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Dealing with Grief During the Holidays

Grief, Gratitude, and the Holiday Blues
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Easter and Passover. Holidays are associated with laughter and fun, celebration as well as reflection, times to spend with family and dear friends.  For many of us they’re also associated with sorrow, grief, loneliness and stress.  Add the death of a dear friend or family member to the mix and holidays can be harrowing.

Grief is a response to the love that existed and still exists between us and those who have gone on before us.  Grief and love go hand in hand. Why pretend we’re not sad?  Why pretend we don’t miss them?

When someone special dies our world might seem to crumble, and the demands of the holiday can heighten our sorrow. Celebrating when a loved one has died can feel like betrayal; as if enjoying life without them means we’ve forgotten them. But we haven’t. We can mix our grief with gratitude for those who’ve been in our lives and be reminded that life continues to offer goodness and blessings.
What can we do? How can we celebrate the holidays when we’re missing our loved one?
Consider these ideas. Then pick some things to do that seem authentic to you and your family –

Laugh when it’s time to laugh. Cry when tears are needed
Talk about them and the times you shared.
Make their favorite food. Their favorite food is sometimes banished from the holiday meal. Instead, eat it and enjoy it! Or laugh over the fact that it’s the one food you never did like very much.
Light a candle, say their name or say a prayer for them
Try continuing their favorite holiday activity
Dedicate a decoration on the Christmas tree in their honor
Decorate their grave site
If you scattered them to the winds, or a river […]

November 8th, 2018|Blog|

MHHC Launches New Intern Program

-by Nat Hoonsan

Say “Hello!” to Kayla Nichols, Mountain Home Health Care’s first Intern from UNM-Taos.
In my various administrative roles with MHHC over the last 18 months, especially those involving staff recruitment, I felt there was an opportunity to better prepare those in our community for the workforce, especially in an administrative office setting. I sat down with a small committee to design an internship program for our Agency and then met with UNM-Taos’s Career Development Facilitator to coordinate this inaugural program. The overall purpose of this internship, in addition to readying students for the administrative workforce, is to also give those with little or no prior office-related employment the experience that many companies require. Upon successful completion of the internship program, each student will have an administrative experience to list on their resume and a letter of recommendation for future employment. Students will also gain the experience of working with a community-related non-profit in the home health industry. Each internship is tailored to the student’s school and activities schedule and runs approximately the length of a UNM-Taos semester. The length of the program allows us to prepare a number of students each year for the workforce.
Although our current internship is filled we can always review applicants for the following semester’s program. Applicants must be current UNM-Taos students with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Internship hours are paid and the schedule is flexible. For more information, contact Nat at (575) 758-4786 or inquire through the Career Services at UNM-Taos.

April 20th, 2018|Blog|

Hospice Volunteering in India

-By Rose Gordon, Hospice Spiritual Care Counselor & Volunteer Coordinator.

I was delighted to volunteer at Ganga Prem Hospice (GPH) in November and December 2017 and engage in providing the services they offer to patients in the cities of Rishikesh, Deradhun and Haridwar. In Northern India.

Ganga Prem is an inter-faith hospice that holds a free clinic every month, attended by up to 100 people who receive diagnosis, medications, wound care, counseling and other services they are unable to get elsewhere. Many, if not most, of the people are found to have cancer. If their condition calls for it they are, with their agreement, driven to the GPH in-patient hospice facility, located in the countryside.

It’s about a 45 minute drive from the main marketplace in Rishikesh to the hospice, along a busy highway and then on a dirt road through the jungle, which reportedly has both tigers and elephants, though I saw only large deer. Once through the jungle, the dirt road opens to an area of lush green fields, planted with grain, leafy green vegetables and squash. On both sides of the road are the simple homes of the local residents. Flat roofs hold the most recent harvest, left there to dry in the sun. Herbs and other vegetables hang from the porches. There are many thatched roof buildings for livestock and just behind the hospice is a large grove of guava trees, tended by women and children whose time is spent chasing birds away from the ripening fruit.

The three storied hospice itself was entirely built by donations. Each patient’s room has its own bathroom and small balcony and the area around the hospice is filling with flowers, shrubs and  a vegetable garden. Large balconies circle the hospice, so that patients can sit in the fresh air and sunlight. The […]

March 20th, 2018|Blog|

The Spiritual Care That We Provide For Our Hospice Patients

Spiritual Care is not religious care. At Mountain Home Health we have a Spiritual Care Coordinator whose role is to coordinate visits from priests, deacons or ministers if the patients request it. Additionally, our Spiritual Care Coordinator (S.C.C.) has a degree in Hospice and Grief Counseling, is a member of the Spiritual Care Association and has decades of experience in non-medical End of Life care, so she also provides Spiritual Counseling if requested by patients or their loved ones.

The Spiritual Care Counselor (S.C.C.) does an initial assessment and if the patient agrees, spends time with them, offering a listening presence that invites patients to talk about what’s most important to them towards the end of life. Patients often identify elements of their lives that still provide comfort and identify their beliefs about death and/or the afterlife. Patients might address their concerns about dying, concerns about their loved one’s wellbeing or wishes for how the family will carry on when they themselves are no longer there.Patients typically talk about their life and in conversation with the S.C.C., might identify people they need to contact for forgiveness, closure or simply to express their appreciation for years of friendship and love.

