Hospice patient gets Christmas in November as his Faithful Wish

On November 6, patient Alexander Diaz and his friends and family celebrated Christmas early as part of Faith Presbyterian Hospice’s Faithful Wishes program.

The Faithful Wishes program fulfills special requests with transformational and inspirational experiences, such as a retired pilot who wanted to fly one more time or a father wanting to spend one last Christmas with his family.

“Christmas was already happening in his room,” Kathleen Montes, music therapist at Faith, told CBS 11. “His family had brought in decorations. His friends had mailed in Christmas decorations. He had multiple [Christmas] trees [in his suite].”

Diaz and his family threw a Christmas party in the spiritual care center at T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center. The teammates provided Christmas decorations, food and about 75 of Diaz’s friends attended virtually.

“Just a magical time of year,” Daisy Casares, Diaz’s niece, told CBS. “He loved it. He would put up his tree in October and wouldn’t take it down until February.”  

Faith Presbyterian Hospice offers “The Faith Difference” which includes music therapy, massage therapy, pet therapy, child and family bereavement services and charitable care. Faith prides itself on offering quality care tailored to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of each patient and family.

“He let go while I sang Silent Night, which is the most profound thing I think that has ever happened in my life,” said Montes. “To sleep in heavenly peace, I really believe that he chose to let go in that moment.”

For more information on Faith Presbyterian Hospice, visit faithpreshospice.org.

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To Have The Blues During The Holidays

To Have The Blues

I am standing shocked in the middle of Home Goods surrounded by every possible knick knack, thingamabob, or gizmo aggressively reminding me that this is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! “Please Come Home for Christmas” is blaring on the speakers. A woman mistakes my stillness for wonder and says, “it’s beautiful isn’t it?”  I tell her yes because, well-who wants to be the Krampus in the China Shop?

When I get home, I think about driving my van into all the boxed Christmas decorations stacked neatly against the wall. “That’s one way to put a wreath on the bumper,” I think. But I would go right into my dining room and since I need to sell the house a car sized hole probably isn’t a feature buyers would consider an asset. Instead, I back up my vehicle to pull down the stairs and put all the pretty things along with the memories up in the attic. Yes. I will be the house without a Christmas tree. No stockings will be hung with care-I made them, his and mine, years ago before cancer. Before he died. To see them both would be unbearable, but to look at only mine? That would be worse. I am not the Grinch. No. I am Max, struggling under the weight of a single antler, trying to stay upright but knowing pairs give us balance.

The holiday spirit does blow over me whispering of days that once were Merry & Bright. Gratitude fills my heart until at times I can’t bear the weight-I have much to be thankful for. Since my husband Bruce died in June, I’ve been shown care, kindness and mercy. Your gifts are precious, but what I want most of all this holiday season is permission to be sad. I admire your merriments and rejoice in the happiness, especially of little ones, enjoying the season. I take all the worry of family and friends with the love of your intentions like gifts of the Magi. My sorrow is no reflection on your efforts-allow me for a bit to be Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree bent and dropping needles. It’s selfish I know. Grief doesn’t make me blind to those whose suffering is tenfold to mine. Give me time. I understand the lesson of Scrooges’ redemption and the golden rule which transcends all seasons. But right now I’m just a little numb.

So please don’t be offended if holiday traditions are hard. Remember they included Bruce and going through them this “first” time is a reminder of his absence. I cry watching commercials. Carols make me weep. I want to snatch Santa’s bell and hit the red kettle with it. A stuffed penguin wearing a stocking hat made me teary eyed until I smiled. Then I laughed. Grief, especially during the holidays does leave room for joy. It just can’t be forced. Memories are a curse and the biggest blessing. Don’t ask me what’s wrong. You can’t fix my sadness. This Christmas all I ask for is your patience. And green bean casserole. Preferably the kind with the dried onions on top.

Rebecca Slaton – My husband Bruce Slaton died on June 26th 2019 of complications from lung cancer. He was 67.

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A Winter’s Night Reflection from Valerie Sanchez, Director of Bereavement Services

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. For some who grieve, who mourn, the traditions that brought joy are no longer the balm that can offer comfort and peace. Trying to make sense of the experience of grief often creates additional challenges. As we are made so uniquely, we grieve uniquely, so it’s hard to find “normal”. It would be easy to find stages or phases that once we walked through, our grief would be finished, healed, over. So instead we look for what brings us comfort, pace and some amount, although small in the beginning, joy. The answer to the question, what now, speaking your loved one’s name aloud, telling their story, your story over and over, remembering the love, gathering with family and friends  who understand  the grief experience, for  an evening.

