Recommended Reading: A few new books about hospice, death, dying and living on

book journey book life and death book hospice isn't

An important part of the human experience is in sharing that experience with others. We hope that by sharing our stories, others will know more, perform more effectively, see the coming storm and protect themselves… and we know that when we open up a window into our past to help others, it helps us, the storytellers, to process our own experiences and to heal. Fairview Home Care and Hospice recently shared the titles of three books written by people whose loved ones received care through their organization.

Full disclosure, the third book is mine. You should read them all. If you want to read Hospice Isn’t a Place, just let me know and I’ll send you a copy.

Cynthia Heelan’s book, A Matter of Life and Death, is unique in the fact that she not only tells her story, she poses questions for the reader to reflect upon at the end of each chapter.  Her book begins at the time her husband Richard was diagnosed and ends with what grief support practices she has found helpful after his passing.    

Ruth Halvorson’s book, A journey of Grief, Gratitude and Grace, takes the reader through a day by day account of the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of her husband, Loren’s, experience of encountering end of life issues as well as the emotional and spiritual impact this experience has had on the entire family.  

Julie Desmond’s book, Hospice Isn’t a Place, It’s People, includes facts and instruction as much as story – hoping to help people realize they can do this. Julie was also a hospice volunteer for 6 years before caring for her father in our program. 


Ruth and Julie’s books can be purchased through .  Cynthia and Ruth used Kirkhouse Publishing Company.  Orders can be placed through them as well. Julie’s book can also be found at



After this visit, I drove away along tree lined autumn parkways, past the French Meadow Bakery and the CC club, through downtown, toward home. I put each of my babies into colorful nighties, under yellow orange green sheets in lively rooms. I wondered, one day, will they blow a kiss to say goodbye? Will they cry out for me, 90 years from now?


Getting There Takes Some Time

Eileen sleeps the sleep of a traveller

Fitful, pulling at her own translucent limbs

transparent skin gathered up and quilted together by scabs and small bruises

at 93, this is life


at 23, this life

applying final touches to pursed ruby painted lips

she blows a kiss to mother and then away, down the steps, a man there waiting,

or a gaggle of girls There is a war on

Friends admire her raucous laugh, tease her for dancing clumsily, share secrets

she will take to the grave

Now, frail and pointed, a body uncovered and empty, she carries only these

Eileen reaches out Cries out for Mama, for Mother

She accepts a stranger’s hand, calms, lets go a tear which travels

over her desert cheek in a sideways trajectory

gradually finding its way along the cracks and fissures left there by time

Through plastic blinds, the moon blooms into fullness, a moon just made for traveling

Tonight Eileen will be traveling