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The Winding Stair

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DEATH Nor dread nor hope attend A dying animal; A man awaits his end Dreading and hoping all; Many times he died, Many times rose again. A great man in his pride Confronting murderous men Casts derision upon Supersession of breath; He knows death to the bone -- Man has created death. W.B. Yeats 1929  

In My Words

Categories: Blog, Chronic illness, Creative, end of life, Legacy, Medical profession, Uncategorized|

"I've spent over a decade in critical care, in that time I've seen my fair share of patients as they face the end of their life. Whether expected or unexpected, it is always hardest for the families. Many times the patient doesn't know they're dying, there are breathing tubes, gastric tube, catheters, sedation and analgesia. While dying is something that happens to everyone it is expected to want to buy more time. It's so final that often times families can't let go, they hold onto every ounce of hope that they hear often ignoring the bigger picture. When families know the end is near they try and control the uncontrollable. Even with a wonderful palliative care team helping the family cope, the patient's wishes are often ignored prolonging the inevitable. What these family members don't realize is that their family member is suffering. If they could only feel the endotracheal

Stages of Death

Categories: Blog, end of life, Performances, stages of life|

Life lessons from the mortuary to the theatre If you're a Central Texan, chances are fairly good that you've seen Bernie, the dark Richard Linklater comedy starring Jack Black in the title role. I saw it with a friend a few weeks after the movie's release and remember vividly the opening scene of Bernie's return to his alma mater as a guest lecturer ... on the process of embalming. My fellow audience members shifted uncomfortably in their seats and let out gasps of "eeew!" I, however, smiled quietly, for I knew what many of them did not: that the onscreen depiction of the process of preparing a body for viewing was spot-on. Read Full Article

Reverence

Categories: Blog, Poetry, stages of life|

I will kiss the feet of my mother. I am not ashamed to bow down towards grass, wet with clear sky water. I will bow  down to her who birthed me, in whose center I was housed, in whose waters I swam, from conception to the coming out. Bow down to her who gave me life, kiss the flesh--each digit achy with gout, the tireless travel of the old,  the bearing  of things unseen. Harvester of wheat and planter of seeds, the farmland  and the plow, where her hands touched soft, cold earth  crumbling through fingers, the bearing of flesh that rose up out of her,  rising still, her children's children,  and then theirs. I bow down to my human statue, my stronghold.  Sun comes down, and the light around her head is white. And I, last born, on my knees  before her, kiss the bones underneath the skin, the toes that ache with year, eighty-one peeled down like skins of island fruit, each one bearing sweet flesh within, and the bitter pit  we all must come to. This she plants again and sees it rise, not from window, but from her place in skies, when, after years, she will go

Voices From Five Rooms

Categories: Blog, end of life, Poetry, stages of life|

Five short monologues by Mary Crescenzo William I want to sleep in my own bed, if you haven’t sold it at a garage sale. I want the dog to come here or better yet, can you take me home? I want to sleep on the mattress that only you and I have slept on. I want music I love, not the MUZAK that I pay for as part of the bill. I want to sing a song without someone in the next bed telling me to shut up, telling me to keep it down, I know I’m sometimes out of tune. I want to eat a piece of cake and wash it down with ice cream. I want to look out the window and recognize the trees. You say, "You’ll be alright," as if you think you can fool me, as if that makes it easier for you to get through

An Early Frost

Categories: Blog, end of life, Poetry|

An Early Frost Once again they’re alone, like in the beginning, only now it’s winter and the backseat of their car rides emptied, a painful reminder of an early frost, her last breath still resting warm on their icy cheeks. And now, but for the rattle of a loose tailpipe that always gripes over the last frozen mile home, there remains no hint of a previous season, though the animals seem to know, bowing their heads each time the tailpipe announces its return.

Legacy

Categories: Blog, end of life, Legacy|

Here at The Final Acts Project, one of the words we like to use is “legacy.” It’s a big, fancy word. We’d all like to leave our legacy. But what exactly does it mean, and why is it important? I believe that “legacy” means capturing the essence of an individual’s life, the part of a person that will live on beyond death. Sadly, the full richness of a person’s life is often not on display until a funeral service, where an entire personal history is recalled by loved ones in a special ceremony. Isn’t it strange that often, we wait until someone has died to honor his or her life and give it the remembrance it deserves? Because our society is often uncomfortable discussing death, focusing on someone’s legacy also may be neglected. No ceremony highlights someone’s legacy until that person has achieved an advanced age, is gravely ill, or