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” Robert Fulghum


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Children’s Grief Awareness Day is November 21, 2019

Children’s Grief Awareness Day is a national campaign observed every third Thursday in November to highlight the needs of grieving children and the importance of providing support for them. Established in 2008, Children’s Grief Awareness Day’s mission is to help grieving children feel less alone and more supported through changing the culture surrounding children and grief. Additionally, to raise awareness of the impact the death of loved one has in the life of a child.

Statistics show, 1 in 20 children will lose a parent before the age of 18, this number does not include other losses such as the death of a sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend. Grieving children often feel like their struggles are invisible to those around them. These children need advocates, letting all know that the death of someone close is the beginning of many weeks, months and years of finding ways to go on without that special person in their lives, with that person-shaped hole in their hearts.

Grieving children often feel alone, different from their peers, and not understood. Every school and every community has children who have experienced some type of loss. Children often keep their loss and experience to themselves, fearing peers will not understand and not wanting to be different. These children can be helped to not feel so alone. Children and adults together can show their support for grieving children and show their awareness of what grieving children might be going through by participating in Children’s Grief Awareness Day.

On Thursday November 21st we set aside time to highlight our support for grieving children and the great work we are doing here at Faith Presbyterian Hospice. Through our Child & Family Bereavement Center, we support children and their families most specifically through our Faith Kids monthly peer support group and our bi-annual grief camp called Camp Faith. Additionally, we offer support to all families on our hospice service who have children effected by the loss or impending loss of a loved one.  With services open to the community as well, we seek to be a premier provider of grief support for children and families throughout the DFW.

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Where Do You Go When You Need to Tell Your Story?

Sharing our stories is healing. But you may find that just when you need support the most, family and friends may not be able to listen to your story as often as you need to tell it.

Where do we go to tell our stories – to talk about the ones we loved and the significant people in our lives? Where do we tell our stories about the things that changed our worlds – the diagnosis, the prognosis, the events leading up to the death, the death itself, and what our life is like now? Who has the understanding, patience, and the same need to share, as well as to listen?

Grief groups offer ongoing. “come when you need to” support. They offer educational materials and information about the grieving process, so you can know your feelings and reactions are normal. Participants in groups have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about the emotional and physical dynamics of grief
  • Create a sense of connection to others experience similar losses
  • Decrease the sense of isolation
  • Increase the sense of normalcy
  • Find others who have stories to share and who welcome your stories – no matter how many times you need to tell them
  • Find healthy coping skills and strategies to adjust to this life without their loved in it.

By Valerie Sanchez, LCSW, CT, – Director of Bereavement

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Each Moment Matters Luncheon Announces 2019 Speaker

The Each Moment Matters Luncheon benefits the caring fund of Faith Presbyterian Hospice.  The first luncheon was in 2010 and this is the 10th anniversary celebration year.We are pleased to announce that Kim Campbell will be the guest speaker.

Kim Campbell was married to legendary country/pop star Glen Campbell for 34 years until his passing in August of 2017, following a long and very public battle with Alzheimer’s. The award winning documentary, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, shared their family’s journey with the world and opened up a national conversation about the disease. The film’s success gave her a platform to advocate for people with dementia and their families around the country, on Capitol Hill, and even at the United Nations.

Kim founded CareLiving.org to encourage caregivers to take care of themselves, and to improve the quality of life of families living with dementia through education, advocacy, and real-world change. She created the Kim and Glen Campbell Foundation to advance the use of “music as medicine” to alleviate depression, manage behaviors, boost cognition, and alter the brain chemistry associated with well-being and stress reduction to improve the lives of those with cognitive impairments and their caregivers.

Among her many accolades, Kim recently received the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation – Great Ladies Award, the US Against Alzheimer’s – Women Making Change Award, and the Alzheimer’s Association – Caregiver Leadership Award.

Kim is an honorary faculty member of the Erickson School of Aging Studies, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and sits on the board of Abe’s Garden, an Alzheimer’s Center of Excellence and state-of-the-art memory care community located in Nashville, TN.

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Do Children Mourn?

Instead of talking openly about death, you often hear people tell children “They went to be with God.” “They went to heaven where they were needed.” “They’re sleeping.” Do children really understand what is happening?

Families with young children often wonder what to say to them. They may be anxious about discussing death or mentioning the person’s name. They may not allow children to attend funerals, thinking it would be “too traumatizing.”

How death affects the life of a child depends on their age and developmental stage. How they mourn and adjust to this loss will depend on the adults and caregivers surrounding them. We need to talk to children about death using words and concepts they will understand. We are all individuals. What is helpful for some, may not be helpful for others, but here are some guidelines that may assist:

Infants to two years old:

They will sense loss and pick-up on the reactions of the adults around them. They may change their eating, sleeping and toilet habits. Keeping a routine is important.

