Tag Archives: Preparing

My new book “No One Has to Die Alone” is now available

My new book No One Has To Die Alone is now available! You can find it online at Beyond WordsPowell’s BooksBarnes & Noble or Amazon.com. You can also read the first chapter for free on my website.

No One Has to Die Alone by Dr. Lani Leary

The experience of caring for a loved one through terminal illness and eventual loss can be incredibly isolating and emotionally overwhelming. No One Has To Die Alone offers accessible insights, practical tools, and personal stories to provide a sense of community, profound relief, and deep meaning for both caregiver and patient through illness, death, and bereavement.

The first half of No One Has To Die Alone focuses on caregiving, while the second half focuses on the grieving process, including an entire chapter on how to compassionately support the unique needs of children through the grieving process. Each chapter is written to stand alone, allowing readers to reference any chapter and apply that information to their unique challenge.

See what others are saying on my book reviews page.

How to Help a Child Understand Death

  • Listen Actively to learn what the child does and does not understand about death; what vocabulary, sequences, and concepts they is she able to use in questions or descriptions of the events?
  • Ask your child direct, simple questions that focus on full understanding of the event and the ramifications.
  • Respond to what they do and do not understand.
  • Use everyday living experiences and “teaching moments” to discuss the reality that has happened.
  • Answer questions when the child asks. Answer simply and honestly rather than protecting the child from a “harsh reality” and evade the truth. Answer the same questions repeatedly if asked, with patience; your child is processing and weaving together complex concepts that require repetition and context.
  • Temper and adjust your response and answers to reflect the child’s age, experience, maturity, and capacity for emotion and facts.
  • Answer the question that is asked; do not overwhelm with detail, but ask what she heard and now understands.
  • Give the child time alone to reflect.
  • Provide opportunities and experiences for the child to show you what he or she understands or is confused about reglarding illness, death, and dying.  Activities including movies, art, music, writing, or play acting can all provide feedback about how the child is processing information. 

Children need help understanding illness, dying, and death

Children need help understanding illness, dying, and death. Forty percent of all children will experience at least one traumatic event before they become adults. Death, loss, and trauma are common experiences for children, but the challenge is usually not addressed until after the crisis has occurred. Let’s not give children a crash course in grief! The opportunities for growth embedded within any crises are too important to leave as after-thoughts. The ramifications to our children of not having the skills or support to deal with personal change of this magnitude are dangerous. As adults and caregivers, we need to discuss the inevitability of loss, and teach coping skills before they are needed, and during a time that is not so emotionally volatile. Children need help if they are to navigate and successfully adjust to circumstances they do not understand and for which they have not developed skills. Continue reading

I can find meaning in loss

To say that we must confront our grief may be too harsh. Perhaps what is more helpful is to engage or “enter into” a deeper appreciation of what is; to be so courageous as to mingle with our grief so as to find the texture and nuance of it. The closer we examine it, the more intimate it becomes; the more of our own it is, and the less ambiguous and vague. We can hold our grief; rather than our grief taking hold of us.  We can know it so that it can inform us of what is most precious to us. Continue reading

The possibility of another way

Our anxiety is the barrier to compassionate care.  Our anxiety comes from our lack of experience, skills, or knowledge.  We are not taught how to respond in the ways that are needed.  In the same way we do not teach people how to parent (the most important job in our lifetime), we assume that we will all know how to approach dying and grieving.  It is not part of our DNA; these are skills that must be taught, practiced, sanctioned, and reinforced.  We must be given vocabulary with which to put the experiences into context, make meaning, and express ourselves.  We must have role models that demonstrate what it means to be compassionate, caring, and empathetic.  All of this will serve as a foundation that dramatically and directly affects our underlying beliefs about the end of life. Continue reading

Like a well-filled guest at the feast of life

Since my mother’s death when I was 13 years old, I had been preparing in all ways, through all my education and work, to be ready, willing, and able for the time when I could take care of my father through his death.  I knew intuitively that it was part of my healing, and that it was my work of this lifetime, and what I was meant to do.  There was no greater service than to be his companion, his midwife, his comforter at the end of his life, and I knew that it was also the most awesome and sacred work to be done.

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