Embracing Our Final Days: A Journey of Care to the End

Embracing Our Final Days: A Journey of Care to the End


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This is the story of three daughters and two mothers whose lives intertwine through the mothers' need for care and the daughters' decision to meet that need. Written by the three daughters, these compelling authors share their personal journeys through the transformative path of caring for the mothers during their final years of declining health and cognitive skills and subsequent deaths. Two of the authors, Mary Anne Evans and Lucy Ellen Smith, are biological sisters who share the caregiving of their mother, Fran. The third author, Rebecca, is Mary Anne's sister-in-law who takes care of her mother, Mary Lou. One of the mothers has age-related dementia and the other has Alzheimer's Disease. One continues to live in her own home with assistance; the other finds retirement communities the best solution for her situation. During the intensity of caring for their mothers, the daughters discover that Fran and Mary Lou's symptoms of decline in health are tracking in very similar ways. The resulting friendship provides a much needed bond of support, information and love. As they reflect on their remarkable journey they realize they want to share their experiences and learning with those who face similar challenges while taking care of elderly family members. In sharing this journey, the three authors offer experience and wisdom in how differently the end of life challenges can present themselves and the variety of ways caregiving can be handled. The main section of the book is a narrative in each author's voice from the beginning of the need for help throughout the death process, and concludes with the rituals of remembrance for Fran and Mary Lou. As a practical guide the authors offer 21 Focus Issues after the narrative, each topic a detailed description of some important learnings, systems they created, and helpful resources they found. In presenting a narrative of unfolding events, the authors address the often-overlooked emotional component to caregiving. In referencing the Focus Issues throughout the narrative, the authors present a healthy process of struggle and creative problem solving. Living in a culture that tries to deny the reality of death and largely turns its back on the old and used up, these three daughters cling to what their mothers still have to offer. They find that each part of the end-of-life process has both blessings and challenges. They also learn that when family members are invited to participate in the death journey, the potential for a more complete living experience is possible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781722108946
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 09/07/2018
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

MARY ANNE EVANS is a spiritual director and retreat leader. Born in 1953, she is the fourth of five children. She married and had three children. When economic issues dictated it, she home-schooled her children and worked as a youth and young adult director in a large Ohio church. Divorce forced her to take inventory of her life. In doing so, she re-married and then followed a spiritual calling to be trained in the art of spiritual direction. She sees clients in her home as well as being a retreat facilitator offering time for personal reflection and meditation. She and her husband live close to their grown children and grandchildren, affording them plenty of quality family time. REBECCA MCELFRESH is an educator and artist. Born in 1955, she is the youngest of three children. She has worked as an educator in public school settings from Kindergarten through graduate school levels. She holds a Ph.D. in curriculum studies. Now retired, she focuses on her love of art through her work with molten glass, clay, and mixed media. Her volunteer work has included service on the board of an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students in schools, service at her local food bank, and the organization of an art and social justice conference. Currently, she is seeking ordination to ministry through the United Church of Christ. She and her husband enjoy living part of the year in the borderlands of southern Arizona and they love spending time with their three adult children and spouses as well as their grandchildren. LUCY ELLEN SMITH is an artist and educator. Born 1947, she is the second child and older daughter of five children. While working as a graphic designer in educational publishing, she began marketing her fine art paintings and went on to teach basic drawing skills with the Gorham Adult Education program in Maine. Upon returning to Illinois, she taught the Fundamentals of Drawing at The Center for Life and Learning senior center in Chicago. Now retired from regular teaching assignments, she focuses on her own fine art creations. Lucy and her husband, Carroll, enjoy being with friends and sharing the cultural opportunities of Chicago where they live and spending time with their sons and families.

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