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Archive for March, 2011

In honor of National Doctors’ Day…

An excerpt from the 1991 presidential proclamation in honor of National Doctors’ Day (issued 20 years ago!):

More than the application of science and technology, medicine is a special calling, and those who have chosen this vocation in order to serve their fellowman understand the tremendous responsibility it entails. Referring to the work of physicians, Dr. Elmer Hess, a former president of the American Medical Association, once wrote: “There is no greater reward in our profession than the knowledge that God has entrusted us with the physical care of His people. The Almighty has reserved for Himself the power to create life, but He has assigned to a few of us the responsibility of keeping in good repair the bodies in which this life is sustained.” Accordingly, reverence for human life and individual dignity is both the hallmark of a good physician and the key to truly beneficial advances in medicine.

Click here to view the proclamation in full.

Thank you to all physicians for the work they do each day for the welfare of others!

Alive Hospice offering free grief support services for losses in Japan tragedy

Alive Hospice is offering free grief support services for Middle Tennesseans who lost loved ones in the recent Japan tragedy. Anyone who would like to utilize these services is encouraged to call 615-963-4732 or click here.

  • Individual grief counseling for adults and children
  • “Grief in the Workplace” programs (appropriate for employers, worship communities and other organizations affected by losses in Japan)
  • A grief support group, if there is sufficient interest from the community.

These services will be provided by counselors with Alive Grief Support Services, the bereavement support program of Alive Hospice. The nonprofit agency has offered support to the community after tragedies including last year’s floods in Middle Tennessee; the earthquake in Haiti last January; Hurricane Katrina; and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Counselors can help with next steps after a funeral, memorial

“A funeral or memorial service is often a helpful step in the grieving process, but it can be very difficult to know what to do next,” said Karen Nash, director of Alive Grief Support Services. “Grief counselors are trained to help with taking those next steps toward healing and restoring a sense of balance. We don’t ‘get over’ losses, but we can learn how to integrate them into our lives. Alive Hospice is here to provide this support for anyone in our community who needs it.”


Nanette Mathe

One of the spiritual issues that my patients in hospice care bring up is the need for forgiveness. Many times patients feel that past “sins” are too terrible to be forgiven by God. I believe in a loving God and try to assure the patients that forgiveness is one of God’s gifts.

Many times patients feel that God has forgiven them but the “heaviness” of their life errors still weighs on them. As we discuss this, we discover, for the most part, that the patient has not forgiven him- or herself for things he or she has done.

Self-forgiveness is a difficult process. It means assessing why the person thinks he or she is not worthy of forgiveness. I try to reassure the person that he or she is a child of God and worthy of all the love and goodness that God offers in life. This change in thought is a difficult accomplishment. But, with much discussion and reassurance, the patient can change his or her thinking and offer forgiveness to him- or herself.

Do you feel the need for forgiveness? Could it be because you haven’t forgiven yourself?

Nanette Mathe is an Alive Hospice chaplain and part of the agency’s Murfreesboro team.

Hospice is about living, not just dying!

Janny Adkins

I have been involved with hospice care for 30-plus years. I started a rural hospice in Iowa in l980, and lobbied for the Medicare Hospice Benefit in Washington, D.C. I remember when it was considered practically criminal to stop aggressive, curative care for individuals when a cure was not possible. As a society we have moved beyond that attitude in some ways, and yet our cultural attitude towards death often still causes people to avoid and fear hospice care.

Many believe that hospice care is for the dying, and while there is a limited life expectancy involved, hospice care is for the living. What does that mean? It is our goal at Alive Hospice to help people live a quality life for as long as possible. Through managing pain and other symptoms, individuals can actually continue to enjoy life for the time they have left.

Hospice is not just about dying, but living a quality life for as long as possible. That is just plain good advice for all of us.

Janny Adkins is an Alive Hospice account executive who informs health care professionals, patients, and families about hospice care.

Kids and grief

Ruth Williams

Aren’t kids delightful? They are usually playful, curious, adventuresome, affectionate, helpful, spontaneous, uninhibited, etc. And then, if they experience the devastating loss of a parent, grandparent, sibling, or friend, it can turn their world upside down.

Just as we stress the uniqueness of every grieving adult, every grieving child is one of a kind. Of course, they don’t have the adult “sophistication” of all the internalized lists of “shoulds” that we carry around in us. Adults often have preconceived notions of what is “supposed to be” in terms of thoughts, feelings, and behavior in response to a loss. Children tend to react in much less prescribed ways.

Play is the language of children. Admittedly the type of play does change as children get older, but essentially it’s still in that category of play. Their “work” is school. So, just as adults experience a change in their work and leisure-time activities and behavior in response to a loss, children do as well. However, they are limited in their ability to articulate what’s going on with them. Instead, we usually see it.

Add the extra dynamic of their parent also grieving the loss of a spouse and it gets even more challenging. Even very young children can sense a change in a parent’s behavior. Sometimes this leads to a fear of losing the remaining parent. Or it can also lead to a child suppressing their own emotions, trying to somehow protect the parent from hurting too much. 

If you’ve had a loss in your family, know that your child will grieve his or her own way. It won’t look the same as your grief, and yet it truly is grief. The best word to use to describe it would be “change.” Anticipate a change in behavior of some kind. It could be in play, maybe in appetite. It could be physical symptoms like headaches or tummy aches. There could be more conflict with others or more clinging to others. They could be sleeping less or sleeping.

It’s okay to ask for help, from friends and family or from a professional like a school counselor or one of our grief counselors. We have counselors at Alive Hospice’s Nashville office and the Madison and Murfreesboro offices as well that enjoy working with children. We are here for you, to help assess your children and work with them as needed. We also have children’s camps in the summer and a fall retreat for teens.

Help is available. Please feel free to reach out.

Ruth Williams is a counselor with Alive Grief Support Services, the bereavement support program of Alive Hospice.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Shirlene Campbell

Many of us have been asked this question. For me, going to college and receiving a college degree was a given. Choosing the career path was the most difficult.

One day, a friend spoke to me during my time of pondering and said, “Why don’t you become a social worker?”

Evidently, this individual could see my heart of caring and compassion. What a ray of sunshine she brought to me. I thought, “Yes, that’s me!”

The heart of a social worker is helping people.

Social workers give of themselves, their time, and talents.

Social workers must have the answers when no one else knows.

Social workers must be resourceful individuals who are knowledgeable of products and services.

Social workers are problem solvers, advocates, educators, financial planners, customer service reps, peacemakers, counselors, and investigators.

Thank you, Alive Hospice, for giving me the opportunity to share my skills and talents as a social worker by serving hospice patients and families who deserve the best.

Shirlene Campbell is a social worker at Alive Hospice at Skyline Madison Campus, an inpatient facility for hospice patients.

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Nashville, TN 37203 | Phone: (615) 327-1085
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