True stories of ageing and dying well gleaned from a life enhancing care giver & end of life Doula
Leaves of Love… a small book of heart-warming and sometimes heart-wrenching true stories gleaned from my role as a life enhancing care giver and end of life doula. I have gathered them into one beautiful and accessible little volume, a companion in your pocket for those longing for ideas to enhance the life of an aging friend or relative, or who lack confidence and courage to accompany someone approaching the end of their life.
‘Story is a great teacher – it has the capacity to show us the way, even when times are dark’
The necessity of a book like Leaves of Love has emerged thanks to our age denying, death defying culture and the all-powerful medical system that ensures most of our elders are cared for by strangers and our dying, rarely happens at home. To live out our carefully gained later years, with a feeling of abandonment, the ache of loss, bored and lonely is the most tragic and largely unacknowledged outcome of ‘progress’ in medicine; role models in the gentle art of coming in close, listening with attention and loving deeply are a rarity.
‘A great consolation can be given to the very ill simply by touching their hands, gently massaging them, or holding them in your arms…’
The overall principles outlined within these pages are deceptively simple – a small bag of everyday items such as soap, soft towel, hair brush, along with a CD player, carefully selected music and beautiful photographs, are perhaps all we will need to get started. A creative imagination and empathetic heart will also help. Each story in this book comes with pointers that remind us as to what else might be most useful in specific situations.
‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited.’
One of the fundamental messages in Leaves of Love is the importance of living each day with appreciation, taking every opportunity to learn something new, and allowing every letting-go and good bye be a practice run for the real thing. Nature effects these transitions every day before our eyes, but we seem to be surprised when our time comes.
‘It is the twilight zone between past, present and future that is the precarious world of transformation’
Finally Leaves of Love touches on signs of dying, what to look for and what to do when accompanying someone as they die. It also suggests some ideas for laying out a body, possible rituals and the importance of grieving.
‘It’s such a secret place, the land of tears.’
Antoine Saint Exupery
It addresses the importance of having those awkward conversations about Wills, Advance Care Plans and Resuscitation and funerals, but as a layman’s guide only suggests links for you to further your own understanding and make personal choices.
It’s an interesting thing to notice what
loving another means as we age. That soft, warm and sometimes exciting feeling that we experience when we are young usually mellows with the years, has a different flavour. Appearances matter less, the heart matters more.
The commitment to accompany and tend another, even when it’s not pretty, is a wonderful expression of this love, and brings with it the richest of rewards. It is surely a beautiful thing to know that those who care for and about us, will not shy away when things get tough; that their love and respect for us overrides all obstacles and will not falter.
Holding, listening and being attentive to what may seem like tiny details of a person’s life reminds us to slow down, be actively present and sometimes to dig deep for patience.
We may have to leave the comfort of our chair and come in close, help with something distasteful, or out of our
comfort zone. This is where the richness comes in; over the course of these extraordinary moments may find that we gain more than we give and emerge with a greater sense of our collective humanity. It can also give us that nudge to become more than we ever thought we could be.
The creeping conviction that we have done nothing useful or have nothing to contribute as we age is very common, this calls for positive affirmations and relentless kindness. If our care needs have moved us away from the familiar into a home, hospice or hospital, such reassurance is even more important. With our identity under threat, warmth and empathy from those around us makes all the difference. So, does just turning up. When we are at our most fragile, it is not unusual for us to face enormous challenges, mostly alone. Finding ways to support each other is important.
Sunday, 14 April 2019
A huge thank you to those who have supported the project of a stranger. In this case Leaves of Love. I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate your contribution. Now thaks to you we are 27% funded, and only 55 days to go! Eeek!
With Spring energy under my wings I have renewed vigour to reach the next stage - please continue to spread the word when ever you can. Leaves of Love needs…
Two Weeks in and still Flying....
Friday, 29 March 2019
Two weeks ago, sitting in the offices of Unbound, we pressed Go LIVE! Thanks to you we have now raised 18% of the funding. Thank you generous supporters.
The everyday conversations about Leaves of Love continue to affirm to me its important contribution to llife enhancing care. The power of Presence can be so undervalued - yet we ourselves can feel it so profoundly when we sit under a majestic…
16% raised - A Thousand Thank Yous!
Monday, 25 March 2019
As the pledges roll in i feel quite amazed and, overwhelmed! Some of them are anonymous and some have names i recognise and others are unknown.... but i want to thank all of you, everysingle one of you, espcially if you are supporting a stranger for the projects sake.
Please know that even if you do not get a personal message from me, that my gratitude is immense!
It is the same as in life…
10% in a Week!
Saturday, 23 March 2019
Goodness me! 10% of the publishing funds raised a week ! That is surely fantatastic! Thank you guys! What treasures you are! I am quite overwhelmed by your generosity and support for this project.
One of my fellow Unbounders has raised 37 % in the same time - but then they have a scintillationg title. Ageing and dying are not exactly subjects we as a culture relish thinking about - let alone…
Thursday, 21 March 2019
This is the most terrifying and exciting process imaginable! However you my wonderful friends and followers make it fun too and your generosity is incredible! Thank you!
It is also really hard sharing the fruits of my pen ( computer keys!) - it feels a bit like running around naked! And asking for money is Never easy!
But here we go - and I keep thinking of what a difference this publication…
These people are helping to fund Leaves Of Love: Stories for Ageing & Dying Well.