Patients often review their life and values, celebrating the highs and acknowledging the lows, sharing stories of the losses they have experienced or regrets they might have, as well as talking about their accomplishments and revisiting situations that gave them the greatest joy or happiness. Encouraged by the comfort and safety that a skilled, experienced S.C.C. can provide, patients have the opportunity to identify the meaning in their lives and come to terms with life’s mystery.

In response to what is shared the Spiritual Care Coordinator might offer reflective listening, bring a prayer or poem to share, or take dictation and write cards […]

September 18th, 2017|Blog|

Employee Spotlight, Spring 2017

Meet Ruth Cordova, one of our most beloved staff members.
Ruth has been a CNA, or Home Health Aide, with Mountain Home Health Care for the last eight years. The care that Ruth performs for our clients is very important to her. While bathing clients, she checks for bruising, sores, and rashes, to make sure they are comfortable and safe. Her favorite part of working with MHHC are the many different kinds of people she gets to work with and learn from. […]

March 30th, 2017|Blog|

21st Annual Hospice Memorial Service

Mountain Home Health Care hosted its 21st Annual Hospice Memorial Service to celebrate life and cherish the memories of those we lost in 2016. […]

January 4th, 2017|Blog|

Employee Spotlight, Winter 2016

Team Member Spotlight:
Meet Yvette Trujillo our Community Outreach Coordinator.
Yvette works within the community to raise awareness of the services Mountain Home Health Care provides through education workshops and fundraising events. She also works with our grant writing teams and is coordinating our upcoming Job Fair on January 25th.

As a long-time Taoseño, Yvette really appreciates “the beauty of our mountains, lakes and rivers and most of all the night skies that light up with all those stars.” In her free time, Yvette likes to bake and cook, trying out new recipes. She also stays fit going to the gym, dancing to good music at live shows, and working in her yard.

December 16th, 2016|Blog|

Moments of Life

Here is a great website to learn more about what Hospice is and why it’s so meaningful and important. The “Moments of Life” program also brings together many personal testimonies of patients and family members of hospice and pallative care to help others understand how it can help them and their loved ones too. Click here to visit the website and learn more about Hospice and Palliative Care.

December 7th, 2015|Blog|

After The Cranberries And Pie, Take Time To Talk About Death

We hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving yesterday!! Today’s post comes from an NPR story featured today about the importance of talking to your elderly loved ones while they’re here for the Holidays about planning for the future.

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Two years ago my mom fell at home and ended up being admitted to the ICU with four broken ribs and internal injuries. She was lucky. After two weeks in the hospital and a few more in a rehab unit she was back home, using her new blue walker to get around.

I think of that each Thanksgiving as I make pies just the way she taught me, grateful that she’s still with us and that she’s told us how she wants to die

Before she was discharged, Mom signed a POLST form, short for a Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment. I’d heard of advance directives, which spell out the kind of medical care a person would want if they become too ill to communicate those wishes. But I’d never heard of POLST.

In Oregon, where my mother lives, it’s a one-page piece of pink paper that bluntly asks if you want to have CPR performed if your heart stops and you’re not breathing. Three other check boxes ask how much medical intervention you want: going to the hospital and an intensive care unit; perhaps the hospital but no ICU; or skip the hospital altogether. A third question asks if you want to be fed through a tube. That’s it.

Because it’s signed by a doctor or other provider, a POLST has teeth. It overrides the legal obligation of an EMT or a hospital to provide CPR and other emergency care that for old and sick people can lead to a long, miserable hospital stay.

“It’s not for healthy people,” says Dr. Susan Tolle, director […]

November 27th, 2015|Blog|

Never…

by Caregiver, Olga Sowchuk

The word ‘never,’ by definition, means in no way, not again, at no time, in no case. Never. Its a word that those of you who are brain injury survivors or caregivers of a brain injured loved one, have heard at some point. Was it in the beginning of this adventure, when your loved one lay in a coma and the doctors said he/she would never regain consciousness? Was it once your loved one entered therapy, and someone told you that he/she would never walk, talk, see, eat, feel, laugh? Was it further along when you were told that your loved one would never live at home, never be able to do anything on his or her own, or that things would never be the same?

Never is a long, long time. When my domestic partner, Al Calabrese, had his head-on collision on August11, 1995, the ER doctor said hed never make it to the NICU. When he made it to the NICU, the trauma physician said hed never make it to tomorrow. When tomorrow came, he said over and over, that Al would never be anything more than a vegetable, lying in a bed hooked to a feeding tube. He knew this because he had seen a thousand―no 2,000―cases like Als . . . there was no hope. Well, to me, never meant only one thing: never blindly believe the doctors and never give up. I didnt and neither did Al.

He sustained severe brain damage. Although his brain never swelled, as is often the case, he was leaking brain fluid through his ears, so this wasnt a good sign, they said. He had brain stem damage, occipital lobe damage, a broken throat, collapsed lung, and other areas of brain damage that at the time I was […]

November 18th, 2015|Blog|