2-6 year olds: Family is the center of their world. There is no understanding of death’s finality: they see the Roadrunner drop an anvil on Wile E. Coyote and no one dies. They believe that dead people still eat., drink, etc., only “in heaven.” Their thinking is magical “You wish it – it happens.” They may ask over and over, “Where did Grandpa go? Is he coming back?” It is important to use the right words to describe what happened. “Grandpa died. He is not going to come back. We miss him.”

6-9 year olds: At this age children may personify death. “death is a monster that took my Daddy away.” The finality is becoming more real. Expressing the sense of anger, guilt, or sadness is difficult to do with words; mourning is often expressed in behaviors. Allow the child to express their feelings. Help them understand they feel sad or mad “because Mom died and it is a very, very sad thing that happened to us.”

9-12 year olds: The finality of death is more real in their thinking. They may see it as a punishment for poor behavior. Their sense of right and wrong is stronger. They need reassurances that they did not do anything to cause this death. They have many more questions about burials and who will care for them now.

Teenagers: They understand death as inevitable and may have experienced the death of a friend or schoolmate. However, they do not believe it will happen to them. They think more like an adult, but they may not have the verbal skills to express their loss in words.

Some tips: Talking about death for all children is easier if they feel they have permission to say anything on their mind. This is not always easy for adults, but it goes a long way in helping the child feel secure. For younger children, answers need to be shorter. Children will take information, go play and come back with more questions. Each child is an individual. What helps one 8-year old may not help another. Children will experience anger, guilt and fear. They need reassurance they will continue to be cared for and loved. Children mourn the loss at each developmental stage of their lives. So as they age, they may need more information about the death, or they may express strong grief reactions many years after the death of the loved one. If you don’t know what is going on with this child, ask. They will tell you.

By Valerie Sanchez, LCSW, CT, – Director of Bereavement

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2019 Each Moment Matters Luncheon Benefiting Faith Presbyterian Hospice Caring Fund

Presbyterian Communities and Services Foundation announces the 2019 Each Moment Matters Luncheon. This is the 10th anniversary celebration of the signature fundraising event for Faith Presbyterian Hospice. This year it will be held on Thursday, October 3 at the Hilton Anatole. We are pleased to share that our co-chairs are Andy Walsh and Thear Suzuki and our honorary chairs are Laura and Tom Leppert. The guest speaker will be Kim Campbell. She is the founder of CareLiving.org, an advocate for people with dementia and their families, and wife of the late legendary country/pop star Glen Campbell.


Andy Walsh and Thear Suzuki
2019 Each Moment Matters Luncheon Chairs
Laura and Tom Leppert
2019 Honorary Luncheon Chairs

Invite You To
10th Anniversary Celebration of the Each Moment Matters Luncheon

Thursday, October 3, 2019
12:00 pm – 1:15 pm
Hilton Anatole
2201 N. Stemmons Freeway
Dallas, Texas 75207

With Guest Speaker
To sponsor a table, please email eachmomentmatters@prescs.org

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Getting Through Grief

We were taught that grief and mourning occurred in stages or phases, occurring in orderly fashion, one after the other and once completed we would be finished with our grief. The work of grief is now recognized as tasks to be completed. We may work at them one at a time, or sometimes all at once. Some of them repeat, and some of them may not be experienced at all. Our biggest need is to find meaning in the midst of our loss. Tasks are things we can choose to do, working through these can bring comfort, peace and hopefully eventually, joy.

Accept the reality of the loss. Accepting the reality of the loss sounds easy enough. We know they died. But every day in God’s good mercy we start all over again and remember. Sometimes it’s when we begin to pick up the phone to call and ask, “What’s for dinner?” Or it’s noticing that gift mom would have really liked, and having to put it back down. Or it’s hearing a certain song on the radio. We remember. Our head knows what our heart does not want to hear! At some point the remember will not be overwhelmingly sad. The heartbreak will start to heal. When? When it’s time.

Embrace the pain of the loss. This doesn’t sound reasonable. What does this mean? Our tendency is to move away from this pain. We work hard at denying it and avoiding it. When in reality the only way out (of this pain) is to work through it. With time the pain will lessen.

Adjust to this new life –without the person in it. This is not a task that gets done and stays done. It’s a matter of adjustments that come up each day. We did not choose this life, but we can choose how we live it. And we can choose whom we ask to help us through.

Reinvest in our lives. While this is a large task and can be overwhelming, it begins almost immediately after the loss. As mental and emotional energy begins to return, we can invest in ourselves and our families.

By Valerie Sanchez, LCSW, CT, – Director of Bereavement

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