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Greetings to Our Partners in Care!

Welcome to this month's edition of GriefPerspectives!



We need your input! With the county slowly reopening and vaccines on the rise - we are considering the next steps for our workshops. 

If you have 1 minute to share your thoughts with us here on what you would like to and what makes you comfortable, we would be so appreciative. This survey is completely anonymous and will be used to help us navigate the future of our workshops.

A huge THANK YOU in advance for your help & input. We are looking forward to the hope of the future and mindful of our responsibility.
Take Our Workshop Survey
I look forward to sharing our plans with you & shaping this new future together.

Your partner & resource,

Becky Lomaka, MA, CT
Director of Grief Support & Education
blomaka@oconnormortuary.com
(949) 581-4300 ext. 229
GriefPerspectives
 

"But it was just a
simple surgery ..."

by Carolyn E. Streett

Editor’s Note. This month, GriefPerspectives welcomes back Carolyn Streett, daughter to Dr. Bill Hoy. This article is Carolyn’s reflection on the unexpected death of a friend and former colleague at the age of 36 and demonstrates the poignancy of new grief that is sometimes forgotten by those of us who care professionally for those suffering loss. After the birth of their daughter, Sydney, Carolyn left her corporate career to be a full-time wife and mom. She also runs a freelance writing practice and can be contacted at www.CarolynStreett.com.

...


The front wheels were turned hard to the left. That’s how they have to be when you’re backing out of our driveway, if you want to avoid scraping the bottom of the car.
The car was half out, half in the driveway.
Sydney was buckled into her car seat with her milk and some graham crackers. So far, she’s kept her shoes on. Good. Jet was in the passenger seat, a little tangled in his leash. Hopefully he’ll get settled and not bother me once we’re on the road.
The shadows from the houses were long, so the neighborhood was unusually shady.
The grass was a little wet with morning dew, or maybe the sprinklers had run that morning at 3 a.m. like they sometimes do. I don’t know. I don’t know what days the sprinklers run.
That’s when the phone rang, and it was her name. She never calls. But yes, the phone was ringing; it wasn’t a text on the Carplay screen. But it was awfully early on a Saturday morning for her to be trying to reach me.

 

 

  

I answered. Part of me was curious; part of me was bracing for bad news about the writing gig we’d worked on together. The company probably hated it. Oh, I was about to be so embarrassed. Yes, it was definitely the writing gig. Why else would she call?
Her voice sounded normal but maybe with a hint of bad news. But…she always handles the worst of the bad news at work. She’s so used to delivering it that her “bad news” voice isn’t all that distinct.
It seems like it took her forever to get to the point, but I know it didn’t because I was still there, hovering half on, half off the driveway when she told me. No cars had passed me there half on, half off, wondering what I was doing.
She told the story so matter-of-factly. Our friend had accidentally fallen from the roof of her home a few weeks before, remember? And she had gotten pins in her arm, because the bone had been sticking out, remember? And yesterday was the surgery to remove the pins, remember? Only, something had gone wrong, and hours after the surgery she had gone into cardiac arrest, and she…”hadn’t made it.” Those were the words. I remember them clearly. Our friend hadn’t made it.

Remember. Yes, I remember. She had asked me to pray for her before the surgery, but I hadn’t really, because it was a simple arm surgery. And Friday was a busy day, although now, I don’t remember why.
Remember. Yes, I’d remembered her surgery. I’d been up early on Friday morning to teach. I had awakened early to an email from Hawaiian Airlines that our flight had been changed or canceled or something. The email wasn’t clear. I had texted both of them—the girl who was on the phone with me now, and the one who was…not. I’d texted them about the flight, and a quick well wishes on the surgery. It all seemed so insignificant now, that stupid two-hour layover in paradise that had been so annoying 28 hours earlier.
Remember. No, I don’t remember what I was doing at 9 a.m. on Friday. Or 1 p.m. Or that night at 6 p.m. when the slurring of words apparently began. Or that night at 8 p.m. when they “called it.” I don’t remember what I was doing. I remember wondering about the surgery, but she wasn’t a great texter, and it was a simple surgery, remember? She probably just hadn’t remembered to text me.
I remember almost hitting the mailbox that Saturday morning as I turned the wheel right to bring the car the rest of the way into the road. Or maybe I had clearance. I don’t know. But now I was late. I had to get to my commitment at the dog park on time, so it was time to go. I couldn’t just sit here, half on, half off. I was already late.
I remember the words coming from my mouth automatically as I turned the car into the road. Years of hearing and learning from Dad could only help me muster: “I’m so sorry.” Because this was her best friend on the phone, telling me matter-of-factly that our friend was gone, and I was wondering, how was she so ok? This was her best friend, telling me when the services would be. Asking for advice on what to do about the viewing at the hospital today.
“I’m so sorry” are the only words I remember clearly from that conversation, but I remember that day with picture-perfect clarity. And I remember our friend’s giggle when she had exciting news. And I remember the way she would scoot into my cubicle at work to whisper the latest gossip. And I remember the care she showed me when I had pregnancy worries, and I remember her disbelief that we could have an ice slide in October when she came to the fall festival at church.
And I remember her texts appearing on my phone like it was yesterday, because it almost was. It’s only been a week since that text where she asked me to remember to pray for her surgery.
But it was a simple surgery, remember?

