I often meet people who cannot forgive. Even after many years they keep telling the same old stories about how they have been treated unjustly or how they have been cheated, deceived, belittled, or hurt.
The reasons for resentment can be many, with feelings of disappointment, anger, and even hatred quite common. We are not perfect, so how can we expect others and our relationships with them to be perfect. That’s how life is, we all make mistakes. That’s how we learn and grow.
Sometimes with the best intentions, we make situations worse – we want to help someone but instead increase their suffering. Often we lack the wisdom to really see what actions are required or to understand when to act and when not to.
When you see your own limitations and faults, then it is easier to understand and accept those of others. You can then forgive and let go.
One day Rinpoche’s mother invited me to have dinner with the family. Rinpoche was six, and he loved dinosaurs. He had a collection of various ones and knew all their names. He was playing with them when I arrived.
When it came time for me to leave, I asked if I could borrow a torch but she didn’t have one. Rinpoche came to me and insisted on giving me one of his dinosaurs. “This will help,” he said as he pressed the small green coloured plastic dinosaur into my hand. I took it but was doubtful that it would.
The night was dark, no moon in the sky or stars. I walked slowly but carefully towards my hut, which was some distance away. Along the edge of the monastery forest, there was a narrow path lined with trees leading up toward the stupas. There was a drop of a few meters on either side of the path I followed the line of the trees relying heavily on my memory to guide me. I came to an area that was unfamiliar beside the stupas it entailed walking down three steps .The darkness seemed to envelop me. Not sure what to do, I felt the dinosaur in my hand and looked down and to my surprise saw the dinosaur aglow with enough light to show me the path.
I smiled in the dinosaur light at the wisdom of the young Rinpoche.
Honestly, the very last thing you want to do when you are grieving is wade through the piles of administrative work that’s needed after someone you love has died.
I remember after my mum died, doing to the Post Office to request that her mail be diverted to me. Are you the Power of Attorney? Queried a the young Post Office worker. Well, yes I am, but as the person has died, the Powers of Attorney have ended So you need to ask me if I am the Executor of the Estate. Her: …..
Her: Are you the Executor of the Estate?
Me: Why yes, yes I am.
Or CItylink. Would not tell me why my mum’s owing balance was cos of privacy. But I wanted to pay it off and close it. Can we have a certified copy of the death certificate. OMG. If I paid you $50 would that cover it? $100? No, can’t say., privacy. Gah!
I have fortunately not had the need to use this new service https://deathnotification.gov.au/ but it is a fantastic idea and I look forward to hearing how it goes. The Australian Death Notification Service (sorry to our cousins over the ditch) takes on much of the administrative burden after someone dies for you, and it’s free. What a fantastic idea! It’s supported by all the States and various organisations.
Let us know if you use it or hear of anyone who’s used it.
I arrived around the same time as the Eat My Lunch delivery arrived. This was a local social enterprise which had been set up and the concept was that if you bought a lunch, the company would provide a lunch to a student in need. The company had delivered some school lunches to be distributed to the students. From one of the other network attendees I learnt that the school also provided breakfast for the kids as well as lunch. The lady said that she helped with the breakfast serving at least once a week. She admitted to initially being against the idea, that she had believed that children’s nutrition was supposed to be under the remit of their parents. Over time she came to the realisation that due to personal circumstances this was not always possible, and that providing children with one or two meals a day really enhanced their health, and their learning ability. Since then she happily reported to duty each week, and sometimes even filled in shifts for other people.
A family had come back recently from the Islands, the husband was unwell with metastatic cancer. The teacher asked if the patient was under hospice. I thought that service was only for Palagi – The foreigner – the white people. Despite us having been the hospice for the local area for the past 35+ years local people still did not know that we were available to help our local community members regardless of who they are. A gap that we still haven’t been able to bridge despite many years of trying to connect. What we had done over the past three decades just wasn’t working. We need to try something different. The same old, same old just doesn’t cut it any more. What else can we do to make the connection? That we are here for people just like you. We have been trying to recruit to reflect our local demographic. For our staff to look like our community, and we are hiring for inclusion to encourage diversity of thought at all levels of our organisation. People like us look after people like you, we are one and the same.
