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Carol Bradley Bursack, Published November 22 2009

Bursack: Thanking Rosewood this holiday

Dear Readers: Recently I received in the mail my monthly newsletter from Rosewood on Broadway. As I read Staci Kouba’s article on the Walking You Home program, warm tears washed the late-day fog from my eyes.

Over the span of 15 years, five of my elders lived in Rosewood, each for several years. Each died, when their time came, under the tender care of Rosewood staff, some with the aid of Hospice of the Red River Valley.

During the death process, our loved ones were treated with love and tenderness. I was given the gift of seeing grief and sympathy on the faces of many caregivers at the home. Their human expressions showed they truly cared about our family. Our dying loved ones were given every care imaginable to eliminate suffering, and we family members were given every consideration.

Which leads me back to the newsletter. The fall edition tells of a new program that Rosewood has started called Walking You Home. Kim Borah, a longtime nurse at Rosewood, had witnessed this program when her mother died. Kim then suggested Rosewood start such a program.

The Walking You Home program was instituted and now is part of the dying experience offered at Rosewood. A grieving family, after long hours of sitting with their dying loved one, often feels at a loss as to what to do next, once the death occurs. When it happened to me, it didn’t seem like I should leave, yet what was I to do? The Walking You Home program helps fill this gap. It supports the family and the dignity of the person who died as Rosewood staff, and others who choose to join, walk with the family and the loved one’s body to the waiting funeral coach.

So tears are part of Thanksgiving? For me, yes. Not negative tears, but tears of remembrance. Even tears of joy. My parents loved Thanksgiving. Mom was the top Thanksgiving cook ever (OK, your mom was good, too).

Well, this year I am celebrating, with laughter and tears, the lives of loved ones gone. I’m grateful to have had many years with them. While most people would not choose death at a nursing home, reality says many of us will die in one.

So, I’m also grateful for our local and national evolving nursing home culture where the dignity of the individual is respected and celebrated even after the very last breath. Thank you, Rosewood, for giving future residents the dignity of walking them home.

Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a Web site supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at carol@mindingourelders.com.