel Adams. I am a 26 years young Inuk from Kangirsujuaq, Nunavik.
I speak on the epidemic suicides around Nunavik. More men have ended their lives than women in our communities. I believe the reason is because we do not have a place to speak on our raw emotions without being criticized nor judged.
So many challenges affect our people. Men in our communities are facing false allegations, being bullied throughout their lives, no jobs and unable to support themselves, children are taken away from their parents, alcohol and smoking weed are used to numb their raw emotions.
We would have more men in our communities attending Healing programs if a man with a powerful voice spoke about their own situation.
I myself was someone who used drugs and alcohol to numb their pain. I was trying to get away from reality, living with people in a different community who abused alcohol too. All I heard and saw was violence, anger and pain. There was constant shouting, walls were broken and the television was too. I was truly traumatized.
They would tell me that ‘I was a waste of air, waste of sperm and I was useless.’ I battled with depression and suffered anxiety attacks. This is the reason why I started drinking and smoking drugs in the first place. Once the drugs and alcohol wore off, my pain only grew so I decided to go full sober, cold turkey.
I am glad to be fully sober and I want to encourage others to let go of their bad habits and gain good ones. Mine became weightlifting.
I am determined to make a difference. I've been bullied throughout my entire life for how I looked and how I spoke. Every single day I suffered from bullying, having my ass kicked and going home with a bloody face.
My journey started when I was 3 years old and the other kids told me to ‘go back to where I came from’ and ridiculed me for not being born in the community. Students took the awards I received like Most Improved and Best Attendance from my hands inside the school bus, tore the papers right in my face and spat at me.
In my teenage years, I wanted to end my life and nearly did but was saved by my best friend. He mentored me into believing in myself and I became one of the top athletes around Nunavik. Sadly my best friend ended his own life a few years later.
I am devoting my life to the people who are constantly bullied. My life has been full of difficult obstacles that I had to overcome and I never gave up. I am just getting started.
My grandparents were tortured and abused in residential schools.
The pain that my grandmother endured was passed on to her children, which was then passed down to me, and all of my siblings.
My grandfather’s dogs were slaughtered right in front of him by the government. To us, a dog is a man’s best friend and this left him wounded. The pain that he endured was passed down to my parents.
I call this intergenerational trauma.
My sister, brother and I were taken away from my parents due to false allegations. It took my father eighteen months to get us back, but when he was 19 years old we lost my younger brother.
He was a rebel kid but I focused on teaching him to lead a healthy life. We ran a marathon together from Quebec City to Montreal and did weight training.
I taught him have self-confidence, to motivate the people around him and to be competitive in sports. I am proud to say that my baby brother also kicked my ass at basketball.
When he put his mind to it, Robert Adams was a man who got stuff done. We gave each other positive energy, and not having him here has left a huge hole in my heart.
From all of my experiences I am healing from the suffering. I am now sharing my story to encourage people to have confidence in themselves, even through the toughest times and I want to make a difference in northern communities.
Nigel Adams is a strong voice for his community and has shared a CBC Radio interview he did in August 2018 on the epidemic facing Indigenous people. To reach Nigel email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy of Nigel Adams
Dawn Custode is dying of cancer. Since her diagnosis over two and a half years ago, she has faced the disease with the same conviction as she has lived her entire life.
She continued to go sailing with her husband, took vacations like travelling to Africa, and visited with as many family and friends that her energy and time would allow.
I spoke with Dawn over the phone in late April. At this point, she has weeks and maybe days to live, but it’s important for her to share her lessons on resilience, stressing that everyone get a colonoscopy, and not waste a minute of time.
Here is a bit of our recorded interview.
RESILIENT PEOPLE: Dawn, you’ve been given this platform. What are you hoping to achieve from doing interviews?
DAWN CUSTODE: My major goal, my mantra is to be mindful of your time because tomorrow is not guaranteed.
If I can save one person from dying from colon cancer because they didn’t look after their body or they let the doctors push them off. If I can save one person from realizing they’re in a bad relationship because they don’t realize they’d be better off without them. If I can make someone realize they’re putting off a trip that may never come, I’ve achieved what I wanted to do.