 



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Our Events Calendar
 Reiki + Meditation Circle

Give yourself this treat at the end of the week to start your weekend refreshed and relaxed.

Join Reiki Master and event host, Kathy Brook-Wong, and Becky Lomaka, MA, CT Director of Grief Support and Education at O’Connor Mortuary in our Zoom circle on March 7th at 3:00pm PT.
 
During this online Reiki + Peace with Grief Circle, Becky will share how grief is a universal human experience that does not require closure. Together we will explore ways to lean into grief, connecting ourselves to all of our feelings, discovering where we feel our grief in our bodies and how to practice positive self-care. Kathy will share about Reiki and how to use it to deepen your connection with Universal Life Force Energy. A distance Reiki healing will be gifted during our time together.
                                                            
Advanced Registration is Required:
Click here to register.
 
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining us on Zoom.
Resource Review
Association of Death Education & Counseling

2021 Annual Conference is Online
 
Finding upsides to COVID is difficult, but we do have one here for you. The 2021 ADEC Annual Conference is available online for the first time. While past years have offered select webcast seminars, this year the entire conference is available and accessible virtually. 

To learn more about registration, the conference and what it offers, click here.

Why you should attend:
Getting to hear the TOP minds in the field of end-of-life, bereavement care, and counseling the grieving, is an incredible experience. Hearing firsthand the newest and most modern takes on our field is not only important, it's special and can help each of us care for others better. If you feel like you need a refresh, a jolt of purpose, want to take yourself more seriously or need CEU credits, consider joining the conference.
Register Here
Your Professional Library

McKelvey, D. K., & Bustard, N. (2021). Every moment Holy. death, grief, and hope. Nashville, TN: Rabbit Room Press.
 
Reviewed by Molly A. Keating, MA, CT
Editor, GriefPerspectives

It feels fitting that this Holy Week we would highlight an upcoming release of the second Volume of Every Moment Holy. Written specifically on "death, grief, and hope" this edition of liturgies is tailor-made for the bereaved.

The book is broken down into 4 sections, seasons of dying, seasons of grieving, liturgies for the journey and for the moment. 

Touching on subjects like getting bad news, choosing medical plans, facing medical loss, children facing grief, and preparing for the final hours, the liturgies contained in this book span multiple experiences of grief. 

These new liturgies for the every-day life are reminders that even in experiences like grief and loss, there can be solace, comfort, and holy moments waiting for us.

Research that Matters
Han, J., Zhou, F., Zhang, L., Su, Y., & Mao, L. (2021). Psychological symptoms of cancer survivors during the COVID-19 outbreak: A longitudinal study. Psycho-Oncology: Journal of Psychological, Social, and Behavioral Dimensions of Cancer, 30, 378-384. https://www.doi.org/10.1002/pon.5588
 
Caregivers of the bereaved and of seriously ill individuals have been intuitively aware since the beginning of the global COVID pandemic that the circumstances would likely increase the risk for significant negative mental health outcomes. However, actual empirical data to support our “gut feeling” has been hard to come by. The medical literature is replete with evidence of COVID’s physical effects on individuals with underlying health conditions, but this is the first study we have seen that helps quantify just how significant the pandemic’s psychological effects have been on people already dealing with serious health conditions.
 
China saw the earliest recognized cases of COVID and this study followed 111 Chinese cancer survivors and their families, surveying their mental health at three time points. The data points are significant because they correspond to the period of highest confirmed cases in China (February 14-24), a period of rapid decline of cases in China (April 1-10), and the ten-day period of May 15-25 when the restrictions to self-isolate at home were lifted. The levels of psychological stress (including such measures as depression, anxiety, somatization, and obsessive-compulsiveness) were dramatically higher at period one than for cancer survivors surveyed before the pandemic began. While the psychological stress experienced by cancer survivors declined sharply from the first to the third time periods, it remained significantly elevated above that of cancer patients surveyed before the pandemic began. Even when controlling for the added psychological stress of dealing with a serious illness like cancer, it appears from this study that COVID has had an independently deleterious psychological effect on respondents.

The study report from can be accessed for free from Psycho-Oncology at  https://www.doi.org/10.1002/pon.5588
GriefPerspectives is published monthly by Grief Connect, Inc. Copyright ©2021. All rights reserved, including publication or distribution in any form, electronic or printed. For reprint permissions or suggestions for content, please email us at GriefResources@msn.com.
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