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By: Dr. Mari Dias, contributing writer
End of Life (EOL) is a time of reflection and memories- visiting or revisiting achievements and regrets. Individuals at EOL need to be treated with dignity and respect. We need to fill their final months, weeks or days with their requests. Not ours. In comes NOSDA (No One Should Die Alone). This foundation accepts volunteers to sit with those at EOL so at the minimum they don’t die alone (Which is reported to be our biggest fear). Their mission statement is:
“Where there is breath there is hope. Where there is hope there are dreams. Where there are dreams there is laughter.
The No One Should Die Alone Foundation believes that small acts of compassion can have a profound impact on the lives of hospice patients and their loved ones. We deliver peace of mind to patients and their loved ones by providing life-enhancing provisions, enrichments and memories to last for generations.
One of the goals of the No One Should Die Alone Foundation is to understand the emotions and confusion when people die, and to create support and offer care for those who may be dying alone. By honoring the lives of our patients during the end-of-life process, the No One Should Die Alone Foundation empowers patients and families to participate in building a legacy of their own dreams.” (https://nosdaf.com/).
Many of us understand that a loved one will die with their wishes- a certain song, a bible reading, a prayer, a memory. We don’t expect our loved ones to die alone. Yet many people do. I often focus on the bottom right-hand corner of the Providence Journal Sunday obituaries, which is entitled “Information needed.” A small, perceived insignificant notice of a “54-year-old male, last known address is…… trying to locate someone who knows this individual.” You know they died alone. Unless a nurse happened to be near.
What a wonderful gift to give someone- your company in their final days. Wouldn’t you be humbled and grateful to sit with the “54-year-old male” whose body has not been claimed? What if it was someone you knew sometime in your life? Perhaps you spoke to them in line at the grocery story. Maybe you bumped into them at an event and shared a few minutes of your time and attention. What if you’ve never met them at all? It doesn’t matter. I am well aware that many are fearful of sitting with the dying. “What if they die on my watch?” That is the idea. Their last breath needs to have company. And it could be you. Think about why we are afraid of death. Is it the reality and the pondering of our own death that keeps us away? Is a trigger for other losses in our lives? Is it fear of nightmares? Most deaths (in my experience) are beautiful. Ethereal.
Death is the last bad word. It is scary to many for a whole host of reasons. I think we need to explore our inner thoughts and recognize the fear. And volunteer anyway. You will be amazed and how full and blessed you will feel.Wouldn’t you want someone with you? Be there for someone. No one should die alone.
Dr. Mari Dias is a nationally board-certified counselor, holds a Fellow in Thanatology and is certified in both grief counseling and complicated grief. Dias is a Certified death doula, and has a Certificate in Psychological Autopsy.
She is Professor of Clinical Mental Health, Master of Science program, Johnson & Wales University. Dias is the director of GracePointe Grief Center, in North Kingstown, RI. For more information, go to: http://gracepointegrief.com/