Have you always had that mantra?
Growing up I was very extroverted. Our family moved a lot so I would show up in the middle of the school year and leave in the middle of the next school year to join another school.
It was part of my personality, making the most of things. Even if it was pizza and wings on a Friday night while playing a game of Trivial Pursuit, I always had something on the go.
I’ve heard that moving a lot builds resilience. Oprah has also said, “The path in your life prepares you for where you are now.” Can you identify with this, based on where you are now?
I feel there’s a lot of irony there. Even though I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do I still haven’t done a lot of the things I want to do. Having this diagnosis and feeling so good has made me do things I never thought I’d want to do. Like going to Africa.
What’s left that you’d like to achieve?
I’ve been going week-by-week, day-by-day. I’m hoping to get to certain goals. I spend time a lot of time at the Region of Waterloo Hospice Centre. Through their auxiliary programs they offer free services to patients and caregivers like massages, Reiki, and haircuts.
Everyone in the program is living with something terminal, and they’ve been a big part of helping me through the process. We all get together and it’s nice to go somewhere where we’re all going through the same thing. We laugh about something and they understand where I’m coming from.
One of my goals is to be at the ‘Hospice for Handbags fundraiser’ on May 16. They’ve asked my husband and I to tell our story for a video that will be posted on their website and shown at the auction.
I really want to see that. My family and friends are coming up and that’s my goal - to make it to May 16.
I’d also like to watch my friend’s son’s graduation on June 1 and anything else that is coming up.
Right now it’s day by day and it seems to be going ok.
One of the doctors had given you till the end of the month. It’s now the end of the month – how are you feeling?
I’m not ready to go. My blood pressure is good, my count’s good, I’m still turning yellow, I’m still having more pain each day than I was before but managing it with pain medication. I can still feel the downside coming but its not coming as quickly as they said.
What’s important for people to know?
Your life is your life and you should live it the way you want to live it. You have to do it in the time that you’re given.
I’ve watched so many people plan to retire at 65 and drop dead at 63. There is no time sometimes and you have to be prepared for that.
What are you hoping is on the other side?
I’m hoping it’s like the rainbow gates where all the pets you love come running for you. I hope there are people waiting for me on the other side – my mom and my grandparents. I’m not afraid of it.
What are you hoping your legacy will be?
Learn from my experience that positivity breeds positivity. The only reason I’m still here is because I didn’t curl up into a ball and let it happen to me. I was publicly out there with my diagnosis. I took positivity no matter where it came from – a prayer circle, someone taking the coffee in a cup that I made for them, making me a card. All that positivity has come to me and I’ve tried to send it out ten-fold. Learn from me and don’t waste your time.
I’m hoping that someone gets a colonoscopy, or says, “I haven’t taken that trip that I’ve wanted to take” and does it.
It doesn’t sound like you have many regrets
Not really. I have regrets of what I’m leaving behind and more regret for the people I’m leaving behind. No father should outlive his daughter. It’s hard to deal with that.
I have friends who have sick family and are dealing with me being sick. I regret that burden on them.
People say, “You’re such an inspiration”. I don’t want to be an inspiration I want to be the reason you do it. Don’t think about it, do it.
Since this interview was done in April 2019, Dawn Custode passed away on May 26, 2019.
To listen to the full interview with Dawn Custode and Janet Fanaki, please click below:
Kristy Wieber and Lisa Owen are the co-owners of Rent frock Repeat. In 2010, they revolutionized the way women dressed for formal occasions with an online rental business and two bustling showrooms in Toronto and Ottawa.
Now the pair has put their successful business on pause to start a new venture, a monthly subscription service for casual and office wear. Promising to make our closets more exciting and lessen the fashion footprint.
I sat down with Kristy and Lisa to talk about running a business – the resilience it takes and the rewards that come with it.
RESILIENT PEOPLE: How did you come together as partners?
KRISTY WIEBER: About fifteen years ago we were working together and instantly became friends. Even though we liked our jobs we thought that we should do our own thing together but weren’t sure what that would be. We thought about a bookstore, a doggy daycare, or a café or a doggy bookstore café.