The family had lost their father and husband due to a brutal act of violence at the local train station. His life was cruelly stolen from them, and the grief was too much for them to handle. They were lost, set adrift in a cruel sea of grief, with no land in sight, no hope of rescue. Every week they would visit the site of his death, the mother and the children, would weep and could not move on with their lives. This important local community hub held onto their agony with an iron grip. A local amenity that could not be avoided, became not just a place to catch a bus or a train, but a deva-station. Transporting them to a painful past, a tormented present and an uncertain future.
My 10 year old son and I watched a story about the Mentemia App on TV last night. Mentemia means ‘my mind’ in Italian.
Mentemia is a wellbeing App that has been co-developed by NZ’s Sir John Kirwan, famous former All Black and long-time Mental Health Advocate. Mentemia is currently free to download for all New Zealanders thanks to a funding deal between Mentemia and the NZ Ministry of Health. It is available on the Google Play and Apple App Stores.
We downloaded it last night and we both started using it.
It has a nice user interface and is easy to navigate, with good use of Simple English throughout. We found the interactive exercises fun to do, and things like spinning the wheel to choose a daily act of kindness to perform are also cool additions.
The ability to record how your mood is at anytime will be useful.
Lots of links to useful videos and articles to read, including lots of staying calm through COVID-19 articles.
At first glance Mentemia looks like an useful wellbeing app that we will both be returning to on a daily basis.
Some parts of the app are still a bit buggy, so far we’d give it a 7/10.
Dr Benjamin Thomas’s excellent thread about economic justice for palliative care patients in the context of the announcement of a likely announcement regarding the Government funding around 200-250 patients for $500,000 each to receive CAR-T treatment.
He calculates what we could do for palliative care patients with the same money.
Dr Matthew Grant, a palliative care specialist, has published this article in The Conversation describing normal conversations in the course of his daily work.
I love the way he sensitively maneuvers through difficult conversations, allowing the patient to control the content of prognostic information given.
“Not everyone will feel comfortable talking about their future treatment plans like Keith. It’s important I allow Sharon to decide whether or not she wants to talk about a future where she dies, just as I shouldn’t necessarily dissuade Christos from smoking if it gives him pleasure.”
I have to confess I am a fan of the New Zealand health system from across the ditch. Sensible spending. strong palliative care health service connections… am I wrong Bro?
This article has not succeeded in reversing my bias in favour of New Zealand.
Palliative data nerds will no doubt recall this fascinating study in Scotland by Professor Clark et al. Published in Palliative Medicine, and quickly attaining the journal’s highest-ever Altmetrics score (1) , Clark showed that among 10,743 inpatients in 25 Scottish teaching and general hospitals on 31 March 2010, 3,098 (28.8%) patients died during the one-year follow-up period. The findings were replicated in 2013 with similar results.
The study by the fabulous Professor Merryn Gott et al showed that on the same date, the corresponding figure in New Zealand (including obstetrics) was about half at 14.5%. Patients at higher risk of dying were the elderly of over 80 years of age, Maori, those with cancer, those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, and those admitted under medical specialties rather than surgical.
New Zealand seems to provide better end of life care outside the hospital setting, with stronger end-of-life care in the aged care setting. This has certainly been a focus for service development in Australia as well.
How would we rate in Australia I wonder?
I would love to hear from international colleagues
07/12/17 – Update – Attendees please note that tomorrow morning in Auckland there will be a Railway Workers Strike meaning that road traffic will likely be much heavier than usual. We have asked attendees to arrive at 8.45am for a 9am start, please factor in the strike traffic delay when planning your travel for tomorrow morning. If you arrive early you can visit our on-site Cafe Totara for a fresh Barista-made coffee, with a range of fresh food available as well, all prepared on-site. An email update will be sent to attendees who have already registered.
Can healing occur at the end of life?
To whom does compassion need to extend to at the end of life?
These are the type of questions that will be explored in Totara Hospice South Auckland’s education centre this Friday morning, 08 December 2017 9am to 12pm.
We are privileged to be hosting two international speakers.