Our North American culture has been called “death phobic and grief illiterate” (Steven Jenkinson). While it is encouraging to see some recent signs of expanding awareness, engagement and dialogue around dying, death, deathcare and grieving, we know that this continues to be a difficult subject for many individuals and families to plan for, and an often lonely and bewildering time to live through. Too often we must spend our time navigating the complexities of our options rather than focusing on what is important.
Wishstone’s services are designed to mirror the unfolding needs and questions that arise over the continuum of living, aging and dying. We can be contacted at any point in the process and will personalize our services to meet your needs. We are also available to facilitate workshops to groups of interested individuals and/or organizations that recognize the importance of supporting people in values-based planning for aging and end-of-life.
We also partner with trusted professionals with a wide range of complementary services and can usually provide a referral if you are looking for something additional or different.
RANGE OF SERVICES
Perhaps a parent or loved one has died recently and your experiences during the time before, during and after the death have left you thinking about your own mortality and end-of-life wishes.
Or perhaps another major life transition (such as retirement, divorce or relocation) has meant that you are considering your future in a different way.
Or perhaps your family doctor has asked you whether you have done any advance care planning
(and you have wondered what exactly that entails?)
Regardless of your motivation, planning for and documenting your future wishes is both an opportunity to clarify your values and priorities and to provide essential guidance to loved ones who may be supporting during your final months and days.
How we can help
As knowledgeable and compassionate partners, we can provide information and facilitate dialogue that supports you to:
- Reflect on the values, beliefs and priorities that will inform your choices.
- Gain insight into the full scope of your options and rights for end of life planning and care as well as deathcare and funeral options.
- Communicate and document your informed decisions and choices about healthcare and personal care wishes in the appropriate formats.
- Review the materials on an as-needed basis or if circumstances change.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, you are likely navigating a stressful mix of emotions, information and choices. Healthcare professionals will certainly do their best to support you during this time but sometimes it can all seem overwhelming and lonely.
People in many countries, even those with publicly-funded national healthcare systems such as Canada, are turning to additional supports and expertise during these difficult times. In the UK, Australia and the U.S., trained practitioners known as soul midwives or end-of-life doulas are providing education and guidance, as well as emotional and practical support and care, to individuals and families preparing for and experiencing the complexities associated with end-of-life, just as birth midwives and doulas support women before, during and after childbirth. Many of our services are informed by this emerging model.
How we can help
As your partner and advocate, and tailored to your unique needs and requirements, in consultation and collaboration with the healthcare team and circle of care, we offer non-medical support, care and comfort for the dying person and their caregivers/loved ones. Services include:
- Demystify palliative care and the range of options and choices available as end-of-life approaches
- Clarify options for after-death care and record wishes; organize if requested
- Ensure important documents are in place: refer to estate planning experts, if requested
- Schedule and/or attend appointments, including notetaking
- Facilitate family meetings, including long-distance
- Assist with non-medical care and explain/demystify the stages of the dying process
- Offer respite and companionship for caregivers and family members
- Provide referrals/suggestions for complementary care (e.g. reiki, therapeutic touch)
- Be a compassionate and calming presence
- Help create any legacy documents (scrapbooks, videos etc.) that may provide comfort to the dying person or loved ones
- Provide support in preparing to say goodbye and anticipatory grief
- Facilitate a vigil (that would provide continuous support and presence during the last days of life)
The time that follows the death of a loved one can end up being as or more difficult than the dying process itself. The immediate flurry of activities associated with the notifications, funeral and memorial services, and the settling of the estate can be overwhelming and leave little time or energy for mourning. Your grief may be pushed aside or take a back seat. Many in your community may not really know what to say or do to support you. Our commitment is to stay connected during these first days and months and continue to offer emotional and practical support.
How we can help
We will provide emotional support by continuing to check in and offering a compassionate presence and a listening ear. We can also refer you to the appropriate additional grief and bereavement supports that are available in your community.
We can support you on a practical level by facilitating any after-death care, ceremonies or memorials that your loved one has requested or that you wish to undertake. We can also refer you to experts who can help you work through the legal, financial and estate issues you may be facing.