We had the years to get to know each other’s work ethics so there wasn’t that trepidation to figure each other out.
What are the challenges in starting a business or working together?
Lisa Owen: People want to hear us say something that’s really challenging. The brilliance of it is that we understood each other from the beginning. On hard days things may get to you about the other person but when I’m losing my mind she’s the person I can call and talk to and the same goes for Kristy.
Some people will say don’t go into business with friends. What we did well from the beginning, other than knowing each other’s work style, is we had the tough conversations and almost went through a type of marriage counselling course to figure things out before going into it.
On the back deck over a glass of wine we asked the tough questions like: Who’s the decision maker? If we’re at a cross roads how are we going to make the final decision? What’s your role and my role? What’s going to happen when you pass away or I pass away?
Those are hard conversations to have. Were those difficult?
KW: No. We’re known each other for so long. If you can’t have those conversations you shouldn’t go into business together.
There are so many challenges that come with the finances of running a business. There were times when you had a lot of money, and then didn’t and had to find more. How did you deal with that?
LO: You’re on a roller coaster ride but from a Zen-like perspective we realized that money has always come and we’ve always found a way.
You need to reframe the question, is money the problem or is it something else? We focus more on being creative with our business and innovating our way out of situations. Money gets you TO the end result; it’s not THE end result.
Were you this calm from the beginning of setting-up RfR?
KW: There was definitely some nail biting in the beginning because you don’t know and there are many eggs in all these baskets, putting our own money in the business, waking up in the middle of the night. But as you go and you make it through the hurdles we just kept doing what’s right for the customer and the company. We kept those things in mind and we always seemed to find a way.
LO: We’ve gone through such highs and lows that now we’re used to it. We read once, every time you fear something write it down, and after you do it write down the outcome. You realize that the outcome was never as bad as the fear. You say, ‘look at me, I’m ok.’
When you’re in a fearful mode, go back to your fear book and it will bring you calm and remind you that you can be there again and you’ll be ok.
Who were your mentors?
KW: I look to friends, family, our customers and employees. I’m most interested in what they’re saying about what we’re doing and that keeps me motivated to do the best for them.
LO: Seth Godin has had the biggest impact on my mind and how I see problems. He gives it a different lens. Also Ron Duke who we met from our time on Dragon’s Den.
What advice would you give a new entrepreneur to build that resilience in business?
LO: Don’t ask what you’re passionate about but why you want to go into business for yourself. Make sure that its something you love so much that when you string together 7 horrible days you’d still work through them because you’re so passionate about it.
KW: Consider your worst-case scenario. If you lose everything, are you going to be ok with that? Will you be ok with moving back in with your mom or dad or starting all over again? If you can say yes to those things, then you’ll be ok to move forward.
Is there a mantra that you follow?
LO: I’m ok with failure and I’m ok with great success but I’m not ok with anything in between. We didn’t want mediocre – if we’re going to do something we’re doing it right or not at all.
Money’s not what you’re after. Good work environment, mentors, and people that are there to support you.
Please talk about the new venture.
KW: For the last 8 years we’ve been renting spectacular dresses for one- time occasions. Rent is so much more widely known and accepted now. There are lots of subscriptions on the market but clothes are still accumulating in people’s closets.
Customers will fill-out a style profile with their size, favourite colours and designers, if you want a stylist or pick outfits yourself. We take that all and build it into a service that’s totally curated for the customer.
A box comes each month with 4-6 pieces. Send them back or buy at a discounted rate. It’s a way to get an amazing variety without an overstuffed closet.
Thank you Kristy and Lisa for spending the time.
For more information on Rent frock Repeat and their new subscription service go to www.rentfrockrepeat.com
Rent frock Repeat's Co-Founders Lisa Owen & Kristy Wieber
by Ashley Koff RD, CEO, TheBetterNutritionProgram
When asked about resilience, how my patients handle life’s challenges, my response is always: they learn resilience begins within. Doing a “gut check,” having “the guts,” feeling “gutted” but moving forward, our expressions remind us that your digestion – your guts – needs to be working better in order for you to have the guts to get up and keep going.
How do I know if my guts are in good shape?
