Guardian Angels

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about guardian angels.  Every where I turn, I seem to run in to guardian angels. 

On a personal note, this past week my husband and I were blessed to meet two new guardian angels in our lives who found my husband’s wallet on the ground near a gas tank.  Then these wonderfully kind women went out of their way to find us in order to return the wallet, complete with all the credit cards, family photos and even a Starbucks gift card.  (Unfortunately whomever found the wallet initially helped him or herself to all the cash; here’s hoping it went to a much-needed, positive use.)

Today I continue to think about guardian angels in that two friends of mine were right where they were needed to be very early this morning, long before the crack of dawn, in order to drive their neighbor to a local hospice facility to be with a family member who had just died.  Guardian angels abound all around us, and for them, I am truly grateful.

Barb’s Daily Dose Features Journey Mention …

Check out this week’s posting from Nurse Barb’s Daily Dose, an on-line resource site that offers “smart, straight-forward advice from a nurse who understands what you are going through”.  This week I was privileged to be a guest author on the site, and I hope you enjoy the posting.  Perhaps this excellent site will be a good resource for you and yours.

Best wishes, Melody

Williamson County Hospice Services – A New Resource

Central Texas, where I live, is blessed with tremendous hospice organizations providing a variety of services.  In previous blogs I have repeatedly mentioned the privilege I have of volunteering for Hospice Austin which, among many other types of care, operates a 15-bed residential hospice care center called Christopher House, one of the greatest places I’ve ever seen for end-of-life care.

Just recently the Austin American Statesman and the Round Rock Leader, newspapers for Central Texas, announced a second in-patient center for hospice services located in Round Rock, Texas called Lighthouse Hospice at Altenheim, located at 100 N. College Street in Round Rock.  Featuring 12 private suites with flat-screen televisions, family accommodations, Wi-Fi, and Texas Hill Country decor, Lighthouse Hospice at Altenheim offers patients a temporary medical home where they can get help with pain issues and symptom stabilization before moving back home or to alternative care settings.  When possible, I look forward to seeing the Lighthouse Hospice at Altenheim for myself.

If you are in the Central Texas area or need residential services for loved ones who are, I would encourage you to check out these centers.  We are blessed to have them in our midst.  Melody

NYTimes Writer Dana Jennings Prostate Cancer

I’m so touched when I read such beautiful words on how someone is coping with their cancer diagnosis. The title of this piece published this week in the New York Times is, “Cancer in Winter, Optimism in Spring,” by writer Dana Jennings. I encourage you to read this piece as it’s a lovely reminder that day to day living is what is truly important no matter what the obstacle.

Glimpses of Heaven

Like many of you, I am always on the lookout for end-of-life pearls of wisdom.  As such, a new book to me recently caught my attention.  It’s entitled Glimpses of Heaven: True Stories of Hope & Peace at the End of Life’s Journey and was published in 2008.   The author is Trudy Harris, RN, who is the former President of the Hospice Foundation for Caring.  There is even a link on the author’s website for posting your own personal story if you are interested.

Perhaps you’ll want to take a look, like I am doing.  Whatever you are reading this summer, enjoy!

Wisdom for Those Who’ve Lost Children: Learnings from Chris’s Mom

By total coincidence, I have two dear friends and outstanding women whose young sons, both named Chris, were killed in tragic car accidents.  I hurt for my girlfriends, while marveling at the ways in which they have gone on with their lives, kept the memories of their sons alive, and reached out to others in need.

One of the moms, Jill Lentini of Euless, Texas, wrote the following Top Ten list for helping anyone who has lost children – of any age.  The list deserves much attention and review, and I share it with you in amazement and honor of her and in forever memory of her son, Chris.   

Thank you, Jill, for being a great Mom to Chris and all your kids, and for sharing your wisdom as you carry on.  Melody

Things I Would Do To Comfort Someone Who Lost a Child

Hold them.

Rub their back in a circle right where it hurts the most; where their heart is.

Cry with them.

Tell them it is going to be okay, no matter what.

Speak their child’s name with Love.

Listen to them wail and wail and wail.

Write comforting words to them in e-mails, cards, little notes and long letters; forever.

Ask them how they are doing; really.

Tell them I know it is tough, horrific, horrible, a nightmare, profoundly sad, seemingly impossible to live through, but you do live through it, as if lead by some invisible energy through the darkest night.

Keep them warm.

Sit quietly with them in their child’s room.

Let them talk about the sequence of events on that fateful day, over and over again.

Laugh with them.

Visit now and again.

Talk to them about prayer and never say “Our prayers were answered” because it will make them feel like their prayers weren’t.

Stand by them despite the excruciating pain they emanate.

Encourage them to find their beacon in the storm of grief; one place, person or thing where they can get their bearings.

Listen . . .

Recovery Today

Recovery Today is a publication of the Institute of Chemical Dependency Studies (ICDS), a nationally recognized instruction Institute that delivers an accelerated curriculum for chemical dependency counselor training.  Part of the Institutes’s mission is to provide information to members of the organization and interested parties, including via its newsletter, Recovery Today.  For more information about this important organization, call 1(866)523-2669 or send an Email to

In this month’s issue (July 2009), be sure and check out the article about the Journeys book entitled “Wisdom from the Mouths of Babes“.  I especially appreciate everyone at the Institute for allowing me to be a Contributing Editor for this month’s newsletter and calling attention to the issue of end-of-life care from a framework of recovery. 

Best wishes to everyone on a journey of recovery.  Melody

Books in Brief – A review received with gratitude

In the just-released July-August 2009 issue of Health Progress, the official journal of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, there’s a review of Journeys in the Books in Brief section, for which I am extremely grateful.  Here are a few snippets of the review:

“Who hasn’t worried over what to say to someone with a life-threatening illness?  Even professionals can find these conversations difficult.  And imagine if the person facing death has barely had a chance to live.  . . .

Though tough on the emotions, Chatelle’s work is likely to prove useful for anyone who wonders how, at the all but inevitable time, to be a source of peace rather than pain for a dying loved one of any age.”

Here’s to everyone’s ongoing search for that peace which passes all understanding, even during the toughest of times.  Melody