Your body sends you signals all the time, the question is if you are listening. Resilience begins within our bodies where our digestion needs to review, process, absorb, eliminate or send alarms about what it gets. When your digestion shuts down (not going), blows up (bloats), sends things the wrong way (reflux), smells awful (putrification) these signals are like the check engine light going on in your car. The body wants you to prioritize its digestive efforts ASAP.
You should see if your digestion is better using the Better Nutrition Digestive Evaluation – a quick quiz to take quarterly or at least once a year and to share your results with your practitioner(s). It’s the only tool that looks at all areas of digestion and what could be impacting yours, and its an easy quiz!
You can’t be resilient or achieve any better health goal without better digestion! The nutrients your digestion requires to run better help turn off stress, help relax muscles, help support healthy immune function, help optimize neurotransmitters for emotional health, and help remove toxins.
What do I do if my digestion isn’t better?
If it’s ongoing or if it’s severe (blood, coughing, irritation) and interfering with your day to day then you should talk to your practitioner immediately. You can also learn to use certain nutrients to tune-up your digestion. Here’s a good overview of how to fix your digestion.
Is it hard to get better digestion?
It depends on where your system is and what you are handling right now. But it can be deliciously easy to get in key nutrients that help your digestion run better. For example, this better breakfast bowl helps tune up and maintain healthy digestion.
Resilience like digestion isn’t something you get to work towards, achieve, and then not focus on again. It requires daily check-ins with decisions you make, and it requires taking in nutrients that support the body to respond to stress and other outside stimuli better.
Ashley Koff RD is an internationally-renowned registered dietitian and knows the key to resolving our national health crisis is to empower individuals to achieve better health from better nutrition. Koff created The Better Nutrition, Simplified Program, a virtual tool kit of resources including the Better Nutrition Plan, Recipes, Nutrition lessons, Consults, Quick Start Guides, The Ashley Koff Approved (AKA) Personal Shopper and her award-winning blogs to get Better Nutrition for Better Health. www.ashleykoffrd.com
by Susan Lee Mintz
Since my husband’s death on August 17, 1994 from AIDS-related pneumonia, I have focused much of my attention and energy on the many issues involving my 25-year marriage to a bisexual man who suffered greatly with a life threatening illness.
With my hands-on experience, I found I was able to assist other people who would face many of the same issues that I had gone through. These issues involved emotions and heartfelt, sometimes gut-wrenching decisions and situations where I was, not only a wife, but a caregiver, friend and eventually would become a widow.
I learned about hospice when I was told that there was nothing further that could be done for my husband. There is nothing worse than hearing those words. My husband knew he was going to die and we had to make a choice. We chose hospice to assist us.
I didn’t realize, at that time, how important it was to have someone help me through the most difficult time in my life. Hospice was a stranger who came into our home and loved us.
Because of hospice’s invaluable help, I decided to give back by volunteering at Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton, Florida. I was there for 6 incredible years working in their care center, in people’s homes, and as an 11th hour patient volunteer.
I was called upon when death was eminent. Hospice was all about choice. Hospice was a feeling that allowed Jeffrey and myself to still be in control of our lives even when we weren’t. Hospice was about living and not about dying. It was palliative care and pain management.
It gave me a few hours during the day to take care of the things that had to be done. An aid was able to stay with me through the nights that were the most frightening.
Hospice involved the choices that included dignity, respect, love, faith, and courage. It didn’t treat Jeffrey as though he was a “terminally ill” patient, but very much as a “living” person.
When it was determined that someone had a short-term life expectancy of 6 months or less, hospice could be that alternative choice in determining how you wanted to live out the remaining days of your life.
Most people want to pass away at home as my husband did. However, it is very difficult when the person needs 24-hour care. Therefore a facility may be what is needed.
Hospice was everything right in our lives when everything was wrong. When life and every aspect of it was out of control, hospice interceded and managed the chaos and turmoil.
It was a “team” effort and after my husband died, I wanted to join that team. Team hospice rallied around the family unit and could assist during this critical time.
Hospice will always be concerned about not just the patient but the entire family.
When you think that there are no choices left, there is still one. The Hospice Choice. Quality of life until the end of life.